Crowdfunding: Secrets of Success

Hello. My name is Meg and I’m a successful Crowdfunder.

Yes, it is possible.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Crowdfunding is based on the idea that money can be raised by collecting small amounts from a large number of people. Instead of a lump sum from a single source like a bank loan, a publisher’s advance or Great-Aunt Ethel’s will.

But it isn’t a magical pot of gold just waiting for someone to find it. Raising money through crowdfunding takes planning, work and a touch of luck.

People are in the crowdfunding community because they want to raise money for their own project, not because they are looking for people to give it to. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But many have assumed I’m only involved because I’m looking for reasons to give money away. I suspect everyone is spamming everyone else – I wonder if anyone ever makes any dosh that way?

Mind you, I’ve been accused of spamming someone with my own campaign. I’d just sent out the third email of my crowdfunding project (a month into the two-month schedule) and I got a reply telling me I was spamming her and she had no interest in my {expletives deleted} writing. I checked that all my emails had included my polite message asking people to let me know if they didn’t wish to receive any more. I also checked the paper headed “Sign below for news of my books and other writing” to make sure that was where I’d got her email from. She continues to send emails trying to sell me her overpriced jewellery.

It’s worth remembering that even the politest form of communication will annoy someone who once told you they were interested in supporting you.

So if you can’t raise money from other crowdfunders or by asking for donations, how do you actually get money from your crowdfunding project?
The simple answer is, from people who are interested in buying your product.

So:
• Your fans,
• People who’ve bought from you in the past,
• Groups with an interest in your particular genre,
• Friends and family,
• Work colleagues,
• The occasional stranger who comes across your pitch online. (I had one!)
– and I’ll guarantee someone will complain about you asking.

So, straighten your shoulders and thicken your skin. Calculate your costs and prices. Prepare your list of emails and work out what you’re asking for and what you’re offering in return. Draft your first email and setup a system to track who you email and when. (I’ve just asked someone to take my email off their list, after their 5th email in 4 days.) Set a finish date for your fundraising and a delivery date for the product. (I’ve been left hanging over some items I crowdfunded. I paid my money, but haven’t received what I paid for and still don’t know when they may arrive.)

Next you need to choose a crowdfunding website (or design your own webpage to take donations). Look carefully at their charges – most state it’s 5% of money collected, they don’t tell you they’re going to add VAT and don’t all mention that the payment company (such as Paypal) takes another 3%-ish.

Revise your estimate of costs!

Write your pitch, record a begging video, whatever you want to use.

Load it all onto the website and start sending out your begging mails. Print posters / flyers / business cards.

Keep careful track of money as it goes into the website and encourage your supporters to let you know when they make a donation, just in case it goes missing between their ewallet and yours.

Above – play fair with your supporters. Give them what they’ve paid for and when you said you would deliver. (I always include a little extra with my books when I send them to crowdfunders.) If there’s a delay, let them know – and offer a refund. Better to lose a few quid than a valued supporter! Don’t spam people who haven’t expressed an interest (or me!) and don’t send too many emails to anyone.

I believe that 2013 will be the year of crowdfunding. And I wish you well in your own venture into this fast-growing arena.

(If anyone does want to pre-order my book, my own crowdfunding page is here: http://jaywalkerwriting.co.uk/chrystal.html or not. I’m not pushing!)

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