Crowdfunding has taken off in a big way in the past few years. It’s easy to see why, as the Internet offers a way for many likeminded people to club together. But you don’t need to use a service like Kickstarter if you’re already running your own popular website…
Run Crowdfunding Campaigns On Your Own Website
It should come as no surprise that MakeUseOf runs regular crowdfunding articles. The ease with which it is possible to back interesting new projects – the majority of which would never get off the ground a few years ago – is exciting for many, offering the chance to put someone’s dream into action with a small pre-sale contribution that might grab you a credit or a copy of the item being produced (depending on the project of course). Able to contribute more? Then your reward will be greater once the project has completed (remember that not all crowdfunding projects make it to the end).
This is the beauty of crowdfunding, the collaborative finance system made possible by the Web.
Contrary to perceived wisdom, however, you don’t need to spend time setting up a page on Indiegogo, Kickstarter or any of the successful crowdfunding websites, or paying the fees for a successful campaign (for instance, Kickstarter charges 5%).
There are certain types of project that you can set up and attract funding for using just a page on your own website, with arguably greater ease than on a well-known crowdfunding site.
What is the topic of your blog or website? Do you have a large, regular readership?
There are several ways you can spin off products that your readers might be interested in buying. Books, comics, and magazines, movies, even CDs and t-shirts can be custom made and sold through your website. Naturally some of these will involve a lot more work than others, but those that are easier to produce will make nice benefits when you launch your campaign.
Assessing demand for your crowdfunded project can be difficult. It largely depends on your readers’ passion and the nature of the product. If, for example, you’re a tech website launching a new app or device, with backing required for mass production or promotion, you’ll probably find that with loyal readers you can attract enough interest to start crowdfunding.
Similarly, any site with a burgeoning newsletter subscription list can leverage this following to its crowdfunding benefit.
On the other hand if your niche is less cerebral and doesn’t add any real value to your reader’s every day web browsing, raising the funds for your campaign may prove difficult (and the same will be true of launching the campaign on a mainstream crowdfunding site).
Researching Price, Offering Bonuses and Benefits
One of the most important aspects of any crowdfunded campaign is the amount of money you need to raise to make the project a reality.
In order to get this very important figure ready, you should spend as much time as possible researching every aspect of the production of your project. Then – and only then – should you consider speaking to your team (assuming you’re not going it alone) about what benefits and bonuses might be available for backers who pledge more than the standard amount.
You might, for instance, have an artist working on your project, one who is able to isolate some images and use them for t-shirts. A basic contribution of $1 for early access to the finished product might then be stepped up to $20 for early access plus a t-shirt.
If you’re short of ideas for coming up with bonus benefits, using brainstorming or mind-mapping websites and techniques should help.
Promoting Your Crowdfunding Campaign
There are several ways in which you can promote any crowdfunding campaign, and these methods are just as important when the project is being hosted on your own site.
Facebook and Twitter accounts, pages and/or groups are vital to the success of your campaign, but so are regular updates. For the best results you should have a dedicated category on your website for the project, so that all updates are easy to find.
If your website has a podcast then you should use this to help promote the campaign, while networks that you are already involved with (perhaps online groups, forums, even LinkedIn) are also good ways to spread the word, and even find people to help contribute to the project if there are any openings.
The most important aspect of promotion, however, is that it should be constant. Don’t stop. Make it a daily task to find new people who might contribute.
Case Study: One Website, Three Successful Campaigns
Everything being shared here is based on my own experiences managing three print projects on my website www.kasterborous.com.
- In 2010, I launched a crowdfunded/pre-order campaign to fund the printing of a book, Ultimate Regeneration (now available on Amazon). The initial sale price was much lower than that currently found on Amazon, and the target for funding the printing was achieved within a couple of weeks.
- Summer 2012 saw me tied up with a second project, a limited edition charity comic book that was funded in the same way, with all profits going to charity.
- In late 2013, I set up yet another crowdfunding project. Consisting of another limited edition graphic novel as the main product with a version including special additional content and a t-shirt for those wanting to pay more, this is also a project where the profits will be donated to a prominent charity.
Every tactic and concept described above has been used in the planning, launch and execution of these projects, which have all met their production costs and proved successful. All you need to do to take payment is set up a payment button — PayPal is a popular option in these circumstances. If you run a blog then you might also consider an e-commerce plugin.
The Takeaway: Have A Successful Website? You Don’t Need Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Etc.
As you can see, with a successful website and a loyal, passionate audience you don’t need to rely on established crowdfunding services. The risks of sending your readers off to another website unnecessarily are obvious – managing your own crowdfunding project from the comfort of a recognised online presence is a great way to keep everything familiar and in-house.
- Research the project completely, cost everything.
- Utilise your own audience and community.
- Save money and focus interest by hosting the crowdsourced fundraiser on your own website.
- Use your existing social streams and relationships to generate interest.
However you plan to proceed, we wish you well and hope that it culminates with the successful completion of your project.
Have you used a crowdfunding service only to be disappointed with the results? Would you consider raising funds for your project from your own website rather than a crowdfunding site?
Let us know your thoughts!