If you are like me, you have dreamed of owning our own business in the dog world for most of your life. It’s one of the reasons I got an MBA, so I would have more business “smarts,” to help me succeed. But what I got most was a lot of debt and no sure way to have the money necessary to start my own project.
Years later, my idea is still one I am passionate about….and I still have my school debt. Which means I am not appealing to banks when I go for a loan. As many of you probably feel, there is just no way to catch a break, regardless of how good your idea is or how many dogs you could help.
Enter crowdfunding. Crowdfunding (or Kickstarter) campaigns are affording all of us with intelligence, passion, perseverance and a lack of funds a chance to do what we have only dream about: start a business or a nonprofit, publish a book, record a song, or even make a movie.
So, after reading about them and seeing others accomplish their dreams, I thought, why not? I have an idea that will fill a need in my community. Let’s do this!
I would not be writing this right now, if I had rushed off and set up a campaign that same day. Why? Because it would have failed miserably. No matter what your idea is—you could have the answer to curing cancer and if your campaign was not prepared it would fail.
How do you start you may wonder? Well, I am exactly 2 weeks from my launch date and I am right in the middle of that process now.
Here is what I have learned everyone should before launching their campaign:
- Research, research, research.
- Check out the different crowdfunding and Kickstarter sites. Since my campaign is a business, I am going the crowdfunding route. Had I not researched, I might have just gone with Indiegogo, because it’s well known. However, each site has different rules and percentages they may take from whatever you raise, so be sure you look at the sites and decide what makes sense for you. For example, some sites make you give back everything if you do not meet your goal, others you can decide if you want to keep it and pay a fee, or return it.
After researching, I have decided to go with Rockethub (www.rockethub.com), because they are a bit cheaper (I am not going to do an all-or-nothing campaign) and because there is a chance I could be featured on A&E’s Project Start-up, which would be great publicity.
- Look at other people’s campaigns – successful or not – and learn from them.
- Make sure your product or service will fill a need and that others will see it too.
- Make sure you have a brand, an identity for that brand, and a clear message.
- Know your budget and set your goal accordingly.
- Decide on “perks” – gifts you can give to donors. Just keep in mind price of item and shipping will come out of what you raise.
Hire a Publicist and/or Marketer to spread that brand and message. They can get your campaign to people that you could never reach and they can help you with writing materials if you are not a word-guru. For us in the dog world, Erin Terjesen, owner of Propel Communications is a great place to start for public relations. She has a lot of good ideas and knows the industry.
Start talking about your campaign and what you are planning on achieving before the campaign launches – nothing like creating “buzz” for yourself. Your PR and marketing team should be helping with this too.
Pick a team to help you spread your campaign (you’ll get more donations!)
If you already have a website, revamp it to gear everyone who comes to it toward your campaign. I put a countdown on my site, so people can get excited about the launch date. Don’t give all your information here, this should just be to entice them to go the launch site where they can do the most important thing – DONATE.
And this is where I am at! Two weeks to go, and I am working feverishly on my pitch video (according to Indiegogo, videos mean 94% more donations!) and my letter to family and friends asking them for donations. Remember your closest circle is where most of your money is going to come from and you want them to be ready to donate as soon as your campaign is launched so give them some heads up.
Campaigns with early momentum do best.
All of this is a lot harder and takes a lot longer than you think it will, so plan for that. In addition. Grow a thick skin and then another one. People are going to criticize your plan—that’s a good thing. Instead of bursting into tears (which admittedly I felt like doing a few times), remind yourself that the criticism can help you better your plan, which in turn will raise more money. I am very glad I did not go with my first pitch video, it would have been terrible.
Also, people will try to dissuade you. Now those people you do need to ignore. Just remember it will be that much sweeter when you prove them wrong.
Wondering what my crowdfunding is all about? Find out at: AFairyTailHouse.com and then come here and tell me what you think so far.
Up Next on DogChannel’s Crowdfunding Blog: The Pitch Video!
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