For every brilliant crowdfunding success, there are dozens of failures. The funny thing is, a lot of them could have been avoided by following just a few simple rules! By avoiding these 10 mistakes, you’ll avoid these blunders and give yourself the best chance of funding your dreams.
Choosing the wrong crowdfunding platform
If there’s one sure way to kill a crowdfunding campaign before it even begins, it’s this.
We’ve learnt the hard way, that the only way to avoid choosing the wrong platform is research, research, research. Familiarise yourself with a variety of platforms until you find one which matches the feel and scale of your project.
Check which project categories (film, tech, etc.) do best on each platform, and make sure you know which ones aren’t so successful. Once you’ve got that sorted, you’ve got a fighting chance of crowdfunding success!
Focusing on the money, not your audience
This should be obvious – but it’s a mistake we’ve seen more times than we can mention.
Here’s a rule you can have for free: make the crowd happy and the money will follow. The focus of your campaign should be to build a community of supporters and advocates, people who love what you do and want to make it happen. Once you’ve achieved that, you can start thinking about money.
PLUS, even if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll still have an army of loyal followers ready to support you going forward. For more information about the value of your crowd, check out our previous post: “Crowdfunding – more than just the money being raised”.
Believing your crowd already exists
It’s easy to see the largest crowdfunding platforms like shops, full of willing customers looking to buy. Sorry folks, this just isn’t true.
Yes, having your campaign published on one of the biggest crowdfunding platforms is good, but you’ve got an awful lot of competition.
The stats are conclusive: these platforms will not bring you enough backers to reach your goal. They may bring you a smattering as people perhaps scroll through the site, but it’s not something you can rely on.
How can you combat this? You need to start building a community for your campaign months before it actually launches. You need a secure audience that love what you do and want to spread the word about your campaign. Once you’ve got that nailed, you might really be ready to launch…
Not having an engaging spokesperson for the campaign
As the campaign owner, your supporters want to hear from you!
Crowdfunding works best when an audience feels invested in what you’re doing. If you don’t talk to them directly, they’re going to struggle to really care about you and your project!
Address your audience with a personal touch and they’ll start to really care about what you’re trying to achieve. Try to be as personal as possible. Say things like “I need your help”, rather than “he needs your help”. Use active verbs that will make your audience feel involved and prompt them to take action.
Forgetting about your campaign video
The best way to tell people quickly about your campaign is through a really effective video.
Realistically, no one is going to read every word on your campaign page. Instead, your video is probably the first thing that people will use to find out about your campaign.
You’ve only got a few minutes to tell people who you are, what you’re doing, why you’re crowdfunding and (most importantly) to build a real, lasting connection. Your campaign video can also be a really important piece of content for your most loyal supporters to share!
Lack of pre-launch planning/marketing
When it comes to crowdfunding, failing to plan is planning to fail.
We couldn’t agree more with crowdfunding expert Clay Herbert: “Crowdfunding campaigns get funded before they launch – not while they are live”.
Sadly, no project or product is capable of selling itself. In the months leading to your campaign, you need to work hard to build your network and let them know that something exciting is in the works.
There are lots of ways to build anticipation, and different methods work for different audiences. You may want to tease them by only giving away tiny details, or drive them wild by feeding with them new, engaging content every day.
You can even adopt this same approach with the media and PR, writing press releases to send out and making a wider audience aware of what you are about to do. Manage this well and you’ll have a buzz around your campaign before it’s even begun.
During this pre-launch stage, it’s vital to find influencers with a deep interest in your project who will be willing to support you throughout your campaign.
Not using a clear call to action
If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
All too often, campaign creators get so consumed in the campaign itself and what they need the money for that they forget to do one of the simplest of things: ask for support and financial contributions!
No matter how engaged your audience is, you need to tell them that you need their help. Even in the pitch, it is important to make it clear exactly what you are crowdfunding for and why you need this money. If people understand what you’re trying to achieve and why you need their money, they will be far more likely to support you financially.
N.B. Always be transparent and make sure your backers know how their money will be spent.
Setting unrealistic goals
Work out exactly how much you need from the beginning…
Do your research and find out how much money you need to make your project work. If you ask for too little, there’s a risk you won’t be able to deliver the quality that your audience expects – and there’s nothing worse than a group of frustrated backers.
Ask for too much and your goal may appear unrealistic. Lots of platforms, including Kickstarter, only allow you to keep the funds you raise if you reach your target, so you don’t want to risk falling just short and losing everything.
When you calculate your campaign goal, remember to take into consideration the cost of running the campaign, as well as the percentage that the crowdfunding platform will take from the money that you raise. You also need to factor in the cost of the rewards that you are offering.
Not updating backers during the campaign
Crowdfunding is a journey, and it doesn’t end with a contribution.
Once someone has backed your campaign, they’re much more likely to become an ambassador. Remember to thank your supporters for their pledges, encourage them to keep supporting and spreading the word. You can also create updates when you reach funding milestones (e.g. 50%, 70% etc).
If you fail to keep your backers updated, it may just appear that you are after their money. Keep in mind the fact that you are trying to grow a community of supporters, who will stay with you long after your campaign has ended.
Take the example of Pebble technology, one of the true masters of backer communication. They keep their supporters in the loop with everything they’re doing, which means that every time they launch a new product on Kickstarter their audience is desperate to get involved. They’re now running their third campaign and still massively overfunding.
Offering uninteresting rewards that don’t appeal to the audience
Rewards-based crowdfunding is called “rewards-based” for a reason.
Whether you use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other rewards-based platform, the rewards you offer are a vital aspect of the campaign. Your supporters will only give their hard-earned cash to your project if they are compensated with something they really want.
Some of our favourite examples include (these can be found on Kickstarter’s 96 list reward ideas):
- Singing back-up vocals on a music track
- Backstage passes
- Turning someone’s favourite meal into a menu item
Avoid rewards that lack creativity or originality – if you’re offering the same as everybody else, people have no real reason to give you their money!
One final piece of advice from us: If you are including the product that you are crowdfunding as a reward, you should price it below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). This is because your product has not actually launched yet and your supporters have to wait for it, so they’ll expect to pay less than they would if they could own it today.