Crowdfunding Checklist: Step 4, Putting Your Team Together
No man (or woman) is an island, and no crowdfunding campaign can perform at its absolute best if it’s a one-man job. Earlier in this series, we pointed out that campaigns run by teams raise three times as much money as campaigns where one person wears all the hats. But chances are, unless you’ve already built a functioning company that’s backing your campaign, you’ll be starting out with an inadequate infrastructure to ensure crowdfunding success.
Don’t worry, you can change that. You just have to know where to look, and how to ask, to bring the best talent on board and get your campaign launched, noticed, and more than fully funded.
Determine Your Needs
Building a team can be as simple as finding a marketing guru to make your stuff look like a million bucks, but it can also be as hard as assembling a tech startup on bootstrapped funding. Before you start reaching out to prospective team members, you need to develop a solid understanding of what your campaign needs to ensure success.
At its core, any crowdfunding campaign will need a marketing plan. If your product is fairly straightforward and you’re not trying to raise massive amounts, you can probably partner with one talented marketer and outsource most of the other tasks you’ll need, like graphic design and basic development tasks, to freelancers. But if you’re trying to raise millions, you may need multiple members of your marketing team, like a social media maven, an email marketing maestro, and an influencer relationship expert to get you in front of respected people and brands with large followings.
If you’re not an artist yourself, and your project has an art-heavy bent, like a board game or a graphic novel, you’ll want to bring an artist and/or graphic designer onto your team to ensure consistent workflows and high production volumes.
If your campaign centers on a piece of tech hardware or a complex bit of furniture, you’ll definitely want to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of product design and supply chain management. The more complex your product, the more components it’ll need, and cost control is critical in crowdfunding, where every dollar counts.
Make sure you take real time to analyze the development and production needs you’ll need to manage, both before and after launching your campaign. You may be brilliant and talented (not to mention attractive and charming), but you can’t do everything yourself. Focus on the aspects of your campaign that you know you can knock out of the park, and try to delegate the rest -- especially if they’d take you a lot of time to handle on your own. With limited time to run your campaign and fulfill pledges, it’s critical that every member of the team focus on what they do best and most efficiently.
The Search Begins
But where can you find talented teammates?
That depends on a few things, including your reputation in the niche on which your campaign is focused, and your available pre-campaign resources to retain qualified talent. Like it or not, someone with a top-notch reputation is always going to have an easier time recruiting others to their team. People simply prefer to work with leaders who are known to be good at what they do.
If you’ve developed a reputation in your industry niche, you should do everything you can to take advantage of it by promoting your idea among other industry talents. Talk to friends and connections with similar interests and recognized skills for the role you’re looking to fill. You stand your best chance of filling necessary positions without committing much (or any) of your resources to payroll if you start within your network. Equity is easier to commit up front than money, especially before you’ve launched your campaign. And it’s also easier to vet people within your shared communities, where you’re likely to know the people that can vouch for your prospective partners.
What if you absolutely need talent that you can’t find in your current network?
You can try to expand your network on LinkedIn by reaching out to reputable professionals with the right skill sets. Like Facebook, LinkedIn has a number of groups and communities dedicated to various professional interests, from digital marketing to manufacturing to logistics. The downside to LinkedIn is that most of the people you’ll find who could handle the role you have in mind will already have jobs. Unless you’ve got a ton of time and commitment to trawling through LinkedIn, you may find that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Fulfilling It With Freelancers
Source: Quentin Nguyen via Flickr.
Once you start moving beyond in-network opportunities to fill roles on your crowdfunding campaign team, you’ll almost certainly have to start considering the costs of hiring or contracting people to handle various tasks.
If you only need work done in an ad-hoc or case-by-case basis, you should probably focus on finding freelancers. There are thousands of well-qualified freelancers with reasonable service rates available for hire on a per-project or per-hour basis on Fiverr, Crowdspring, PeoplePerHour, Guru, Upwork, Freelancer, and other freelance marketplaces.
Sites with lower average rates per job, like Fiverr, will yield better results if you have a clearer idea of what you need, while sites like Upwork can provide you with access to more strategic thinkers who can work with you to create the perfect material. However, most freelance marketplaces have been converging towards a point of similar quality in recent years -- there are some Fiverr gigs offered for thousands of dollars, while some simpler Upwork gigs may cost only $5 or $25. People who provide more complex services, like marketing strategy, are more likely to set up shop on Upwork or Freelancer, while Fiverr is well-known for the depth and breadth of its design talent pool.
Don’t automatically seek out the lowest-cost option! Whatever a freelancer does for you is likely to represent your offer in a major way, whether it’s through graphic design, copywriting, web development, video production, or something else. You’re also likely to need freelance work more than once (or for more than just an hour or two if hiring by the hour), so make sure to take the time to investigate your options and discuss your needs with prospective freelancers before you bring them on board with your project. Every freelancer on this site should have a portfolio of completed projects, which should help you identify people with the right style and sensibilities.
To recap, most crowdfunding campaigns should try to build their teams through the following steps:
- Determine what you can do efficiently on your own
- List everything you’ll need that should be delegated to others
- Check your networks and community groups for referrals
- Look at freelance marketplaces for qualified talent
- Set clear expectations for what you need and when you need it
If you do a thorough job investigating your prospective partners and freelancers before you bring them on board, you’re much more likely to have a positive, successful working relationship that can produce the quality work you need for campaign success.