Do you have a “big idea” that you’ve put on the proverbial back burner until you find more time and/or money to develop it? If yes, then here’s a suggestion: Get paid for your big idea now, and develop your idea later.
How can you do this?
Crowdfund your big idea
By crowdfunding your idea through a site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you pay yourself first before you ever go ahead with your work. Essentially, you have your backers pay you up-front for the time and effort you spend creating your product and bringing that idea to life. No more worries about how you’ll pay your bills while spending time developing your idea.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, there’s no way my idea’s going to get funded- I have maybe five friends online, and I don’t have thousands of Twitter or Facebook fans to draw on.
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However, there are steps you can take to increase your odds of being funded.
Step 1: Pick a popular niche.
While it may sound like an oxymoron, you do need to pick a popular niche product that will appeal to a wide audience. For example, let’s say you have an idea to create a WordPress theme. That in itself would appeal to a lot of website owners and bloggers. Or you want to build a waterproof case for a particular line of cameras. That idea would get a lot of attention from both photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.
What you don’t want to do is to make your crowdfunding idea based on a small city or locality. For example, if you have an idea to crowdfund a running race in your home town of 5,001 individuals, you’re going to have a hard time finding a sufficient number of backers. This is important to keep in mind because most crowdfunding sites do not allow you to keep any of the money raised if you don’t reach your specified minimum monetary amount.
Step 2: Create a business pitch.
Why should anonymous backers send you money? Why do you think you deserve that money?
You need to develop an effective business pitch and sound confident while delivering it. The pitch need not be a long, rambling speech; you should be able to express your big idea in just 15-30 seconds. Short and sweet.
You should also work on creating a longer business pitch of about two minutes. In this longer pitch, you can mention how you came up with your big idea, where you see the idea going, and if you have other partners interested in your idea. Many business pitch contests can help you develop ideas for both your shorter and longer pitch.
Step 3: Create a pitch video.
Yes, it’s time to get comfortable with filming yourself. A simple camcorder, or even a fancier DSLR photo camera, may be all you need to record yourself giving those shorter and longer business pitches. A small tripod is also helpful, unless you can place your equipment on a firm surface in front of your “talking head.”
Dress nicely for your “part,” speak clearly, and watch how many times you say “um.” However, there is no need to make your video look overly polished or professional. You also shouldn’t be thinking of hiring actors to do your pitch (incidentally, most actors charge $1,000/minute of footage).
Once you’ve made a video you can live with and not cringe at (too much), you can use a program like Microsoft Movie Maker to do the editing. Add subtitles to your video to ensure that everyone understands what you are saying. Also, add a video cover image so viewers can anticipate your business pitch and what it’s going to be about (and so the video doesn’t display some odd clip of your face with your mouth wide open).
Step 4: Carefully consider your funding amount.
You might be tempted to ask for the smallest amount of money possible in order to actually get funded and not get complaints from your backers about how you’re gouging them. However, if your bare minimum amount does get funded, you’ll have a hard time staying motivated to create your product and cover your living costs. Plus, there may be unplanned for expenses, like a minimum print or production size, which you’ll need to pay.
At the other end of the scale, you don’t want to ask for so much money that your backers are left scratching their heads as to why you’re commanding $300/hour for your services. Sure, there are some costs you can easily get quotes on and explain, like needing $1,000 for a minimum injection molding run. But crowdfunding is not the place to be building your savings account.
Finding your crowdfunding sweet spot may require some trial and error before you figure out how much you can ask for and still get successfully funded. If your first bid falls through, consider lowering your funding amount. However, don’t lower your funding amount so much that you can’t legitimately create the product without incurring a monetary loss of your own.
Step 5: Promote yourself.
Yes, you may have only five online friends and very few Twitter or other followers. However, regardless of what you have as a social network, use it to your advantage. Post your crowdfunding project on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Also, tell your “real life” family and friends about your latest crowdfunding venture. This is not the time to be bashful.
Sweeten the deal for your backers by offering some unique crowfunding incentives. Perhaps at the $10 funding level, you might just offer a copy of your e-book; however, at the $50 funding level, you could personally thank each backer on your website and in the book credits. At the $100 funding levels, maybe you could offer to call every backer and provide him/her with a half hour of technical support or consulting.
If you do get successfully crowdfunded, first of all, congratulations.
Now, get to work.
This is not the time to disappear on a two week vacation. Instead, you should start updating your backers on your work progress and how soon they can expect their product. In short, consider yourself contracted to your backers, which essentially makes them your client.
The reason you don’t want to slack off is because you now have a small but faithful “fan” base of sorts, and this base can help you out in the future with product promotion, affiliate marketing, etc. This base might even help you crowdfund a future big idea.
What if you don’t get crowdfunded? What if your big idea draws hardly any interest (i.e., money)? That’s good too. Why?
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Crowdfunding your big idea carries the advantage of early failure- and yes, it is an advantage. This way, if your idea is truly unfeasible or unpopular, at least you know ahead of time to not follow through with it. This saves you from investing lots of time and effort into a product that no one will eventually buy.
Do you have a big idea simmering on your back burner? Tell us about it below in the comments below.