Making Your Debut: Best Practices for Crowdfunding on Your Own Website

When it comes to crowdfunding, few decisions are as important as choosing to skip the traditional platform and go solo. Making the choice to crowdfund on your own website may seem like a bold move, but as we’re seeing more and more, it’s often the right choice for building a larger long-term businesses.

In this post, we’ll break down some of the key benefits to self-hosting your own campaign, walk you through best practises when setting up a Celery Launch campaign, and uncover the pros and cons to skipping the platform.

Key Benefits to Crowdfunding Independently

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1. Fewer Fees

When all fees are accounted for, Kickstarter and Indiegogo charge between 8-10% and 7-10% respectively of total backer funding. Comparatively, Celery Launch charges 2%, plus the transaction fee. When paired with Stripe, these total fees equal 4.9% +.30 per transaction (2% Celery +2.9% Stripe +.30).

2. Create Your Brand Identity

For project creators who want to build a bigger business, perhaps even with multiple products, it doesn’t make sense to fall under the umbrella of another brand. When you crowdfund on your own website, you aren’t being plugged into the colors, layout and design of another highly recognizable brand. You are communicating directly with your customers, telling your story, your way, from the very start. As Adam Lee, co-founder of Bohemian Guitars, points out “At the end of the day, all Kickstarter campaigns look the same. You can't make the page your own or reflect the brand you're trying to build."

3. Keep Your Traffic

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Instead of driving traffic to another platform, crowdfunding on your own website means keeping it all to yourself (insert evil laugh). Holding onto your campaign traffic will prove invaluable as you continue with pre-orders and build out your brand. The boost from your campaign will jumpstart SEO, pagerank and link backs, while improving your long-term discovery.
Adam Lee explains, "When someone searches Bohemian Guitars, the Kickstarter link is one of the first hits. Nearly two years later, I'd rather that wasn't the case.” Crowdfund where your customers will always be able to find you, and where you are the primary story-teller.

4. Optimize Flow

With a customized crowdfund on your own website, you’re entirely responsible for the look and feel of your backer’s checkout experience. If something’s not entirely optimized for your buyers, you can adjust it to improve flow. You also have full access to all metrics, own your data, and can remarket and retarget to potential buyers who fail to “pull the trigger” on their first visit. In short, unlike platform crowdfunding, you can dissect every step of your funnel and build your own silver bullet.

5. Post-Campaign Order Management

When innovators are preparing for a crowdfunding launch, attention is usually focused on generating as much sales as possible. This singular focus often results in underestimating many post-campaign challenges. On Kickstarter, once a campaign ends, you’re on your own. Any backer communication, changing of orders, and filling in of missing information must take place via other channels. As such, a lot of data must be transferred, collected, and stored elsewhere.

For example, if a backer forgets to add their address or wants to change a reward tier, you would have to do this manually (likely on spreadsheets) outside of Kickstarter. Celery Launch provides real-time reporting, order management, and most importantly offers a one-stop dashboard that will be with you through fulfillment.

Differences Between Independent “Celery Launch” Crowdfunding and Platform Crowdfunding

  • Entirely Customizable--Your checkout and the feel of your crowdfund is entirely up to you. You can follow Celery’s best practises for building an optimized checkout process or design your own from scratch.
  • Internationally Friendly--Launching on Kickstarter is only open to residents of the following countries: US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Celery Launch supports all innovators in countries covered by their selected payment processor. For instance, Paypal is available in 203 countries, in 26 currencies, and therefore Celery supports these sellers as well.
  • Less of a Marketplace Feel--Kickstarter or better yet, Amazon (the epitome of an online Marketplace), aggregates numerous products available for backing and purchase. Celery Launch is implemented on your website and only supports your SKU’s.
  • Full Set of E-Commerce Tools--Celery Launch offers a full-set of flexible e-commerce tools that have been built for the specific use-cases of pre-orders, out-of-stock items, and crowdfunding. This means that retroactive order editing, bulk actions, a full buyer dashboard, the option to enable payment installations and delayed charging, as well as most other traditional e-commerce features are available during and after your crowdfund.
  • Less About Reward Tiers--Most crowdfunds that take place on a brand’s own website steer clear of tiers, and offer “limited time pricing” for their early adopters.
  • Different Set of Campaign Elements--The infomercial style “pitch” video has become a campaign staple on platforms. Although videos are also common in DIY crowdfunds, the videos take on a different style. The videos appear more like an Apple video: product-centric, with less narrative. Other elements like making the pledge goal public and displaying stretch goals are optional.
  • Flexible Timing--You can start and stop your campaign at any point, aligning your timeline directly with supply and demand.

How to Set-Up Celery Launch and Get Campaign-Ready

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First, Speak to a Celery Campaign Manager

Having worked alongside hundreds of crowdfunds (most of which raise $100k+), we’ve seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t. We’re also no-holds-barred when it comes to sharing best practices before, during, and after your campaign. If you’re planning to host a crowdfunding campaign on your own website reach out. We’ll happily answer questions, share important resources, and get you set-up.

Check-List to Complete Before You’re Ready to Launch:

  • Have Identified Your Audience--This is something we’ve discussed in great detail in Part 1 of our Marketing Chapter. It’s important to set-up a landing page and start tracking your audience, traffic sources, and playing with different messaging straight away. Answering who your customers are, and uncovering the solution to your marketing riddle is key before setting up the logistics of your launch.
  • Produced a Great Video--There are tons of great video production companies that can create the high-quality, polished, and branded video your product needs. This is not an area to skimp on. Videos matter. According to Unbounce, videos can increase conversions by 80%. We recommend you check out our friends at Vireo Films.
  • Optimized Your Check Out--Up until your launch, the single goal of your landing page’s CTA was to capture leads. Come Launch time, this CTA is getting backers to buy into your idea. Your copy, images, video, limited time offers, marketing, and overall messaging must reflect this new goal. In all likelihood this will mean simplifying the checkout process and landing pages, while building a sense of urgency.
  • Set-up Your Celery Checkout--The Celery API delivers an optimized checkout and powerful order management backend with just two lines of code. The API is also fully customizable which is something a lot of developers take advantage of when aiming to build the best, shortest checkout flow possible.
  • Integrate with the Best 3rd Party Apps--You’ll need to select Stripe, Paypal, or Affirm as your preferred payment gateway. The Celery Launch API also integrates with countless business and marketing tools--such as Google Analytics, MailChimp, ShipStation, and Intercom--to remarket, solve abandon cart problems, assist with fulfillment, and ultimately, help you sell more and run your business better.
  • Have Prepped for a Major PR Push-- In the months leading up to your launch, you will have built your community. These are the people who will rally for you, recommend you to friends, and buy within the first 24 hours of your launch. Another vital group of buyers will be driven by media hits. This buying group has the potential to be enormous--even viral. For an explosive Launch, you need to be written about, discussed on forums, and at the very least, “trend” within your niche. If it’s within your budget, we recommend bringing on a PR firm, or expert to craft a strong pitch, and lockdown some media coverage.

Celery Launch Best Tips and Practises

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1. Focus on Checkout Flow--Aesthetics matter, but developing a checkout flow that maximizes conversions is make or break. Reducing the number of checkout steps can greatly improve sales.

2. Don’t Focus on Rewards--Skip the stickers, t-shirts and tier buckets. Implement “limited time pricing” to create the same sense of urgency, without the gimmicks.

3. If Possible, Collect Shipping Addresses Now--If you can manage to collect shipping addresses upfront without affecting conversions, do it. It will save you some serious headache down the road.

4. Collect Phone Numbers for International Buyers--Forgetting phone numbers is something that’s easy to overlook, but can seriously blow-up your shipping game. Couriers for international orders require phone numbers for delivery.

5. Keep Your SKU’s Simple--Having more SKUs does not increase sales. This is a truth we’ve learned from countless sellers. Keep your product offerings simple to better meet minimum manufacturing quantities and to reduce order management stress.

6. No Need to Tax Everyone-- You don’t have to collect taxes in areas where you don’t have a business presence. For instance, if your company is based in Manhattan only, New York is the only state in which you’d need to collect tax. For international orders, customs or the courier will handle any necessary tax collection.

7.Create Your Own Success--The myth that launching on Kickstarter and Indiegogo translates directly into sales and virality is false. Whether you launch independently or on a platform, your success is directly related to: having a great idea; gaining mentorship or industry support; defining your audience and building out widespread marketing initiatives to reach “your people”; and properly measuring and testing ways to convert sales.

There you have it. In this series we’ve walked you all the way from “aha moment” through to launching an explosive crowdfunding campaign. To revisit all the stops along the way, check out Part 1 (Validating Your Crowdfunding Idea), Part 2 (Turning Your Idea into a Crowdfunding-Ready Prototype) and Part 3 (Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Crowdfund).

For more great reads on crowdfunding and continuing post-campaign pre-orders, subscribe to the Celery Blog now.