Kickstart Your Dreams: 6 Tips for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
After leaving the classroom in 2012, I created a hodgepodge of consulting and coaching jobs for myself. But after freelancing for a couple years, I knew I wanted to have my own business. Something that I could control. Instead of creating curriculum that other people wanted me to create, I dreamed of creating my own learning experiences that kids would love and that I would love creating. But how would I do that? I was a teacher, not a business owner. I didn’t have the resources that the nonprofits I worked for did.
So I dreamed. As my daughter got closer to entering preschool, I had parent friends asking me how they could help support their kids’ learning at home. I dreamed some more. I decided I would create themed packs full of fun activities for kids and parent education.
But how would I create it? The designing part inspired me, but the actual producing part overwhelmed me. And an even bigger question: How would I fund it? I wanted to make hundreds of activity books and card games, but I didn’t want to invest thousands of dollars if I wasn’t sure anyone would buy them.
I decided to turn to Kickstarter (you can check out my 2015 campaign here). By starting a crowdfunding campaign to build Curiosity Pack, the business of my dreams, I was able to raise the funds I needed and test my idea. By having a successful campaign, I felt validated in starting Curiosity Pack.
If you have a dream that you’ve been thinking about, think about using crowdfunding to test and fund your idea. I used Kickstarter, but you could consider GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, Crowdfunder, or RocketHub. The main objection I hear about Kickstarter is that you can’t keep any of the money raised unless your entire goal is met. That was stressful, but it was also motivating. Having a big all-or-nothing goal helped to get people contributing, especially towards the end of the campaign.
If you’re ready to get rolling with your campaign, be prepared for an emotional experience. I started my Kickstarter when my son was two months old, so being in sleep-deprived newborn zone may have made me even more emotional. Nonetheless, I had extreme lows (why was I even trying to do this?!) and extreme highs (I can’t believe I did this!)
After you’ve braced yourself for an intense but hopefully rewarding experience, consider these tips:
Invest in Video
Get a professional video done. People gravitate towards videos and they act as an entrypoint into your campaign. Hiring a videographer (I found a local one on Yelp) made a big difference and was well worth the money.
Spread the Word
Tell everyone you've ever met about your campaign! You never know who is going to be interested in supporting you. Try not to let go of expectations about who may or may not donate to your campaign. Your childhood friend may not understand how important this is to you, but your high school teacher might.
Create Enticing Rewards
Create a wide variety of rewards. For me it was helpful having a "donation" option that allowed people to give Curiosity Pack to kids at high-needs schools. This inspired folks without kids to contribute to the campaign in a meaningful way.
Keep Your Momentum Up
Most people will donate either at the beginning or the end of the campaign. Plan a guest post, promotion, or bonus reward for some of the middle weeks. Keep reminding people to contribute as you keep both backers and your community up to date on your campaign's progress.
Beware of Scammers
I was shocked by how many PR companies contacted me after launching my campaign, offering to spread the word. They may not be overt scams, but I don’t think they’re worth the money. If you have marketing money to spend, find a professional who knows about your niche.
Ask For Help
Even if people aren’t able to contribute money to your campaign, they may be interested in sharing about it. Make sharing easy! Write premade emails and social media posts that friends can use to share about your campaign.
Are you ready to start a crowdfunding campaign? I’d love to hear about what you’re dreaming up. Comment below to share your ideas and projects!