Professional keynote speaker Scott Steinberg is a leading expert on leveraging new technology trends to enhance business strategy and family life. A noted industry consultant and bestselling author, his new book The Crowdfunding Bible is 100% free to download at www.CrowdFundingGuides.com, or in eBook form on Apple, Nook and Sony Reader devices.
Crowdfunding sounds easy (just put up a page on Kickstarter and watch the bucks roll in for your new video game project), and on the surface, it may very well be so – at least in principle. But successful crowdfunding generally doesn’t happen by accident. If you look at triumphant gaming projects across the Web, you’ll find that many share several attributes in common, including one or more of the following building blocks:
- A solid idea and sellable vision for the product or service
- Careful pre-planning and preparation
- A strong presentation, ideally coupled with high production values
- A reward structure that appeals to the project’s audience
- Ongoing outreach to backers
- Effective social media, marketing and PR strategies
- The presence of a popular pre-existing brand or personality that’s attached to the project, or an existing audience for the property.
To launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need several of the above foundations in place, plus a very clear idea of the costs involved and how you are going to keep your project fresh, top of mind, and growing in public awareness during the time it is active.
Another critical decision involves which of the many crowdfunding sites and services you will use. Assuming that you are not going to try to raise crowdsourced funds on your own, you will probably be turning to one of the following solutions. Keep in mind that platforms are not all the same in terms of feature set, audience size, credibility with consumers, and ultimate reach. Some may focus on specific types of projects, such as local or humanitarian efforts, while others are better suited to high-tech ventures or non-profits. For example: Spot.us is about collaborative journalism, not products. So while you have several choices here when picking a funding source, it’s advisable that you take time to check each out and decide which fits your needs best.
To get you started, here are a few insights into some of the major crowdfunding sites. You can be sure that many new sites will appear now that several high-profile campaigns have caught people’s attention, but the following solutions are already up and running:
The biggest of the crowdfunding sites, Kickstarter raised approximately $100 million in funding in 2011, on-track to raise upwards of $250 million or more in 2012. Kickstarter is open to any kind of project, anywhere in the world – but although anyone can be a funder, to create a campaign, you must have a U.S. presence and, theoretically, tax ID. Approval is required to launch a campaign. Kickstarter provides many levels of support from the time you begin developing your campaign until after it is completed. The site offers smooth integration into social media and individual websites, great online help, an analytics dashboard that helps you track your project progress and see where your pledges are coming from, and a post-campaign survey tool.
Fees: 5% if you meet goal. None if you don’t. Processing fees from 3-5% via Amazon.
Goals: Meet goal or get nothing. You can keep anything over your goal, though fees still apply.
Open to any kind of project, anywhere in the world, IndieGogo offers a lot of tools and support to track your project. It’s also helpful in that it offers the opportunity to keep money raised from campaigns that do not reach their goal. Smooth integration into social media and individual websites and a robust set of analytics tools to track your progress round out its benefits.
Fees: IndieGogo features two funding plans:
- Flexible. 4% if you meet goal, 9% if you don’t, but you keep your money in either case.
- Fixed. 4% if you meet goal, no fees if you don’t and you get nothing in the latter case – donations are returned to contributors.
Goals: Flexible or fixed plan. In flexible, you get whatever you earn. Fixed, meet goal or nothing, but you can keep anything you earn past the goal.
Open to any kind of project. Includes more social concepts beyond funding (fueling) projects, including options to vote for projects and also to earn badges on the site. Creators can apply for RocketHub’s “LaunchPad Opportunities” separately from their projects. LaunchPad Opportunties are awarded to certain project builders based on their creations’ popularity and the evaluation of expert judges, and can be quite valuable. Examples include the services of a publicist to help promote your project, or the opportunity for five winning photographers to exhibit their work in a prestigious New York gallery.
Fees: There appear to be no fees for projects. LaunchPad Opportunities are free to people who have run a successful project, $5 for anyone else who wants to enter.
Goals: You keep any money raised.
European/international focus, default funding in Euros, but supports other currency options. Also focused on projects that are “for the betterment of society.” People can additionally “like” projects and the number of likes is displayed with the project listing. Approval required to launch a project.
Fees: 5% on funded projects plus 3.4% commission to PayPal and $0.25 per transaction. No charges for projects that are not fully funded.
Goals: Meet goal or get nothing. You can earn an unlimited amount past the initial goal.
Dedicated exclusively to crowdfunding game projects. The model is similar to that of other crowdfunding sites and supports any kind of game, including video games, but also card and board games as well.
Fees: 5% of successful project for 8-Bit Funding and 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Goals: All or nothing. You can keep whatever you generate, and you can restart a project if it doesn’t succeed.