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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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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.”