The new Veronica Mars movie. Facebook’s latest $2B acquisition, Oculus VR. Pebble, the smartphone-syncing watch. What do these all have in common? Crowdfunding. If you have a brilliant idea that you want to turn into a profitable business, or a cause you want to support, then crowdfunding can be a great way to gain some initial capital to take your idea to the next level. Crowdfunding networks allow you to tap into your potential customer’s pocketbooks without having a fully finished product, giving you the capital you need to bring it to market. In this article, we’ll look at 45 tips, guides, and tutorials that will help you succeed in turning your dream into a reality through crowdfunding.
Top Crowdfunding Tips
Regardless of what type of campaign or crowdfunding network you choose to start, here are some general tips that will help ensure your success.
- Get a feel for whether people will be interested in your campaign. Some of your strongest supporters will likely be people you know — friends, family, coworkers, and so forth. Run your campaign idea by people you know and trust to see their reaction. You might find that your campaign idea is brilliant, or that it is only of interest to you.
- Create a financial plan. If you are successful with getting your campaign funded, you will have to deliver on your promised rewards to supporters. This means that you need to create a very detailed and accurate as possible financial plan for your campaign. Make sure that you can fulfill all promised rewards and get your business going with the amount you set as your goal to raise.
- Do some competitive research. As you look at different crowdfunding networks, specifically look at projects that are similar to yours to determine what the normal goals are within a specific category (i.e., Film & Video campaigns may traditionally have higher goals than Food campaigns), what types of rewards similar campaigns offer, and how similar campaigns sell themselves (videos, beta product demos, etc.).
- Create a promotion plan. Launching your crowdfunding campaign is only the beginning. You will need to have a strong, no-holds-barred plan in place to market your campaign. It’s not something you want to be shy about promoting — you’ll want to make sure everyone in your personal and professional network knows about your campaign. They shouldn’t just know about it, but they should be reminded of it at almost every chance possible. Then, you’ll want to make sure that you reach as many new people who might be interested in your campaign as possible, too.
- Build up some hype. One essential part of your promotion plan should be building hype before your campaign goes live. Think about movies: all it takes is that two-minute trailer to get you hooked on going to see something that may not even come out until next year. Build that kind of hype about your campaign.
- Don’t stop promoting. It’s easy to get really excited at the start of a crowdfunding campaign, only to get disappointed if things are not going as well as you planned. Don’t get down though; if you have 30 days to reach your goals, you should be promoting your campaign each and every day for that entire 30 days.
- Thank your backers personally. Even if you just get a dollar from someone, send them a personalized thank you when possible. You never know; that one-dollar backer could have a huge audience to promote your campaign to. It never hurts to include a “PS. Be sure to support this campaign on Twitter and Facebook.”
- Thank those who share your campaign personally. Monetary support isn’t everything. If someone who doesn’t put a dime into your campaign shares it with their friends, maybe their friends will be the backers that tip you over the goal mark. So be thankful to those who promote your campaign as much as those who back it.
- Really hit the promotion hard at the end. It’s kind of like the last few hours of an eBay auction; that’s when people really start to roll in, especially if you are close to the goal. Don’t let up with promotion until the final minute.
- Be a gracious winner or loser. No matter how your campaign turns out, be gracious about it. Even if you don’t get funded this time, you don’t want to alienate your backers who might want to be there the next time you go for it.
Ready to be inspired by crowdfunding? Here are articles that detail the most successful crowdfunding campaigns to date.
- 9 Insanely Successful Kickstarter Campaigns — Inc.com takes a look at the most successful Kickstarter campaigns that went above 100% funded.
- Top 5 of 2013 — A roundup of 13 lists that highlight the best Indiegogo campaigns of 2013 including record-breaking campaigns, unconventional campaigns, big brands that crowd funded on Indiegogo, and more.
- Top Crowdfunding Campaigns of 2013 — TheNextWeb looks at successful campaigns from Kickstarter and Indiegogo in 2013.
- Most Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns — This chart contains information and statistics about the most successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This regularly updated list has over 400 campaigns that can be sorted by amount raised, category, and network. The More Info link will take you to the campaign’s page for more details.
- 7 Incredibly Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns — If you are in the business of doing good for others, here are some examples of non-tech campaigns that have been successful.
Best Reviews of Crowdfunding Networks
Not sure which crowdfunding network to choose? Here are some opinions on the top crowdfunding networks and directories on where you can find the rest.
- 10 Top Crowdfunding Websites — See Entrepreneur’s favorite crowdfunding websites for 2013.
- 6 Top Crowdfunding Websites: Which One is Right for Your Project? — Forbes offers a sentence summary, pros, and cons for the top six crowdfunding networks.
- Top 5 Crowdfunding Sites for Your Next Big Idea — This guide from Shopify gives you the basics about the most popular crowdfunding networks to date.
- Crowdsourcing Directory — There are more than just the top five or 10 crowdfunding networks. Click on Crowdfunding in the left sidebar category menu to find hundreds more that specialize in industries that relate to your business.
- Your Guide to DIY Crowdfunding Tools — If you want to start a crowdfunding movement on your own, without Kickstarter and similar networks, then here are some tools to try.
How to Be Successful on Crowdfunding Networks
These guides from the top publications offer their best tips on how to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign.
- 10 Social Media Tips for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign — PBS offers its insight into how you can use social media to make your crowdfudnig campaign successful.
- 7 Strategies for Launching a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign — The Young Entrepreneur Council and Forbes team up with a list of tips shared by entrepreneurs that have had successful fundraisers.
- 4 Secrets Behind Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns — FastCompany suggests that you try crowdfunding before reaching out to venture capitalists.
- Practical Advice for Running a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign — A Kauffman Sketchbook by the founder of Indiegogo with practical, proven advice for running a successful online crowdfunding campaign.
- Crowdfunding Success in 5 Easy Steps — Entrepreneur authors talk about why projects fail, and how you can make sure yours isn’t one of them.
Top Crowdfunding Blogs
Before you start your crowdfunding campaign, start reading up on the best advice from those who specialize in crowdfunding.
- Crowdsourcing.org — The industry website for crowdfunding.
- The Crowdfund Network — The Crowdfund Network is dedicated to finding the coolest crowdfund projects and news of the Web and in making your life easier; “that’s our goal, that’s our passion.”
- CrowdCrux — Whether you are thinking of launching a crowdfunding campaign, in the middle of managing one, or have successfully raised money, this is the site for you.
- CrowdDistrict — A blog created by successful entrepreneurs who used crowdfunding to launch their iOS application, the goal of which is to give project creators more visibility and help serial backers find amazing new projects.
- CrowdClan — CrowdClan offers a strong community of experts to deliver all of the current information, tips, and tricks that you will need to succeed in the crowdfunding industry.
Top Crowdfunding Network Guides
Here are the best resources on how to get the most out of crowdfunding from specific crowdfunding networks.
- Kickstarter School — Start here to learn everything from defining your project to fulfilling your rewards.
- Indiegogo’s Crowdfunding Field Guide — Whether you’re running a campaign or just interested in learning more about crowdfunding, this field guide is packed with tips, tricks, and resources to help make your ideas come to life.
- Fundable Crowdfunding Guide — This guide was written for anyone who’s new to crowdfunding or trying to decide whether it’s the right funding approach for their business. It starts with what is crowdfunding and ends with crowdfunding tools and resources.
Books on Crowdfunding
Want to know more? Here are the top books on crowdfunding that you can download on your Kindle or read on the beach.
- The Crowdfunding Bible — The Crowdfunding Bible is the top how-to guide on crowd funding and crowd financing, and the best crowdsourcing websites like Kickstarter. Download it free now.
- Kickstarter for Dummies — The official Dummies guide to the top crowdfunding network.
- The Crowdfunding Revolution: How to Raise Venture Capital Using Social Media — “This groundbreaking guide explains how the explosive growth of connectivity is obviating human-to-human networks and centralized planning of capital allocation—and describes how crowdfunding can be used to tap into a ‘collective intelligence’ for far superior results.”
- The Secrets of Crowdfunding: A Step by Step Guide to Getting the Most from Your Kickstarter Campaign — “This book simplifies the process and makes it easy to create a campaign that will present your project in the best way. Combining business, marketing, and communication research, Sean Akers offers a straightforward guide to creating a crowdfunded project.”
- The Everything Guide to Crowdfunding — “Crowdfunding is the newest way to fund projects and start businesses. You don’t need to hit up family and friends, max out your credit cards, or get a second mortgage–there are perfect strangers out there who will help you fund your idea. You just have to know how to find them.”
- The Kickstarter Handbook — Real-Life Success Stories of Artists, Inventors, and Entrepreneurs — Hear from those who successfully launched their business with Kickstarter.
- How to Successfully Crowdfund Your Dream Idea on Kickstarter — “Learn the secrets of what it really takes to run a successful Kickstarter campaign from those who’ve collectively raised half a million dollars.”
Alternatives to Crowdfunding
What if, after looking into crowdfunding networks, you realize that they are not the right fit for your current business, but you do need some additional capital to take your business to the next level? If you have an established track record (i.e., have made some money with your business already), you can get additional funding when you need it from the following sources.
- PayPal Working Capital — If you have a PayPal business account, you may quality for a loan from PayPal that will allow you to pay it back when you get paid, with one flat fee.
- Kabbage — “Kabbage provides working capital to small businesses. From online sellers to brick-and-mortar stores, Kabbage services every type of small business. Banks take weeks to decide on an advance and merchant cash advance companies take days. Kabbage delivers funds in 7 minutes.”
- Fundbox — Clear your outstanding invoices with Fundbox, and pay the loan back when you get paid. They connect with QuickBooks, Zero, and FreshBooks.
- OnDeck — “Business loans from $5,000 to $250,000 for small businesses. Simple application, funding in as fast as one business day, and high approval rates.”
- ezbob — “Funding your company with ezbob is simple and fast, whether you are at work, at home or on the move. Register online in less than 10 minutes, and forever receive funding with just one click. You can use the funds for working capital, to take advantage of a business opportunity, or to take some money home.”
As you can see, there is plenty of great information out there that can help you successfully fund your business through crowdfunding. The key: don’t start a campaign until you have thought through and researched everything 100%.