I used to have a sort of embargo against articles about crowdfunding. It wasn’t that I didn’t see a place for it, or thought it was an illegitimate way to make money; I just thought that there wasn’t really any depth to the topic worth talking about.
But, times change, and a few articles later, I find that crowdfunding has really come into its own as a subject worth introducing to my readers. To that end, I was thrilled when I discovered that a dancing blog, of all places, had written up an excellent guide on how someone with no knowledge of crowdfunding could set up a project and get their dreams funded. Below, you will find my summary of the guide’s sticking points, originally compiled by Marguerite Galizia and presented on her personal blog.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a way to get your projects, personal campaigns, and product ideas funded without going to a wealthy backer or company with deep pockets, and anyone with a dream and a video camera can do it.
Through sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe, users can create “project pages” where they show their idea to the world. These pages typically consist of a video, showing off the idea and its creator, and a written statement that goes into a little more detail. They specify their goal, or how much money they need to fully find their project, and a time frame for completion. The public views these entries, and donates money to those that they wish to see carried through. They are rewarded for donating certain amounts with a gift from the project creator, usually some sort of token of esteem or similar “thank you”. Depending on the site this project is posted on, the creator may get to keep all the money they’ve been given, or may only get paid if their project reaches its goal amount.
Step 1: Choosing Your Platform
When starting your campaign, the first thing to decide is where to host it. There are a multitude of crowdfunding sites available, and more keep popping up every day, so this is not a decision to be taken lightly. When choosing a site, one should consider factors such as the fees involved, the site’s level of professionalism, the countries the platform caters to, and which types of projects the site has made successful in the past.
Galizia’s article goes into more detail on things like the fee structures of these sites, if you’re curious, but the important thing to remember is to find a site that looks like a good fit for whatever type of project you’re doing. If you’re trying to start an art school, sites that fund scientific discoveries probably won’t do you much good. Similarly, if the site you’re using isn’t doesn’t provide service to your country, you’ll likely find it impossible to get any funding at all.
Step 2: Make Your Pitch
Arguably the most important step! Your pitch will introduce your idea to the world, and more importantly, it will introduce you to your potential donors. The strength of your pitch can make or break a campaign, so it’s important to make sure there are a few things you absolutely don’t miss. First among those is to have a clearly defined goal; your aim should be a finished, tangible thing that other people can use or consume. This can be a finished product, a book or movie, or even an entire company, but few people will fork over their money for the promise of things to come. Have something to show for your campaign when it’s over.
Also important to include in your pitch is some personal background on your project and yourself. Nothing opens wallets faster than when someone feels personally involved in your project, so start by making them personally involved in you! Explain your passion in a way that is simple and genuine, and emphasize that your donors are investing not only in the finished project, but in your own future. If they fund this project, who knows what else they’ll see from you someday!
Finally, choose your rewards carefully. For some donors, the rewards provide a large portion of their incentive to help, so make it worth their while. This doesn’t mean pull out all the stops, of course; your budget is obviously limited if you’re crowdfunding in the first place! But it does mean to cater your rewards to your audience. Galizia emphasizes that you should offer “bragging rights” rewards over “involvement” rewards. What this means is that people want to show off that they helped the project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be a direct part of it. Put their name in the credits, or send them a prop from your movie, or a signed picture from the people involved, but don’t ask them to, for example, put their lives on hold to appear in a cameo role.
Step 3: Promote, Promote, Promote!
If you’ve got your pitch all set up, your final step is to get that page in front of as many eyes as humanly possible before your campaign ends. For someone who doesn’t have extensive experience in promotion, where to begin could be a bit of a mystery, but rule of thumb says to start with people you know. Friends and family are already invested in your future, and early donations from them will appear on your page and help your project gain traction.
Standard print materials can also be a good bet. Having a physical flyer or card to hand to your personal contacts could encourage them to tell someone else about it, with the added bonus that they don’t have to memorize the project’s details. Posters could also be a good bet, especially if they are displayed in areas where people likely to support your project gather. And there’s always real-world newspapers, which may be interested in running a story or advertisement calling attention to your campaign. Besides, senior citizens read newspapers, and they’ve got that retirement money.
Naturally, there is also the Internet and social media, which are as always fantastic channels for spreading the word. Facebook and Twitter blasts will make sure your followers are aware of what you’re doing, and that they can in turn tell their friends about it. You can also locate online communities, forums, and blogs that may be interested in your project, and make posts on their sites promoting your idea. You could even start your own blog about the project, which has the dual benefit of providing publicity and keeping your donors abreast of current project developments.
Go Forth and Get Funded!
If ideas are the only currency you trade in (out of necessity), crowdfunding is a great way to get your name out there, promote your dreams, and have a ready-made fanbase when your project comes to fruition. I’d like to thank Marguerite Galizia for putting together a great guide on the subject, which again, you should view in its original form if you’d like more information on any part of this guide.
Until next time, may the crowd be ever in your favor!