How to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Hello Meat & Nut lovers.
From speaking to some of you and many others out there on the interwebs, and in the real world, I find that many people have an entrepreneurial spirit but don't know what to do about it. I am truly lucky that I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from many great people. I spent over a year researching not only my product and market but also crowdfunding.
Here are the lessons I learned and how I raised $16,000 (196% funded ) in 30 days and more importantly used the money and momentum to start a business. Dave's Meat & Nuts (the best beef jerky in the world) was born from the information from this post.
The goal is to get at least 20% funded in the first 24-48 hours. Complete funding by 2 weeks and 200% funding by 30 days.
30 days is the ideal time for most, if you KNOW you will be very successful there are arguments for a longer campaign.
Now let's show you how it is done in order.
First and foremost you need a great product. It should be high quality, fairly priced and easy to understand. Make sure people would be willing to pay for it and find out how much. Make sure these are people who are not your friends or family.
1 year to launch
Google everything. Your competition big and small, crowdfunding projects good and bad ones, crowdfunding tips, starting an online business, starting a business in city/state X, your company name, similar names, etc etc etc.........
Set up Mail Chimp to begin managing your email list of all your customers. In the short and long term this will be one of your biggest tools.
Have a logo created. You don't need your final logo or the best logo, but you do need something that looks professional. There are many inexpensive options from graphic design students at local schools to Fiverr and Reddit and many more. Once you have some money you can improve your logo. If you are active on social media either you know someone who can help you or a stranger may volunteer help. If you cannot find someone email me and I have some resources.
Set up Facebook, twitter and Instagram. I will make a separate, comprehensive post on how to manage Social media and some best practices. identify influencers (people with large followings) in your field as well as your competition and try to interact and capture their people.
Set up a website. I recommend Shopify. There are all the tools to do it yourself with a ton of you tube videos and helpful people and posts on the shopify forums. Set up an email capture pop up on your site. There are many options out there from free to paid. Avoid wix (bad for seo), magento (too complex), big commerce (too comlex) unless you know what you are getting into.
OK so now we have a website. We are collecting emails on the website. We are driving traffic and sign ups through social media posts. Depending on your product having contests for samples, beta testing, anything cool and exclusive will drive people to sign up.
If you did not already, set up an account on the crowdfunding platform of your choice (kickstarter) and begin backing other peoples projects. Even if it for 1.00-5.00 you are helping the community and supporting the people who you want support from. Check out THIS article for some interesting studies about how it helps your own campaign.
When I launched my project, Dave's Meat & Nuts, I had already backed over 50 projects from 1.00 to 100.00 +. I continue to back all sorts of cool projects, mostly in food and tech.
6 months to launch
Begin researching and executing shipping, fulfillment, licensing. Get the business official if it is needed.
Write your video script. Use other successful projects as your template. 2:30-3:00 minutes is your ideal time frame. Anything shorter lacks content anything longer will not hold attention. You have of plenty room in text to tell the rest of your story. Email me if you would like a copy of the script I wrote. begin figuring out how you will have it filmed and edited. Hopefully you know someone or know someone who knows someone. A DSLR camera can get the job done, may need a separate microphone . I hear the new iphones take amazing video. You can always buy what you need from the store, use it and return it. You can outsource the editing but use your circles to try to find someone.
Pick your funding goal. This is very important. It should be the absolute lowest number you need to complete your project. If you would like 10,000 but could do it for 8,000 set the goal for 8,000. A few things to factor in here. Through our social media and mailing list we plan on meeting 20% or more of our funding goal within the first 48 hours of launch. Us driving early traffic (we will discuss in a bit) will get us more exposure to strangers on kickstarter. They will check out our awesome project and they will be more likely to back a project that is 20% funded in 2 days then if it was 5 % funded. People want to back a winner and know that the project is likely to succeed.
I wanted 15,000, needed, 8,000 and raised almost 16,000. I set my goal for 8,000 and blew it away.
Pick your funding day. An exact day is needed as over the next 6 months we will be shouting it from the rooftops and getting that day in as many minds and calendars as possible.
Begin creating your Kickstarter campaign. Set your reward levels. 25.00 is the most common backed amount so keep that in mind when creating your reward tiers. If possible I also recommend having a less expensive tier as well as a 1.00 tier. There may be people in your circles that are struggling financially but want to support you. Shortly I will discuss how much someone with a 1.00 pledge can help you in many ways. Set up a large reward 500.00 + for the big spender. Be creative with the rewards if possible. Set up and link any necessary accounts to your crowdfunding platform.
F$@k swag! Don't waste your time, energy or money on stickers, hats, shirts etc... Unless of course that is what you are doing as a main business. When I launched my project there were no frills, no fluff and no f$#king swag. Every dollar you spent went to getting my Meat & Nuts in your mouth. Not only is it a waste of resources but it dilutes your brand. There are exceptions to every rule, especially this one, but especially in your early stages it is not worth your energy.
Send your first email Blast via MailChimp. Let your fans know the date you will be launching, give them some inside scoops, what you are trying to accomplish and why. Photos!
Begin researching and reaching out to press. Your local papers, blogger, magazines, papers, pod casts, radio shows etc... in the field of your project. Let them know in a short email, who you are what you are doing and why you are doing it. Send them samples, demo , something if you are able. Visual helps an early look at your video. Let them know the platform and date you are launching and let them know "if this is something you think would be of value to your readers I would appreciate it if you could write about on or close to day X." I offered bloggers who wrote about my project a giveaway for their readers after the project was successfully funded. There is a link to an article by Tim Ferriss below that has a lot more great info on this subject.
Another email blast to hopefully a lot more people.
Press push. here is where your press push really begins. Anybody you haven;t heard from yet reach out to them again or someone else at the same site, publication.
Very active on Social Media. Drive people to your mailing list, be interactive, get feedback on everything. Build relationships and super fans.
Get feedback. Friends, strangers, forums, reddit, on all aspects of the idea, price and campaign.
Get more feedback. Share your project preview with as many people as possible. Email me and I will take a look. Check all your spelling, punctuation, links, Check it again and again. Is it simple and clear to someone who knows nothing about it?
Does it clearly cover: Who are you? What are you doing? Why are you doing it? What will you do with the money? Why should people support it?
Make sure all your day one and launch day emails templates are set up.
Remind everyone in the real world.
Big push on social media
Email press and close contacts who won't mind hearing from you often. Individual emails Letting everyone know that tomorrow is launch day.
Email, text or call everyone you personally know individually. Something along lines of "hey i just launched my blank project . I'd love it if you could support and or share it on your social media or with anyone you think may enjoy it" With a clickable link.
Blow up your Social media. Be super active and engaging, encourage people to share.
Check Kickstarter a million times and have you heart race every time you get an email. I would tell you not to do this but you won't listen.
Send an email Blast with multiple links and calls to action. Talk about the different rewards with links to project. Mention any press you may have gotten. Include press on this email blast.
Reddit post in any pertinent subs.
Let's break down the Kickstarter algorithm as I understand it. There are 3 major factors that place you higher in the search functions within your catagory.
1. Number of backers and amount pledged
2. Shares from Kickstarters links
3. Comments on the main project page (not updates)
So as I said earlier the biggest key to success is driving early traffic, backers, shares and comments. This will give you early, high visibility when people are searching kickstarter in your category. Then people who were not looking for your project find you, back you and continue your momentum. Make sure your contacts know that early traction will help you succeed.
Now that you are up and running how do we keep going at full speed.
Frequent updates. (2 a week is what I think is best) When you write an update try to set aside the next couple so you can answer any questions and interact with people who comment. Try to drive comments back to the main page.
Double Down with 7 days left in my project i sent an update telling all backer is they doubled their pledge they would get 2 times the rewards plus X . (X depended on backer level but it was extra product). I raised almost 2,000 more through doing this. I did check with kickstarter first to make sure it did not violate the terms of service.
Take your campaign into the real world. I had a giant sticker put on the back of my car with my logo, url, and a big Kickstarter logo. When the campaign ended I just removed the kickstarter logo. I had 500 business cards printed with kickstarter info on back and gave them to everyone I could. Put up flyers with cut away tabs anywhere where you can. If you have something to sample, sample it. Are there any events you can attend in your field? Get there with business cards.
Continue to try to drive press. Local and internet. We already reached out to them but let's send everyone who hasn't written about us one more email (what can it hurt?) saying something like.... "I just wanted to reach out to you again and let you know of our smashing success. We have reaching 50% funding in the first 10 days. If you have any questions on the product or crowdfunding please let me know." .
Here are some other good resources on the running of a successful crowdfuning campaign.
Tim Ferriss on crowdfunding. a lot of great stuff on time management, email drafting, scheduling, outsourcing and much more. If you haven't a;ready check out some of his other blog posts.
Here are some of the top funded projects on kickstarter.
This article has many.
This one is the coolest. He ran a precious project for an earlier model of the same cooler, and failed. Never give up, never surrender! EDIT: Make sure you deliver in a timely fashion and communicate honestly and clearly with your backers.
It's Reading Rainbow.
Keep in mind there are exceptions to every rule and people can be successful in many different ways. EX Potato Salad.
In the near future I will write a post about how to get an ecommerce site up and running as well as a Social Media best practices.
I will update this post as needed.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks!