Blog / Intro to Crowdfunding: How to create a compelling story

Here's how to create a compelling story that convinces people to help fund your crowdfunding campaign.

Posted by Lauren McKenna on April 17, 2019

You could have a business idea that would eliminate world poverty in one fell swoop but without a good story no one will give you the money to make it happen. A compelling story is essential for a successful crowdfunding campaign, regardless of which platform you choose, so it's worth it to spend a lot of time crafting it. Successful crowdfunding entrepreneur Kit Hickey even went so far as to talk to 150 people in order to get a better understanding of just why her product was so great before she created her page on Kickstarter. That's the kind of dedication we're talking about!

Most crowdfunding campaigns will contain four major components: video, text, images, and rewards. Let's break them down one by one.

1) Video - Kickstarter has found that campaigns with videos get funded about 50% of the time, while those that don't have them get funded about 30% of the time. (In general, 40% of campaigns on Kickstarter meet their funding goals.) That number alone shows just how important it is to have a video on your campaign page.

But if you've never made a video before or you don't have fancy equipment, don't stress too much about it. Marketing expert Neil St. Clair says in his article in Forbes that the best crowdfunding videos are the ones that truly represent their creator and the product. So, if you're a kind of DIY person raising money for a DIY project, then a DIY-style video shot on your phone makes sense. However, if you're creating a slick, smoothly designed product, then you're going to need to invest a little bit more in production and you might even want to consider hiring a professional content team. St. Clair recommends that you take the time to think about what the best fit is for your budget and your brand before you dive into creating your video. Check out his article for breakdowns on a couple different videos and what made them great. How To Make a Crowdfunding Video That Works.

With that in mind, there are a few things that you should focus on when creating your video.

  • Decent (enough) equipment. You don't need a full video studio, but a little tripod for your iPhone is probably a good idea. If you can, buy an inexpensive mike to help pick up your voice. Choose a time of day when the light is strong and test everything - lighting, sound, image - before you go and shoot the entire video.

  • A written script. You're probably not a professional improv actor, so you shouldn't go into this and think you can just ramble about your project. Take the time to write out a script and then practice it over and over again until you feel confident presenting in front of the camera. This will keep you on topic and give you a professional air that will be missing if you're just talking off the cuff. Remember: You're trying to convince people to give you money. You want to look like a person who will handle it responsibly.

    Check out this awesome post from Rob Wu at Cause Vox on how to create a compelling story. It's a great guide for writing your script.

  • Keep it short and sweet. Your video should be three minutes or less and preferably it will come in just above two minutes. I know that sounds hard - how can you condense everything into that time? - but trust me: no one will watch past that point anyway.

    Keep in mind that you don't have to list every single obstacle, goal, and reward. The point of the video is to get people excited about your project, not to inform them about every little detail. Single out the most exciting part of your project and focus on that element. List only your coolest rewards. Get them pumped and they'll go over to the text if they want more info.

  • Don't forget the call to action! So many people forget the call to action! I know it can seem awkward to straight up ask for money, but that's what you have to do. Usually the call to action is right at the end of the video, where you say something like, "So the goal of this campaign is to raise $15,000 to buy a lemonade stand where disadvantaged kids can learn business skills. You can help us out by donating before October 31. Click on the 'donate' button now and help us meet our goal!"

    Check out Rob Wu's more in-depth breakdown of exactly how to create an awesome call to action on Cause Vox.

2) Text - The text of your crowdfunding campaign is where you really get into the nitty gritty. This is where you're going to include all of the info about your campaign: the who, what, where, when, and why. You need to make sure that you're using clear language and that all of the details your potential backers could want are included.

One way to approach this slightly overwhelming task is to break up the info into easy to read sections. You can bold and enlarge parts - like the headings of each section - to make it clearer and more easily scannable.

Some examples of headings might include:
About, Risks, Rewards, Why We're Awesome!, Why We're Doing This, Who We Are, and Why You Want To Give Us Your Money. Most campaigns include at the minimum, an About This Project, Risks, and Rewards section.

3) Images - People love pictures! You want to make sure that your campaign page has lots of pretty pictures to help guide everyone along through all of that text. Definitely include images of you and your team because people fund people even more than they fund ideas. You should also include images of all of your rewards, so your backers know exactly what they'll be getting.

Kickstarter recommends choosing a simple, striking, representative, high-res photo to use as your product image. Another tip from successful crowdfunders is to make sure that your image scales to thumbnail size because that's how most of your backers will encounter it first, when they come across it on social media or in an email.

4) Rewards - Some projects will end with a tangible product that you can hold in your hand, like a tech product or something crafty. These are the easiest ones to create rewards for, because you can offer varying degrees of "early bird" offers. For example, if you were creating a device that helped people keep track of water consumption and you know that you're going to sell it for $250, you could have an "Earliest Bird" reward where the first, say, twenty people could get the same product for $150. Once those twenty spots filled, you'd have an "Early Bird" level where fifty people could get the product for $175. From that point, you continue to add more products (like three of your devices at a discounted price) in order to create packages as you go up the donation scale.

If your project isn't product based, then you'll have more experience based rewards. This is the most affordable option too, because you won't be paying to create and ship dozens or hundreds of products. You want several tiers, starting with those who can't afford to pledge much, but include some ambitious tiers for those close friends and family members who want to be generous. Good product based rewards include merchandise for your project.

Think about what you have to offer but don't forget about your network too! You can also enlist creative friends or leaders in your field who are willing to donate goods or services in support of your project. For example, maybe the owner of the fanciest restaurant in town is willing to donate a romantic dinner for two or your best friend is an amazing masseuse who will do an hour massage for some of your backers. Your rewards can make or break your campaign, so spend a good amount of time brainstorming this section and really honing down on what, exactly, will appeal to your target audience of backers.

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