Dear Socially Stephanie,
I have a great idea, but the problem is I don't have enough money to start my business. I was thinking about doing a crowdfunding campaign. Do you have any tips to help me make my campaign a success?
Fundless in Fresno
Dear Fundless in Fresno,
Well, this is exciting! Starting a new business is like having a baby. And like getting ready for baby making, we need to get you ready for business makin'. You ready? Let's do this!
The very first thing you need to have in place before you launch your crowdfunding campaign is an active community. Technically, you should start with building yourself an online home so that you can have a place for your community to congregate. That means a website, a blog, a YouTube page, and all the other social media channels. This way, no matter what happens in the campaign, you have a place to build interest before, during and after the campaign.
Now, back to the community part. If you are just starting off, it's likely that you have no community around your idea what-so-ever. That's pretty normal, but we need to change that. The best way to start building a community is to get hyper focused. With that said, you want an uber-targeted following. Not sure how to do that? Check this out. My advice for building a community is all about sharing, connecting with influencers in your industry and giving thanks to those early fans. Of course, you know me by now, so I'm also going to tell you to create awesome content that others want to share and feel connected to.
I'd give yourself at least a few months to do this right. However, the more time you spend here the better off you'll be in the long run. Believe me, your tribe will be important in building that momentum when you launch.
Next up is your video. This is crucial. A project without a video only has a 15% chance of success. You don't only need to have a video, your video needs to be good and engaging. You need to connect with your audience almost immediately. That means you have to communicate what your product is and why your potential backer needs to fund you from the get-go. And don't make your video too long. The kickstarter campaigns that brought in a million dollars had a median length of just shy of 4 minutes. That's not a coincidence.
Alright, we're getting closer to launch! The next process is research and outreach. At launch you want to get your campaign in front of as many people as possible. Blogs, forums, social networks and any niche sites that are related to your campaign will be your best bet. You may even want to hire a PR company to help you here. The more blogs and sites linking back to your campaign, the more likely you are to get funded.
Lastly, you need to get the momentum going. Your friends and family come first, then your community. If you can get them to donate at launch, than you are going to have a better chance of making the featured list and build buzz. Remember, the first week is important. Campaigns that can gain 30% of their goal in the first week are more likely to succeed. So get out there and start flapping your wings.
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Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells