For some of our creators, the hard part of crowdfunding is finding the right crowd. From the creator’s point of view, that’s understandable. They are intimately familiar with their project and already know how well it works. So it’s natural for them to assume all they have to do is get the word out via an established site like Crowd Supply, and the pledges will roll in. Of course, reality is more nuanced. For a crowdfunded project to truly succeed, it needs to have a community that supports it nearly from the start. A community is not just a group of users with checkbooks. A community is a co-designer, reviewer, critic, cheerleader, and tester. Consequently, it’s best to build a community from the beginning, or at least before getting too far along in the design and prototyping process.
That’s all well and good, but how can a creator build or find a community? In many cases, creators already have at least part of the answer to that question because they already belong to a community of like-minded folk. They might contribute to an online discussion forum or go to a regular gathering. They might belong to a club or have co-workers with similar needs and interests. All of those connections represent an “in” that can be used to build interest in the project. Whether they have such a connection or not, the important thing is to get involved.
Once a potential community has been identified, creators should work on making some contributions before introducing their own project. Creators need to be useful contributors to a community; people are less likely to step up and help if they believe a creator is just there to hawk their own wares. So, creators should chime in on some threads, volunteer their opinions or expertise, step up and help out a fellow forum member. Creators need to establish themselves as contributing community members. At that point, the creator’s project is more likely to be accepted by the community. The project needs to be introduced in a way that makes it clear the creator is looking for advice and feedback, not cash. The goal is to get the community invested in the project and making it work.
While most creators will have some community contacts already, the internet is a big place. So, to help creators find their community, we’ve built a Community Directory. We’ve listed communities that either we or Crowd Supply creators have found friendly and useful. We’ve sorted them into different interest groups, but of course there’s lots of overlap between them. The Directory is still very much a work in progress. We’re hoping that you’ll help us make this resource grow by submitting your suggestions for additions to the Directory. Please send us your recommendations.