Can you become a millionaire by crowdfunding – without spending a cent?

Considering crowdfunding? The following is an answer that I wrote to this very Quora question this afternoon. It’s the culmination of my crowdfunding trial by fire, Moringa: Coming of the Eternal Vine (a historical epic about the last empress of Korea that I’m helping with), which ends next week. 

Hello, my ambitious bootstrapping friend,

First of all, have you seen this?

ScreenClip [3]

He’s a distant cry from becoming a millionaire, but $55,492 for just making some potato salad – well, it happened. So if you (1) have a sense of humor and (2) get stupid lucky, then sure. Check out How did the Kickstarter Potato Salad manage to raise so much money? Or just check out the actual project here.

Just do it 20 times successfully, and there’s your million dollars.

Right.

Now… for the rest of us who would rather work our butts off…
(after all, work has a better success rate than dumb luck)

It could happen – you just have to be smart about it and hustle like mad. Try this process on for size.

1. Idea. Come up with a really interesting product. ($0)

2. Build an audience via a blog, guest posting, youtube channel, podcast – basically, make content that matters to people who might be interested in what you’re making. Be real, make lots of friends, help a lot of people so much that they’ll be eager to help you. ($0 depending on how resourceful you are)

3. BUDGET. Do everything humanly possible to guarantee that if people pay you, you can make good on delivering your product and all perks on time. Understand your costs, your manufacturer, remember that Chinese New Year can really screw up your manufacturing if you’re making it in China (and it’s annual!). Get agreements on paper. Make sure you make money. (if you do it right, $0)

4. Launch. Continue hustling like mad. Bring your audience to your campaign. If you did step 2 really well, they’ll bring their friends and family. Do it so well that you won’t be tempted to drop cash on the consultants who will flock to your page like vultures. And by the way, you should hopefully be guest posting, posting, getting interviewed, or something as much as you can throughout the process. ($0)

5. Win. Collect your cash. (whatever your goal was + bonus if you really did this right, set proper reach goals, etc.)

6. Deliver. Spend the next month busting your backside to deliver the goods. Since you’re hoping to be a serial crowdfunder, it’d be best to overdeliver. (If your budget was correct, you spend from your winnings here.)

7. Repeat. Enjoy your profits and drop them into your next project. Buy a domain, buy libsyn space for a podcast, listen to Amy Porterfield’s podcast and buy Facebook ads, smartly. Come up with a new IDEA (step 1), ideally something related to your first successful project so that your audience will still be interested.


Note that this is not easy money. EVERY STEP REQUIRES HUSTLE.It’s just a way to make money. You’ll have to be really good at this to replace your day job, and really work like mad. You might need to hire a virtual assistant, for example. You’ll need to keep learning to stay on top of your game. And you need to build a reputation from your first campaign. Theoretically, it’s possible. It’d be an awesome story.

But here’s the secret: Kickstarter isn’t meant to be a store or a get-rich-quick site. It’s meant to be a place where dreams get built, and where builders can gather funds from their audiences.

Kickstarter is the final step, not the first step. It’s up to you to bring the crowd, and that’s where most campaigns fail.

So the real first step? Make it your stated goal to serially crowdfund your millionaire dream, and find an audience whose eager to take that journey with you. That is, make valuable content around that dream of yours that others would find useful.

Google Seth Godin’s episode of the “Funding the Dream” podcast to get the lowdown on that.

And if that doesn’t work, you could always make potato salad.

Best wishes.
Ed


 This is reposted from my answer at Quora. You can view the original question and answer here.

Your turn: Have you ever considered crowdfunding? Why haven’t you tried it yet? (or if you have, how’d it go?) See you in the comments below!

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