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This post was written by Sarah Collins. Sarah and her husband founded a startup, and they love to blog about business tips on the side.

Since the crowdfunding concept was introduced in the early 2000s, people have been experimenting with ways to use it. Kickstarter, the premier crowdfunding site, started in 2009, and paved the way for many to fund their passions. In 2012, Kickstarter successfully funded more than 18,000 projects for a total of $319 million. From all of those crowdfunding campaigns, we can begin to see what makes a campaign successful.

Find a Problem and Fix It

Some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter are where someone has identified an annoying problem and offered an elegant solution. You’ll see this often in the campaigns with a technology focus.

Pressy was a Kickstarter project focused on a device that plugs into a smartphone and creates a small button you can program. Push the button once and the camera app appears. Push it twice or three times and different apps appear, depending on how you set it up. This eliminates the multiple steps that it takes do a particular function on the phone, such as take a photo. Push the Pressy button, and the camera app comes up ready to take a picture.

This was an elegant solution to a problem, and people flocked to it. The original funding goal was $40,000. They made more than $622,000 dollars in their campaign with more than 25 thousand backers.

You don’t get your funding until the campaign has completed, so you’ll need a source of funds to continue working on your project and acquire all of the perks. To keep as much of your cash on hand, some of the best business credit cards for your company give you twice as many points when you advertise in select media. Keep your finances organized with invoicing software and processing apps and devices for mobile payments or donations. Keep detailed records so you can track your progress. This can help you continue making progress while the crowdfunding campaign is proceeding. Backers want to see you’re so passionate about your project that you will make it happen no matter what.

Why This Campaign Worked

The sponsors were full of energy which came through in their video. They acknowledged their backers with praise and kept them informed of their progress. A successful campaign is only achieved by interacting with your supporters. The Pressy team did that throughout the project.

Build Support Around a Cause

The Grenada Goat Dairy School Project was a Kickstarter campaign to fund the training of farmers in poor areas of Grenada. They would learn how to run a dairy farm that produced milk and cheese. The project partnered with St. Patrick’s Anglican Public School and was aimed at youth development. This project brings major economic benefits to a poor nation, and it teaches the youth such things as farm management, animal husbandry and livestock genetics.

This campaign’s original goal was $55,000 and received more than $63,000 for their Kickstarter efforts. They had 368 backers. While these totals are substantially lower than the Pressy campaign, this is the typical outcome. Project sponsors make an estimate of what they need and target for that.

Why This Campaign Worked

The sponsors of the Goat Dairy Project knew their audience and their backers. They knew that Kickstarter was the type of platform they would seek out. Their project description targeted those people who had a passion for education, youth development and sustainable farming practices. Knowing your audience and delivering your message to them on the right platform is another key to a successful campaign.

Tap Into an Existing Fan Base

Professional photographer Clark James Mishler created a Kickstarter campaign to promote his new book “Portrait Alaska.” This book accompanies his exhibition currently at the Anchorage Museum. The book and exhibition focus on the people of Alaska and their cultural diversity. He has a large following of people who have seen and appreciate his work. Starting in January 2010, Mr. Mishler posted a portrait each day making it the longest running blog of its kind. His campaign goal was $38,000, and he made a little over that. He had 386 backers.

Why This Campaign Worked

Social networking is another key to crowdfunding. That is where your “crowd” comes from. Start building your audience way before your campaign starts and keep in touch with them through blog posts and project updates. You use your social networks to drive people to your Kickstarter project.

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