How to crowdfund like a boss

Have you sparked a unique idea for a creative project but lack the moola to feed the fire for your vision to become a reality? All is not lost.

Crowdfunding seems to be all the rage these days, allowing you to dodge the daunting task of applying for that last resort loan. For those not yet accustomed to this growing worldwide phenomenon, crowdfunding provides a platform by which self-initiated projects can be funded by donors online. It fuels ideas that would possibly otherwise fail to see the light of day.

What many might be surprised to hear is that the beginnings of crowdfunding actually came about as early as the 1880s. So why has it become such a hit in more recent times? Since the emergence of the internet, there have been a number of websites that have advanced at the opportunity to set up online platforms. It is now wide-reaching, impacting a range of industries who have jumped on the bandwagon.

You may have heard of small businesses using the model or of musicians crowdfunding for their next national tour, but now you can crowdfund too! Not only is it a great learning experience – to set achievable goals and be responsible for meeting them – it also plays as a reminder for the inherent goodness in people, donating their money towards funding others’ endeavours.

If money is tight, then crowdfunding might just be the way to go. Here’s how.

1. GET CREATIVE
Brainstorm what kind of event you would like to see held in your local community. Think about some similar events you’ve been to and what made them memorable (for both good and bad reasons) and review the concept you have in mind. Now that you have the idea, build the skeleton of your would-be event. Who are the kinds of people who would be attracted to this type of an event? Will the event be catered for? What entertainment will be on offer?

2. GET PRACTICAL
A space travel experience might be a little too ambitious and there’s not much point in promising guests a take-home unicorn as a parting gift if no amount of funding will make the cut (and as cute as it may look, giving away puppies as wedding favours is still fairly fanciful – so don’t take movies like Bridesmaids too seriously). Get realistic people, it’s important to set an achievable pledge. The ‘all-or-nothing’ structure of the crowdfunding platform ensures the project will only be funded if it reaches the desired amount of backing within the predetermined time frame.

3. GET ORIGINAL
Think about just how many other people in the world are campaigning for a similar project. Make yours stand out from the rest and give people a reason to fund your project over others’. Think about how to later reward funders for their support.

4. GET CONNECTED
Start building a fan base. If this means starting a blog which focuses on the subject matter of your project or going into a social media frenzy, do it. Begin by flaunting the idea among the connections you already have. This does not mean bombarding friends with an astronomical number of Facebook posts with the excessive use of irrelevant hashtags. No. Promote your idea in a tasteful, friendly way. Short and sweet posts that get straight to the point are the most ideal and try to keep it to no more than one post a day leading up to the pledge deadline or else everyone will get very sick and tired of their news feed being clogged with the same old content.

Break up text with eye-catching images or inspiring videos to keep your network of supporters interested in the concept. Take it that step further and set up a project-specific Facebook Page and Twitter account so that potential funders can stay up-to-date with the progression of the crowdfunding campaign. Don’t feel awkward asking them to share your links and posts as good old word-of-mouth is still the best way to spread the word around.

5. GET PERSONAL
Don’t be afraid to tell people your story and why the project is important to you. This will allow people to connect with you, as well as your project, on a more personal level and it will most likely encourage them to lend you a helping hand.

6. GET SOCIALISING
For those who show interest or who indicate a willingness to support the project, make sure you note down an email or phone number so that you can keep in touch as you get closer to opening the pledge campaign. Do not make the mistake of only giving them your contact details. No matter how charming you may think you are, the whole ‘call me maybe’ scenario won’t necessarily mean you ever hear back from them. Trust.

7. GET TECHNICAL

Make the most of the many free online crowdfunding-specific platforms available. This may involve undertaking some research but it will be worth it in the end if it boosts you to reaching your overall target. To get you started, here’s a list of some of the major sites out there: Pozible, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, RocketHub, StartSomeGood, Crowdfunder, Razoo, Fundable, FundRazr and Crowdrise. Familarise yourself with the features each of them offer and decide which one might work best for your project.

8. GET… SMART (The old ‘make it easier for funders to donate’ trick)
You don’t want to deter potential funders by making the pay process a real hassle. Use something easy like PayPal. Not only is it an easier process for donors, but also for you in receiving the funding. Just be aware of the fees involved and account for these when setting the pledge benchmark. And why not send a personal message of appreciation to people who fund your project?

9. GET EXCITED
Set mini targets along the way to encourage funders for their tireless support. A target of making it to 25 per cent of the overall target by midnight on a particular night, for example, will give people the incentive to donate in order to help reach it.

10. GET… ‘COOL’
If it’s a particularly large project and you feel particularly passionate about your motives for initiating the campaign, don’t hesitate to approach a major media outlet with your story. This will boost your public exposure and send your chances of success skyrocketing.

So there it is, your guide to maximising the success of your crowdfunded event campaign. You’re set to start developing that summer project you’ve just never gotten around to, and a way past the bills that impede on your creativity. Go for your lives.

For some inspiration, have a look at how 21 unique Australian artists have successfully used the Pozible online platform to crowdfund their creative projects. The pop up exhibition showcasing their final products is to run from Thursday 3 until Saturday 19 October.

Feeling a bit confused about how the whole process works? To hear from the experts, check out some seminars on crowdfunding and pop up events close to you.

Originally published at Everguide.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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