Begging might not be so bad.
In its early days, the popular gaming blog Penny Arcade was run purely on donations for more than a year.
“The word crowdfunding hadn’t been invented yet,” said Jerry Holkins, one of the site’s creators. “Back then, people simply called it ‘begging.’”
As the site grew, it became dependent on advertising dollars, but the founders yearned for those early days. They launched a Kickstarter campaign to see if their “begging” model could work again. Their fans overwhelmingly said yes, donating more than half a million dollars to remove ads from the site.
Great content made the difference for Penny Arcade. Dedicated gamers were hungry for the site’s comics and commentary, and they were willing to break out their wallets to support the content.
You, too, can use content to win fans and accelerate your crowdfunding efforts. By providing useful information your audience wants, you can ask for financial support without coming across as spammy or feeling like you’ve resorted to begging.
4 Tips to Make Sure Your Content Hits the Mark
1. Know your audience. Who are they? Where do they live? What are they passionate about? You can’t provide your audience with valuable information if you don’t know who your audience is and what interests them.
Author Janna Leyde is a great example of what can happen when you truly understand your audience. Janna’s father suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. Janna hoped to write a memoir about dealing with the injury. She reached out to survivors of traumatic brain injuries and their families, with the goal of reaching one new person each day to talk about her Pubslush campaign to write her untold story. Her supporters donated more than $15,000 to make her book, “He Never Liked Cake,” a reality.
2. Provide fresh content. Don’t just regurgitate the things everyone else is saying. Be innovative enough to stand out from the crowd, sharing your own unique ideas and insights. Use your creativity and branding power to create a special voice and style people can associate with you.
The content shouldn’t be too self-promotional, either. If you are providing valuable information and unique insights, word will spread, and your brand will earn trust.
3. Engage with your audience. It’s important to not just spew out information, but to also allow readers to comment and create a conversation. The Internet gives businesses unprecedented access to directly interact with customers — use it! Respond to comments, engage in conversations on social media, and always provide a way for your audience to get in touch with you.
4. Know your business model. If you were courting investors in the real world, they would ask dozens of questions about your business, your goals, and where their money will go. While your online campaign might be soliciting hundreds or thousands of micro-investors, the idea is no different. Know your business model and industry inside and out so you can be ready to answer any question that comes up.
Content marketing for a crowdfunding campaign is essentially the same as content marketing for a product or service. People aren’t just investing in the project you’re raising funds for — they’re investing in your brand. By providing valuable information to your audience, you can build trust and interest and drive traffic to your campaign — without having to beg.
Amanda L. Barbara is Vice President of Pubslush. Pubslush is a global crowdfunding publishing platform for authors to raise funds and gauge their audience for new book ideas and for trendsetting readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Follow Amanda on Twitter!