Crowd Funding: A How-To Guide

Victor Yates November 28, 2012 0
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Learn about Kick Starter and Indie Go Go and how you can get money for your ideas

“Crowd funding” isn’t a new concept, but it is more accessible today with websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. For creative minds who need cash for ideas, they can turn to crowd funding to actualize their projects. When Amanda Palmer, an artist and singer, wanted to embark on a new art project including: an album, art book, and tour, she launched a Kickstarter campaign for $100,000 and received $1,192,793.00.

What did Amanda do right? She capitalized on her existing fan base as lead singer of the band, The Dresden Dolls, and on her husband, acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman’s fan base.  Before she created her first campaign, she told her fans about her idea. After hitting the submit button, her fans started furiously sharing the link to her camping, created multiple Facebook Fanpages, tweeted their pledges, and met at house parties to raise money for the project. In the end, Amanda had 24,883 backers, with two pledging $10,000, thirty-four pledging $5,000, and about five thousand pledging $1.

How does it work?

Like other crowd funding sites, Kickstarter campaigns have a 1-90 day time limit, project idea, and set target goal (e.g. $40,000).

How can you successfully get your project funded?

Money will not flow into your project without pre-planning. A successful campaign has four components: pre-campaigning, campaign design before the launch, building the campaign, and communicating with potential pledges.

Pre-campaign

It’s best to have a pre-campaign announcement to go out to family, friends, and our your fan base. These groups represent your largest potential supporters, who will fund your project. The most important thing to do here is describe the project in detail, via email and social media networks. Hopefully, after the informal notice, questions will flood your inbox.

Campaign Design Before the Launch

During this process, you want to map out what the campaign is going to look like. And have an overwhelming amount of info.

–          Think about set target goal carefully (i.e. don’t overestimate or underestimate the amount of money you need.)

–          What will the set target goal go toward (i.e. website design, consultants, designers, etc.) and have specific amount breakdown

–          Pledge level incentives. For instance if someone pledges $250 what will they receive (i.e. vinyl record with your autograph, limited edition postcard, and a surprise gift). Have incentives at every pledge level.

–          Updates. What updates will you send out to people throughout the campaign

–          Media. A YouTube/Vimeo video is essential as an introduction and summary of your project. If you can sell your project in sixty seconds or less, the better off you are. A video is typically what fans and pledgees send out to their network. The more media you have, the better.

–          More media. Videos, demos, pictures, connect your project to your audience and tell your story better than words can.

–          Evaluate your networks. Think about ways that you can tap into your various networks, online and offline (i.e. Facebook or Instagram, art event, tour, etc.)

–          Countdown to campaign launch. Think of a creative way to acknowledge the days until Day 1.

–          Create a separate Facebook Fanpage. Fanpages can be liked and added over the 5000 limit a regular Facebook account has.

–          Research projects similar to yours and see what they are doing.

–          Pledge to a project similar to yours and tell them about your project. There is a great deal of pledging between projects on crowd funding sites.

Build the Campaign

Create an account and upload everything. Be sure to really stress what money will go toward. The average person, whether they’re your friend or not, will not be comfortable giving their hard earned money to a cause that is not detailed, specific, and fail-proof. Think about it. You’re competing with bill money and lunch money. Statistically, crowd funding campaigns that are 30 days or less, are more successful than longer campaigns. Why? Because they are planned out strategically and are fan-driven.

Communicating with Potential Pledges

Set aside a week to manage the campaign after Day 1. You will get a lot of questions about the project. Be quick to respond in the first week. Also, you want to say thanks a lot. Thank people who pledge, people who show interest, and people who share your campaign on their social media networks.

Kickstarter is all or nothing. If you don’t reach your monetary goal, then you lose any monies pledged to your campaign. However Indiegogo allows projects to keep all money they raise, even if they do not reach their goal. The top crowdfunding sites are: Indie Go Go, Kick Starter, Peerbackers, WeFunder, Startup Addict, and Start Some Good. Each site has their advantages and disadvantages; research each of them to find out which one best suits you and your project.

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