How do people get donations when they have no “friends and family” to share it with, as crowdfunding sites recommend?

I got this question recently on Quora, and I think it applies to so many people, even via sales channels other than crowdfunding, that it needs to be shared:

1. Have a GREAT product

I can’t stress this enough. If you cannot convince a stranger to buy it, then maybe there just isn’t any demand for it. I think we can all agree that there is a major underlying problem with the crowdfunding industry when it is as another commenter mentioned “90% based on friends and family”. So essentially products are not getting funded on their merits, but because we guilt people into supporting us. Want to get strangers to back you? Make something truly great.

2. Build Social Capital

Don’t have a social following? Well then step one may be building one. If you followed step 1 and have a truly great product, you should not have too hard a time to rally people from your niche market around you. You can increase your chances of being “discovered” by this group using ads, automation, and influencers who will share their message with their exisiting audience.

3. Connect with Influencers

You may not have a lot of friends, but there is a whole demographic of individuals called influencers, that have thousands to millions of fans and friends. You can either gain their support by having a truly great product, and/or by paying them. The bottom line you will realize with crowdfunding is that you have to bring something to the table, and here and there it will cost you money to raise some money.

4. Reach out to Blogs

Like influencers, Blogs are your next best bet. From small to large, they are all looking for a great story to tell, and will be able to give you a few hundred to tens of thousands of impressions. Go niche or go home, it’s essential that you focus on the blogs that really have a crowd that cares about your product. Don’t fall into the vanity trap of paying for big name media, when it’s the small mommy blogs that can drive real donations at a much better (or free) rate.

5. Ads, Ads, and some more ads

After diving deep into the world of crowdfunding agencies I have learned the scary truth of how much money some of the ‘Multi-million dollar campaigns’ have spent on advertising. The budgets I have heard go as sky high as $400,000. Most of the top rated crowdfunding agencies rely entirely on facebook ads, and pump money into them as if there is no tomorrow. Ever backed a crowdfunding campaign not run by a friend? I bet it’s because of a Facebook ad.

Note: Facebook ads convert better once you have passed the first 50% of your campaign, as success begets success.

Now I will tell you this.

It’s not easy.

As a matter of fact, it’s a real problem.

One I am trying to solve with my new crowdfunding portal FundThis.com. We are ending the begging to friends and family, and putting the crowd back into crowdfunding, through proper marketing tactics that don’t rely on the checkbook of your mom and dad.