So you decided to crowdfund your big idea … congratulations! But what’s next? There is a ton of information out there, from crowdfunding basics to advanced “hacks.” The amount of information is overwhelming—we know, we read most of it. We decided to offer some key tips that we’ve learned from our own experience of running crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter. No matter which platform you choose for your big idea, these five principles will ring true. Let’s dive in.
Tip One: Start Early
One of the things we would never have guessed when we jumped into our crowdfunding journey is that it would take close to eight months of preparation before we could hit that Launch Project button. We recommend you budget around six months from the decision to use crowdfunding to launch day. Why?
First, it will give you time to rally a community of supporters (more on getting social later) and engage in meaningful interactions with them. Second, and this is especially true for hardware projects, prototype development and testing usually takes about 1.5 times longer than you think. In addition, this time frame allows for a re-do. Set things in place for a project video shoot a few months in advance—that way, if something goes south, you have some time to reshoot and refocus. In general, leaving yourself some time to spare is great for quality control and gives you the upper hand in unpredictable situations.
Pro tip: this is not an invitation to procrastinate and leave everything to the last minute. Running a crowdfunding project is one of the most challenging, but also rewarding experiences of your career—leave some fuel in the tank for the actual campaign.
Tip Two: Get Social
Let’s drill down on one of our earlier points—the need for a social network of early adopters, followers, and supporters. We’re sure you’ve heard that you need a social media presence. But what you actually need is social media engagement. You want to rally a community of devoted individuals who believe in your story, in your idea, and your ability to bring that idea to life. We’re talking about more than just numbers here because if you try to play the numbers game, you’ll lose.
Imagine you’re trying to raise $15,000 and your average pledge is $100—you’ll need to amass 15,000 followers in less than a year because expect your conversion from social media follower to backer is usually around 1%.
What you really need is about 100 individuals to become your brand evangelists—people who are so committed to what you are trying to do that they will move mountains to get your project off the ground. They’ll share it on their pages, message their friends and show it off to their families. These people amplify your idea in a very human and impactful way.
You have to build an online community that engages people with stories, photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes updates. Go live on social media regularly. Engage with comments and feedback. Ask questions. Start debates. Offer support and speak from the heart—passion is contagious. Do these things, and your 100 cheerleaders will grow to 1000. We’ve seen first-hand how important it is to cultivate personable networks of supporters—trying to hack conversion numbers is simply too expensive and at the end of the day, meaningless.
By the way, when we say: get social, we really mean it.
Tip Three: More Is More
For the few months leading up to the campaign, and especially throughout its duration, you and your team will need to become a content-making machine. Write blogs. Launch a podcast. Shoot video: horizontal, vertical, short promo videos, longer Q&A videos.
There is no such thing as too much content, especially when you consider that your social content is reaching less than 10% of your followers (unless you put some money behind it).
Create a content schedule and play to your strengths—if you are a brilliant writer who hates public speaking, blogging might be more up your alley than going live on Facebook. If you’re a one-person team, you’ll need to be flexible and try to challenge yourself to produce on as many mediums as possible. We’re not kidding when we say this becomes your second full-time job.
If that sounds overwhelming, consider this: a good piece of video content can be broken down into smaller videos, audio, blogs, and quotes. As mentioned above, if being in front of a camera isn’t your thing, start with audio, then pull content from it.
Tip Four: Stay Flexible
Another tried-and-true tip for success is flexibility. We know what it’s like to put so much of your passion, time, and money into launching a crowdfunding project. When you’ve nursed your vision for so long, it’s easy to become overly attached to it. The truth is that some things will go wrong and other things will not go as planned. Be ready to change anything on the fly, from rewards (maybe people don’t need another t-shirt) to your process, materials, and timelines. Make sure you can respond to feedback and implement changes that will make you successful in the long run. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary and demonstrates that you are committed to your community (i.e., your future customers) and that you are willing to listen to their thoughts as well. Crowdfunding is as much about the crowd as it is about your idea. And speaking of your idea …
Tip Five: Keep Telling the Story
People don’t invest in projects or products—people invest in other people. Your story and your passion are what fuels you—and what makes other people believe in you. Articulate your story in many “languages”—video, text, photos, infographics. Contact local news sources, influencers, and thought leaders with your story. Run video ads sharing your passion. Reach out to people with similar visions and passions and find creative ways to collaborate.
Bonus Tip: Take Care of Yourself
Crowdfunding can be gruelling and take a toll on your schedule, sleep, relationships, and more. Take care of yourself and take the time to recharge. Connect with friends and family when things are going well, and especially when the road gets bumpy. Accept success with humility and treat failure as learning opportunities. Best of luck!
Feel free to reach out to us at Promohack if you have any questions or want to learn more about getting your crowdfunding campaign funded. Find us online, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow us on LinkedIn!