Kickstarter and Indiegogo are incredible ways to help creators, artists, entrepreneurs and more raise funds.
Simple Google searches can yield many campaigns raising hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars.
Given this meteoric rise, it’s natural to assume that therefore, every project you have in mind is and should be a crowdfunding campaign.
What’s the harm right? It’s just putting your idea onto the internet and convincing random strangers to pledge to your project.
However, you need to know that not every project is suited for crowdfunding.
Here are the factors to consider as you contemplate the question “Should I crowdfund?”
Does my project fit the crowdfunding model?
One of the most important and overlooked points is whether a project fits the crowdfunding model.
The key feature of a crowdfunding campaign is a tangible reward to provide to backers. It could be a film, an album, a product, an ebook, etc.
Another way to think of this question is: how will the world be different once this project is complete? This is what your potential backers will be thinking about when they come to your campaign page.
Nobody likes to see their money flow into a black hole. Often that’s what campaigners are doing when they launch with an ambiguous goal.
If the project isn’t going to produce some value to backers then it’d be best to go back to the drawing board.
Do I want my idea out in the world?
Crowdfunding is fundamentally public.
If you’re concerned that your idea will be stolen, adapted by a competitor, or any other reason you don’t want the world to know about it, then crowdfunding is not for you.
That said, I tend to reassure creators that almost every idea already exists in the world.
The real task is actually getting enough people to help you make it happen, which is what you’d be doing with a campaign.
Does my project solve a problem?
Creators oftentimes forget this critical point.
Sure it might be fun to launch a doodad on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. However, the ones that catch on and take off are those that actually make an impact.
I’m not just talking about making the world a better place (although that’s nice and exactly what FinalStraw did), but rather does the project actually help solve a problem that someone has.
Is it something that makes an existing product better?
It’s the unique twist on each individual project that makes it special.
Make sure you have that unique twist to make your idea that much better than anything else out there in the world.
Will people care about my project?
One of the dangers of being passionate about a certain topic, project or idea is that you have a tendency to believe everyone will be as interested in it as you.
Pro tip: Don’t wait to figure this out by launching your campaign. Instead, share your project idea with others and pay attention to their response.
This would include your friends and family, but also people outside your inner circle that aren’t afraid to play devil’s advocate. Doing this will also challenge your ability to distill your project down to its essence. It’ll help to refine your project even more to ready it for crowdfunding.
Sharing your project idea is also a great way to build out an initial fan base to help fund your project. After all, there’s no crowdfunding with a crowd.
Do I have an existing network to build momentum right out of the gate?
Prolific author and marketer Seth Godin has argued for years that the age of the consumer is dead.
Long live the rise of the tribe.
A tribe is a network of people that share similar ideas and values.
When considering your crowdfunding project, think: do you have an existing tribe that can help you spread the word and bring in other contributors with their shared passion?
It’s incredibly important to get that initial 30% funding within 24 hours on crowdfunding. Having a tribe takes you most of the way there.
Is my funding goal realistic?
There’s a general rule of thumb that every type of project has a sweet spot in terms of the funding goal.
For example, on Kickstarter, Film & Video campaigns tend to fully fund within the $10,000-$99,999 range. Once you reach $100K and above, the most successful projects are in the Design, Game and Technology categories.
This is only one part of the equation.
Other factors to consider are:
- The size of your friends/family network willing to contribute
- The applicability of the subject matter to a wider audience
- The marketing plan to bring in interested people
- The project budget needs
Am I ready to work hard?
Now here’s another hard truth:
- Crowdfunding is hard work.
- Crowdfunding is not easy money.
- Crowdfunding can often seem like a full-time job during a campaign.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with creators who underestimated the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it takes to plan and execute a successful campaign.
So when you’re thinking, “Should I crowdfund?”, also keep in mind the hard work and effort that goes into it.
If you’re not prepared to work hard or simply don’t have the time, I’d recommend skipping crowdfunding.
Look for more traditional sources for raising funds, or wait until you can dive in headfirst.
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