Competitors in the annual "Rat Race" leave the start for a three kilometer race through the central business district of Sydney May 2, 1997.
Competitors in the annual "Rat Race" leave the start for a three kilometer race through the central business district of Sydney May 2, 1997. Reuters/Mark Baker

Let’s face it: the days of your most basic, no-effort crowdfunding campaigns suddenly going viral and raising tons of cash are over.

Over the last several years, the competition in the crowdfunding space has become extremely tough — making the process of funding a project through IndieGoGo, Equifund, or Kickstarter, much more difficult than before. With tons of new ideas vying for crowd-cash, failure rates have increased dramatically. An estimated 69 to 89 percent of projects fail to reach their targets — depending on the platform. For every Oculus Rift, there are now countless other ideas that simply don’t gain any traction at all.

But that doesn’t mean your project is doomed. Ask most crowdfunding veterans what they attribute their success to, and they’ll probably say it was all the hard work they put in before they launched their campaigns.

In fact, having the lion’s share of the heavy lifting completed before the campaign goes live is by far the best way for you to gain international notoriety, attract tens of thousands of backers, and blow past your funding target in record time.

All you need to do is make sure you have your bases covered when you’re ready to launch. To help you through the process, here’s a compiled list of 10 must-know tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign.

1. Give yourself LOTS of time

Prior planning prevents poor performance. Many crowdfunding novices underestimate the amount of work needed before launch and are often left scrambling at the last minute to get everything done.

Be realistic about how much time you need while also factoring in time for unforeseen problems. Depending on the project, some people may need to begin working on their campaigns six to eight weeks in advance, while others need to start six months in advance. Make sure you give yourself ample time to get everything in order. This includes technicalities such as your business plan, legal, and taxes.

2. Research, research, research

In this day and age, there is a huge amount of information available for free. So research and take advantage of it.

There’s absolutely no excuse for not knowing about your niche market. Take a look at previous campaigns and their strategies (successful or not) and take notes.

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • Did they get fully funded?
  • How much money did they ask for?
  • How many backers did they reach?
  • What was their promotion like? And so on.

Current campaigns offer a wealth of information as well. Begin tracking similar projects to see how things turn out. To get you started, here are a few crowdfunding stats to take note of:

  • Statistics show that 30 to 39-day campaigns work best.
  • On average, successful campaigns post at least four campaign updates.
  • Forty-two percent of funds are raised in the first and last three days of the campaign’s duration.
  • Successful campaigns add 12 new perks after launch.

3. Tap your personal network first

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is overestimating their ability to raise funds from strangers. But why shoot for the stars when you can go for the low hanging fruit first?

Friends, family and close connections are an invaluable resource that can give you the initial push, so you should approach them right from the start. If you can lock down 30 percent of your funding goal through friends and family, you’ll have a much-needed boost to your campaign that will help carry your momentum through.

Remember, raising money through a crowdfunding campaign is not like winning the lottery. It is a process that takes time, patience and a ton of work.

4. Tell your story throughout the campaign

A campaign page should have a video and description that clearly explains your product or service. But what actually connects your campaign to the audience and gets people interested is the story behind the company.

What makes you so passionate about baking? Who inspired you to produce your film?

Intertwining your story throughout your campaign humanizes the crowdfunding process and can help you create lasting connections with your backers. Remember, these are some of your earliest supporters helping you realise your dream. Engage them by sending regular updates, videos, blogs, photos and include them in the amazing journey that is your venture.

5. Choose the platform that best fits your project

Every project has different goals. And every platform has its own pros and cons. Whether it’s GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Equifund or others, it only makes sense for you to find the right platform that best suits your project.

  • Do you want equity crowdfunding or rewards-based crowdfunding?
  • Do you have a creative project that will benefit most from a specific platform?
  • Fees can vary across platforms. What can you afford to pay?

When researching a platform, don’t just talk to the representatives. Speak with individuals who have actually run crowdfunding campaigns on that platform. Find out what they liked and didn’t like about their experience and what they wish happened differently. After a little bit of research, you should have a pretty clear idea of where your project has the best chance of finding success.

6. Offer great rewards

In return for backing a project, backers receive rewards based on the amount of funding they commit. Equity crowdfunding often rewards investors as well.

But don’t offer rewards that suck. Simple as that.

Put yourself in their shoes and spend time brainstorming about awesome rewards that you yourself would love. Campaign rewards are your opportunity to turn your early backers into brand ambassadors. When you present them with value, it elevates the experience to new heights.

Also, be sure to include “early bird” deals meant to reward your earliest backers with exclusive perks.

Finally, be prepared to add additional rewards to your campaign. Adding new rewards after you’ve already launched is the best way to accommodate your community, enhance your existing perks and entice new audiences to contribute.

7. Get ready to live online

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Plus or Pinterest, you should have a comprehensive social media strategy that includes most or all of these platforms.

But don’t just stop there. Reach out to journalists at publications that cover your niche. Seek out guest blog opportunities on related websites. Start building an internal email list as early as possible. The point is to self-promote like mad and avoid leaving any stone unturned. However, you’ll need to follow general solicitation rules for equity crowdfunding so be sure to read up on them beforehand.

8. Focus on your target market

Trying to please everybody is never a winning strategy and almost always leads to failure. The best campaigns know exactly who their target market is and wastes no energy in trying to win over someone that will never be interested.

Remember, you don’t need everyone to like your idea. You only need to concentrate your marketing efforts on one small group whose needs and desires most closely match your product or service offerings.

9. Don’t forget your website

In order to tell your story and deliver the information about the product in a compelling manner, you need to have a great website with great content. This means a professionally-designed page with graphics, well-produced campaign videos, a full brand and logo design.

Make sure your website meets SEO best practices and link it to your campaign page. If you can spare the funds, an experienced SEO consultant could be invaluable in helping you rank higher and subsequently increase your web traffic.

Pro tip: Uploading videos to Facebook will help it reach more people organically and drive awareness about your campaign.

10. Create a Plan B or even a Plan C

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.

  • So what do you do when your campaign doesn’t go as planned?
  • What if you fail?
  • What if you succeed?
  • Can you fulfil your rewards?
  • What if you blow past your intended target?

Your contingency plan should be carefully mapped out prior to launch with a plan for each scenario. It will be impossible to predict every hiccup you will face but if you plan ahead, at the very least you will be somewhat prepared if things go south.

Also, crowdfunding is only one of many possible ways for you to find funding, so keep that in mind if your campaign doesn’t produce the desired results.

A powerful way to turn your ideas into reality

There you have it. These are some of the most important tips for launching a successful crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding can be the best way to fast-track your ideas into reality if you work hard on it.

Article based on press release.