Jan 08, 2015 2:41 PM

So You Want to Get Crowd-Funded?

Do you have an idea you want to express? Do you have the skills to build something great? Did you answer yes to both of these questions but are held back because of your finances? If so, then crowdfunding is for you. If you have the patience, the skill, and the charisma, then crowdfunding is probably your best shot at getting your idea out there.


With big community sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and now on Sqeeqee, crowdfunding has never been easier. You can get almost anything approved from personal projects like novels to things that just might revolutionize science as we know it. Before diving into a project, take into your heart the basic crowdfunding principles that every entrepreneur or creator should know.


Crowdfunding is all about telling a story


When pitching an idea to your would-be backers, the most important thing to remember is to tell a story. If you can't summarize the "high concept" of your pitch in one or two sentences, then you're probably doing something wrong.


When it comes to convincing people that your idea is worth backing, you have two fundamental goals in mind. First you have to convince them that you can actually get things done. Doing this takes a bit of hard work. Provide examples of what you've accomplished in the past. Then provide a summary explaining why you need support. Show people that you have a plan in place.


The second thing you need to do is to get people to care. The best way to make people care is by telling them a story. Some creators make the mistake of only introducing their idea and nothing else. If you have a good idea, people just might flock over to support your dream, but a good idea alone isn't enough to make everyone care. If you want to rally more support, don't hesitate to tell people the story behind your dream.


Describe your journey. What inspired you? Where do you want your idea to go? Did your idea change your life? Will your idea help people? Do everything you can to make people care. Invite people to not only support your idea, but to go on a journey with you.


It's not about who has the biggest social media following


To get people to back your idea, you're going to have to tell people about it. Ask for support from your friends and family alike. You don't have to ask for monetary support; sometimes asking them to share your campaign to their friends is enough. But running a successful crowdfunding campaign isn't just about who has the most Facebook friends or Twitter followers.


Sure, it helps if you have a big social media following, but unless you're building something truly ambitious, you'll rarely need a thousand people to fund your project. Sometimes, a small but dedicated community can be enough to reach your goal.



Set a realistic funding goal to show competence and inspire trust


One of the funniest crowdfunding stories in recent memory is the story of Zack Brown, a man who successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign that involved him making nothing but a potato salad. His original goal was to raise $10, but because the internet was feeling generous, he managed to exceed that amount and make a grand total of $55,492.


Though just a silly project in hindsight, Zack Brown still followed one of the fundamental rules of crowdfunding, setting a realistic goal. He wanted to make a potato salad, so he asked for $10, nothing more. When it comes to estimating just how much you need for your project, don't ask for too much. Take into consideration essentials like the cost of production materials, the cost of building prototypes, and maybe set some funds aside for advertising purposes. But at the end of the day, be practical.


For example, if you're going for a personal project like a novel, $1,000 to $2,000 is usually enough to cover the usual fees that an indie author needs. Don't ask for $10,000 just because you can. Most platforms like Kickstarter follow an "all-or-nothing" format for their campaigns. If you can't reach your goal by the end of its campaign period, you get nothing. Don't be greedy. Being able to set a realistic goal is one of the first signs of a competent creator.


Make realistic rewards based on your status as a creator


Rewards are an essential part of running a crowdfunding campaign. Rewards are one of the main ways to motivate people to support your project. Rewards can be something simple, like a shout out or a personal thank you email. Sometimes rewards are more special, like an autographed copy of whatever it is you're making, or even a personal visit. But one of the most important things to remember is to make realistic rewards based on your relevance as a creator.


Though this may sound harsh, if you're a nobody, don't make your high-tier rewards revolve around yourself. Make your rewards revolve around the project instead. Offering goodies here and there, a beta pass, or an exclusive behind-the-scenes feature for high-end backers are acceptable, project-oriented rewardsfor first-time creators. Only go for experiential rewards like personal visits or free seminars if you're already an established personality, with a strong, loyal following.


Best wishes to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

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