By Kat Jenkins
I’ve helped on over 50 crowdfunding campaigns. Along the way I have talked to hundreds of crowdfunders, run several campaigns myself, and worked closely on dozens of others.
I’ve learned that there are a few things that you can expect to encounter in every single campaign. Knowing what to expect will put you in a better position for success.
When I got into the crowdfunding game, I did so as a supporter first.
The first (successful) project I ever pledged to was the Veronica Mars Movie on Kickstarter.
I’d been a massive fan of the show. I was excited to be part of bringing back the characters I loved to solve another mystery.
What I didn’t quite expect was the level of community that came with it – the crowd of ‘marshmallows’. To this day, it is one of the most fun projects I’ve ever supported.
After that first project, I supported dozens more.
Everything from albums, to gadgets, to world-changing inventions, to art projects.
I bought gifts, I bought toys, sometimes I just gave my support.
I started trawling through PledgeMe and other platforms looking for awesome projects I could be a small part of.
But while I saw a lot of excellent projects, I also saw many that … had room for improvement
Sometimes having a great idea isn’t good enough
If you can’t communicate effectively with your audience, you’re going to fail.
As a supporter, I knew what I wanted to see before I had the confidence to give a total stranger my money.
I wanted a video that explained what was going on, and that caught (and it helped if it kept) my attention.
I wanted to know what the money was for.
And I wanted rewards that offered me value – and ideally a chance to participate somehow.
I found myself wanting to offer creators advice on how to convert me into a supporter
I’ve had a lot of experience raising funds since, but initially, all my experience was on the pledging side of the deal.
There are 75 pledges to 75 campaigns on my personal PledgeMe profile, and I racked up a lot of those before I quit my job to help people crowdfund.
To this day, I still use this point of view on every project I’m involved with. I ask myself “would I make a pledge on this?”
The ultimate goal of this exercise is to move dozens – if not hundreds or thousands – of viewers to answer “yes, I’m going to pledge to this”.
The most valuable investment you could make in your campaign is to join someone else’s crowd
I don’t mean you should just go pledge to a few projects willy-nilly. You don’t even need to be putting in large amounts of money.
I mean go out into the big wide world of crowdfunding and find some projects that excite you. Even if they’re not even remotely related to your own campaign, or if you think they’re not going to fund.
Support them! Pop $5 in the koha and go along on the ride.
There’s nothing quite like being a member of a crowd to help you understand the principles of crowdfunding.
You’ll witness the good and the bad first-hand
And that’s the easiest way to learn how to run a project that puts your crowd first.
It means you’ll empathise with your supporters. You’ll be able to understand your platform from their point of view.
It will help you to provide tech support for your grandma, write better updates, and plan a better campaign.
What you should pay attention to
You’ll learn a lot just by supporting a project, but some focus questions will help you get the most out of your investment.
When you view any project for the first time:
What questions do you have about the project? Have they been answered in the description or video? How easy was it to locate this information?
If you support the project: Why? What was it that sealed the deal for you?
If you don’t support the project: Why not? What put you off?
When interacting with a campaigner:
Do they reach out personally to say thanks? Are you an amazing person who is treated as such, or are you mostly ignored? What do you prefer?
How many updates have they made?
Do you like the way the creator interacts with their crowd? Why, or why not?
If you send the creator a message, do they respond? Are you happy with the time it takes?
Post-campaign project delivery
Do you get regular updates?
Do you get the promised rewards?
Does the project stick to their timeline?
What things went wrong or right?
As time goes on …
Often the place supporters end up most unhappy is in the project delivery. Timelines get blown, communication can be sketchy (or overly-detailed), rewards can be disappointing…
If you are taking a long-term marketing approach, this is the last thing you want. You want a crowd who adores you and enjoys their experience, right through to delivery.
So really pay attention to this one. Reflect on the project you pledged to every now and then. Ask yourself: How do I feel about the project now?
What started as a wave of joy and excitement could become a nightmare. Or you could ride that wave and become a ‘Forever Fan’ of the creator and their project.
Nothing will quite set you up for a successful project like studying other projects in depth.
When it comes to your own project, a crowd of happy supporters will be the ultimate sign of success. The best way to learn how to do this is to be a supporter yourself.
So get out that credit or debit card, jump on some crowdfunding platforms, and go make some pledges!
About Kat Jenkins
In 2014, Kat quit her office job to try her hand at helping people crowdfund. She’d been a prolific pledger (she’s pledged to 75 PledgeMe campaigns to date) for a little while and was frustrated at seeing great ideas go unfunded.
Between 2014 and 2018, Kat worked on over 50 campaigns – including all three of PledgeMe’s equity rounds – before retiring to go learn about horticulture and native plants.
These days, Kat has a job she loves as a gardener at a rest home. She also maintains a weekly gardening and lifestyle blog, grows 5 varieties of garlic, and sells a cat-treat product – Kat’s Nip – grown in her garden.
In July, PledgeMe’s founder Anna got in touch, asking if Kat would be interested in ‘coming out of retirement’ for a very special project. That project – with Nisa Manufactory – quickly joined the ranks of PledgeMe’s biggest-ever project campaigns.
Kat has helped creators raise almost $300,000 through PledgeMe project campaigns over the years. And while looking at her records, she realised those PledgeMe campaigns had a 100% success rate (and 87% overall)!
It got Kat and Anna thinking. What if they dusted off Kat’s old website content, updated it, and put it on PledgeMe so every project creator could learn Kat’s secrets again?
And so we are beginning this series of blogs, which we hope you’ll find useful.