This post was written by Ruth Rau, the founder of Mouse Loves Pig, an interactive handmade toy company. Her crowdfunding campaign for Travel Toys Without Noise ended on September 15, 2018.
1. Start EARLY!
Setting up a crowdfunding campaign is no joke. It takes months to set up a professional-looking crowdfunding page. I started by combing through other successful projects within my niche market and made a list of the elements that were included on all of their pages. For me, this looked like:
- Brief introduction to our company
- Statement of the problem
- How our product solves the problem
- Details of the product
- Where and how they will be made
- Customer testimonials
- An option to share the project
- Our biggest press features
- How we’re gonna use the money
- What the timeline of the project is
- Who is helping us with the project (the team)
2. Get help – lots of it.
Define your vision and the build your team. Unless you’re a branding guru, hire a branding agency. (Aeolidia designed all of our new branding for Mouse Loves Pig, and they were worth every penny!) Unless you’re a videographer, let someone else shoot your video. (BirchFields was incredible to work with and helped take my ideas from just okay to woah that’s awesome.) Unless you’re a photographer, get someone else to shoot the photos. (You can see all of the various photographers who have helped us on our crowdfunding page.) Seriously, there are SO MANY moving parts to a crowdfunding campaign. Hiring experts may seem like a lot of money, but it is money well spent to make you look like the professional that you are.
3. Make an amazing video!
Very few people have read through all of the text that I wrote, but they’ve all watched the video. Make sure you write your script with the crowdfunding ask in just one spot so that the video can later be edited as a brand video. Go the extra mile and have subtitles for sharing the video on social media (for those folks who watch with the sound turned off, and for those who are differently abled).
4. Start gathering emails and a support system as early as you decide to move forward with your project.
How? Aeolidia has tons of great articles for growing your email list. Use their tips. Offer giveaways of products, share in your networking groups and with your friends and family, and let them know that you’re doing something big and exciting and that you want them to share in your process and in your success.
5. Make a goal that is achievable but enough to cover the costs.
I’m in the middle of raising $10,000. That seems like a big number for a handmade product. But we’re covering the costs of paying everyone who helped with the project, all of the materials needed for the toys themselves, the marketing of the project, AND adding in some cushion so that after the project we can pre-order more toys for customers who somehow missed the project itself.
6. Get over your fear and SHARE.
A lot. Every day. You think you’re being pushy or sales-y or somehow annoying everyone. I promise you’re not. Your friends and family are SO PROUD of you for chasing this dream. They want to hear about your progress and celebrate those milestones with you. Your potential backers are only seeing 10% of your posts on social media, if that much, so share, post, go live, whatever. Just get it out there. If you don’t believe in your project enough to get uncomfortable and ask people for money, why in the world would anyone else ever believe in it with you?
7. Pick the right platform for your business.
While many people use Kickstarter or Indiegogo, I decided to go with a smaller crowdfunding platform called iFundWomen.com for a number of reasons. The biggest was their excellent customer service and their coaching and support. They provide a crowdfunding course to walk you through the steps, a suggested calendar of what you should be doing to be successful throughout your campaign, and a community of other crowdfunding business owners with whom to dialogue about the nitty-gritty details of running a campaign. They have been a HUGE help to me as a semi-solopreneur. As a small business that values customer service above all else, it made sense to use a platform that has a similar philosophy.
And my bonus tip: Make sure you’re inviting your customers on an adventure WITH YOU.
Make your goal crazy and big and something that you could never achieve on your own without the help of your supporters and bring them with you on the journey. Hit a snafu in the process? Let them know. Have a big success? Celebrate publicly with them. Give away as much product as you can. Make it a party. Make it a dream. Make it a grand expedition and then invite them to come with you into the unknown.
Ruth Rau is the founder of Mouse Loves Pig, an interactive handmade toy company.
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