For entrepreneurs and bootstrappers the world over, crowdfunding sounds like a dream.

You can secure funding for your business without taking on debt or even giving up equity (in some cases.) Engaged, passionate backers contribute to your new venture, and you raise the capital necessary to bring your product to market or scale the business. It’s all upside, right?

Crowdfunding is undeniably a huge development for small business funding. As much as $9.5 billion was raised in North America alone last year – a 146% increase over the prior year. In fact, the World Bank Crowdfunding Report estimates that the global industry will hit $93 billion by 2025.

So why isn’t everyone and their brother crowdfunding a startup? It isn’t right for every type of business, but the biggest detractor is that it takes a good amount time and effort to pull off a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign. And if there’s one thing that tends to get in the way of success, it’s hard work.

To help offset that time and effort investment, we put together this handy dandy guide to the ins and outs of launching a crowdfunding campaign that crushes its funding goals.

What the Most Successful Campaigns Get Right

successful crowdfunding

The easiest way to cut down any learning curve is to pour over the experience of others who’ve gone before you. We’re big proponents of learning from our predecessors, so we’ll start by taking a look at what the most successful Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo campaigns do really well.

Product/Market Fit

Crowdfunding can seem like a good way to test market validation. If people invest in your business, that means there’s a pool of customers out there waiting, right?

In reality, a crowdfunding campaign isn’t the venue for testing this. In order to attract backers, you need to already know that:

  1. people will buy your product and

  2. who they are.

Approach your campaign just like marketing the actual product because *that’s what you’re doing. *If you’re out there trying to find out who to target while your campaign sits vacant at $0, the outlook isn’t great. Most campaigns bring in a large chunk of funding in the first 3 days, so it should be fully fleshed out and ready to hit the ground running before you launch.

Build Your Own Audience

Most of the big crowdfunding websites have their own audience – legions of followers who are interested in investing and helping bring new products to market. These followers are super engaged with the crowdfunding community... but that doesn’t always work out in your favor.

For one, there’s no guarantee they’ll be interested in your project. And in addition, avid backers have a lot options and limited capital to give – competition for their dollars is stiff.

That’s why it’s absolutely vital to bring your own audience to the table. Just like marketing a product, you have to build a loyal following. Find the early adopters – people who are as crazy about your idea as you are – and engage with them. Then make the ask. Don’t rely on Kickstarter to find those people for you.

Tell a Story

We’re bordering on marketing cliché here, but it’s as true today as the day someone first muttered "What if we build a story around our product?"

Crowdfunding backers aren’t that different from your average consumer – they’re still looking for a compelling reason to cough up some cash. Building a story around your product, your customers, and their pain-point(s) helps establish an urgent need for what you’re offering.

And just like traditional investors, backers aren’t just buying into your product – you need them to buy into you, the entrepreneur, too. That’s why taking a two-pronged approach to storytelling for your campaign can help you tell your own personal journey and explain how you came to be where you are.

Choosing the Right Platform

Now that you have an idea of what goes into a successful crowdfunding campaign, let’s look at the options you have for which platform to use. There are a ton of crowdfunding websites out there now – the most popular being Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe – but they’re far from one-size-fits-all.

Here are a few things to consider before you settle on a platform:

Setting Up the Campaign

The back-end mechanics of setting up a campaign will vary from website to website, but the content and information you’ll need are the same.

The first, and possibly most important, thing is to set your funding target. How much money are you hoping to raise? A lot goes into this decision.

Content for Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Think of creating content for your campaign just as you would building your website. You have a limited share of potential backers’ attention and screen space, so it’s important that every letter and image packs a punch.

Selling It

If you’ve already launched your business, you know that having the right stuff is only half the battle – you need people to hear about it, too. In the same way, promoting your campaign is a huge part of finding success with crowdfunding.

Here are a few ways to rock the promotion side of things:

Hit Your Crowdfunding Goal

Crowdfunding is far from a hands-off way to gather funding for your business, but it can be incredibly powerful. With the right insights and a little elbow grease, you can turn a crowdfunding campaign into the next step for your business – and even learn a little more about marketing along the way.

P.S. If you’re still feeling lost, Foundr Mag has a super in-depth guide on the step-by-step process of launching a crowdfunding campaign.