By Daniel Baylis
When I decided to publish my book (The Traveller) independently, I knew I would have to get serious about crowdfunding. The process of leveraging funds from my online community became a step in the publishing process that was as inherent as designing a book cover. Overall, my campaign was very successful, garnering more than 200% of my target goal. Why is that? Well, I applied a selection of key tactics to make sure my campaign would be successful.
Here are five lessons that I have learned about crowdfunding.
Start planning early. I began doing research into what makes a great crowdfunding campaign six weeks before I intended to launch my own. This entailed scouring other campaign pages, watching other videos, reading other writers’ campaign pitches, and analyzing how campaigners communicated their “rewards.” Then I essentially pillaged their ideas and drew up a shortlist of my favourites. If you want to go deeper, Indiegogo offers a Field Guide and Kickstarter offers a School. These tools are free. Use them.
Make an awesome video. If you don’t have the skills to do this yourself, hire someone. On most crowdfunding platforms, the first thing a potential funder will see is your video. Think of it as your storefront. A quality video will be worth the investment. Bonus tip: Keep it under three minutes — the Internet does not have time for wordiness.
Communicate creatively. On the first day of your campaign, you’re allowed to explicitly say “Please support my campaign!” But by Day 30, nobody in your network is going to want to hear your tired plea. You’ll need to spice it up. Try creating campaign-related content that had an implicit request for support. For instance, every few days I featured a photograph of funder and had them explain why they chose to support the campaign. Go ahead, steal my idea, but come up with your own, too!
Be realistic with your goal. It’s tempting to apply the old adage: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!” But when it comes to crowdfunding, that’s not the strategy you want to employ. Read these words: DON’T SHOOT FOR THE STARS. Ask for the amount that you feel absolutely confident you can get. If you reach that goal, be prepared to encourage additional funding with stretch goals — further objectives that communicate what you’ll do with more money. Remember that campaigns stay online forever. Your name will be attached to it. What type of cyber footprint do you want to create? I’ll answer that question for you: One that reeks of success.
Say “Thank You.” This might be an obvious one, but it needs to be highlighted. For every single funder that gave to my campaign — there were 253 people — I issued a personalized thank-you email. This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be a long note. A simple personalized acknowledgement goes a long way. Think of it this way: You’re not just selling a book; you’re building a personal brand. Care what people think of you.
Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. In 2011, he spent the entire year travelling around the world, visiting a different country each month and engaging in a variety of volunteer positions. Upon returning to his homebase in Canada, Baylis wrote a book about his journey and crowdfunded many of the expenses of his book on Indiegogo. In September, his campaign was fully funded in less than three days and went on to earn more than 200% of the initial target goal. Baylis’ book, The Traveller: Notes from an Imperfect Journey Around the World, is now available on Kobo. He politely invites you to buy it — and read it.