What Is 'Crowdfunding' and How Can Moms Use It?

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Crowdfunding may seem too good to be true: you have a great idea, you create a web page, and a month later, you have enough money (hopefully) to bring your idea to fruition. For countless artists, writers, and filmmakers, sites like Kickstarter have let them do just that. Here are some tips and tricks for making a great crowdfunding request to get your amazing idea off the ground.

First, a little on crowdfunding. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the two major crowdfunding platforms. Users can visit their pages and "pledge" amounts to get certain rewards, including products. Each reward should be an item -- a T-shirt, a movie, a video game -- and each product should be something people want. Most crowdfunding efforts compartmentalize rewards into different tiers and leave one "entry level" tier that includes a personal note or postcard from the creator.

I've spoken to the founders of both Kickstarter and Indiegogo and I've learned a few interesting tips for folks attempting crowdfunding. First, don't be afraid to try. Crowdfunding is an amazing engine for creation and it's an amazing way to get your ideas built quickly and easily -- and to share them with friends and family.

Make a good video. Crowdfunding experts all agree: make an amazing video. Videos help humanize your project and help folks get to know you. For many, the video is all they'll see of your project before they pledge. Does it describe the product well? Is it shot well? Do you "sell" the product in the video? All of these are important as you begin your crowdfunding efforts.

Don't ask for too much. Building a cool toy robot? That sounds great, but understand that not everyone might be interested in your product. You still have to market it via your own social channels, and "expensive" projects are often difficult to complete. 

Be realistic. Building things is hard. Building lots of things is harder. Whether you're working on a book, a toy, or a photography project, you need to have your costs and expectations well documented before you begin. Making a children's book? How much will it cost to ship and print? Attempting a film? How much will it cost to distribute online? Make sure you have a plan before you start.

Be prepared to fail ... and try again. Most crowdfunding projects fail. Why? Mostly because the creators didn't cast a wide enough net, didn't produce a high-quality presentation, and didn't create a compelling product. Crowdfunding may seem like a magic bullet, but you have to create much of the magic. You can get almost anything done on Kickstarter, from publishing your first novel to raising money for a student project, but you have to be ready to fail and try again.

Have you ever tried crowdfunding? Would you?


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