The first question you need to ask yourself is for what you are raising the funds. Whatever it is, it needs to be a project with a clear end result. This is the first step, and it’s very important that you are very clear about what you want and how you plan to achieve that. Be very specific about the costs and expenses. Tell us exactly what it is that you are spending the money on – e. g. airfare, accommodation, a photo camera, rent, staff, etc.
The project needs to be focused and properly outlined. It needs to have a beginning and an end. For example: Raising money to open up a small guesthouse in Bali has a clear goal– your project is done when you open up the guesthouse; however, raising money for your next trip somewhere is not properly defined. You need to know exactly what you want to do and where you want to go. Since our platform is closely related to travel, it’s extremely important to know where the project is going to take place.
When you have your goals defined, take a look at our categories . According to our guidelines, your projects needs to fit one of them. It might be a good idea to research similar projects to get a feel of which direction you could take. Do your research well.
Don't forget the background story. People need to know why you are doing this project. They would like to hear about where your ideas came from and what it means to you. People don’t support the idea, they support you and your story. So be clear, personal, and realistic.
Another important aspect to consider is the audience itself. Who are you trying to attract? What’s your idea of a perfect backer? How do you plan to use your own network to spread your idea? Depending on your target audience, be sure to adapt your style and tone. A project that would speak mostly to young backpackers should sound a lot different than a project that is supposed to attract luxury travelers.
It is extremely important to research your project’s budget, so you can set the funding goals properly. There are 3 questions you need to answer:
Do an extensive research of your budget. Are you looking for full support or just partial? If you are opening a local business, check rent prices, furniture costs, utility bills, staff expenses, material, marketing spending, etc. If you are planning a trip, check transportation costs, day-to-day living expenses, and any other such costs. Be very clear, and let people know on what you are going to be spending their money. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of your rewards and all the fees (postage, PayPal, our fees). Be realistic and don’t exaggerate, especially if your current social media network is not very big. It’s better to raise more than your goal than to not reach it at all.
We don’t recommend you run projects for less than 20 days. You need enough time to promote your project on social media and build up your story. However, if you run your campaign for too long, you might end up losing the momentum and virality. The maximum length depends on the type of project, but we suggest you don’t make it more than 6 months. The most successful campaigns usually last around 1 month.
TravelStarter offers two types of funding¬– fixed and flexible. Fixed funding requires you to reach your goal, otherwise you don’t receive the funding. This is a favorable option for projects that cannot be executed if the goal is not reached. On the other hand, flexible funding lets you keep all the funds you raise. Choose this option if your project can be done even if you don’t reach your goal.
Compared to other crowdfunding platforms, we make the rewards matter even more. It’s not just about postcards and T-shirts– we want to see you offer real local experiences to your funders. Think about it: If someone wants to visit your city, they will be more than happy to support your project if you can offer them a real local encounter.
We suggest you offer 6 to 8 rewards that are clearly distinct in price. Make them unique and interesting – look at our rewards categories to get more ideas. They will help you create experiences people cannot get anywhere else.
The video could very well be the most important part of your project. There is no better way to showcase yourself and your project by using emotions that can only be fully presented in a visual form.
Building your project is no easy task. Take your time, and keep in mind it that successful project authors sometimes spend 2 weeks working on their presentation.
The title should be simple, concrete, and impressionable. Make sure you are really setting yourself apart and letting people know what the project is about. Avoid generic titles and asking for support in the title.
The main image is as important as your video, and it will the first thing people will see on TravelStarter and other websites. Make sure it represents your project and is appealing and attractive.
This is the place where you need to quickly let people know what your project is all about. Be focused and clear. How would you describe your project in one sentence? This is your elevator pitch.
People are not only interested in your project– they want to know more about you. Tell them more about yourself. Don’t forget to say why you are the one doing the project, and why it should be supported. Don’t forget to include a suitable profile photo. If you work in a team, don’t forget to add all the team members.
Use a lot of photos, and don’t make your description too long. People will not read everything, so be concise, and use bullet points. Explain for what you need the funding, and why it is important to you. Remember the first paragraph is the most important one. Don’t forget to lay out your budget, and let people know where their money is going.
You need to use your personal network first before you rely on the kindness of strangers. Get in touch with your friends and family, meet up with them in person, and ask them to participate. If you get them on board, they will help create the momentum you need, which is extremely important when you launch your project.
Don’t start with the launch. Use Email and social media even before you go live. Post updates on Facebook, to your Twitter followers, on Pinterest, through Google+, and any other channel you might have. The bigger impact you make, the better the outcome. Don’t forget about emails and traditional media such as TV, blogs, and websites– if they find your project interesting, they might promote you for free. You need to create the hype– use special limited time rewards, make a countdown, and publish teaser videos.
Whichever method you use, be careful not to spam people. Don’t over-post or beg. Also make sure you respond to everyone.
Use the Project Updates section of your profile to keep in touch with your past ann future donors. Let them know how your project is progressing. People who have funded you, or are thinking to do so, are very much interested in what’s going on with you and your idea. When you post an update, all your backers will automatically get an email.
Don’t be afraid of using social media for updates– even on a daily level. However, try to limit the amount of posts where you directly ask people to fund your project. Instead, post interesting content about your project and get people interested without asking for money. Set up your social media presence before you start campaigning– you can easily schedule posts through Facebook or use a service such as HootSuite .
Don’t forget about a media release. Crowdfunding is very popular right now, and chances are you just might get picked up– especially in the local media outlets. Prepare your content thoroughly, and try to target it as much as possible. Don’t simply use mass Emailing– pick a few relevant publications and journalists, and make a tailored media release. Include a high resolution photograph.
Keep your audience engaged throughout the entire campaign. Especially if your funding period is relatively long, use new content to make it more compelling. Make a new video, thank people who have already donated, add new rewards , etc. Share your thoughts and decisions with them; ask them for feedback; and let them know how you feel about your success– let them celebrate with you.
After your campaign is finished (no matter if it was successful or not), update all your funders and thank them again. It is also important to lay out your further plans, and keep them updated as you go.
Keep in touch with your funders– maybe you’ll come up with another project, or perhaps they can provide feedback that can make your current project even better.
During and after your project you can easily view all the rewards that you need to deliver. You are welcome to fulfill the rewards during the campaign if you can, but keep in mind that if you use fixed funding, the money will be refunded to your donors even if you fulfilled their rewards.
You can easily email all the backers with further details about the rewards, so do take advantage of that option to ensure smooth fulfillment.
Don’t forget to take any extra costs into account even before you start your project. If you give out gifts, calculate the postage fees (check the weight, research package and envelope options, don’t forget about international shipping fees, etc.).
If you offer accommodation, food, tours or other travel rewards, you need to coordinate with all the visitors accordingly. Do not offer more than you can handle, and make sure you let people know in advance when you are available.
Try documenting some of the encounters. People will be happy to see how awesome your tour was or how you received your first guest.
If you are unable to fulfill the rewards for whatever reason, communicate that clearly to your backers. If you are unambiguous and honest about it, people should understand. Do not shut them off– they deserve to know what happened.
That’s it– almost everything you need to know about starting your project! Go ahead, and start now!