How to Successfully Crowdfund for Your Business
Crowdfunding isn't so much an art, as a science. If you know the secrets of how to set, meet and exceed your funding goals - crowdfunding is perhaps the most effective way to finance your business idea.
Crowdfunding can be intimidating to many entrepreneurs. While Angel Investors and Venture Capital firms are very difficult to obtain funding from, for some reason, they seem more achievable (and perhaps more appealing) than launching a successful crowdfunding campaign.
However, as former Marketing Director for a Crowdfunding Platform and currently preparing for a crowdfunding campaign myself, I can tell you that Crowdfunding is not only doable, in fact it's more easily attainable and in many ways more beneficial - especially for early stage founders.
You don't need to have wealthy friends and family to successfully crowdfund. All of the companies I have coached for crowdfunding have met or exceeded their goals, almost entirely from online supporters. So what do you need?
The following is a step by step guide to launch your campaign and fund your startup.
Choose Your Platform.
If you are a female entrepreneur, I highly recommend iFundWomen. This platform has been gaining in popularity for good reason, it provides a technically sound, attractive platform along with a support network of coaches and founders. As soon as you express interest in crowdfunding with iFundWomen, you will be added to a private Slack channel. This channel has been incredibly helpful for advice and camaraderie during the crowdfunding process.
If you are not a female founder, it still might be worth looking into smaller platforms instead of Kickstarter or Indiegogo - as it is easy to get lost in the masses on these. Whether you are providing rewards or equity in exchange for backer financing will also influence your decision.
You cannot launch your campaign without preparation and expect it to go well. I suggest a 3 month runway to prep until launch. In this 3 month period there are a few key things you should focus on. I discuss these below.
Social Media Growth.
This is a big factor. Even if you can't afford to hire a social media manager, it is not impossible to grow your following fast before your campaign. If you are planning to raise $50,000 and up, I would suggest start working on your social media at least 6 months in advance.
A great goal is to get your Instagram account (or Twitter account if you aren't a visual brand) to 10K before launch. The short version of how to do this is 1) post great content and 2) follow, unfollow and engage.
In order to meet your funding goal, your campaign needs exposure. Leading up to your campaign, reach out to social media influencers and journalists. You can often do trades or pay for influencer coverage, and for journalists you just need a compelling story (offering exclusives helps too.)
Make a spreadsheet of influencers and journalists contacts and engage with them (authentically!) on social media. Get them to be familiar with your company, and help them understand why this is an exciting event to be involved in. Then, work out a deal to get them to publish posts or articles during the campaign.
Your community is what is going to make or break your campaign. It is important to let the people in your personal and professional circles know that a campaign is coming up soon. Start sending out newsletters or updates 3 months out from the campaign. Organize events - pop ups, art shows, speaker panels. This is a great way to build your audience leading up to the campaign and engage existing fans.
These are the basic building blocks on which to build a successful campaign. For a more detailed plan, I highly recommend looking at iFundWomen's campaign guide.
Good luck on your campaign!
Annie Brown is the founder of Lips, a creative sharing platform for women, and Marketing Director at Trolysis, a renewable energy company.