My freelance career was off to a dismal start. It was nothing but low-paying gigs, flaky clients, and race-to-the-bottom bidding on content mill sites. Then I discovered an unusual business writing niche that changed everything.
Two small business start-up clients asked me to write content designed to attract investors to help fund their business ideas.
But these entrepreneurs weren’t looking for angel investors with millions of dollars. They were going to get funding in a different way. And they needed someone who could blend copywriting and business writing to ramp up.
It didn’t take long to discover that I liked this unusual business writing niche. Write copy to promote a business idea, help entrepreneurs, and see an idea turn into a physical product or service.
And the pay? It’s been two years since I discovered this unusual business writing niche. It took a little work to understand it, but now I regularly earn $500 per hour.
Curious? I’ve carved out a niche writing crowdfunding campaigns. And so can you. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s a crowdfunding campaign?
For the uninitiated, Kickstarter is one of several popular crowdfunding websites that help companies raise enough funds to create new products or services.
If hundreds of people each pledge a little, the campaign can confirm consumer interest and provide needed funds to make their widget.
Crowdfunding platforms provide an opportunity for market research, as well as a way to presell an offer and produce it using customers’ money instead of company capital.
One of those first Kickstarter campaigns I wrote raised nearly $9,000. And that was just the beginning. I went on to write campaigns that raised seven figures.
I was instantly hooked. For the first time, writing was tied to an outcome I could see. In the short span of two years, I’ve written thousands of crowdfunding campaigns and built a successful career around business writing and consulting in this niche. Here’s what you need to know to break into this niche:
How to find crowdfunding prospects
There’s more than one way to find crowdfunding prospects who need a freelancer to handling their business writing and campaign content. Here are ways I look for clients in this niche:
Use freelance sites
My first clients were acquired on freelance sites such as Elance (now UpWork), Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour. When I posted gigs for campaign writing, I received orders within hours. You can use these sites to build your initial portfolio. At first, I had to sell with lower rates initially ($50 per campaign) to build my credibility. Then I started charging premium prices.
You may think of Fiverr as the home of $5 gigs, but below is an example of my prices on Fiverr to write crowdfunding campaigns now:
Kickstarter campaigns often require an array of freelancers to handle business writing, graphic design, web design, video, and social media. Joining forces with other freelancers can help increase your exposure and lead to more gigs.
Once you refer clients to your freelance partners, you can share notes to ensure a seamless campaign with a unified message. Currently, I work with a voice-over expert who gets many clients in the early phases of a campaign. Before he creates a video for a client, this freelancer often hires me to write the video scripts.
Ask clients referrals
Before completing a crowdfunding campaign for a client, I offer a complimentary press release in exchange for a referral to three of their peers. Then I offer those peers a consultation about crowdfunding. You’ll rarely encounter repeat clients in crowdfunding, so referrals are critical.
Offer free consultations
Busy business owners prefer to speak rather than type. They talk, you listen and process for key points. I offer free, 15-minute consultations to referral clients and indecisive clients.
Business writing tips to please crowdfunding clients
Once you find an interested crowdfunding campaign prospect, you need to turn them into a client. So how do you make the client choose you to write their campaign?
Crowdfunding services are needed within a small window of time. Clients are in the heat of growing their business, and they need funding…yesterday. And you need to be able to jump in and get the business writing done for their crowdfuding campaign done fast.
There’s a high learning curve, and a lot of pressure that goes along with launching a crowdfunding campaign. Here’s how to turn prospects into clients:
Make it quick
Reply to inquiries from prospects in a timely manner to close sales. I use an arsenal of canned replies to answer questions quickly without sacrificing integrity. Unlike other freelance gigs with multiple approvals, budgets, timelines, etc., a crowdfunding client is typically one person or a small team that makes quick decisions.
Make it easy to understand
I’m surprised how many prospects approach me seeking crowdfunding as first-timers with little knowledge of the process. They see it work for other businesses and know they too need funding and then they find you. So you can guide them through the process. If you’re not familiar with crowdfunding campaigns, go to Kickstarter or Indiegogo and read through a bunch of campaigns to get familiar with the kind of content that’s required.
Here is a very typical initial inquiry from a client:
Present simple packages
For crowdfunding campaign copy, pricing per word or by the hour isn’t effective. It’s business writing and copywriting combined. Charging by the project or scope of work is a better way to go. I’ve also found that offering packages with a fixed price and explanation what’s included works well. I offer three unique packages based on campaign type and amount of funds needed:
Set your rates
The best way to price your crowdfunding writing is through flat-rate packages. Break down packages by campaign copy, perks, and video script lengths. Once you learn the intricacies of campaign writing, these gigs get easier – and your pay per hour rises dramatically.
In my first few weeks, I wrote a campaign for free, and it was worth it to gain the experience. If you can write one successful campaign that you can share with prospects, it’ll help you gain clients for years to come.
Once you retain a client, you’ll gather their information and write the campaign. I require 100 percent upfront when using an escrow account through a third party. But if I’m invoicing the client directly, I accept 50 upfront, with the remaining half paid when I complete the content (not the conclusion of the campaign).
How to write a crowdfunding campaign
When I landed my first crowdfunding client, I wasn’t totally sure what I needed to write. But I’ve done enough of them now to know most crowdfunding campaigns have three specific elements.
- Campaign copy for the body of the text
- Video script
- “Perk” copy (descriptions of the bonuses funders get at various pledge levels)
Each part is equally important – they should be a cohesive whole, with each section focused on the funders, the people who are ultimately going to put money on the line to support this business idea.
The copy takes up most of the room on a campaign page, so start with the key elements of your client’s project, followed by their journey to this launch.
Then, highlight exciting details down the page to keep visitors engaged. Use lots of headers, visual components and bullet points to break up text blocks.
Video scripts should incorporate a personal message from the creator, showcase the project, and flow with the campaign copy.
Videos are usually 2-4 minutes, and my rule is to estimate 150 words per minute. I ask my clients how long they want their video to be and base my word count on their choice in length. I don’t recommend campaign videos run longer than 5 minutes. The video must appeal to funders’ short attention spans.
At the heart of any campaign are the perks – the items funders get, depending on how much they pay. Often, they’re an exclusive or limited-edition version of a product or service. Each perk should pack a punch, because characters can be limited, depending on the platform, such as Kickstarter. Get creative on spelling, sentences, and structure to squeeze in the details. See the template for a typical crowdfunding page layout.
What to watch out for
You should never write crowdfunding campaigns on commission or on spec, dependent on whether the campaign brings in the desired amount of funding. Copy is only one component of a successful crowdfunding campaign.
The funding is based on the client’s ability to execute the campaign, and many factors will be out of your control. You may need to explain this to some clients, because they will ask you to write on commission. If you agree to write on spec or commission, you may end up doing a lot of work and not getting paid.
Tap into the crowdfunding campaign niche
Crowdfunding is a niche that provides great variety. One day I’m working with an author and entrepreneur, and the next, a dog trainer or restaurant owner.
Not only are the clients fascinating, but finding a profitable writing niche has also helped me achieve my freelance goals.
I’ve worked remotely from 12 different countries, and helped with crowdfunding campaigns all over the world.
If you’re able to work on tight deadlines, enjoy varied work, and know how to price yourself, this is a niche that can provide a great living. You’ll meet people in one of the most exciting phases of their business, and can play a critical role in their growth.
Got questions about writing crowdfunding campaigns? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.
Kendell Rizzo is a freelance crowdfunding campaign writer and fundraising strategist.