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Sage advice for Creative Crowdfunders

Rena Tom her dynamic team of collaborators just celebrated reaching their $30,000 goal on Kickstarter for Makeshift Society’s recent crowdfunding campaign for their expansion into Brooklyn. Congrats, MakeshiftBK!


When Rena asked for some help as they mapped out their Kickstarter strategy, I was happy to oblige. I was in the final stages of writing my book, Get Funded, and was excited to share it in its early form.

I love working at Makeshift because it’s full of dynamos—from designers, to makers, to bloggers, to shopkeepers. No matter the specialty, it’s full of creative individuals at their best.

But for many who identify as creative entrepreneurs, taking the time to map out a plan before diving in can feel daunting. The excitement of what you want to create is gnawing away at your creative mind—the idea of a spreadsheet just takes the air out of it, doesn’t it?

But don’t worry, it IS conquerable and smart planning and the right tools will get you there.

While my book and kit aren’t free, my biggest piece of advice and FIRST step of the process is! With that – here are my first five steps of crowdfunding. It helped the dynamos at Makeshift, and I think you’ll love it, too!

(1) Ask yourself: Why are you making this project?

In my own business, whether I am working on a big campaign, taking on a    new client, or pitching a story, I tell clients to start with their passion and what truly compels them to get behind their project. Author Simon Sinek delivers a powerful TED Talk called Start with the Why where he talks about the connection between what you do and who you serve. (I encourage you to bookmark it for future inspiration.) As I said before, crowdfunding is personal. So go deep and really dig into what it is you love about what you do.

Ask yourself: “What motivates me? Why am I passionate about this? What gets me up in the morning and compels me to work on this dream?” And believe it or not, “because it’s cool” is actually not a terrible answer. Let’s just make sure to expand on what makes it so dang cool and what is new and different and never-been-done about it.

(2) Define the bigger picture: Why does it benefit the world?

Okay, okay. Benefit the world may be a tall order. But the point I’m getting at is who is the community of folks you’re serving and why do they love your product? If how your project is serving the greater good is clear—like a nonprofit or social justice campaign—then awesome. If the campaign is for a new product or a gorgeous piece of art, the benefit is still an important part of the equation. Push yourself a little deeper and find the emotional connection to the consumer. How does it make her life better, easier, or even just a little more beautiful?

(3) Know what you’re putting into it.

If you’re asking me for money, then you need to let me know that you’ve done your homework and you’re ALL IN. What have you done up until this point? Get technical, get nerdy, get detailed. Have you put up your own cash to secure an element of the project? Have you spent hours, months, or years prototyping and testing? Will you promise not to stop working until this idea comes to life?

Don’t be afraid to say “I’ve been planning for months on X, Y, and Z. All the parts are in place. I just need a little cash for _____.” Is it a production budget? Marketing budget? Supplies? All of the above? You don’t have to be overly specific, but you will need some general details. “Back me” isn’t as strong as “We’ll be using the money to buy source materials like wood, paint, and glue”

(4) Identify your audience and create a community.

Depending on the size and scope of your campaign, you’re going to want to be VERY clear on who your target audience is. While it’d be great to sell your dream photo book to all your Facebook friends, the reality is that most crowdfunding campaigns serve a pretty niche market. Do some homework and figure out the kind of person who would love your product.

Once you have an idea of the kind of person you’re looking to connect with, you have to take it one step further and start asking some detailed questions to get a clear picture of not just what they like but what they value. What do they care about? What do they read? Where do they go for inspiration? How might they learn about your campaign?
Crowdfunding depends on the kindness of strangers, so do some homework and be clear on the person you’re looking to connect with and make sure that your message will resonate.

(5) What are they going to get out of becoming a 
part of this project?

Now this question has two answers. There is the literal: the amazing rewards you’ve created that your backers will get with your campaign (and they better be pretty sweet). And there is the figurative: the community of people your backer is identifying with by supporting you.

Great brands know that it’s more than just a product; it’s a sense of identity. Buying an Eames chair, identifying with a cool new band, or being the first to a new trend—the brands and products you use send a message about you as a consumer. And cool-factor aside, supporting a brand, person, or cause can also just be about being likable. I mean, how many times have you bought something because you liked the person who made it as much as you liked the product itself?

If you’re looking for more advice, check out my step-by-step guide called, Get Funded: A kick-ass plan for running a successful crowdfunding campaign. In it, I map out from start to finish how to plan and manage the promotion of your crowdfunding campaign.

Want more advice to build your brand? Follow me @NicoleDelger.