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What does a crowdfunding journey look like?

So you’ve made the decision that you want to crowdfund and raise money for your idea, business or organisation. Welcome to the beginning of your crowdfunding journey! But what does it look like from here on in?

We caught up with Bertie, Crowdfunder Coach, to find out what you can expect to happen along the way. 

As a coach here at Crowdfunder, I have the wonderful job of keenly following the progress of some of the best projects that are raising money with us. In my experience, the most successful projects, disregarding how much they intend to raise, follow very similar patterns meaning that there are some key things to know, such as what you do before going live and what you do during your campaign, that can contribute to the success of your crowdfunding journey.

In an ideal crowdfunding world, the total lifespan for a successful project would be seven weeks, which breaks down into three weeks of preparation, which includes planning and creating your project, and then four weeks of running your campaign and crowdfunding to make it happen.

Planning + Creating: The first three weeks 

It’s no secret that we believe the preparation of your campaign to be arguably the most important stage during your crowdfunding journey. If you can put in the hours here, then you’ll be sure to reap the fruits of your labour later-on.

This planning period is essential and will help you to manage any risk in your campaign before going live, by giving you a strong understanding of where the money is going to come from.

If you’re not sure where to start when planning your project, then don’t worry because we’ve distilled everything that we have learnt over the last five years into three guides that will help you every step of the way, including planning, creating and running your project.

If you use these guides prior to going live, I can guarantee that you will raise more money for your idea.

Rolling it out: The following four weeks

Now that you’ve got a heck of a plan in place, it’s time to roll it all out. The crowdfunding part of your whole journey should be a short and sharp exercise. Crowdfunding is a small window of time that should inspire urgency and intrigue and it is this which will ensure a buzz of activity around your campaign.

Not only is it naturally difficult to sustain the necessary momentum and dedication, but any longer than four weeks and you may find that your Crowd (current and potential supporters) will start to switch off and become disengaged.

Good to know: Twin peaks

So you’ve hit the middle point of your four weeks and it seems that support has dramatically slowed down. Well, I want to assure you that this is more common than you may think.

Traditionally in crowdfunding, we tend to see a peak of activity at the beginning, a lull in the middle and another peak towards the end of a campaign. And why? Because there isn’t the same sense of urgency in the middle – it’s as simple as that. Therefore, the challenge is to make sure that there is enough activity taking place in this middle section to ensure that you maintain the levels of engagement within your audience and the momentum towards your target.

Furthermore, to capitalise on the natural peaks at the beginning and end of your campaign, it’s important to make sure that the engagement here is as high as possible. Communications around each of these periods should be ramped up to full volume to drive people towards your Crowdfunder project page.

Below is a prime example of the kind of pledge activity that we see happening on a successful project, and you’ll notice the huge increase on the first and last day of the amount of pledges being made.

Make a schedule: Your crowdfunding plan

To make sure that you have got all bases covered, I would recommend creating a crowdfunding calendar. This should include all of the necessary daily and weekly activities that you’ll need to implement to capture the attention of your audience and sustain their interest.

If you have a plan in place for each of the key channels, then you can make sure that you are firing on all cylinders and effectively marketing your crowdfunding campaign.

What are the main channels? This might include phone, email, social media, traditional media, your projects update tab (to keep all of your current supporters in the loop) and events. Not all of these channels will be effective for your idea, but you can decide on your approach during the planning period of your crowdfunding journey.

Crowdfunding is hard work

The bottom line is that crowdfunding is a lot of work because it requires consistent attention throughout. My advice would be to allocate enough time to it and to save your holiday until after its finished! You’d be surprised the amount of people that go on holiday whilst their project is running, and you’ll definitely appreciate it more if you wait until the hard work is over. After all, it is a relatively small period of time that has a clear start and end date, so if you can focus your attention and energies throughout, then you can sit back afterwards and take a break knowing that you have managed to achieve more in a month than you might have in a whole year!

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Planning a press release for your Crowdfunder

You’ve got a great project, but how do you get that all important coverage?

One of the key ingredients to launching a successful crowdfunding project is to make sure that you are not just making a lot of noise about your project, but to ensure that this noise is as effective as possible. As true believers in the power of the crowd, we think that connecting people and resources to make ideas happen is the best approach to keep in mind when planning your crowdfunding project. By working together, human beings can achieve incredible things – and you can have a lot of fun with your PR in the process!

Most importantly, as we say to all project owners, don’t ever underestimate the power of social media and press coverage. You can connect with local papers and notable figures (don’t be shy!) via Facebook and Twitter to get a real buzz going around your project.

If it’s relevant to your project, you can go one step further and get in touch with the local, or even national, press to gain some serious coverage. How do you go about this? You can use search engines to find the details that you require to contact various media outlets – this is a great way to form your own press list.

Local news reporting companies are a great resource to help build momentum and target potential backers. We know that this can seem scary, but they will be waiting to hear from you (and often saves them going out to find the story themselves!)

Don’t forget that it’s always a good idea to have some high-quality images to hand as a newspaper loves to put a photo to a story. Also, be sure to chase them – it’s important to follow up on that juicy press release you sent over with another email in a couple of days, if you hear nothing in the first instance.

So, now we’ve dropped the term ‘press release’, what exactly should you include?

Headline

This needs to be catchy and sum up exactly what you’re doing. Make sure your project name is in there and remember to include your location.

For example: ‘Manchester based ‘project title’ launch ‘what your project is about’ to raise ‘x amount’.

First Paragraph

A one-sentence paragraph/opening statement that gets straight to the point. Think about this sentence as the one you will use if you had 30 seconds to explain your project. Remember to include your project name, what you need the money for and how much you want.

For example: ‘Project title’, need ‘x amount’ to help them …’

Next Two Paragraphs

Now it’s time to explain your project in a little more detail. Your headline and first paragraph will be so punchy, that everyone will want to know why they should back your project! Outline what exactly the money is being used for. Explain your project in more detail – it’s okay to use information from your project page.

For example: ‘The ‘x amount’ raised through crowdfunding will be used for …’

Quote

It’s now time to get a really interesting quote in there, that stands as a testimonial to your idea. Make sure that you use your quote to say how important your project is and why people should pledge. Always make sure the quote is from the project owner, or someone influential.

For example: ‘Your name, your title’, said: We believe that ‘project title’ is a great project that will benefit the local community. The ‘x amount’ of money we are hoping to raise through crowdfunding will enable us to …’

Last Paragraph

This is the time to really sell your project and sum it all up. Mention your rewards, or the impact your idea will have on a greater scale and remember to put the URL to your project page.

For example: ‘Project title’ are offering some great rewards, for ‘x amount’ you can get etc…’ OR ‘Project title’ will have a huge impact on the community by…’

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5 things you need to know before crowdfunding

So you’ve had a great idea and you know that it’s going to have an incredible impact on those around you and your community, but now you need the funds to make that idea happen – and word on the street is that crowdfunding can do just that.

It’s true. Crowdfunding is an excellent way of raising the funds needed to transform an idea, and can bring with it many other benefits such as raising awareness of your brand/organisation, gaining validation from the Crowd that they think your idea is a great one too and, once your project has successfully closed, you’ll have your very own Crowd of supporters joining in on your journey with you.

The thing is, however, that not all ideas are suited to crowdfunding – perhaps because the idea needs some development before it can be launched into the world, or you simply haven’t told anyone about it yet (and you need people to support your project!) In fact, the most common question that we get asked by new projects is, ‘Will my project successfully crowdfund?’

The team have put their heads together, and we think that it really comes down to these five things.

1. Can you reach enough people?

It is really important to have your own Crowd to get the ball rolling. What we mean by this is an engaged audience – whether this be via social media, an email database, or through conversation.

Facebook: Having a thriving Facebook page or group is a big step in the right direction for anyone looking to crowdfund. If you’re looking to raise over £2,000, we would really expect to see a Facebook page with a following of 500+ who are really engaging with your posts.

Email: Having a group of people that you can email is a fantastic way to reach lots of people and spread the word. To raise over £2,000, a list of over 500 people is a good starting point.

Real world: Although crowdfunding is online, the best way to ask someone to pledge is either face to face or on the phone. Holding events, like a launch party for example, is a great way to get people in a room and tell them all about your project, as well as being an opportunity to answer any questions.

2. Is your idea good enough?

Ideas have the unique potential to change the world, but it’s a good idea to test the idea out with some people first and find out if they would back your project. If so, how much would they be willing to pledge?

The answers that you get back from people can really help you to sculpt your project description and video, as well as give you an idea about whether your target is realistic.

3. Do I need to add rewards?

There are lots of different types of crowdfunding, but this is both a rewards and donation based crowdfunding platform. Therefore, yes! Add rewards to your project. Rewards are a great way of increasing the amount of money a supporter will pledge and it’s a great way for generating excitement around your project.

More often than not, a potential supporter will have an amount they want to give in their head before they even land on your project page, and good rewards (exclusive and good value for money) can help them to make a decision to pledge more.

When planning your rewards, make sure that you cover all types of budget by having rewards starting from as little as £10 – give everyone a chance to get involved.

4. How much can you raise?

Whilst there is no limit to the amount you can raise, we recommend crowdfunding for a realistic target that will enable you to make your idea happen. The amount that you can raise will come down to how big your current Crowd is and how popular your idea is with new supporters.

The average pledge made on a crowdfunding project (using ‘all or nothing’ funding) is £50. Therefore, a project looking to raise £2,000 will need around 40 people to make a pledge.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone who sees your project will make a pledge, so you should be looking to get over 800 people (on average, 1 in 20 people make a pledge) to the page to achieve a target of £2,000.

5. Make sure that you get off to a good start

No one wants to be the first to arrive to a party, and it’s just the same with crowdfunding – nobody wants to be the first to pledge! Make sure that you line up the first 10 supporters (friends and family) to pledge when you go live.

It’s a good idea to hold back on promoting your project on social media and in emails until you have 10% already pledged on your project page; it makes it much more appealing for potential supporters if they can already see others getting behind your great idea.

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6 things I learnt when crowdfunding

We’re proud to be supported by one of the best crowdfunding coaching teams in the business headed up by Sami Mauger, Head of Coaching & Project Innovation at Crowdfunder.

Back in 2017 she ran her own project for the very first time to launch her jewellery brand, Catch The Sunrise.

Born out of early morning musings, road trips and fresh air, Catch The Sunrise is centred on simplicity; designed with wild women and adventure seekers in mind. Through her crowdfunding project, Sami offered the chance for people to pledge and pre-order exclusive pieces of jewellery, leading her to success with £3,414 raised from 72 supporters.

Sami was really excited to raise the funds to launch her collection, but aside from the money, some other curious things happened along the way… She has put pen to paper to reveal the things that you might not expect to happen when crowdfunding.

1. I reconnected with people from my past

“It’s very common to receive pledges from close friends and family, but what about people who you haven’t spoken to in years? Imagine my surprise when my favourite high school teacher pledged on my project! It was a totally unexpected blast from the past and really showed me that support and encouragement doesn’t have an expiration date.”

2. I realised I’d been flying under the radar

“Before I launched my project, I had been working on my jewellery startup for months. I had completed a silversmith training course and began renting a studio space… but probably hadn’t specifically mentioned it to many people along the way. Because of this, I found that most friends were really surprised when I told them about my project, which in turn really surprised me! It’s easy to assume that everyone knows what you’re up to, but in reality, they don’t know until you tell them.”

3. Gift giving was key

“After putting on their first pledge, some people came back and pledged again multiple times. One person even pledged eight times in total! The simple reason for this? I discovered that the multi-pledgers were planning to give the additional rewards away as gifts. These pledges accounted for over a third of the total amount I raised, so being able to offer rewards that would work as gifts worked really well for me.”

4. Appreciation not annoyance

“This was the biggest surprise of all. When you’re crowdfunding, you can start to feel self-conscious about messages that you’re sending to your friends and family. You think, “What if they don’t want to know about my project?” and can start to worry that you’re spamming them. What I found was actually quite the opposite. When I sent an individual message, I was met with appreciation rather than annoyance, and I would say on the whole, people were really happy that I had taken the time to speak to them one-on-one. This shone through on the pledges that followed.”

5. Not everyone wanted a reward

“I didn’t expect to receive any donations – but I did! Admittedly the donations were from family and close friends, but I still expected them to want something in return. In reality, they contributed towards my project because they saw an opportunity to get involved with something that I’m passionate about and to help with my startup business. Seeing me succeed was reward enough.”

6. My project hit target in less than 24 hours

“In hindsight, I might have been a little cautious when setting my target. £1,000 was the minimum I needed to buy some essential equipment, so I started with that on an ‘all or nothing’ basis. I’d done so much preparation that when I put my project live, it hit target quickly… almost too quickly. It actually took the wind out of my sails a little, as the big motivating factor of needing to hit my target evaporated. Next time, I’ll definitely aim higher.”