LOW PROFILE are currently running our first crowdfunding campaign, and after successfully reaching our initial funding target in under 48 hours, I thought it would be useful to share some top tips with you on how to repeat this kind of success…
HOW TO FUND IN 48 HOURS
#1: Work out a realistic & achievable target
- Take your target amount (e.g. £1250), divide this number by the cost of your core reward (e.g. £20)
£1250 ÷ £20 = 62.5
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you already know (or have a way to reach) that many people?
- Are the people you know likely to actually want your core reward? Do they see it as good value?
- Can the people you know actually afford your core reward?
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then you are going to need to re-think either:
- your target amount
- the cost of your core reward
- delaying your launch until you have built a crowd of enough interested people
- or a mix of all of these three points
One of the best piece of crowdfunding advice I have read to date is Jamey Stegmaier’s mantra “You Don’t Have To Launch Today”. Stegmaier warns against the self-imposed (artificial) deadline dates that project creators give themselves, and the common temptations and risks of launching your project before it is ready, and before it has a likely chance of funding successfully. This post is well worth a read and it is important to take this advice on board before launching your own crowdfunding campaign.
#2: Work out who is in your crowd & who is likely to back your project
- Make a list of friends, family and personal contacts
See this post on Mapping Your Crowd for some pointers on how best to identify who is likely to back your project.
- Work out the best way to get in touch with each person, individually – this might be by phone, face-to-face, SMS, email or private message on FB / Twitter / WhatsApp etc.
Get in touch to let each of these people know:
- what your project is about & what it helps you achieve
- when you plan to launch
- that they can support the project in a number of different ways (pledges, sharing & recommending your project)
Keep this list in a safe place – add to it and revise it as you think of new people who might be interested in your campaign. You’ll probably want to make it into a table or spreadsheet with columns for email addresses, phone numbers, or other contact details. You will be using and referring to this list A LOT, especially for steps #3, #4, #5 & #6 below.
#3: Send out previews & ask for feedback
- Set up your project page at least 2 weeks before your project launch
This gives you time to tweak things, to put feedback into action and to make revisions before your planned launch date.
- Send the preview link to some (or all) of your most likely supporters
Ask questions like:
- Does the project page make sense?
- What parts are confusing?
- What have we forgotten?
- What do you think of the different rewards?
- (most importantly) Would you actually back the project?
Sending out your preview to potential backers and people you already know helps you do two things. Firstly, it lets people know that you are planning a crowdfunding project, and allows them back-stage access to your project (which allows people who already support you to become involved in the project at an earlier stage).
Secondly, it allows you to test whether you have actually achieved one of the most important steps in crowdfunding – “Work out great rewards (that people actually want)”.
Again, depending on the feedback here, you may need to re-think how you present your project idea, what you offer as rewards and whether your rewards are priced correctly. Keep editing and asking for feedback until you get this right.
#4: Setup a 24hr Facebook Event for your launch (1 week before)
A Facebook event is a great, straightforward way for potential backers to stay in touch with the project easily. It acts as a ‘save the date’ or ‘note to self’ to people who are interested in your campaign and Facebook will give an auto-reminder or notification to anyone who marks themselves as “Interested” or “Going”.
Usefully, Facebook also shows events to friends of those who have marked themselves as “Interested” or “Going” (which might extend your crowd or get friends-of-friends interested).
The steps here are:
- Setup a 24hr Facebook Event – we chose to set this from 12 noon on our launch day, to 12 noon the next day (so that people who had signed up would get event notifications in the morning, at lunch time and through into the evening)
- Make sure you mark it as “online only” in the event title (if you aren’t intending to have an IRL version)
- Invite people you know who you think might be interested in your project
- Release ‘teaser’ pictures of rewards etc via the group in the week running up to your launch, or post some other kind of ‘countdown’ to the event
On the morning of your launch, remember to post the link to your LIVE project and announce that you have gone live and are ready for people to back you.
#5: Get 50 x backers to pledge £2 (before you launch)
This is an adaptation of John Coveyou’s suggestion of getting 100 people to pledge to Back For A Buck (1$) prior to the launch of a Kickstarter campaign. He rightly points out that crowdfunding is about both building momentum and showing new potential backers (strangers) that your project is credible. Drumming up support BEFORE your project launches is a great way to achieve both of these things.
- Make a public call-out to your friends, family and supporters on Facebook (and or by email / text message) telling them you are looking for 50 people to sign up to make a £2 donation to your project on the first day of the campaign
Coveyou reiterates the advice he has been given to “Focus on the number of backers, not the amount of money raised.” This is useful to remember because it really is the backers that will carry your campaign to success (by sharing, recommending and endorsing your project). If you can’t get people excited about what you are doing, you simply won’t raise your target amount.
- Ask people to sign up to pledging £2 on your launch day by commenting on the post & to join your Facebook Launch Event
This is a great way to build and demonstrate the beginning of the momentum of your campaign, and when people see each other get involved in this way, they are more likely to get involved when you launch.
- Tag everyone who responded & signed up to your 50 x £2 request in a Facebook post when you launch – remember to add a link to your campaign in the post too!
#6: Take the 1st day of your campaign off work
If you want to make sure your campaign starts with a bang, you’re going to need to invest lots of time before you launch, and you are going to need to dedicate your launch day to lots of different online tasks. Again, follow Jamey Stegmaier’s advice and Take The Day Off Work.
Because we were using the Crowdfunder.co.uk platform, the majority of the people in our crowd live in the same time-zone, and many are early-mid morning users of social media, our advice on timings might be different from those you might see elsewhere online.
Here’s what we did:
- Customise the Twitter & Facebook “Share messages” so that they include your Twitter or Facebook handle (eg @LP_LOWPROFILE) so that we would get notifications when backers shared the campaign. On crowdfunder.co.uk, you’ll find these in the “About You” social media settings
- Launch at 8am – click “Go Live” on our completed project page
- Share link via your FB event – to let your early-bird supporters know that you have gone LIVE
- Message or tag everyone on your £2 backers list to let them know that the campaign is now live – including a link to your project page. We did this via a public post on Facebook, thanking people in the comments as they backed the project
- Send personal messages to people you know are likely to back the project to tell them your campaign has launched
- Thank backers personally as they pledge on your project – we chose to do this via social media, as that’s the way we talk with our friends most often. This also helps to build momentum for the campaign and show public support for your project.
By 12 noon, you should have some backers (hopefully, at least 20% of your target), now it is time to start to contact people in the next ring of your network (people you don’t know so well & people you have less regular contact with – your general mailing list / friends & followers lists).
From that point, I would recommend continuing to follow Jamey Stegmaier’s “Launch Day” checklist and doing as many of these things as possible (without completely spamming people!):
- posting announcements on your social media accounts, including a link to your project page
- sending personal (individual) emails and messages to people you know are likely to be interested in backing your project
- thanking backers individually and personally for their support
- liking & commenting on social media posts from backers, RTing tweets
- sending out a DAY 1 Update to celebrate the support your backers have given to the project and reiterating how important backers are to the campaign
- highlight how many more backers or cash you might need to reach your goal (especially if this number feels ‘achievable’ or ‘close’ – eg “£1,937.. SO CLOSE to our target of £2,000” or “We’d really like to reach 100 backers before the end of the weekend – you can back us for just £2”)
- adding an FAQ to your update or campaign page to answer questions people might have about the campaign and project
- sending out a FUNDED Update once you have hit your initial goal (featuring & explaining your next stretch goal)
After this initial ‘golden’ 24 hours (when many of the people who are already into your project have got on board), you’ll need to find ways to spread news of your campaign and encourage a ripple of support to friends-of-friends, to your wider mailing list and to people who haven’t had any contact with you or your projects before.
We’re currently doing this by:
- encouraging existing backers to invite a selected friend to back the campaign through personal recommendations
- adding our campaign link as a signature on our emails
- making sure to include our campaign link in social media posts (and encourage sharing)
- asking organisations & individuals who have supported our work in the past to share, retweet and recommend our project to their audience
Here’s a link to our project, so you can see how we’ve been putting this advice into practice:
What do you think of these suggestions? Have you tried other things to fund your own crowdfunding project in 48 hours? Or seen other good examples that would be good to share? Please let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @RachelDobbs1
Rachel Dobbs is an artist and educator & one half of artist collaboration LOW PROFILE. Rachel works on a range of arts and education projects, has a long-term interest in creative approaches to community development and runs workshops, teaching & training sessions for a range of formal & informal groups including students, arts practitioners and communities – contact me for more details.