Jacquelyn Smith

My Crowdfunding Experience: 5 Tips for Success

[“piggy bank” by osito-pl]


A few weeks ago, I launched the Storm Rider Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds to help cover the costs of publishing the next novel in the Lasniniar Series. (Stuff like professional proofreading, startup inventory, and other administrative fees can get expensive when you’re a fledgling indie writer.)


I went with Indiegogo because I live in Canada, and you can’t really set up a campaign on Kickstarter unless you live in the US. One of the other perks of going with Indiegogo is the ability to run a Flexible campaign, which Kickstarter doesn’t offer.


The Flexible option allows the campaign to receive all funds raised (minus fees), regardless of whether the goal is met. But if you don’t hit your goal, Indiegogo’s percentage of what you raise increases, so keep that in mind. Another benefit of the Flexible option is the ability to accept payment via credit card, in addition to Paypal. This really made a difference for me because a lot of my contributions ended up using the credit card payment option.


Now, my campaign didn’t raise thousands of dollars or overshoot its goal, but I did end up raising all the money I asked for, which was enough for what I needed. Here are some of the approaches that worked for me:


Do your homework.


Study successful campaigns run by other people in the same field. What kind of perks are they offering? How many contributors showed interest in each perk? What are their campaign videos like? How much did they ask for?


Remember that just because one person ends up raising far more than they asked for doesn’t guarantee your campaign will do the same. For every one of those people who knocks it out of the park, there are still countless others who never even reach their goal. Compare your existing network to theirs, and adjust your strategy accordingly.


If you already have a newsletter, that’s also a great place where you can ask your readers what kind of goodies they would be interested in, since they should be your target audience.




The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to come up with that magic number is to be realistic. How much do you really need to get to where you want to go? Don’t just estimate; get the hard numbers. You’ll also need to keep the following costs in mind:


  • Perk fulfillment: A lot of the stuff you’ll be giving away will probably cost money.
  • Shipping costs: Some of your perks will probably need to be shipped to your contributors.
  • Indiegogo/Kickstarter’s cut: How much of what you raise will go to the crowdfunding platform and transaction fees?


To keep some of these costs down, consider restricting the lower-end perks to digital items (ebooks, videos, etc.). This will eliminate physical inventory and shipping costs.


Even though it can be a lot to cram into your financial goal, you still want to keep it achievable. If you drive your price up too high, it could turn off potential contributors. (I can’t believe how much I see some people asking for just to publish one book… I could probably live for a year off of some of their financial goals!)


Also, make sure each of your perks is reasonably priced. This can make the difference between a campaign that feels like an exciting opportunity, and one that looks like a straight-up charity case.


Think outside the box.


I expected to get a large volume of smaller contributions to my campaign, but my experience ended up being the complete opposite. Two of my initial three contributors weren’t even part of my inner circle.


My husband is a member of a natural bodybuilding team, and when he shared the link to my campaign, two people contributed right away. The team is a very positive, supportive group, and many of them are entrepreneurs, so even though they aren’t my regular readers, some of them were generous enough to back me, which I never would have expected.


Some of my friends are also not really into buying stuff online, but they were happy to give me cash donations. I posted their contributions to my campaign on their behalf.


Don’t limit yourself. Try to consider all the different people you have the potential to reach, and if there’s a sticking point, try to meet them halfway.


Stay positive.


This one can be tough, unless your campaign really takes off right away, and you end up earning most of your money in the first few days. Chances are, you’re in this for the long haul. That means a lot of emotional ups and downs as you anxiously monitor your progress.


The success or failure of your campaign should not be a measure of your self-worth. Remember this at all times. It’s easy to get down on yourself if several days go by without any contributions. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that no one loves you. You just need to keep moving forward, and try to find new ways to reach people.


Be gracious.


Every dollar you receive, every retweet, Like, share, etc., is a reason to celebrate and be grateful. Let the people who are supporting you know how awesome they are because without them, you would have no campaign. The last thing you want is to give off an aura of entitlement.


Understand that not all of your family or friends are going to be able to support you financially. These are tough times for everyone. A lot of people also might not see why they should give money to something as ‘frivolous’ as an independent book, film, etc., or maybe they’ve just been bombarded with crowdfunding requests already. It happens. Don’t lash out, and don’t take it personally. Focus on the fantastic people who are backing you and move on.


Have YOU run a crowdfunding campaign? What was your experience like?


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