I Wikipedia-ed “crowdfunding” and stepped into a fire hose of choices. There were a gazillion. Oh, okay maybe not a gazillion. But a half a gazillion.

 

Funding Your Creations
Luckily, Jamey summarized the pros and cons of nine in addition to Kickstarter

 

On Day Fifteen, halfway through AnyWired’s 30-day plan for building a viable freelance business,  it recommended:

 “Read ‘Freelance Switch’s guide to Getting Started as a Freelancer.’”

Which, to tell you the truth I couldn’t find, but this seems to be a pretty comprehensive replacement, The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide.

Emphasis on “Seems.”

I can’t really vouch for it.

But if you’ve joined me by taking the fork in the road at Jellystone Park on your way to “Crowdfunding Town,” then here’s one more thing to put on your to-do list.

I recommend you begin reading, “A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide: Build a Better Business by Building Community” by Jamey Stegmaier, sooner than later.

Why?

His 8 crowdfunding campaigns have raised over $3.2 million, and he shares his insights, mistakes, and lessons learned on this blog.

Stegmaier advises you to start building your crowd six months to a year before you intend to launch your crowdfunded product.  

Oh no.

I hadn’t completed the first 30 days and now he’s telling me I’m already 180 to 365 days behind?!

Look I knew crowdfunding loomed ahead in my not-too-distant future.

It was another lower priority get-smart-about task on my project plan.

Now what?

But, how are you supposed to catch up?

What are you supposed to do in the meantime?

Jamey moonlighted until he created a working prototype for a new board game.  

By the light of the silvery moon before and after his normal work day he practiced what he called writing long-form content and connecting with people online.

He had a goal in mind.

Build an email list of opt-ins of 2000 fans.

For Jamey, blogging established an online presence and a symbol of commitment and legitimacy.

As he explains it, context gives your growing opt-in fan base something to share while keeping them in the loop about your progress. 

And, of course strangers who aren’t already in your Facebook or LinkedIn networks can find you using search engines and finding your blog.

He highly recommends joining your chosen crowdfunding community to back other projects like yours and to actively participate without promoting yourself.

Spend time every day in forums that cater to your product.

So on top of following AnyWired’s advice of spending at least an hour daily just developing your skill, I’m supposed to spend even more time writing comments in a community?

Yup.

Why?

You’ll be building a trustworthy reputation over time.

And, it’s not just a numbers game.

Notice he upped “the game” to a goal of 2000 “opt-in” fans.

How?

You earn it the authentically old fashioned way.

By generously supporting other projects. 

While you do you pick up clues from other “creators in their backer communities.”

And you experience how they’ve built their high levels community engagement first hand.

It’s all good.

When it comes to crowdfunding, almost everyone recognizes Kickstarter, right?

Which is where Jamey funded his game.

But is Kickstarter right for you?

One of your first choices is to pick the best crowdfunding fit for your product, project or cause.

Until you do, you can’t build your reputation over time in its community, duh!

I Wikipedia-ed “crowdfunding” and stepped into a fire hose of choices.

There were a gazillion.

Oh, okay maybe not a gazillion.

But a half a gazillion.

Luckily, Jamey summarized the pros and cons of nine in addition to Kickstarter in his book on pages 21 through 23.

  • Kickstarter
  • Indiegogo
  • GoFundMe
  • Patreon
  • Crowdrise
  • Quirky
  • Ulule
  • Tilt
  • Pozible
  • Crowdfunder

Let’s start with Kickstarter. 

  • Jamey points out it’s easy to use because backers can quickly browse and
    Funding Your Creations

    discover new projects – yours, right?  

  • He likes the sense of community.  
  • It feels like all the crowdfunding backers come together to make you successful – their common goal. 
  • Compared to some of the other platforms, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding community.  
  • You set your goals and timeline and nobody’s credit card is charged if you don’t meet your milestones. 
  • Oh, and it is reward-based.  Supporters actually get the product you create.
  • The next closer to Kickstarter may be Ulule since according to Jamey is a “Kickstarter-like” European version. 

Similar to Kickstarter, Indiegogo offers a little more flexibility.  

  • You can fund your life and charity projects in addition to products. 
  • But your backers will find charges on their credit cards when they decide your project, product or cause merits their financial participation. 
  • So money flows to you even before meeting your goal. 
  • A little less important difference concerns your project page.  
  • You can move your current featured level to the top of your sidebar.  
  • That may seem cosmetic.  But, just the position may turn out to drive more funding your way.

Before moving on to other life, cause, or charity funding platforms, lets review Tilt, Quirky and Crowdfunder for idea people and entrepreneurs among us.

Got what you think is an awesome business idea or new product, Quirky might be for you.   

  • Especially, if you’ve got ideas but are clueless like me about how to design or actually manufacture it.  
  • No problem.  Here how it works in a nutshell.  
  • You participate in two basic ways.  Propose your epic idea.  
  • And vote on ideas that other members submit. 
  • You get to influence product designs. 
  • And if Quirky’s team actually manufactures and sells the product, you earn a stake in its future revenues.

Crowdfunder operates essentially an equity-based platform most similar to what traditional angel investors do.

  • And, you get to participate in startups, but for a pledge of several thousand dollars – traditional angels need to pledge $50,000 or more.  
  • So while it’s not a cheap date it Crowdfunder gets you in the game for considerably less out of pocket.

We haven’t mentioned fees for creators using platforms to attract supporters.  

  • Tilt, what Jamey calls a tipping point-focus resembles Kickstarter in that no charge hits your backer’s credit card until your goal is reached.  
  • But the fees for creators are low — free or 2.5% versus what other sites may charge in the 8-10% range. (The platform is being retired in June 2018 having become part of the Airbnb family)

More like Indiegogo than Kickstarter are three platforms that allow creators to keep donations and pledges – GoFundMe, Crowdrise and Patreon.

GoFundMe allows any kind of project – product, charity, life or causes.  

  • You aren’t marching against a set time for a deliverable and you don’t offer rewards for funding support.  
  • As donations flow in you get to keep pledges almost immediately.  
  • And some creators appreciate the option to accept pledges through a widget that you can include on your own website.  
  • No need for potential supporters to visit your GoFundMe page on their site.  
  • If they land on your website, they can pledge on your website.

What about Crowdrise?  (by gofundme, now?)  

  • If you’ve got a cause or a charity campaign this platform might be for you.  
  • Like GoFundMe you don’t offer rewards for supporters.  
  • You don’t need to develop funding goals or campaign time limits.  
  • And, you get to keep all funds.

What about Patreon?  Who is it for and what is it like?  

  • Turn to Patreon if you’re creating something new like the others.  
  • Or, if you want to raise money for continuing making content you already produce on a regular basis.  
  • Like subscriptions to a podcast.  
  • Jamey wrote about the “Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast” campaign.  It generated almost $550 per episode produced from just over 225 patrons (supporters).  
  • You may consider $1 a month request for a subscription to help defray software or hosting costs.  
  • Once patrons pledge their small amount to support you, they are charged in small increments on their credit card which continues on an ongoing basis.

And finally, how does Pozible stack up?  

Pozible combines some of the elements from both Kickstarter and Patreon.

  • In the Spring of 2015 Pozible claimed a 57% project success rate.
  • Much better than some of the most popular platforms
  • It supports one-time pledges.
  • Like Kickstarter, projects include rewards for different levels of pledges.
  • It also supports a subscription model like Patreon in a flexible payment system.

So, some crowdfunding platforms are changing.  Being repurposed like Tilt which is now part of the Airbnb family or Crowdwise operated by GoFundMe. 

Lessons are being learned driving pivots to emerging business models.

And competition is making products more efficient and productive for creators and sponsors.

Popular functions and features on one platform show up on another.

But, unless you’re in the business of reporting on the changing scene the best advice still boils down to moonlighting.

  • Choose the platform tailored to you. 
  • Participate as a supporter 
  • Engage with other creators in your niche category.  
  • Learn how they convert a crowd into their community.  

While you activate your before, during, and after launch campaign strategy.

Oh, and  travel six months back in time to when you were younger, smarter and build your opt-in fan base. 

Day Eight: With Two Yogis at a Fork in the Road

Day Seven:  Is It Worth All Those 3 am Wake Up Panics?

Day Six: Who Should Take the First Step the Chicken or Egg?