You’ve got your idea, your business model, and buckets of enthusiasm. By all accounts, you should be gearing up to get this show on the road, but that bank account is looking pretty unhelpfully, well, empty.
It’s that old unavoidable truth: it takes money to make money. But the good news is that in this internet age it’s easier than ever to get your business off the ground through the magic of crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding as a concept is age-old, but the term was only coined in 2006 to refer to internet crowdfunding with the birth of a number of platforms for the purpose. The now almost ubiquitous Kickstarter was founded in 2009, and things have only escalated from there.
It’s a pretty straight-forward idea, which is partly why it’s so genius: you put your idea to the masses and they donate money that helps you make it a reality, in exchange for a reward. But there are some things to bear in mind to make sure your crowdfunding venture is a success.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Everyone is in agreement about this: just setting up your crowdfunding page and sitting around twiddling your thumbs is going to get you n o w h e r e. Raising the funds is all about raising the profile of your campaign, and that needs to happen before it goes live. The trick is to secure a big chunk of pledged funds before you even start, and you do this by rallying your troops: friends, family, colleagues, existing customers, potential customers, and anyone else you can muster. You can even get in touch with big names who can help you spread the word. Send emails, tweet like the clappers… just keep talking to anyone who’ll listen.
But it’s no use bombarding the world with generic marketing that most people will just zone out – crowdfunding is all about people funding people, not just their ideas. It’s essential that you show your passion, personality, and spirit. And get personal with your potential backers as well: most successful campaigns are funded by relatively few people, so it pays to target your biggest fans in a very personalised way.
Your campaign video is one of, if not the most important tool for selling your campaign. This is your chance to showcase your idea, your plans, and yourself, and it’s essential it’s done well. On-the-fencers will be immediately put off by a dodgy film, but they can also be won over by an inspiring or charming video.
Short and sweet
History shows that shorter campaigns of 30 days or fewer tend to be more successful than longer ones. There’s also something to be said for keeping your target as low as possible – the way most crowdfunding platforms work is on an all-or-nothing premise. That means if you make your target, or exceed it, you’re laughing. On the other hand, if you don’t make it you get big fat zero, and you still have to pay the website. So it makes a lot of sense to raise your funds through a series of smaller campaigns rather than one enormous one. It makes it easier and less risky getting to each stage, and it encourages future backers if you’ve already managed to run one or more successful campaigns.
Crowdfunding is a really cool, accessible, and pleasingly egalitarian way of getting your business off the ground. Like anything, you need to put the work in, but if you do that it can be a fantastic way of getting started and building up a ready-made client base.
Published on 25 November 2015