Launching Your First Crowdfunding Campaign? Here’s What You Need to Know

Having a great business idea without sufficient cash to fund it is the predicament of a growing number of creative types and would-be entrepreneurs.


Simon Crompton, freelance Journalist and Entrepreneur
Simon Crompton, freelance Journalist and Entrepreneur

Having a great business idea without sufficient cash to fund it is the predicament of a growing number of creative types and would-be entrepreneurs. Taking money out of your own pocket, applying for business loans and gaining the support of a venture capital fund are just a few of the traditional options available to you.

Unfortunately, the first two options are rarely convenient for most people who need money in the first place, and VC firms generally extend aid to established projects that have already shown some promise. Thus, the classic catch-22 faced by every modern-day high achiever with a good idea.

For years, the limited options of raising capital were just the harsh reality. But ever since crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter made crowdfunding available to the masses, people have collectively raised millions for projects they otherwise never would have never been funded.

Of course, generating cash from the crowd is no trivial feat; but the right amount of foresight, you certainly stand a chance. “According to Kickstarter’s own stats, only 44 percent of projects meet their funding goal…” Crowdfunding site, “Indiegogo, meanwhile, is less forthcoming about its projects’ performance, though efforts to calculate its success rate from scraped Web data peg it near 34 percent,” according to PC World.

 

The Right Project for the Right Crowd

Understanding those you’re asking to fund your project is the first step to any successful crowdfunding campaign. It is important to learn what types of projects have beensuccessfully funded in various categories such as music, film/video, art, and publishing, etc.

What this means for you is simple: construct your project in such a way that it fits into high-success categories, if at all possible. Artists, musicians, filmmakers, rejoice — you’re set from the get-go. Those of you interested in funding ad campaigns, R&D, or other entrepreneurial undertakings might benefit by using multimedia and creative approaches as integral parts of your project or, at the least, integrating them into your pitch.

 

Presenting your Project and Writing your Pitch

Your project description and pitch are the most influential factors of your crowdfunding campaign. In general, you’ll want to kick off your description with an overview of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and why it matters to your backers – as concisely as possible (no more than one sentence). You have an entire page to provide further details so don’t linger on in the beginning.

The reason (i.e., why) you’re launching a crowdfunding campaign, likewise, should be summed up in only a sentence. This sentence should make it absolutely, intensely clear that you are passionate about what you’re doing. Finally, talk about how participation will benefit your backers (i.e., what will they get in return for their support). There’s no need to write a novel, but write as much as you feel you need to make the points clear; people love reading about what they gain from your work, and this is undoubtedly the most important part of your proposal.

Guidelines for the rest of your description are a little more liberal: Expand on these areas as you see fit and don’t be afraid to have someone edit your final copy.

Last, but not least, is your pitch video. No pitch video, no money. Period. This is where you absolutely must connect with your audience in a teaser short film. Musicians, record a live session; filmmakers, share a project trailer; entrepreneurs, make a personal statement. Above all, and whatever you do with your pitch video, do it with excellence. A good pitch video can make your project, but a lackluster attempt can break it.

 

Make a Personal Connection

Finally, the most important thing you can do to really get you project off the ground is to make a personal connection with your backers and fans. That is, if you have any. If not, launch a Facebook fan page or find some other way to reach out to potential supporters, preferably a month or so before actually launching your campaign.

As the launch date approaches, send out newsletters; expose yourself, your ideas, and your intentions to your followers and friend; and interact with them. As Matador Network writer Ian McKenzie explains, there are a number of questions to ask before launching your next Kickstarter campaign, and they are often touted as the best ways to gain and maintain a following that will pull through when the time comes, and for good reason. People want to back passionate friends, not distant entrepreneurs. Show them that’s exactly what you are, and you’ll more likely than not to reach your goal — and then some.

 

This article has been edited and condensed.

Simon Crompton is a freelance journalist and entrepreneur, who spends the majority of his time blogging about business startups and consulting on web development. He has launched multiple online companies. He is also a dedicated follower of fashion, and has written for the Financial Times and GQ. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.

 

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