So you want to have a crowdfunding campaign. You should know that it isn’t enough to need cash for a vacation or to find that you are overwhelmed with bills to set up a Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign. Kickstarter is set up to support entrepreneurial events or products. There are very specific rules about the kinds of items or services for which you can request Kickstarter funds or that you can offer as rewards.
With that said, the first thing you need to begin a Kickstarter is a great idea – but your idea does have to lead to some sort of tangible product. Tangible can have a pretty flexible interpretation – it can range from a display at Burning Man to digital downloads or even travel expenses for a concert tour. In every case, campaigners need something that can actually be delivered to the contributors who pledge their support to your product, idea or production.
Great ideas are everywhere – from better screwdrivers to artworks built around remote light sensors. They begin with something about the things that move you – art, literature, sports, or an ideal that inspires you to put in those hours after work and before your family gets up to be able to spend a few precious minutes working on the thing that inspires you the most. Passion is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, but a great idea truly is something about which you are passionate. You will talk about it to strangers, to your pets, and you’ve talked about to your family until they either join you or plug their ears as soon as you open your mouth with that certain look in your eye. A great idea is one that keeps nagging at you until you give up and do something about it.
Once you have your great idea, you have to develop it. That is where the working late at night, and then again early in the morning part comes in. You make models, you create prototypes, your write up schedules, you dream – and you begin to plan. Dreams are easy; getting a moments inspiration is easy; turning dreams into reality is hard. Before you ever set up even the idea of a Kickstarter or other crowdfunder, you need to put into your dream what house builders call sweat equity. Translated, that means that the owner puts in a lot of hard work.
You might ask what sort of work – and that depends upon your particular dream. If you have always wanted to be a rock star, then you need to learn to play a musical instrument, or sing exceptionally well. You need to learn music theory, you need to write down your ideas for songs, you need to sing or play and record them – amateur recordings at first, just so you can hear and critique yourself. If you are an artist, you need to draw, paint or sculpt on a regular basis. Art is a manual skill, somewhat like driving a car or riding a bicycle. You might not forget it completely if you put it aside for a while, but you will certainly lose that fine edge needed for competitive success. Speaking of racing, maybe that is what you want to do – on foot, with a horse or even in a car. Whatever it is that inspires you, the work of developing your idea comes before setting up a crowdfunding campaign. You need to have your part of the process firmly in hand before you ask others to back your project.
Eventually, there is a point in any project that requires funding. That is where crowdfunding comes in. When your dream requires funding from unconventional sources, small amounts (or even large amounts) from many people can make your dream come true.
For best success, plan specific steps that will need to happen in order for you to meet your goal. Set up a budget – and make sure it includes the cost of rewarding your supporters for their help. Line up your reward source, and plan for how rewards will be delivered. These are things that can make your crowdfunding campaign a success or failure. If your product will require a manufacturer, shop around for the best one to make your product. Discuss terms of production, methods of delivery – and if your goods must cross state or national lines, be sure to figure in costs of customs or sales tax. Do the same for any rewards you might need – such as t-shirts or hats. And speaking of tax, be sure to speak with your tax preparer about the best way to report and pay tax on the money you receive from your crowdfunding event – because you will likely have to pay some. If you plan to continue making the product after the campaign is over, discuss future costs of further manufacturing with your supplier.
Another thing to think about is who will contribute to your crowdfunding campaign – aside from family and friends, of course. Since they can only be counted on for a small portion of your funding needs, you will need to look for an additional audience to help pay your start-up costs. People who are also interested in endeavors like yours constitute a community that you can tap into for support.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of social media and social contacts. Encourage people who are interested in your inspired idea to tell other people about it, even if they cannot contribute monetarily. Posts on Facebook and Twitter help tell the people who run your crowdfunding platform whether or not there is a lot of interest in your concept – and that drives their placement of your campaign post. The more people who hear about your project, the greater the chance that some of them will pledge at least a dollar to support your project. Maybe your project isn’t the sort to attract big money – but those small pledges can add up after a while.
When you want to have a crowdfunding campaign, it starts with a great idea, and then you invest your time, energy and even personal funds in development. Finally, you ask others to contribute their support of your dream.