We have recently asked a number of our successfully funded crowdfunding campaigners to comment on what they thought made their campaigns work while so many others don’t. Around 10% of the campaigns on StartMe gets funded successfully so far so needless to say we were very interested to hear more about what these guys did to be in the top 10% of campaigns.
We got a range of different answers, its needless to say. Many of them agreed that apart from putting allot of work into their campaigns, they made sure that people they knew started donating early. Nearly all of those interviewed said that showing early momentum was key. But not only early momentum surely? So what else then we asked. These are some of the key points that they mentioned
What is exciting about your project. Find a way to get someone to take the time to look at your project for starters. You need to make your project relevant to THEM. You may have a real passion for your business or project, but others probably don’t. At least, not initially. So go and get them hooked by offering benefits or rewards something new, something desirable, something fun. Crowd-funding has really locked into this idea.
Introduce a sense of humour. Raising funds for your business or project is serious business. Yes of course you want to show your serious side, but also be entertaining.
Make sure you ask. Be brave, be bold, be unapologetic. Don’t offer an easy way out, offer something in return. The amount most commonly donated is R200 - R500 on www.StartMe.co.za. People tend not to go for the smallest amounts.
Make it easy for other people to spread the word. For crowdfunding, getting people to get other people onto your project is key. So provide them with resources that they will be excited to share. Get posting, tweeting, emailing—the lot.
Its an interesting one, crowdfunding. And over the last few years it has both made a big impact on how entrepreneurs, bands, artists and others are funded. It has also certainly divided opinion on just how viable the model of crowdfunding is. One thing that few people are admitting is that crowdfunding can be really hard work. And – a couple of campaigns later – I’m a staunch believer that the most important part of this fund-yourself-golden-carrot is the crowd, not the funding.
A crowd funding campaign is a bit like a wedding cake; it’s all about layers, and if you leave it sitting in the freezer, it won’t get eaten. A successful campaign identifies and engages with its core audience, then moves out beyond it and eventually gathers enough speed of its own that it (you hope) becomes contagious. And secret to all of this really working, is the work that you as the project creator puts in. Over the last 7 months or so, the 7 campaigns which have been successfully funded on StartMe, had one thing in common. They all put an enormous amount of work in - and today they are better of for it.
So you have taken the plunge and added your crowdfunding project to StartMe. You've come up with a few great prizes, added video and images to your project and even thought carefully about the wording of your campaign. You now start waiting for the contributions to start flooding in and nothing happens. You’ve checked the campaign quite a few times and its definitely live there on the website, so what is the holdup? Why didn’t yours make it when you’ve heard people making thousands of Rands in their campaigns?
The truth is that it takes time and dedication, but more importantly, strategic planning to have a successful campaign.
To get you started, here are 5 key tips to get the money flowing in your crowdfunding campaign:
1. Build a dedicated fan base beforehand
I want you to be real with me: every time you speak to your fans via social media or your newsletter, is your dialogue consistently, “Retweet this,” “Buy this,” “Come to my show,” “Support me here,”? Me, me, me. - Make sure you are engaging with your fan base not just asking asking asking.
Few relationships based on take, take, take from one party ever succeed.
The key ingredient to a successful crowdfunding campaign is having a dedicated bunch of fans that will truly promote anything you’re doing — we’ve seen that happen in the recent Arch Reactor project. But if you think you can start building your mailing list the day before you launch your project, you’re wrong.
You need to build your list months before your campaign can really take off! With a dedicated fan base, you can create a buzz about your upcoming project and have a better chance of making it go viral.
Creating an interesting video is a great way to introduce your crowdfunding campaign to the world, it’s very marketable and adding a bit of music can really inspire potential contributors to support your project. Let’s face it, you are really in competition with those on StartMe to attract the attention and contributions of visitors.
So where do you begin?
That’s a good question. Creating a video is not as difficult as you may think it is. There are so many resources available. Here is a look at 5 tools that can help you create dynamic videos to represent you:
CamStudio – This free program is a great screen capture program that will record your viewing area. Videos when complete can be uploaded easily to YouTube and embedded on your site.
Animoto – This free and easy to use video program allows you to use still images, text, video clips and music to create a custom video that represents you. Don’t worry about not being able to create a video because if you can create a slideshow then you can use Animoto with no problem. The free program limits you to a 30 second video.
Masher – This free tool allows you to create videos easily. They offer a lot of content that you can use or you can upload your own. Add text easily. It’s just that simple. When you’re finished get ready to share your video with the world.
One True Media – This is an easy to use online program where you can easily create slideshows and videos. Audio effects and video transitions make this a great program. Plus you can easily upload videos to your social media outlets.
Photobucket– This free program allows you to combine video clips, photos and more to create videos easily. Want to share it with your fans on social media? You can do that easily.
2013 – is the year for crowdfunders. The media has given huge momentum to crowdfunding in 2012 and now is your opportunity to get your business or creative ideas funded on StartMe. Its also your opportunity to move away from excuses and get your ideas of the ground. – It’s the year for you to commit!
Whatever your idea may be at this point, it’s time to spend some serious energy on getting your project funded. Are you still finalising the idea, are you perhaps getting the information ready to present to funders, or are you ready to add your project to StartMe today. Move away from procrastination and create a plan with actionable dates to finalise and post your project, starting today.
Crowdfunding is opening up a unique source of finance to all, without the need for business plans or bank loans, consultants or committees. It’s a real opportunity for you realise the idea that you have been thinking about for so long now, but have not started as you thought you can probably not fund it.
In The 6 months since the StartMe website has been operational, we have already successfully funded 5 projects. That is five entrepreneurs who previously did not know where the money for their ideas are going to come from who now has raised enough to make a great start. You can be next!
We have been getting a great team of people together to support you and your campaign every step of the way, whether you need support with putting the campaign together, creating the right reward structure, getting the word out or moving on with your idea once you have successfully funded your project.
Over the first five months of operating we have seen very healthy number of entrepreneurs adding their projects here on StartMe. Showing the real power of crowdfunding we have also seen three entrepreneurs receiving full funding to get their business ideas of the ground. These are businesses that may have otherwise not been able to get started and for many of you this holds exiting prospects going forward.
We have also however seen a large number of projects not funded by the crowd. Somehow many project creators seems to expect that simply by posting a few paragraphs and picture on the website it will result in money flowing in. If this is your approach to starting a business and you feel that minimum effort equals large rewards then it not surprising that those who invest on crowdfunding websites such as this was not at all convinced by either you or your idea.
So I want to highlight some of the biggest mistakes project creators make here to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.
One of the entrepreneurs behind a success story shares their recipe with current and future crowdfunders.
It was a lot of work, requiring constant updates in social media and with friends, family, etc. You don't sit back and watch the money roll in. Some hints:
1. Bootstrapping, or starting with your own cash is actually stage one of crowd funding which hardly start-ups want to explore....They resist, all they look at is external money first while a known crowd funding example of a "joint bootstrapped" business works well for low investment start-ups. We started first, developed a concept that people could see and relate to.
2. Do your homework on your project and post a complete as possible proposition. Images and video works great and we have had very positive comments on this. Make this work for you. Contributors and investors will first be attracted by images. If this attracts them they will look at the text you added to describe the project.
3. Very few projects get crazy amounts of money. Most don't. StartMe is an all-or nothing proposition, so adjust your goal accordingly.
4. Be very clear as to what the money you get will be used for. Make sure your rewards are about equal in retail value to the donation. Send updates and thanks regularly.
5. Sponsor a project or two. It's good karma and shows you are an active member. Other members can see of you have contributed to projects. They will be hesitant to contribute to someone who has not contributed.
1) It provides access to capital.
As an entrepreneur, artist or musician, finding the finance you need to get your project of the ground will be one of the most business challenges that you will face. Provided that you have a great concept and is able to convince others of that, with hard work and allot of networking you will quickly see that you can turn buzz about your business into capital with which you can get started.
2) It reduces risk.
The basic nature of crowdfunding is that small portions of the money needed to start with the received from a many others. The Crowd. So comparing this to the traditional business model where risk is normally taken on by the entrepreneur and either the bank or the one or two investors, clearly in the case there is far less risk for all involved. – A real bonus for entrepreneurship and creativity in general don’t you agree?
3) It’s a great marketing tool
This benefit comes in two parts:
• You all of a suddenly have the greatest excise ever to shamelessly promote your idea to every one everywhere. Your personnel and social network all get to hear about your creativity and you have a real reason to shout your message from the roof tops.
• The crowdfunding platform itself attract allot of interest. Crowdfunding is very newsworthy right now and the media loves it. Radio, press, everyone wants to get involved. Not only will a platform like StartMe promote your projects to everyone who asks but will actively be sharing your opportunity with their networks, in their newsletters and you even get the benefit of their aggressive Search engine marketing campaigns.
You have finally decided to give in to your entrepreneurial ambitions. You know that it’s time to take action on your ideas and one of the first challenges is to find funding for your ideas.
You heard about StartMe on the radio and thought it will be a great place to source funding for your project. So, how do you make the most of your time on StartMe? By inspiring contributors! Let’s look at a few things you can do to ensure that contributors notice your project and contribute to what you are doing.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Treat your time on StartMe like a project within itself
You will need o work on your project every single day while it’s running on StartMe to make sure you are creating enough buzz and excitement for people to support your project. Just like a creative project, it requires time and effort and attention to detail. This is all part of making your campaign a success. Successful project creator quickly learns the following about crowdfunding:
1. If you are afraid to ask for help or support - Get over it very quickly. The question here is - What are you prepared to let go f to ensure your campaign is successful? If this is your first project, it can be really intimidating plugging yourself to your friends and colleagues, let alone asking them to support your project financially. Make sure you are able to do so without cringing, stalling or giving up otherwise you significantly decrease your chances of success. Be brave, believe in your idea and be assured that if you know you’re on the right track, people will follow you if you project that.
2. This is the age of being social and social media is there to be used. If you think that going onto Twitter once and a while or occasionally linking your project on Facebook will be good enough then think again. Work on this as its part of your business. Target you social networks every day with updates and news about your project. Tell them what is new; remind them why your project is unique. If it is important for you to get your project funded then this won’t be too difficult
Here are a few important crowdfunding tips from StartMe, the crowdfunding platform for South African Entrepreneurs and creative projects.
1. It all starts with a plan
Plan your project and be clear on what it is that you want to achieve. Set yourself a realistic funding target. Funders are not going to be funding anything that seems unplanned with a unrealistic funding target.
2. Be proud of what you are doing
Don’t ever feel, afraid or shy to ask someone to support your creative project or idea. You are certainly not begging for money. You are giving people the opportunity of being part of something creative and unique. You are also offering clear rewards for being part of your project. Show confidence in your project if you want other to believe and contribute. Share your idea wherever possible.
3. Work Together
You don't have to do it alone. If you know of someone or some organisation who can support you with creating your project on StartMe with great writing skills or perhaps through helping with your video then don’t be afraid to ask? If you want you project to be successful then you need to go all out to ensure that this happens.
4. Show Effort
Crowdfunding is not a magic solution where your project will all of sudden attract funding from thousands. Successful campaigns have sown that it takes effort from the project creator. Show those that you are hoping to impress with your project that you are committed to your project and have put the effort in. Show a prototype of your design, make a video, be innovative.