While you can always learn How To Raise Funds Through Crowdfunding the conventional way, you can’t ignore the fact that you’ll still have to promote the campaign yourself. All that crowdfunding websites provide is a platform. The hard work is still yours to do, and you’ll share a percentage of what you get with them. This may not be the best model for your company, especially when so many tools are available to help you build a similar setup.
[toc] If you’re raising around $1,000,000, then 5% of that would amount to $50,000! When you’re starting up – and especially if you’re bootstrapping – would the cost of setting up a self-hosted solution outweigh paying for an existing platform to deal with the headaches for you?
What if you could do-it-yourself crowdfund, like in the old days? Read on!
Can your do-it-yourself crowdfunding actually work with no initial audience, no development skills and no press coverage?
Yes, it can. Here’s how:
It’s a lot of work to prepare a campaign for crowdfunding – from design iterations, drafting, prototyping, recording videos, etc. – but after all the hard work, you’re ready to go. If not, check out the 10 steps below to get you started.
Step 1: Build Your List
Any internet marketer will tell you this: the money is in the list. What they’re referring to is your email list. Social media is fickle, and still relies on ‘email’ to sign up – there’s a reason why: it’s the killer app, and nearly everyone has an email address. So never stop building your email list! This process should carry on even after the launch.
Your email subscribers are not just potential customers – they’re also your best ambassadors. They can advertise your campaign for you if you ask them to share it with their friends. That’s the power of the crowd. You can use something as simple as MailChimp to get started, although there are better options, like Aweber. If you want to take things to another level, go for ActiveCampaign or InfusionSoft, as they have built-in CRM and tagging features.
Step 2: Create a Landing Page
There are 4 ways to do this:
1) Buy an easy-to-pronounce domain (preferably one ending in “.com”) using either Name.com / GoDaddy.com / 101Domains, and then point it (i.e., the nameserver) to your website hosting provider (preferably BlueHost). You can outsource this to anyone on Fiverr.com to get you set up. An alternative is to go with BlueHost’s one-click WordPress install, which is amazing. You can also buy one of the fifteen crowdfunding-specific WordPress themes below:
2) Alternatively, go to WordPress.com and sign up for their premium package. WordPress is probably the easiest Content Management System out there – it can be set up in less than 5 minutes. Just pick a nice, simple theme for your site.
3) White-Label Crowdfunding is another option if you’re willing to pay a monthly fee. This way you’ll spend less time playing with code, and more time hitting the road running.
A custom-built site will be the most expensive and time-consuming (unless you’re in the process of crowdfunding for a crowdfunding platform), but your next best option is to customize existing open-source framework code and build off that (like WordPress did):
- CrowdPHP: https://crowdphp.com/
- Catarse: https://github.com/catarse/catarse
- Spot.Us: https://github.com/spot-us/spot-us
- +More: http://seedingfactory.com/2013/04/list-of-open-source-crowdfunding-platforms/
4) Set up a Landing Page with LeadPages. Infact LeadPages have just introduced a crowdfunding page… they seem to have caught on to the explosive growth of this trend!
In either case, you’ll want to highlight the main reason why someone should sign up. You can add your Pitch Video here, but you need a way to collect emails. Most email providers have their own forms, but there are a couple of apps you can use to get the job done.
You could also use software like SeedProd’s Coming Soon Plugin, StartupCo’s LaunchRock, ThriveTheme’s LandingPage or OptimizePress as add ons to your WordPress site. Or use hosted options like LeadPages, Instapage or Clickfunnels or Unbounce.
Step 3: Do Content Marketing To Build Trust
Gaining trust is the most difficult part, especially online. This allows you to attract the right audience to launch your campaign with. Every post you put out there generates trust, and as people share the post it generates backlinks. Remember that getting a high ranking using SEO is not going to be easy. It just takes time.
Keep a series of posts in reserve, so you can send them to your email list only. And use surveys (SurveyMonkey or Typeform) to learn from your audience what they really require. Their feedback will be critical as you build your product / project and launch. Your content becomes your sales page, by delivering valuable information upfront. This builds trust, because you’re giving first before you ask for something.
Educating your buyers is the most difficult part. Think of what you do as a consultative teaching process, where you have a solution to their problem. Once your audience is ‘educated’ or prepared, they become buyers. Remember, no one likes to be sold to – but everyone likes to buy!
Again, if you’re using LeadPages – you can use the following template for setting up a “reverse funnel”.
Step 4: Make It Viral & Discoverable
A viral post becomes a discovered post. Plain and simple: just make it easier for people to share your post. The easier you make it, and the more you reduce the friction, the more people will share it. When you launch your campaign, send it to all your friends and family and ask them to share it on various social media sites after viewing the campaign themselves.
This is where using Sumome’s Share App is the dead-simple way: just sign up for an account, add the code to your website or landing page, and let Sumome do its magic.
Remember to have a social media sharing feature on your thank-you page. After they take action, your subscribers are “in the heat”, so to speak, and ready to take more action!
Step 5: Signup Affiliates
The only way for you to gain reach is by forming partnerships, a.k.a. affiliates. Think of it this way: building trust takes time. What if you reached out to other parties with qualified traffic who would be willing to introduce you to their email lists, by informing them about a good product – and make money doing it? By opening up your own affiliate program, you’re essentially exposing your product to lots of new eyes. Now you’ll understand the saying “The Money Is In The List”.
There’s various types of affiliate software out there, but your best shot is with Affiliate Royale For WordPress, AffiliateWP For WordPress, The software packages and apps allow you to track sales through custom links. This will help you recruit a large audience to campaign for you. Think of its members as your tribe.
Step 6: Advertise
Let’s put it this way: Google knows what you want, Facebook knows who you are and what you like. Their advertising models are different as a result. With Facebook Ads, you can get highly qualified traffic at a very low cost. What’s more, a Facebook post is easier to share than, say, a search result in Google. The more people share, the more people will see your campaign. Traffic, baby! You can try Google Ads if you want just to see the difference in traffic. But the fastest way to launch your campaign is by native advertising. This is sets the professionals apart from the rest.
The secret sauce is to use Retargeting. Facebook Retargeting uses a custom pixel to track Facebook users on whatever site they go and show them more ads when they return to Facebook.
Step 7: Outreach
This is the secret sauce: reaching out to already successful crowdfunders and asking for their help. If they provide a mention to their email list because they believe in your project/product – great! Come up with a list of influencers, bloggers, and other media publishers related to your niche to share your content and campaign.
Step 8: Check Out & Get Paid
Once you’ve done all the above, you still need to receive payments. The easier the checkout experience, the quicker you’ll be able to collect funds. You can go with options like PayPal, Gumroad, Sellz or Stripe to receive payments. Solutions like ClickFunnels will actually provide you the Merchant Account you need to receive payments along with their Landing Page.
Step 9: Thank Your Tribe (Community)!
Build your community, your email list and your tribe of followers continuously, even after you get funded. Use Zapier in connection with your payment-processing platform to send notes of thanks and stay in touch with your supporters with regular updates on your progress.
Step 10: Think Again: Self-Hosted Tools = Save Money! Lose Traffic?
Some people like to do it themselves by self-hosting everything. Others prefer partial solutions. But whatever your choice, keep in mind that the various fees – such as transaction fees, PayPal fees (merchant fees), credit card processing fees, software fees, website design costs, website hosting and domain fees – can add up. When you think about all that, you may wonder whether paying that 5% – 10% fee to rid yourself of all the hassle and headache is worth it.
In short, you have to breathe and live your campaign until it’s successfully raised the funds. Then start nurturing your supporters to make them customers for life.