Crowdfunding, which is a form of online fundraising for those not in the know, has become massively popular, and people are using websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise funds for anything from a new product or business, to disaster relief and personal financial needs. But as I’m currently running my own campaign to raise funds to promote my upcoming book, Revolution Z, I have learned several important things about the process that everyone needs to know before diving into their own campaign. This isn’t a How-To guide, or a guide to help you choose the best Crowdfunding website. And while these are not necessarily tips that will assure your success (I’m not a psychic after all), they very well will help you along that path.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
IT’S AN INVESTMENT, NOT A HANDOUT
In looking at many other campaigns, especially those making personal appeals for financial assistance, I realized that many, if not the majority, of them failed completely or fell far short of their goals. Upon further thought, I realized that many of those failed campaigns made the potentially fatal flaw of giving the impression of someone looking for a handout. And that’s not to say that these people really were just using the Internet as the 21st century form of begging. But when there are many, many people out there using various schemes to scam you, people are extremely wary, and it’s up to you to put their minds at ease.
The people who give money on these websites aren’t seeking to give a handout to a beggar on the street who may simply need money to go get his next drink. Instead, they want to make an investment in someone whom they believe will take their donations and do something good with it. They are trying to plant seeds that they want to see flourish and grow. They want to know that when they try to help you, that it really will help. It’s your job to put together a presentation that reassures them of this.
So if you ever decide to do one of these campaigns, particularly to help you in a financial crisis, make sure that you structure your campaign to show why someone should invest in YOU. Present yourself as a businessperson making a proposal, and show your potential investors what will come of their investment. Don’t come off as simply asking for a handout. Achieve that, and you’ve eliminated one of the biggest hurdle in achieving donations.
THE PERSONAL APPEAL
I am disabled, and honestly, visually putting myself out in the public eye is very uncomfortable for me. It makes me self-conscious, more so than I really care to admit, and I feel far more vulnerable than I do when I share one of my short stories or when I post on a message board. But all of the information I’ve found online about Crowdfunding say that adding a personal video to your campaign page nearly doubles your chance of success. It’s the personal appeal, as well as the points I made above about showing people that you are a real person with real needs with real objectives and goals, that makes all the difference. I have recently added a video to my own page, and I’ve seen a huge boost in donations.
So, make that personal connection with your potential supporters, and you will greatly increase your chance of success.
PERK IT UP!
In Crowdfunding lingo, “perks” are the things you offer to provide in return for a donation. As the donation amount increases, so does the value of the perk. Usually the perks stack on top of one another, so if a $5.00 perk includes, say, an acknowledgement in your book, a $15.00 donation may include an acknowledgment plus a free ebook copy of your book. Obviously I can’t suggest perks here because they would be dependent upon what your campaign is for, but whatever perks you choose to offer, be sure to choose perks that are:
Doable by you, because if you receive 1,000 donations for a certain perk, then you have to fulfill all 1,000 perks. Provide the donator with apparent value for their donation. Most people who will give care far more about helping you than getting something in return, however, there are those who do want something worthwhile in return.
Use perks as an attractive enticement, a bonus for the person’s generosity. Make the perks fun and cool, and provide enough smaller level perks that most people can afford, and even a couple of higher level perks for those willing and able to give more, and you’ll have a much more professional-looking, appealing campaign.
Perks are an important element to a professional-looking campaign. Plan them well.
WORKING DAY AND NIGHT
If you want to have a successful Crowdfunding campaign, you have to work hard, day and night. Night and day. The whole Field of Dreams “if you build it they will come” philosophy never works for anything, and that it is doubly true here. If you want donations, you need traffic, and lots of it. And I mean real traffic, from real people, people who are most likely to be interested in whatever you are promoting. You must utilize social media, Facebook Twitter, etc., to get the word out. And even those avenues are far from guaranteed to work. Twitter is hard to get seen amongst the landslide of tweets, and Facebook requires you to have a large following in order to effectively promote to them. You really do need to have a strong social media presence before you even begin a campaign. Who will be your audience otherwise? But if you don’t have this, then it becomes even more important for you to get others who do to help you spread the word.
Start by deciding who your audience is. Whether you are promoting a book or product, you need to decide who the audience that is most likely to buy the product, and then target your appeal to them. Because the one’s most likely to buy the product are the very same one’s most likely to support your campaign. Appeal to them directly, and make sure that the perks that you offer are designed to appeal to this audience as well.
WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE
If you want your Crowdfunding venture to be a success, you must put in the work. It’s time consuming. It’s hard. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. But if, like me, get excited by a challenge, it can also be fun and extremely rewarding. But the bottom line is that if you decide to go this route, know that it is not a quick way to earn a buck, not a means of a get rich quick scheme, and not a cheap and easy means of obtaining needed funds. If you want to get a lot out of your Crowdfunding campaign, then you have to put everything you have, and more, into it. It’s best to research and learn all you can before you jump in, and if you don’t have a strong social media presence, then you best advised to take time to build one first. If you have a worthy idea and a solid business plan to support it, you can succeed. But I can assure you that you will have to work your tail off to achieve it.
Please check out my own campaign on Indiegogo, Help a Disabled Author Start the Zombie Revolution, at: http://igg.me/at/RevolutionZ/x/5413551