Expert Advice Before Your First Time Crowdfunding

Welcome to the #365Firsts Podcast and the Expert Advice Before Your First Time Series. The show aims to encourage, prepare, and inspire you to do things you’ve never done before and complete your #365FirstsChallenge list. 

In each episode of this series, we give you tips and advice to set you up for success, for specific firsts and new experiences. The guests and topics are as varied as the options and possibilities of new experiences. 

Whether you’re trying to learn a new skill, improve your health and happiness, work on your self-development, add excitement and adventure to your life, or simply have first times, you’re going to love our podcast.

In This Episode

Raising money and funds for a project or business can be a difficult feat, as you’re sure to have heard in our previous episode Expert Advice Before Your First Time Pitching with Caya. Many people nowadays are looking to new and innovative forms of fundraising, using newer technologies, social media platforms and outlets to connect with potential buyers and customers. 

That’s why crowdfunding has become so popular. Crowdfunding is a wonderful way to get a project or business the money it needs to get off of the ground or raise to a new level.

Today, we’re joined by a talented expert in the world of business, community development and crowdfunding, who’s going to help us look at everything you need to know for success. Jono is a crowdfunding genius, who has raised a total of $13,809,171 through three different campaigns in his career. 

The Guest Expert

In this episode, we’re joined by Jono Bacon. He is a thought leader who has made waves as a community manager, speaker, author and podcaster. He founded Jono Bacon Consulting, which offers community strategy, developer workflow and plenty of other helpful services.

Previously, Jono has made an impact in a number of notable roles. He served as the director of community at GitHub, Canonical, XPRIZE and Open Advantage. He has also consulted with and given advice to a number of unique organizations across the country.

Jono is a prominent author and keynote speaker when it comes to community management and best practice. He wrote ‘People Powered: How communities can supercharge your business, brand and teams’ and ‘ The Art Of Community’. He is also the founder of the primary annual conference for community managers and leaders, the Community Leadership Summit.

Back in 2013, Jono helped to shape one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns at the time, the Ubuntu Edge, which had a $32million goal and ended up raising $12,814,216. Even though this campaign did not hit the specified goal, it still set records for the sheer amount of funds that were raised.

After this, Jono ran a campaign for the Global Learning XPRIZE, which had a $500,000 goal for fundraising efforts. This campaign raised a whopping $942,223, which was incredible. He also worked on a campaign with ZBiotics, where the goal was $25,000 and the end total was $52,732. As you can see, Jono is the man to go to if you need help with crowdfunding. 

What You Need To Know About Crowdfunding For The First Time

Jono started off the episode by describing the concept of crowdfunding. He gave the definition of crowdfunding as being a way for products and businesses to be funded by a community of people through running a campaign. He added how this differs greatly to how historically products would require up-front capital or even a loan.

Crowdfunding campaigns often involve platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to showcase new products to the community/backers and ask for funds. Typically, campaigns will offer perks to customers who pledge money at various amounts/levels. They may promote the product directly, or offer up other interesting perks such as relevant merchandise, social media shoutouts or access to other exclusive offers in the future.

Creating Your Campaign

He noted one of the most important things to do when running a campaign is to create a full experience that entertains the audience consistently and keeps them in the loop. Campaigns can take quite a long time (ranging from weeks to months, usually) and being able to keep people’s attention for a lengthy time is an important skill to have. 

When it comes to planning your campaign, Jono advised it can be helpful to break the campaign into three pieces. Firstly, try to clearly establish your offering and your particular goals for your fundraising efforts. Some platforms may have requirements for brands to have a prototype for their product, which is worth looking into. Try to know exactly what you need for success, in terms of your plans, marketing and content. 

Next, try to plan out your timeline. You should plan out a timeline starting from a few weeks before your campaign, to your post campaign efforts. Pre-launch efforts can be immensely helpful, and many use tools like social media platforms or livestreaming to drum up excitement. Maintain as much momentum throughout your campaign as possible.

Finally, when picking out perks, try to consider what exactly your audience will want. Do they really need another t-shirt? Or do they want extra time with your product or perks for your app? Be realistic and consider their interests when planning this section out. 

Jono wants people who are considering physical perks like merchandise or gifts to be cautious of shipping costs globally. Some countries do not have reliable postal services, and some people may never get their merchandise. This can make a brand seem untrustworthy, and can lead to credibility and profit loss.

It’s important to know, in most cases, if a campaign doesn’t hit its target mark, the campaign will not be funded at all. This means crowdfunding can feel quite intense, as it’s very much an ‘all or nothing’ style of funding. 

Jono urged the audience to put their focus on being organized, creating an experience and building a community when setting out to run a crowdfunding campaign.

Ideal Length of Campaign

Deciding on a campaign length and goal can be difficult. Jono suggested 30 days as an ideal length for a campaign, and noted that Indiegogo also advised this length as well.

How much to raise

Jono admitted picking a goal for funding can be difficult, as it very much depends on the campaign and product in question. Being analytical of your costs, resources and aims is incredibly important here. Be optimistic of course, but remain realistic and keep a track record of your costs and resources wherever possible too.  Your ask must match what you claim you’ll achieve with the money.

If you’re trying to raise funding for a non-philanthropic cause, opting for the ‘all or nothing’ style of funding is always a good choice because it’s otherwise suspicious. For philanthropic causes, people are more likely to be willing to give to the cause no matter what.

Identify Your Customer

Establishing your audience is another important part of running a crowdfunding campaign. Is there an audience for your product or service, and are people going to buy it? Knowing who you’re selling to and how to get their attention is vital for success. Jono noted how having an existing community is helpful but not essential for succeeding with a campaign.

One of Jono’s most interesting pieces of advice is to assume customers are very cynical beings. Try to consider why customers should care, and base your campaign around this. After all, why should people care? Highlight the benefits and capabilities your supporters will receive, and anticipate as many questions as possible when preparing your goal.

Create Content Aimed at Marketing

Jono highlighted how crowdfunding is best thought of as a marketing tool to raise awareness, not just a funding tool. It’s incredible for building awareness, gathering opinions and promoting a product – and the fundraising is the cherry on top!

Jono really encouraged aspiring crowdfunders to think about their campaign as creatively as possible. Focus on making your pitch video as inspiring and educational as possible, and think outside the box for ways to grab people’s attention, keep them engaged and generate referrals.

Referrals and endorsements are key to having a successful campaign.

Keeping your audience assured of your product and its quality is always a good idea. Creating content that shows the manufacturing process or technical details can be wonderful, as can competitions, endorsements and recommendations. Make these pieces of content visual, exciting and captivating. 

There are a lot of built in tools when it comes to crowdfunding campaign platforms, which is great. Many of them will have campaign update messaging tools, which is very handy for keeping your audience engaged and happy. Jono advised keeping an active and positive presence online is a brilliant way to improve your success rates overall too. 

Jono noted that the crowdfunding space is currently incredibly oversubscribed and there is a lot of competition. He advised people should be looking into what makes them stand out from the crowd, and brainstorming with peers, loved ones and about how to make their campaign unique.

Overall, crowdfunding is a wonderful way to raise money for a business and to bring attention to a product. If you are going to launch a campaign, make sure to do your research and plan out your every move accordingly. 

Get In Touch With Jono

It was wonderful speaking with Jono and getting the scoop about crowdfunding. If you’d like to reach out to Jono, you can reach him at www.jonobacon.com to find out more about what he does and ask any questions that you might have.

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Is there something in particular that you want advice on? Are there things that you think we could be doing better as a team? Please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team at contact@365firstschallenge.com today.

What’s Coming Up Next Time?

New episodes of Expert Advice Before Your First Time are released every Thursday, and we’ve got a wonderful roster of guests lined up to give you more expert advice. 

On the 26th, we have a fantastic episode lined up with Lee Binz, of the HomeScholar to help you with what might now be a very pressing issue of how to homeschool your children. After that on the 2nd of April, we’ll be speaking to Noami Beaty about writing your first screenplay, since now you have more time on your hands.

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