When Should You Hire Crowdfunding Help?

Tip of the Week

Because the crowdfunding landscape is evolving, each and everyday it’s important that we change with it. Take me, an enormous proponent of empowering the crowdfunder to be in charge of his or her own campaign and not outsource it to 3rd party entities that will not only cost you money you may not have, but  also threatens to put a wall up between you and your fans. ReachingHand

Who better than you knows your campaign, right?

Well, I’ve had a qualified change of heart. I say qualified because there are still large and creative members of the crowdfunding community that have an excellent handle on their campaign. They know almost intuitively what it needs and have no problem deploying those mechanisms.

If you are one of those people you can stop reading here. (If you’re not sure where you fit on the spectrum, keep going, because you are in a category all your own, and it is by far the most dangerous one.) To the rest of you read on.

The Categories

You have the money to shell out

This category could be an existing business with a support staff in social, marketing and PR; a startup with a small invested pool of family, say; or you could be someone with a good job who’s got a great idea and a nest egg you’ve put aside for when you’re ready to bring it out into the world. You can easily part with this money and not risk ruin.

You know what you don’t know

You are in the best position because it means a couple of things. It says that you’ve been researching crowdfunding extensively and know what’s required of you. You know you can handle certain aspects but fear that others may overwhelm you. It could be building and working an engaged social media following. You’ve got accounts on many social media sites but have anemic followings and do scant posting, because you don’t put out the effort (or more likely, you just don’t particularly like social media.) It could be that you feel awkward doing media outreach, feel not up to the task. It could be you are simply strapped for time. These are good reasons to assess where you need it most and hire out—thoughtfully. You have to do your research and find companies with good track records and the testimonials and data to back up their promises and costs.

You don’t know what you don’t know

You, my friends are the most dangerous category. Though the attitude likely springs from a shortage of funds—understandable if you’re crowdfunding—you blithely march into a crowdfunding campaign, without doing any research and without laying much groundwork. You are the category that people like me receive frantic emails from, begging for help when the clock is ticking and the future is pretty much fated. There’s little excuse for that attitude in this day in age, folks, when so much high-value information is out there for the taking.

Conclusion? I repent! Sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.

Photo credit: Penywise

The Real Secret to Your Success May Surprise You

Tip of the Week

There’s so much helpful content being written on good marketing and social media practices that it can be a little overwhelming when strategizing how to implement all you’ve learned.

Providing you find resources that have a solid reputation and align with your philosophy there’s enough high-value information to get your campaign on a good track to success.

As I’ve said before Hubspot is one of my favorites, especially for all the free downloads they offer. They also provide a lot of helpful data to better understand social media in a larger context.

All good stuff.

But sometimes it’s good to give rather than receive. So today’s Tip is about what and how you can give to your social media compatriots who are looking for an RT or a thoughtful comment or a repost to give them a lift. And lest you think that’s a nice thought but I barely have time to keep up with my own marketing needs, remember there’s a cosmological paradox at work when you give: your generosity usually boomerangs right back at you.

It’s happened to me so I always make it a point to:

Take a few minutes each day—or if I don’t have the time to do that I’ll at least try and dedicate about 30 minutes once a week—to go through my feed and look for people who are sharing meaningful information, especially about content that has nothing to do with crowdfunding.

Yes, you read that right. I do this for two reasons.

First, there’s nothing worse than being bombarded with the exact same message on a regular basis by someone who wants and expects me to share their campaign with my followers. Why would I do that when I know nothing about them or their idea? It comes across as demanding and selfish and most people don’t respond well to that.

Secondly, if social media is most impactful when you actually engage with others then it makes sense to try to make new friends and turn them into supporters. It’s happened to me many times. I’ll comment or RT about something I find interesting or socially relevant and the person responds with equal kindness. Before you know it we have developed a bona fide relationship and when I see that person has posted something I always make it a point to check it out.

That’s how relationships form and besides being a lot of fun it’s rewarding on many levels. I now have a new advocate and it makes my online time no longer feel like a chore.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 1.08.23 PM

If you haven’t already, find and read a book called “Give and Take” by Wharton professor Adam Grant. The idea behind the book is that while once we believed success was a result of things like hard work and luck, his research indicates that success is “increasingly dependent on how we interact with others.” His ideas about getting ahead in business have been praised by everyone from Oprah to Malcom Gladwell.

According to his studies people fall into one of three categories: takers, matchers or givers. Guess which ones get ahead the least? Since these attributes can have a big impact on your success, after registering you should take the test to see where you fit. If you’re a taker you may want to get some pointers to find out how to turn it around.

Here’s one of his many nuggets of wisdom:

“If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.”
– Adam Grant, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

 Image: Michelle Bulgaria

Crowdfunding: The Psychology of Choosing

There is a perception, both online and on the street that, really, if you want to begin a crowdfunding campaign Kickstarter is the *only* way to go.

If that’s true then why are 400+ crowdfunding platforms active worldwide, with new ones launching regularly? Why would anyone bother?

Some people even use the words Kickstarter and crowdfunding interchangeably. As in “pass the Kleenex,” even when it’s any old off-brand tissue.  Just recently on a crowdfunding discussion group someone requested help with his campaign that began this way: “I just posted a Kickstarter…” Yes, the creator used Kickstarter to launch his campaign but still.

Why the cult of Kickstarter? People are beginning to create cottage industries around it. A statistics genius creates an analytics tool to track only Kickstarter projects. That’s a big universe to exclude, considering just this week Indiegogo launched 1,556 new campaigns.

Someone else runs a Kickstarter campaign specifically so he can raise funds to teach other people how to run their successful Kickstarter campaigns and then document their stories. Very evangelical, but what for?

Ebooks have been written on the topic of exactly what steps one must take to achieve Kickstarter Nirvana. I thought crowdfunding was supposed to be all about connecting to the masses, not getting into a clique.

So why are we limiting our knowledge base to Kickstarter’s model? They’d be the first to say that many projects are simply not suited to the their platform. In fact, their guidelines to qualify are stringent. Sometimes their decisions appear downright subjective. Lots of ink has been spilled parsing the ins and outs of those decisions.

Sure, some Kickstarter campaigns have done crazy-well. But so have those on other sites. Recent data reports that only 44% of Kickstarter projects reach their funding goal, which has much to do with their “fixed” all-or-nothing funding model, while most other platforms offer a  flexible option of keeping your take by paying them a higher percentage, even if you don’t reach your goal.

I have a lot of respect Kickstarter. They really seem to have a vision for their site. They’re not shape-shifting in order to be loved. But that just makes people want them more! And the Kickstarter yaysayers continue to raise bars and expectations falsely.

So I’m going to say it for all those people who feel shunned from the crowdfunding space:  Kickstarter is not for everyone! Back in 2009 it may have been true but social technology advances faster than dog years, so continuing to perpetuate that myth is simply outmoded thinking.  It also does a disservice to all the other worthy platforms and to future creators who are diligently hanging on to every pro-Kickstarter word blogged, and dreaming of joining the ranks of other Kickstarter “star” creators. Many are later devastated when they’re turned down because of Kickstarter’s approval process. Others do launch but if they fail they feel betrayed, as if Kickstarter possessed magical powers that guaranteed success.

What should creators keep in mind before launching a campaign?

1. First, people do not browse platforms with the intention of finding a project to support. That’s already been proven. Any crowdfunding sites simply hosts your project. It is you, creator, who must lead your friends and associates who believe in you there.

2. So look for platforms that are aligned with your project goals.  Niche sites, like the new Gambitious, are useful because they draw from the existing community you are trying to reach. Just make sure they are legit, provide good customer service and data collection and there’s no reason you can’t succeed.

3. Next, do your part! There are no magical forces at work on any platform. If you’re considering running a campaign, begin building your social network now. And you know drill: do it thoughtfully, by participating and caring about the people you’re following, friending and connecting to.

4. Realize that like social media itself crowdfunding, and how to use effectively, is changing every day. It’s exciting but it requires careful monitoring and attention to achieve success. And if you can’t keep up, get some help.