Quick tips for crowdfunding
I ran two successful crowdfunding campaigns for my first books, and, since then, I am frequently asked for tips on how to do it, so I thought I would write a blog to share some of what I have learned.
Before running the first one, I asked around to see what I could expect; everyone said it’s 24/7; I thought they were exaggerating; THEY WERE NOT EXAGGERATING!! Running a crowdfunding campaign, on whichever platform you choose, is time consuming and exhausting.
It’s wise to post regularly across your social media channels; it can feel like you are spamming but, the night before my first campaign ended, I messaged lots of people that I thought would be interested in the book, and, despite me posting several times a day for over a month, several people said they didn’t know I was writing a book. Remember that algorithms don’t always work in our favour, and, if people are getting a little miffed at your frequent posts, they can hide you for the month (or however long); though, if they aren’t happy to support you, why are they on your social media? I digress.
Going back to algorithms, don’t just dump and run; people will interact with you more if you interact with them; spend time responding to, and commenting on, posts, and all of this pushes you up to be shown to more people. Don’t expect people to find you; everyone is busy so put yourself where they can see you, and that often means popping up on their newsfeeds.
You need to regularly update your campaign, letting supporters know what’s happening, and altering rewards. You need to network a lot; the more people you speak to, the better. Do press releases; they might not lead anywhere but you might catch someone’s attention.
So, yes, it’s exhausting! It is worth it, though.
In my research, I found that it was recommended that you go for all or nothing campaigns. These are stressful, as, if you don’t hit target, you don’t get anything; however, if you go for a keep what’s donated campaign, apparently, people are less likely to donate, as there is no urgency.
It’s similar for the length of the campaign. Experts recommend doing four week campaigns so that supporters have a sense of urgency to donate. I did both of mine for five weeks, as I wanted to hit two pay days. When a campaign goes on for months, it’s easy for people to put off donating, saying, “definitely next month”, and, with things being tight for many of us, sometimes that extra cash isn’t there next month, or the one after.
Have a wide choice of rewards. Some people can only afford a little but want to support, so have options of something small; also include big packages, ones that you would love to go but think it’s unlikely; I did that with both of mine; the first time, nobody did the big ones but lots of people donated around the £30 mark (buy a book and donate a book on my campaigns); on the second one, I had far fewer people do the £30 but I had a few people do the £100 Christmas package (one of each of my books and a collection of other things I create), and I had one lovely man who did the bronze package (donating ten books to a school or organisation of his choice); he has also become a friend, so that’s an extra bonus for me.
Because I network a lot, and I interact with people on Facebook, I had a few people offer support in ways I wasn’t expecting. One kind lady, who runs a printing company, made mugs, coasters, and notebooks with Emily, the main character in my children’s books, on, and donated them to the campaign. They worked brilliantly as an extra that most people could afford for those that didn’t want the books but wanted to support. And who doesn’t love a notebook and mug?!!
Think about when you are going to run your campaign. Don’t plan to do it in a month where you have seven family birthdays, the PTA Easter fete, as well as your first solo performance of Morris dancing. I cannot stress enough that you will have time for very little else but the campaign unless you have help.
Think about when people are likely to have money to spare; think about when people would like to have, or give, what you are offering. My first campaign was from the end of September to the beginning of November; it was far enough from Christmas, and after school holidays, that supporters had a little bit of spare cash; the book came out the following March. For my second campaign, I asked if people wanted to have the books for Christmas, or to wait until March; it was a resounding yes for Christmas, which meant, as I asked this in July, I had to run a campaign through August. I was then told that August is the hardest month to raise money in. Great!
Through the August campaign, I did have to lower the target, as it didn’t look like the original target was going to be met; this was relatively easy to do but you do need to give the crowdfunding platform a good reason why. The people behind the platforms are definitely worth chatting to; everyone I spoke to at Crowdfunder was lovely and very helpful.
Because I ran the campaigns through my Community Interest Company, and as I chose Crowdfunder as the platform, there were options for me to apply for match funding; this is definitely worth doing if you can. In both campaigns I gave people options to donate the books, which, again, worked well, as it fits with the ethos of my CIC. I’m fairly sure that you don’t have to be a governed organisations to do it this way; you can do it if you are part of a community group, raising funds for a youth group, or something, and for businesses and personal causes.
Something to consider when planning how much money you will need, is think about all of the things that you are going to need to spend money on. As well as paying to create an item, if that’s what you are doing, think about how much it will cost to package them up, how much to post them; then think about the extra posting for those that inevitably get lost in the postal system and you have to pay to post again. And add a small percentage on top to cover all the things that you will have forgotten to include. I should say include the cost of your time, but, well, I didn’t as I felt it made the target too high. It’s your choice, though.
I found that people also really appreciated the little extras. In mine, I send a handwritten note, a bookmark for each book, and, with the Emily books, I also sent a list of 25 alternative uses for the box I sent it in. Yes, they are time consuming, but I felt, I still feel, that it’s important that your supporters know you are grateful for them; and it’s good they know you see them as a kind person and not a wallet.
Once the campaign is over, keep updating your supporters. Write posts on your platform telling them what’s happening, including them, valuing their opinions (my supporters chose the cover for my second Emily book), and keep saying thank you; it would have been really hard to reach your target without their support, so let them know you are continually grateful.
I’m sure there are things I have forgotten to share but I do hope you find this useful.
Now, happy crowdfunding, and don’t forget to eat, drink (water, not gin), and sleep!
Here’s the brilliant business, and man, that supported my campaign by buying a Bronze package: https://hostcat.co.uk/
And here’s the great work of the lovely lady that donated books to me: https://www.facebook.com/HampshireDesignStudios/
Please do support their fantastic businesses!
I used Crowdfunder, who I think are brilliant, but I have supported campaigns on other platforms and everything went well.