- FIND THE RIGHT PLATFORM: If you’re looking for a crowd funding platform – either to invest in a project or gain funding for your project – you need to pick one that offers the right options at the best price. The more campaigns that are similar to yours on a platform will mean more footfall the site is likely to have that might invest in your project as well.
- HAVE SOME FUN: Make your campaign fun to read (but not bloated). One of my backers described the process as like performance art, and it really is. You need to engage and grow the interest organically, so you need to make it entertaining. Or incredibly earnest and believable, which is somewhat harder to do.
- LOW ENTRY OPTION: Add a pledge tier that is just a £1.00, for no reward other than a warm fuzzy feeling and to be updated on your progress should you get funded. That way they get added to your mailing list and may be tempted later on to up their pledge to help push the campaign over the target, or even buy in fully when you launch the end product.
- HIGH ENTRY OPTION: Don’t under estimate your backers willingness to put money in. £200 might be a lot to you but for some it is small change. If all your upper level tiers sell out quickly, you may not have been ambitious enough when setting the campaign targets.
- VIDEO IS ESSENTIAL: It’s not hard to make a short promo film these days and I cannot stress enough how important it is to head up your campaign with something eye-catching. I’ve even made a couple of HOW-TO demos using great tools on this site – Powtoon and Videoscribe – so there really is no excuse!
- FACTOR IN THE FEES: Prices and structures for all of the platforms vary greatly, so make sure you read and understand the small print and have factored the fees into any targets you set if you don’t want to be out of pocket.
- REMEMBER VAT: If you’re an individual you probably aren’t VAT registered, but paying production costs to businesses after you get funded will most likely come with a 20% VAT add on, so make sure you factor that in too.
- KEEP IT BRIEF: As tempting as it is to run your campaign for a few months to ensure a good level of funding this is actually a bad strategy. Apart from the fact you’ll be emotionally exhausted at the end of the process, when potential backers are presented with a long term campaign the danger is they will decide to come back later and see how it is going, at which point you may lose them entirely.
- HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: It’s really important to get a good take up in the first few days so that when people visit your page it looks like there is a buzz around the idea. This will encourage more people to sign up later in the campaign. So do some pre-campaign marketing to be ready with some guaranteed backers from your friends, family and and professional networks as soon as you launch.
- BE SOCIAL: I can’t count how many times people have asked me to share a campaign for them, and when I look at the project they are three weeks in have not made a single update or engaged with any comments on the page. What a waste! An update sends an email directly into the email inbox of someone who was committed enough to supporting you to put their credit card in the pot. Tell them how you’re doing. Ask them for help spreading the word. Remind them why they backed you and encourage them to reach out to their peers.
- DON’T PUT ALL YOUR ENERGY INTO CHASING THE BIG GUNS: Sorry to disappoint you but Stephen Fry is HIGHLY UNLIKELY to retweet your campaign, and even if he did how many of his followers would invest in you just because your link flew by in a retweet? Once you have your first few investors, wasting time chasing plugs and mentions from big hitting social stars with no connection to your project is nowhere near as effective as engaging with your existing backers and getting them to act as your ambassadors.
- STRETCH GOALS: If you reach your campaign goal before the it is over you will need to have some ideas for stretch goals ready to push the campaign even further. Ask your existing backers what they would like as a stretch goal and you will be more likely to get their buy in too.
- CANCEL EVERYTHING, NO REALLY: A key lesson I learned from running my own campaign is that it’s an emotionally draining experience, requiring a lot of social interaction on a daily basis, so make sure you launch your campaign at a time when you can engage.
- THUNDERCAP.IT THE FINAL FURLONG: As important as the start of your campaign is, the last week, days and then hours could make all the difference in being successful. Thunderclap.it is a great tool I have reviewed here in the past that helps drive a social buzz around a project by getting people to sign up and blast the internet with comments about it all at one time. Send an update out to your backers to ask for their help by signing up to a Thunderclap set to run just when you need it to push your campaign over the finish line.
- IT’S NOT OVER WHEN IT’S OVER: Once your campaign ends is when the real work starts as you have to deliver on all the promises you made. Post-campaign updates are a brilliant opportunity to further communicate with your backers and build on the relationship as emails from the campaign platform will be far more effective than a standard email marketing service (which I hate and should be consigned to the advertising dustbin in my opinion). Even after your campaign is over and you’ve delivered on the project you can still use the mailing list you have built to let people know about other campaigns and interesting things you are doing. Just be careful not to become annoying by spamming irrelevant content as this will have a negative impact on your reputation and could in fact hinder any future projects you run.
ESSENTIALS: 15 top tips for successful crowdfunding
About the author
Kate Russell is a technology reporter, speaker and author. She appears weekly on the Webscape segment of the BBC technology show Click, and is a regular expert at various other TV and radio stations. Kate's first book, ‘Working the Cloud’, is the ultimate collection of online tips, tricks and resources for small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Her first novel, ‘Elite: Mostly Harmless’, is a sci-fi story based on a remake of the computer game Elite Dangerous.