Crowdfunding – It’s Not Too Good To Be True (One Pennsylvania Mom Rapped Her Way to $6K)

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When I first heard about crowdfunding, I thought it was too good to be true. “It must only be the people with a ton of connections that get funded,” I thought. Well, I thought wrong. If you have the same mentality that I did, you might want to reconsider. In fact, there are a lot of mompreneurs just like you that have been funded and are now on the path to small business success. Sound too good to be true? Read on.

After mom entrepreneur Kerri Smith invented a maternity support pillow, she wanted to start selling it online. The problem with that was the $3,660 she needed to come up with for those pesky “Do not remove under penalty of law” pillow tag registration fees. But rather than spend months trying to save up the money or pursuing loans she’d have to pay back, Kerri took her needs, her anger over the fees and her feisty personality to IndieGoGo, a crowdfunding platform for, well, anything. As of the campaign end, Kerri raised $1,000 over her goal of $5,685.

How’d she do it? Well, besides creating an innovative product that millions of pregnant women would kill for, she kicked her campaign off by unleashing her pent-up anger over the pointless fees via an off-the-wall, hilarious rap video. Genius? Yes. Who wouldn’t share a video of pregnant chicks rapping to a song adequately titled “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law.” All we have to say is – you go girl.

Because she was so successful with crowdfunding, we asked Kerri to share her tips so that other mom entrepreneurs can experience the same empowerment. Here are her personally tested tips.

Tip 1:  Have your List of Contacts Prepared

Before you launch a campaign, Kerri recommends compiling a list of contacts you want to target. “Start with your friends and family,” she said. “They’ll be the ones who give your project initial movement.”

Tip 2:  Make it Personal

Let’s face it – if you mass-blast everyone’s email box with a generic “Please contribute,” no one’s going to want to help you. Kerri says it worked for her to personalize each email.

Tip 3:  Treat your Campaign Like a Sale

“It takes seven touches to get a person to buy something,” said Kerri, who treated her campaign the same way as any other sale. “Don’t expect people to just contribute the first time, and don’t be afraid to ask them personally to commit.”

Tip 4:  Aim for Solid Contributions at the Beginning

If you didn’t know Kerri and stumbled across her page to see that it had $0 in funding, would you contribute? Kerri said probably not. “Try to get a lot of contributions on the front end of your campaign, so that when total strangers are thinking about making a contribution, they see that you must be legitimate because you’ve already made progress.”

Tip 5:  Be Press Ready

Like any clever entrepreneur, Kerri knows the value of being press ready at any moment. This includes having a list of outlets in place, being able to give someone an elevator pitch of your campaign, and being able to appropriately address questions people may have. After all, you never know when a media outlet might call or email you about your campaign and need a response immediately. Your timeliness could make or break someone’s monetary commitment, or a reporter or blogger’s story.

Tip 6:  Nurture Relationships

She must have been a marketing guru in a past life, because she knows the value of relationship management. Kerri, who kept detailed, organized spreadsheets of each person she reached out to, didn’t simply market herself – she formed relationships. With mom bloggers, Kerri said she made sure to link back to them and refer them to her friends as a way of saying thanks.

Tip 7:  Be Enormously Creative

“Anybody can launch a crowdfunding campaign,” said Kerri. “You have to do something to get people’s attention.” She said it’s important to pick an element of your business funding to focus on that makes sense to people, and then deliver it in a creative way.

Tip 8:  Offer Great Incentives

Though Kerri didn’t specifically mention this tip, we know she knows about it. Why? Because her incentives were right on target with the ideal crowdfunding campaign. Kerri offered everything from an MP3 version of the infamous rap for a $5 donation, to a discounted pillow for early backers who pledged $40, to a custom pillow for donations of $250, to an ultimate win of a personalized rap, custom pillow, tote bags, bumper stickers and an MP3 version of the rap for those that pledged $1,000.

A Crossroads for Mom Entrepreneurs?

By now, hopefully Kerri’s success has helped you to realize that crowdfunding might just be the ideal solution to your entrepreneurial funding efforts. But Kerri’s not the only mom experiencing massive success. Sally Outlaw, co-founder of the crowdfunding platform peerbackers, told us she has many stories she could tell of mom entrepreneurs experiencing a crossroads in their lives and businesses thanks to crowdfunding.

Outlaw said that her primary piece of advice to those moms considering the route is to spend the time spreading the word as soon as possible, even before you launch your campaign. “Pre-campaign to build up a network of potential supporters,” she said, which is what one of her successful clients, founder of ArtNest, Tara Coles, did for her peerbackers campaign. Because of the aggressive pre-exposure, Coles’ campaign quickly surpassed its goal so much that she was able to raise the funding amount by nearly $3,000.

“Reach out pre-campaign to bloggers who blog about the topics relevant to a business,” she said. “That way, when you launch the campaign, you can get the coverage to help it go viral.”

Will crowdfunding take the spotlight away from venture capitalists and high-interest bank loans? Will it change the game of entrepreneurship for moms everywhere who have a great idea and nowhere else to turn for funding? For Outlaw’s client Coles, crowdfunding was a game-changer. “She told me it was a crossroads that she’ll look back on as the start of her business journey.”

There you have it, not too good to be true after all. Are you considering giving it a shot? Post a reply to share your story.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.