Crowfunding your expedition
We all need -want- money to do expeditions, right? Is crowdfunding a good idea? Efficient?
What crowdfunding types are we talking about? The crowdfunding I mean is the one you can do on these 5 platforms (non-exhaustive list): Kickstarter (US), Indiegogo (US), Ulule (from France, active in Europe), Kisskissbankbank (from France, active in Europe) and Fosburit (France) The latter is not so known but is only focussed on sport in French language.
All these platforms mean that you will trade the money of the backers against something, you, the creator will offer that is creative and based on your objective. For expeditions, creators usually propose photos, a film, a book, a postcard or a few intangible or virtual products like a shout on social networks, credit in the film/book, your name written in the sand and the photo sent to you.
Launching a crowdfunding campaign or hunting sponsors. There are numerous blogs explaining that sometimes spending days to hunt sponsors to expect very little is not worth it. You better have a full time or extra job to make money. Is it the case with crowdfunding?
Yes and no.
It takes a lot of effort to craft a good crowdfunding campaign. If your idea is to raise a few thousands of dollars one time, perhaps it's better to make money with a job. If you consider that you will do more expeditions, then on the long run, it might be interesting to do a campaign. Why? You'll raise funds but also fans and if they like you -and you succeed to give what you promised- they will probably back you again and even spread the word to their friends. If you need to raise a LOT of CASH, well then crowdfunding is a very valid option but you need hard work.
What platform? Platforms rules are evolving, so do your homework and check which one you feel the best for your target audience and the one you feel adds values and not problems to you. Dealing with payments, PayPal etc... It is not that easy and takes time.
My study. During the last 6 months I spent probably 4 full time learning about crowdfunding and I checked over 500 campaigns related to adventure, expedition and travel. My conclusion is that it works well in Europe for small amounts below 5000 USD but I've seen many creators putting perks (counterparty product or offering) at high prices like a 50 EUR T-shirt or a 20 EUR postcard which is expensive. On the French platforms, for "low" money, it works well with your friends and relations and the passers-by who will give you a 50 EUR note.
For the US platforms, I'd go to lower prices and try to reach a bigger audience.
What is the best? Selling 500 T-shirts at 20 USD (10.000 USD raised) or selling 200 T-shirts at 50 EUR? (10.000 EUR). Well, are you really sure you can convince 200 people to buy a 50 EUR T-shirt? Or are you more confident to reach 500 people to give you 20 USD ?
I'd say again, it depends on how you feel. If you need to only make and send 200 Tees, that's great, you can do this in 1 weekend. For 500 people or more it will take a little more time and money. This is when you have to decide on a strategy: getting 500 people to like you and support you for next projects or piss-off 200 friends to buy your 50 EUR T-shirt? I'm exaggerating indeed but it comes to think a bit this way. But of course, the main aim is to get your goal money raised so you can do your project.
By the way, if you have 500 backers, who can potentially promote your expedition to their friends while it's launching, that is a good selling argument for a sponsor!
I know this post is small but I'm launching my campaign in June 2015 and we'll see at the end of it how it went to see if my strategy works (I'll go for cheap perks and try to get a lot of people to like me) = Long term strategy. So be patient I'll write a detailed experience in a few months.
What are the 5 main things to prepare well before launching?
* Content of your project / You: The most important is to have a decent expedition that people feel you deserve to do (why you and not me?). Engage with them, do a video and explain your guts about it. Tell them why and how you will achieve your goal.
* Deliver: Be sure you can deliver what you promise. Are you able to send 500 postcards to backers on a 3 week expedition unsupported walk across the Sahara? Certainly not. You won't meet a lot of people and if you do, your trek is not unsupported. And your time is for walking not spending 3 days writing postcards. Your backers are not stupid, they know what's possible or not.
* Goal: Not too high unless you need 1 million to go to space and you have no other way to get that huge money.
* Your perks: Have them affordable. Would you back yourself what you offer (at the price XY)? If not. Don't offer it.
* Timing: Launch months before your expedition. You cannot run a campaign and prepare an expedition at the same time. Better have more time than too low. Longer work if your campaign is longer but you have always the chance that someone with "media-spread-power" will notice your project and
Remark: I have seen (and met) a lot of crowdfunding creators who put money themselves to reach the goal they set. Let assume you need to raise 9000 USD (fixed funding) and you have 1 day left and have raise 6500 USD. Big chance you will put the remaining 2500 USD to reach the target. You'll pay more or less 200 USD of fees but you'll get +-6000 USD. Better than zero.