Finding the extra cash to grow your craft business can be tricky if you don’t want to go begging to your bank manager. Whether it’s money to help create a new product or build the workspace of your dreams, crowdfunding is an alternative way to get your fans and fellow crafters to give your business the financial backing it needs.
Jayne Rutland is one maker who did just that. We caught up with Jayne to find out how to sidestep potential problems while boosting your bank balance…
What made you decide to try crowdfunding?
When I started making handmade hair products I had to get them tested to fit cosmetic safety legislation. Then, in 2013, the laws changed and I realised I needed £3,000 to get all my formulas retested. I also wasn’t entirely happy with my packaging – in hindsight bottles did look more wood glue than shampoo – so it included a design overhaul too. I didn’t want to be paying the bank back for years, so I decided to look into crowdfunding, which was quite new at the time. What I didn’t realise though was how much it would help me with my marketing, which was priceless.
How did you choose which site to use?
I went for Indiegogo because they were more focused on products rather than projects. Make sure you do some research and choose a crowdfunding site which is geared to your needs.
How did you decide on what you would give people in return for their donations?
I picked a variety of perks from sample sets and vouchers to a year’s supply of shampoo and conditioner as well as items for people who weren’t in the market for hair care. Towards the end I added tote bags and candles, to give it a boost when it started flagging.
Was there any point where you thought you might not make your goal?
Yes! I had many sleepless nights towards the end. I finally went over my goal with two days to go, but there is a period just before the end where it goes quiet and you feel like you can’t possibly keep bugging people. For this reason I’d recommend going for fixed funding over flexible funding. It adds a sense of urgency – especially if people think your dreams may be crushed!
What are the advantages with crowdfunding over a loan?
For me it was getting to grips with marketing. Before I was very shy on social media and rubbish at sending out emails. After the campaign I realised how crucial it was to grow. Remember to make sure you have a variety of angles for your social media campaign because you need to post so often it gets boring if they’re all the same. I used My Little Pony as a mascot and gave her different hairstyles each time. It was a bit random, but it worked!
And what are the disadvantages?
Don’t be under any illusion that it won’t take over your life for at least a month and give you a few grey hairs! If you just want cold hard cash in an instant, go for a loan. However, if you want ongoing support from a bunch of people, don’t hesitate. I will definitely do it again.
Top 3 crowdfunding takeaways:
• Engage your audience by telling a good story. Whether you use beautiful imagery or, better yet, a video to pitch your business to backers, make it informative and cover questions people are likely to ask about your business or product.
• Backer benefits. Having financial support from your biggest fan should have some perks, right? Depending on the kind of crowdfunding platform you’ve chosen (rewards-based or equity crowdfunding) tell your backers what they get out of supporting your idea.
• Tell your nearest and dearest, draw up a marketing campaign and reach out to people in the industry that can help you make noise and potentially even back your campaign.
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