Musts for a Successful Crowdfunding Project

This is the fourth article in Rob Reinhardt's special traveling blog series on crowdfunding. At the end of this article, you'll find a link to the next article in this series, located on another blog I find valuable for mental health professionals. Continue to follow the links to read all four articles and get introduced to valuable authors and content!

Musts for a Successful Crowdfunding Project 

Hopefully my previous articles on crowdfunding have inspired creative thought and given readers a lot to consider. Perhaps they have completely opened up a world of possibilities. Before diving headlong into a crowdfunding campaign for a pet project, however, it's important to ingest a dose of reality. Not all crowdfunding efforts are successful.  In fact, as of this writing, Kickstarter reports that only about 37% of projects have been successfully funded. Then there are the isolated instances where, even though a project was funded, it failed due to a lack of foresight on the part of the project creator. In some cases they failed to estimate shipping or production costs properly. In others, they over promised on delivery timing or stretch goals. Failure might have meant they actually lost money on the project, or even completely failed to deliver the promised project result.

There are any number of reasons a project might not get funded in the first place. 

Articles abound on the subject of creating a successful crowdfunding campaign. Fortunately, many who have run their own campaigns willingly share their experiences through blog posts and other articles online. Following are what I found to be the most commonly touted tips for creating a successful campaign.  I've employed each of these in my campaign for Describe and plan to post updates both during and after that campaign, so be sure to follow along!

  • A Crowd – Crowdfunding is not a misnomer. It genuinely takes a significant number of people to make a successful project happen. Numbers vary by project, but most estimates indicate that only around 5-10% of people who hear about a project contribute to it. Even if 1000 people find a project interesting, it may be that only 50 actually are willing to help fund it. It's therefore imperative that you build an audience before launching a crowdfunding campaign. Some even advocate building your audience months before launch. Obviously this depends on many factors, like whether you already have an audience relevant to the project. Social media, blogging, and press releases are just some of the most frequently used tools for building an audience. This part is as much about connecting with people as making use of the technology. A project needs an active audience that is genuinely interested in the project.
  • A Story – People love a good story. Many successful projects have been as much about the story behind the funding goal as the reason for the goal. People want to fund projects they can connect with. They want to help people who not only have an interesting goal, but an interesting story for how they developed the project. They also want to know why they should fund the project. Will it provide them a great product? A wonderful feeling? Both? It doesn't matter if you think your gizmo is the greatest thing since sliced bread if no one else does.
  • Value – Backers want to feel that they are getting a good value. This begins with pricing the rewards appropriately. It doesn't matter if it took countless hours over ten years for someone to write a book. People aren't likely to spend $500 for it. It's important that the rewards for a project make ackers feel they are paying a fair price. If a tangible product is involved, include free shipping. Yes, everyone knows that the shipping isn't truly free, but they like the perception, so be sure to factor that into your pricing. Figuring out appropriate pricing might include steps like researching similar projects and doing some market research. 
  • Video – A good intro video significantly increases the chance of a crowdfunding project's success. Number vary, but the tale doesn't. Almost every article written about running a successful campaign insists on including a video. Video is a great way to tell the story and to make the project personal. Now people aren't just supporting a goal, but learning about and supporting the person behind it.
  • Planning – Everything about a crowdfunding project requires planning. Everything from the timing of the launch, the choice of platform, and the determination of reward pricing must be explored fully to increase the chances of success. Almost every tale of a failed crowdfunding campaign includes an instance of poor planning. Whether they didn't find their audience first, chose the wrong time of year to launch, or miscalculated potential shipping costs, creators most often experience failure due to a lack of planning and forethought. Hopefully, this series has given readers a solid jumping off point, ensuring appropriate planning that can lead to success!


Rob Reindhardt

Rob Reinhardt, LPCS, is CEO of Tame Your Practice, providing consulting services to mental health professionals, focusing on technology implementation and compliance. At the time of publication, he is launching his own crowdfunding campaign for Describe.