Guest post: three essential tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign

By Rob Reinhardt, LPCS, NCC

If you have a Hushmail account, there’s a good chance that you’re a savvy business person with goals to grow and expand your company. It’s an age-old problem. You have a wonderful idea that you know people will love, you just don’t have the funds available to make it happen. There are options, like bank loans, or the sub-optimal but viable funding it with a credit card. If the situation is right, however, crowdfunding can be an ideal option. Through a process similar to pre-ordering, you can gain the required funds from those interested in your product, who then become your customers.

Having run my own successful Kickstarter project (and backed several others), here are three of my top tips for running a successful campaign. This is not even close to an exhaustive list, but these are indispensable. (Note that I focus here on Kickstarter as that’s the platform I’m most familiar with. There are several others, including those that focus on things like equity crowdfunding).

Build your audience first

You need an audience interested in your campaign well before you launch. Expecting the audience to build after you’ve launched is a recipe for disaster. Most successful Kickstarter campaigns get off to a solid start in the first 48 hours (currently, around 35% are successful). So, you’ll need a significant number of people ready to pledge on day one. There are many ways to do this, depending on what you are raising funds for. You might:

  • Run a giveaway to garner mailing list subscribers
  • Release a feature-limited, free version of your product
  • Release videos, blogs, and other promotional information about your product

There are an unlimited number of options, the key being to have an interested audience ready to go on launch day.

Identify champions

While building your audience, identify champions of your target market. Who (or what) do the people likely to back your project read, watch, or listen to on a regular basis? Who reviews or promotes products like yours? Can you introduce your product (even if it’s still in beta, or a pre-production copy) to them early and have them review or otherwise cover it for their audience? You’ll need as much help as you can get spreading the word. Things like video reviews can be a staple of your project page and crowdfunding promotion. And hopefully, the champions you introduce your product to will value it enough to help promote it!

Get your project page finished early

Your project page is the backbone of the campaign. It requires a significant amount of time and effort and should be started early in the process. A good rule of thumb is to have your project page approved by Kickstarter at least a full month before launch. Once approved, you can launch at any time. This will allow you to take your time getting feedback about your project page and improving it right up until launch day. You will also have something to show to prospective champions and early backers for your project.

See a project in action

Want to see a live project in action? Check out my Kickstarter campaign for Describe – Expanded, an expansion to the most versatile deck of conversation starters available. Originally created for counselors, Describe is also enjoyed by families, teachers, coaches, authors, actors, and even role-playing game (RPG) players! This campaign will not only add cards to Describe, but also make it available to countries outside the U.S. for the first time!

Rob Reinhardt, LPCS, is CEO of Tame Your Practice and is probably best known for his expertise in reviewing, and helping therapists choose, a “best fit” for their electronic health record (EHR). With a comprehensive mix of technology, clinical, and business experience, he provides consultation regarding all facets of private practice. Rob is the creator of Describe, the popular deck of cards and activities that can be used with individuals, families, and groups of all ages. He's also a Column Editor for Counseling Today and co-host of the popular podcast, TherapyTech with Rob and Roy.

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