The concept of crowdfunding is simple: Get a bunch of people together to give a little (or hopefully a lot!) to help you see your project through. But who are these mysterious backers and what do they expect? I’ve run several successful campaigns so far, so I’m here to help give you advice for your own project. (I’ve got a campaign active right now, in fact, if you want to check it out.)
Over a series of posts, I’ll be sharing info about:
- Picking the right crowdfunding platform for to fit your schedule and funding needs
- The types of rewards that work and don’t work
- Tips for creating a reasonable budget to help you be a better goal-setter
- Figuring out the timeline and schedule for your campaign
Who Will Support Your Campaign?
If you think that crowdfunding is your ticket to finding your fanbase, you’re going to be in for a sad surprise when it comes to project-based platforms. And that deep-pocketed anonymous benefactor you are dreaming of? You’ll like have to keep on dreaming.
The truth is that the vast majority of funds received by campaigns comes from people who have met the person, or at least already communicate with them online somehow. Even though we act like crowdfunding supports ideas and projects, it is really about supporting the person.
Across all platforms I have researched, the how-to materials tell you that campaigns with videos receive far more money than those that don’t. So, don’t be shy! Literally anything you say to a camera is better than having no video at all. I am guilty of not doing videos for all of my campaigns, but I definitely believe my first two benefitted from some face-time. Those were both about helping to fund my ability to visit places and then report back to the backers through an exclusive publication. Many of my backers wanted the zines, but as often as not, it was my family pledging to get my original artwork that put me over the edge. (I’ll have a whole post dedicated to rewards later on.)
My two most recent campaigns have been for multi-author anthologies, so I am far from the only one involved. It felt a little odd to be on camera for those, as I am primarily the editor. So instead of focusing on me, I made my authors a boatload of graphics about the campaign in general and their stories specifically to share on their own social media and blogs. I did launch day, blurbs for the stories, and quote memes in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram optimized sizes. I use Canva Pro, and I absolutely LOVE the “magic resize” option because it allows me to take a base graphic and easily translate it to a different format. Here’s a little sample of the different types of graphics.
Even with the best video in the world, over 80% of funding will have to come from people you already know. Kickstarter’s intro videos are very clear on this fact. If you have a big dream, but don’t already know that you will get some financial support from your family and friends, crowdfunding may not be the right path for you. And I’m sorry to say that kind-hearted and generous single donor you hope will make your dreams come true is probably not going to materialize. The average pledge on Kickstarter is $25.
So, What Do You Do?
But don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to get your friends, family, and fans involved with your campaign. Even if they can’t spare the dough, ask them to share the campaign with their own networks. Share you campaign in Facebook groups where you are already a member rather than joining a bunch right before the campaign. You’ve got much more “street cred” with people who have interacted with you in the past than you do with perfect strangers. And no one likes it when a newbie shows up and plasters the thread with their own stuff right away.
You can also reach out to your fellow writers. Chances are, you’ve met other indie folks online who could also use a boost. We swap reviews and beta-reading, so why not trade in blog posts and interviews about your project? Somewhere down the line, you simply return the favor. It gives you both content that reaches a wider audience than if you were working on your own. Remember, the people who give you cold hard cash aren’t the only type of support you will need to succeed. (If you want some tips on writing and hosting guest posts, I’ve got you covered.)
The bottom line is, don’t be shy about your campaign with the people closest to you. They are your life support. If you know people who already contribute to a platform, make sure to include that in your decision-making process for choosing the best fit. The easier it is to contribute, the more likely they will do so.
During my first campaign, my biggest barrier to getting my extended family involved was getting them signed up for Kickstarter in the first place. They didn’t want to give out their credit card information to yet another site for fear of hackers getting their info. And it isn’t like they handed me a twenty the next time I saw them to make up for it, they simply did not contribute even though they supported me and my work. Luckily, Kickstarter has eliminated the roadblock, and now anyone can pledge even without setting up a full-fledged account.
Next time, we’ll take a look at different kinds of rewards you can offer your backers. Until next time, stay splendid, my friends!