There is a buzz these days about crowdfunding and how it is a great tool to raise money for your project, your business or even your trip. But what is not said, is this isn't easy money. You actually have to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make it happen, and even when you do it, there are no guarantees that your campaign will take off.
I was proud to be part of the One Red Lipstick campaign which was to raise funds for a documentary, book and website that showcases women entrepreneurs and what they have had to overcome to realize their success.
We did it. We actually raised close to $6,000 over our original target, but trust me, it was partly because of our focused attention and work before we even started.
Since then I've observed some others attempting to do the same, but I can tell already that some are doomed to fail. Why? I suspect because they thought they could quickly whip up a campaign and make some easy money. Wrong.
Here are some pointers that I hope will help others succeed:
1. Research. Check out campaigns that have been successful, and those that have not. Look at what they have done to achieve this success or what they didn't do that shaped the outcome.
2. Guidelines. Study the guidelines for the different crowdfunding programs so you understand what they will take on, the costs involved and timelines.
3. Focus. Determine what your project is all about and why people will want to support you. We spent several months fine-tuning the ask, looking at the different options and how best to deliver the project. Be clear on your end goal.
4. Build alliances. In order for your campaign to work, you need to build partnerships with folks who work with a similar audience. This is truly a time when there is strength in numbers. Ask these people to help promote the campaign so you have a broad reach. To get their buy-in, you may have to involve them in the actual project.
5. Strengthen your database. This is also the time to build and strengthen your own database. Make sure it is current and up-to-date.
6. Create your marketing materials. Before you start make sure you have attention-grabbing promotional materials. We created a video to launch the campaign, but also had photos to use throughout which illustrated how many people were already involved.
7. Create a buzz before you launch. We sent out teasers and flyers hinting we were up to something, but never quite giving away what it was. Experts say that you should aim to have 30 per cent of your support lined up and ready to go, that way your project has a good chance of being successful.
8. Hold a launch party. Having piqued people's interest, we held a low-cost launch party where we shared what we were doing, and provided a postcard for people to take away so they could easily go online and back the project.
9. Something for everyone. We created a range of amounts that people could donate to be part of the project. From $8 - $2,500 but a large number at the lower level, like $25 or $50 which made it easier for people to contribute and it adds up.
10. Make your rewards worth having. In line with the different levels of participation, we tried to get creative in terms of what they would get in return for being a backer. These ranged from a lipstick to having a video and photo session with the videographer involved in the project, to attending a conference for free.
11. Start low. With Kickstarter, for example, you only get the money raised if you reach your goal. It therefore makes sense to start low, and have stretch goals as you move along. That way you at least raise some money for your project.
12. Keep in touch. Send out regular update reports, show new videos as this way you keep the campaign fresh and in people's mind. It is a fine line, though -- don't bombard people with information, especially the same information, as that is a real turn off.
Of course, while it was work to raise the funds, there's work ahead of us as we gear up to deliver the goods. But that's the fun part.
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