What Actually Motivates Someone to Support a Crowdfunding Campaign?

We can’t create effect marketing messages for our Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns if we don’t first understand what motivates people to support crowdfunding campaigns in the first place.

Now, motivating factors will differ slightly by audience type—what motivates someone to support a game is different than readers of a book—but some things are consistent across the board.

A 2014 study by Baylor University went deep into the weeds of the peer-reviewed literature and conducted a cohort study to assess backers’ motivating factors using self-determination theory and cognitive evaluation theory. They were able to parse out the ever-important WHYs behind backers’ support of crowdfunding campaigns.

What are the motivating factors?

-1- To help others
-2- Be part of a community
-3- Collect rewards
-4- Support a cause


-5- Trust/like the creator

OK, #5 isn’t really a motivating factor but it’s an important element to this puzzle. Let’s keep it in because it is important later on.

The Methods

The authors of the study conducted a survey of users on Symbid—the largest equity crowdfunding firm in The Netherlands—and mapped out investors’ motivations to pledge or invest equity for a given project.

They then approached investors with a rewards-based project to assess their interest in various rewards. 

After both campaigns were presented, they offered the investors a chance to change their pledges/investments once they had all of the information at their disposal.

The Results

The only statistically significant variable that affected someone’s inclination to support a crowdfunding campaign was THE REWARD.

If you create something that people want, they will support you.

Sounds simple, right?

The only non-financial factor that affected whether someone would pledge or not was TRUST/DISTRUST of the creator.

Discussion

Ok, let’s discuss because I’m sure you have questions.

The motivating factors aren’t really that surprising, are they? I mean, being part of a community and supporting a cause are really secondary factors. 

If you create a beautiful book that I WANT to read, I will back your campaign.

If you create something that looks okay but I’m left on the fence, then the secondary factors like community impact and social cause might sway me one way or another.

Trust/distrust as an important influencing factor is one that we can address. New authors who don’t have a track record don’t need to worry, you just need to be transparent.

Using this information in your marketing messages

Now that we have the keys to the kingdom and insights into our backers’ brains, let’s use this information wisely.

Highlight the book itself and the rewards readers will get in all of your marketing messages.

Research what rewards your readers actually want, since this is the most important factor.

Create a book that your readers want to read. Test out the story and illustrations (if you have any) with beta readers. 

Get feedback early on in the process and revise based on what your readers are telling you.

Feature the illustrations and story on your campaign page. Don’t be afraid to show them what they will be getting—they need to know. It’s the #1 determining factor if someone will pledge or not. 

Addressing the Trust/Distrust Factor

Here’s where experience really helps—authors who already have books published or have an established track record of crowdfunding campaigns have that built-in trust.

However, new authors can establish this trust in many ways.

Back other campaigns on your crowdfunding platform of choice. This shows people that you give more than you ask for and have experience in the crowdfunding community.

Be transparent with the Risks in the section where you discuss how you will handle things if the unexpected happens. Show backers that you have a plan and will communicate with them about your progress. 

Set a reasonable goal and offer reasonably-priced rewards. Backers know that they are paying a little extra to help fund your project but if you’re asking for $85 for a hardcover book, you need to be sure you’re justifying the costs.

Same thing goes with the goal—set a reasonable goal to cover your costs+a buffer. Don’t ask for $30k if you really need $9k. People can tell and will be turned off.

Get reader reviews of advanced reader copies. Send your story (in any format) to readers and ask for their review. Place these reviews on your campaign page. Backers will trust what other people are saying about your book more than blindly taking your word for it.

Communicate regularly with your backers in the form of updates (don’t be annoying, though). Keep these updates public so that strangers visiting your page can see how you’re interacting with people who are already supporting you.

Anything else?

Sound off in the comment section below if you have other ideas for how authors can establish trust with their readers.

Here’s the link to the full study so you can get nerdy and dive into the statistics:

Does the Possibility to Make Equity Investments in Crowdfunding Projects Crowd Out Reward-Based Investments?  by Magdalena Cholakova and Bart Clarysse

Want to learn more about crowdfunding your book?

Enroll today in my free mini-course delivered straight to your inbox.

Book Pre-launch Audience Education: Why it’s so Important

Before you publish your first book or launch your book’s Kickstarter campaign, you first need to warm-up your audience.

Marketing experts talk about audience warmth and how warmer audiences have much higher rates of conversion (meaning, they see your post or ad and buy your book right away).

How important is it to warm up your audience?

Cold traffic usually sees 2% conversion rate vs. warm/hot audiences with 65%-75% conversion rates. 

Ooh, la la! How can we get more of that hot traffic? 

I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending money on Facebook ads, I want the best conversion rates possible.

Many authors haven’t a clue as to how to build OR warm up their audience. Fortunately, conducting audience education will do both.

Don’t underestimate the amount of effort required to build an audience

It’s easy to underestimate how much work is required in building an audience. We often see successful authors launching their next books with ease and a minimal marketing strategy with great success.

Established authors who have published multiple books have built a devoted following of hot or warm audiences.

Their readers are already familiar with their work and are hungry for the next book to come out. As a result, they don’t need to do a fraction of the education that we need to do as first-time authors.

They already did the work and developed trust over time by consistently delivering high-quality books and content.

These authors don’t necessarily need to do a book launch campaign that spans several months with each new release because their audience is already warmed up. 

In this article, I assume that we are all working with zero audience and need to build from scratch. 

Here are some tips for building and warming up your audience before you launch:

Cold traffic: These people have never heard of you or your book(s) before.

 

Direct cold traffic to things of value:

  • a podcast where you discuss the origin story behind your book
  • a blog about the important topics your book addresses
  • an infographic about something interesting about your audience, book, or topic area
  • research findings that support why your book is so important to read
  • a survey asking them questions that are related to your book’s topic
  • a behind-the-scenes look at creating the book

At the bottom of each of these ‘destinations’ invite them to subscribe to your newsletter so you can continue to engage with them in a meaningful way.

Warm traffic: These people know of you and follow you on social media or subscribed to your newsletter.

 

Direct warm traffic to next-level stuff:

  • download a lead magnet: free e-book, excerpt of your book, or a companion PDF
  • informational webinars
  • invite them to in-person events
  • special offers or discounts on your book(s)

Hot traffic: These people have purchased from you in the past.

Direct hot traffic to your books/offers:

  • straight to sales pages like your book’s Amazon link. 
  • Pay-per-click ads on Amazon and Facebook

Keep in mind that only a fraction of your audience will be hot but be sure to segment them from the cold/warm readers so you can send them the right messages.

Learning from Mistakes

I’ve made a TON of mistakes and didn’t realize why my Facebook and Amazon ads weren’t converting well.

The problem was that I was treating cold traffic like hot traffic and was directing people straight to my sales page in my paid ads.

I ended up wasting money on ads that never converted and even worse, I missed opportunities to engage with my audience.

I want to make it clear that I’m still learning and experimenting with all of these techniques. I don’t think that will ever stop.

As you grow and engage with your audience, send them different content and see what resonates

Maybe your audience loves to read blogs, maybe some love to listen to podcasts, maybe they love infographics. Who knows?

Discover what your audience likes, what you like to create, and either strike a compromise or do one or two formats really well.

For example, I really enjoy making videos and I think they allow a lot of my personality to shine through. But, I also know that due to my time zone, my audience doesn’t see my live videos until hours later. 

Because my audience (you all!) love to read, I write blogs and occasionally include videos at the bottom. I also include a link to the related blog in the videos that I post to YouTube. (Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.)

It took me time and some professional help to figure out a marketing strategy for my business. Here’s what I did to improve my conversion rates.

Bring in Some Experts

Overall business strategy help

I had no idea how to strategize the marketing plan for my business, so I invested in small business marketing coaching with Stephanie Ward at Firefly Coaching. We did a deep dive, six-month coaching plan where she met with me 45-minutes/month and gave me a huge to-do list at the end of each session.

Stephanie was great at analyzing my strengths and steering me toward bolstering my weak areas. Our sessions gave me the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone and take bigger risks.

Click here to visit Stephanie’s website to see if she can help you. 

Website optimization

My website was somewhat of a mess and my marketing friend, Amel Derragui, kept giving me tiny pointers here and there. It was clear that I needed to fully hire her services in order to improve the navigability of my website and grow my audience. After making her suggested changes, my website now receives TONS of compliments from visitors and my newsletter list is growing.

Click here to see if Amel can help you optimize your website and grow your audience.

Improving my cold traffic conversions

When it comes to cold traffic, you need to have the right keywords and ad copy in place. I’m currently working with Laurie Wright on my Amazon keywords, book blurbs, author bio, and ad copy.

Click here to see if Laurie can help you.

Improving your business requires investment, constant education, and involving experts when you’re out of your depth. Don’t be afraid to hire experts.

You can still learn everything on your own, but be prepared to spend a lot of time and money while you are experimenting and figuring things out  during the learning process.

Crowdfunding Authors Often Overestimate the Warmth of Their Audience

Don’t make the mistakes I did and send cold traffic directly to your sales pages (i.e., your book’s Kickstarter page).

I see this all of the time with authors who run Kickstarter campaigns.

Crowdfunding authors will often direct people to their campaign page, which has a much lower conversion rate than if they directed them to a blog, video, or infographic, throughout their entire campaign.

Also, most readers are unfamiliar with crowdfunding and don’t know what’s happening or how to proceed.

Instead of asking you, your readers feel overwhelmed and close their browser’s tab without doing anything.

Educate your audience first

You need to educate your readers about your book, send them to blogs, podcasts, and articles to warm them up before you can send them to your Kickstarter sales page.

Once they are there, you need the right copy, graphics, and engaging video to convince them your book is worth backing.

Not sure if your campaign page will convert? I’m happy to review your campaign page before you launch.

Children’s Book Authors use Kickstarter to Launch Their Businesses

Children’s book authors often face steeper costs when creating their books than adult fiction or non-fiction writers.

There are the additional costs of illustration (ranging from $1200-$10,000 for a 32-page picture book), and often the cost of a print run of 3,000-10,000 books from either local printers or printers overseas. Then there are warehouse and fulfillment fees to cover for orders placed on Amazon.

Many children’s book authors are turning to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to not only fully fund their books but also boost their marketing efforts.

  • In the Facebook Group, Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, which I recommend joining, many of the authors have successfully Kickstarted their books and subsequently, their self-publishing businesses to great success.

Why Crowdfund Your Book?

Crowdfunding does a few things that waiting to market your book launch doesn’t.

When you crowdfund your book, you…

  • Validate your book’s idea with your audience before you get too far down the road of creation
  • Engage with your audience in a more personal way and offer them special rewards in addition to your book—something you can’t do on Amazon.
  • Communicate directly with your backers—Amazon does not provide you any information about who buys your book
  • Generate more funds for your book than you can selling the same number of books during a pre-launch (profit margins are a bit larger than royalty rates) 
  • Boost your confidence when your book is demanded by the readers. There is a feeling of incredible pride and humility when you realize that your readers are helping you create your book.
  • Create a viral buzz about your book. By cramming three months of marketing efforts into 30 days, you generate a veritable swirl of energy around your book.
  • Can afford a better team. When you crowdfund your book, instead of footing the bill from your own pocket, you can pay thousands for an experienced illustrator. You can opt for the thicker paper that’s more expensive. You can end up with a higher quality book when you have a larger budget (all things considered equal, of course).

And magic takes place during and after a crowdfunding campaign.

Like local news coverage, radio spots, cross-collaborations, and other opportunities that occur when you start reaching out to anyone and everyone who might be interested in your campaign.

The time-limited nature of the campaign forces creators to be bold and take action when it comes to marketing outreach that doesn’t usually happen during other book launches.

Examples of Children’s Book Crowdfunding Campaigns

While some campaigns are more successful than others, almost every campaign listed has resulted in an incredible boost to the visibility of the book, the sales, and/or the audience who is ready to purchase subsequent books from the author.

Note: *All of the following book images are linked to my Amazon affiliate account which results in tiny donations in my tip jar when you click at no extra cost to you.*

Title: ‘You Stole my Name’, Dennis McGregor’s new children’s book

Author: Dennis McGregor

Backers: 407

Total raised: $27,302 (137%)

Link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dennismcgregorsbook/you-stole-my-name-dennis-mcgregors-new-childrens-b?

Click here to buy on Amazon

Title: I’m NOT just a Scribble—Children’s Book that Inspires ART!

Author: Diane Alber

Backers: 423

Total raised: $15,343 (153%)

Link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/282178178/im-not-just-a-scribble-childrens-book-that-inspire?

Click here to buy on Amazon

Title: Into Your Dreams

Author: Roger Blonder

Backers: 197

Total raised: $16,760 (111%)

Link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/76408786/into-your-dreams?

Click here to buy on Amazon

Want to go behind-the-scenes?

Get even more insights with in-depth interviews by crowdfunding authors…

Kathleen Cruger and Thankful Frankie

Stacy Bauer and Cami the Kangaroo

Roger Blonder and Into Your Dreams

Rebecca Hamer and Where Oh Where is Monty Bear?

Now, don’t be fooled by the amazing successes of the authors who have funded their books using crowdfunding

There is nothing easy about crowdfunding even though these authors make it look effortless.

One in three crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter fail (1 in 3!).

Click here to get on my calendar for a free 20-min chat to see if a) crowdfunding is right for you and b) if I can help you. 

Crowdfunding is tough, but I’ve created tools and templates to make it easier.

Click here to hop on my calendar.

Also…grab my freebie below and avoid some pitfalls when planning your campaign.

Download my solutions here

3 Benefits of Joining a Masterclass

I have found that the best workshops for my learning style are like mini-boot camps. They are goal-oriented and time-sensitive with students who are enthusiastic and ready to achieve their goals. 

I want to be surrounded by people who, like me, are hitting the pavement, ready to go.

What is a masterclass?

A masterclass or mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.

In addition to you achieving your goals (e.g., fully funding your book), participating in a masterclass has at least three tangible benefits.

1) Accountability

When you know you’re meeting every week and will have to speak up and discuss your project, you end up getting more done than when you operate in a vacuum.

I’ve met so many authors who have said that they have completed manuscripts that are collecting dust for years. YEARS! Life gets hectic and in the way of accomplishing our goals.

All of a sudden, what we once thought was a priority gets replaced by the urgency of the NOW and we end up dropping our work. It happens all of the time.

By joining a masterclass, your peers are committing to holding you accountable, and likewise, you are serving as their accountability partner. Simply by asking someone, “What are you struggling with this week?” forces a type of self-reflection that may be missing in the lone writer’s world.

2) Expert guidance

As lovely as peer-to-peer groups are, and I’m part of many of them, it’s extremely helpful to have an experienced person guiding the group. Masterclasses are generally organized by someone with experience who is not only skilled at managing people but at helping them reach their goals within a certain time period.

When I hired my marketing coach, I desperately needed direction. I needed someone to ask me questions that I didn’t know were important and hand me an extensive to-do list that would advance my career to the next level. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I needed help. Big time.

Without an expert guiding the way, peer-to-peer mentoring groups remain largely self-serving. Yes, you will probably reach your goals, but it won’t have the time-sensitive boot camp nature that masterclasses or masterminds often have.

Really great masterclasses contain exercises and action items to help the participants cruise through the material, apply it, and advance more quickly than working solo.

3) Personalized tutoring/mentorship

Readers of blogs and listeners of podcasts are subject to the limits of the creator’s pace. A masterclass incorporates established material (courses, blogs, podcasts, etc.,) with tutoring to allow participants to advance at their pace, ask questions, and receive individualized support.

The opportunity to ask questions, gain clarification, and obtain peer and mentor support is a unique feature of the masterclass design that is lacking in other online course forums.

Helping more authors successfully crowdfund their books 

After beta testing my Crowdfunding for Authors course, I noticed that the group interaction was where a lot of the magic happened.

However, the course is self-paced, and some students didn’t launch their campaigns at the same time. That’s totally fine but I saw a missed opportunity.

By grouping together crowdfunding authors who are all launching at the same time, we can create a network where we share resources, leverage marketing opportunities, and get real-time support before and during their campaigns.

The mentoring support happens in the crucial pre-launch phase and the peer-to-peer support happens during the campaign phase.

Crowdfunding is all about community and so often, writers find themselves trying to build a community from scratch. It’s much much much easier to build momentum, rally positive energy, and battle the self-doubt when there is a network of like-minded people doing the same thing at the same time. (the whole, A rising tide lifts all ships, concept).

Interested in learning more?

If this sounds like a concept that would be of interest to you—an online course with guided expert mentorship and supportive peers—then click here to schedule a no-pressure information-only 20-minute call with me to find out more or send me an email here.

Registration for the Crowdfunding for Authors Masterclass for March/April campaigns closes on January 31.

If you’re serious about getting your book fully funded in March or April, then click here to find out more.

4 Reasons Why Indie Authors Should Crowdfund Their Books

After successfully crowdfunding my book on Kickstarter and helping other indie authors find success on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter platforms, I fully believe that more indie authors can successfully crowdfund their books with some research and strategic planning.

The average book on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo raises $5k, but my clients raise above average levels ranging from $7k-$27k USD. (You’ll find my client portfolio here.)

Here are my reasons why you should consider crowdfunding:

#1 Proof of Concept

Erin Nelsen Parekh Kickstarted her debut children’s board book and felt that the crowdfunding process proved her book was worth creating. “Going through the crowdfunding process really made me feel like the entire project was vetted.”

If you can get more than 150 people to pre-order your book based on a sales page and campaign video, then you have a really strong message that resonates with people. Chances are good that you should create your book.

If you can’t raise the necessary funds to make your book a reality (i.e., your campaign doesn’t successfully fund), then it means that you need to reevaluate your idea, your audience, or your marketing efforts. Something is flawed and a failed crowdfunding project doesn’t mean your idea isn’t valuable, it just means you need to rework your approach.

Crowdfunding in a do-or-die scenario is a really good test of your book’s concept and will undoubtedly improve your future marketing efforts.

#2 Expand and engage your audience

When I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Knocked Up Abroad Again, I only had a newsletter size of 140 people and a Facebook page around 700. That was it. Scary, right?

Traditionally markers said that I wouldn’t reach my $10k goal with those numbers and normally, they’d be right. The difference is that crowdfunding isn’t like traditional marketing campaigns.

Crowdfunding forces you to create valuable content that people will want to share with their friends and family—organically—and those articles, videos, and images all have the link to your campaign on them. 

Fortunately, I had the help of a team of 5-8 contributors who developed their own blogs, videos, and graphics to share with their networks.  Crowdfunding is truly a team effort that undoubtedly results in expanding your audience.

One of the best parts about crowdfunding is that you engage your audience. As the creator, you provide them an inside peek into the development process of your book. They are along with you on the ride and are excited to share your concept.

This type of audience engagement is rare during the development process. Normally, writers will create a book and release it on a launch date.

Not many readers get the chance to influence a book during its development and that’s what keeps people coming back to platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

#3 Condense 3-6 months of marketing efforts into 30 days

This condensed marketing effort really takes a lot of strategic planning and development. You can’t just throw up a campaign page and expect the backers to support your project. 

All of the marketing efforts that other authors spend over the course of the year are condensed into a very short timeframe. This can be exhausting, which is why all crowdfunding campaigns should end after 35 days or so.

During your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll write press releases, create videos, reach out to bloggers, social media influencers, and hopefully, get the attention of a few news outlets.

Stacy Bauer made a few appearances on her local TV news station during her Kickstarter campaign for her children’s book.

Erin Parekh’s campaign link was retweeted twice by Neil Gaiman out to his 2.72M followers.

You’re not supposed to be able to sustain this level of a marketing media blitz longer than 30 days, so please, don’t try. 

#4 Your book is funded

The best part about crowdfunding your book is that aside from your marketing budget during the crowdfunding campaign, your wallets aren’t entirely empty.

Many indie authors struggle with finding the thousands of dollars necessary to hire a quality editor, illustrator, and cover designer. As a result, their books aren’t as well made and don’t sell as well. 

Crowdfunding offers a unique proposition to readers that basically says, “Invest in this idea and you’ll get a much better product than you could’ve if I did this on my own dime.”

Believe me, people will invest a few extra books if it means they get a better book plus a few extras.

Tired of reading and want the video version of this blog instead?

Watch me reiterate the points above (and more) in the video below.