How to Successfully Crowdfund: The Secret’s In the Oatmeal

The secret to a successful crowdfunding campaign? The secret’s in the Oatmeal.

Two weeks ago, with an ambitious goal of $850,000, The Oatmeal (a hugely popular web comic) launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in hopes of building a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla (a celebrated inventor and subject of previous Oatmeal comics). With almost a month left on the campaign, the initiative has beaten its original goal’s head in and raised more than a million dollars already, still going strong. This means that not only will the Tesla Science Center be able to buy Wardenclyffe Tower and eventually turn it into a Tesla museum, it also means that we have an opportunity to step back and maybe look at what it takes to get the internet to pay attention and  make big things happen.

Check out some of these figures from an infographic about the campaign:

-At its peak, the campaign was raising $100/minute, $6,000/hour.
-Contributions came from 102 countries and all 50 U.S. states.
-92% of all donations were under $100

And you can still refresh the webpage and continue to see those numbers climb.

How about another similarly record-breaking campaign? Recently, public radio’s Roman Mars launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund a third season of his radio show 99% Invisible (a show about all of the “invisible” things that are shaping our daily life) with a goal of $42,000. It might not seem like too much (Mars’ kept his needs very practical), but Mars’ program is only live on ten earth-bound radio stations in 15-minute segments and journalism campaigns aren’t always wildly successful on Kickstarter.

And yet, the campaign blew its goal right out of the water, distinguishing itself as the most successful journalism campaign ever on Kickstarter, funding its project 405% to completion. The final number? $170,477, which is shocking a lot of people who aren’t sure they’re ready to change the traditional pledge model of fundraising for radio programs.

But what really propelled these two gentlemen and their causes forward? Well, let’s take a look at them and the answer is, of course, disturbingly simple.

The Oatmeal
-received nearly 5 million unique visitors and 20 million page views per month in its first year
-it has a global Alexa rank of 2,071
-generates a yearly income of almost $500,000

99% Invisible
-the podcast has been downloaded more than 4 million times since its debut
-the show peaked at second place on iTunes’ overall chart
-has been featured on Radiolab and sponsored by companies like Facebook

You there yet?

These guys are painfully popular. And why? They’re creating original, quality content. Can I break it down further for you?

How to launch an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign:

1. Create some remarkably compelling, honest content that people enjoy – anything that is a worthwhile distraction from their workday. They will love you for it.
2. THEN – ask them to give you money for something. It’s not even something they necessarily need (maybe it’s just something whimsical or meaningful), but the audience is already grateful and listening. And who can’t spare a little something here and there when you’ve already given them so much?
3. Build a museum.

Or just one step: build your audience. This means creating a great product and continuing a dialogue. It’s happening right now. And there’s no Tesla Museum in your future if you don’t do it.

Then again, The Oatmeal says it much better than I do.

What do you think?

0 Responses to “How to Successfully Crowdfund: The Secret’s In the Oatmeal”

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