We're always getting asked what's needed to set up an effective crowdfunding campaign. Of course there are a bunch of free tools available in our guide but we wanted to be able to share all of the resources we couldn't fit into the guide, that people keeping asking us for. This page will be constantly updated as changes happen, so I suggest bookmarking it and rechecking before you take the next step on your campaign. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This is the stuff we know, love and recommend for no other reason than we know and love it. In some cases we earn a small commission if you use the link here and buy something (often with a discount), which helps us to support you. You'll notice though that almost all of it is free or dirt cheap. The most expensive items here (LeadPages, 99 Designs) we don't get anything for recommending. Either way, only spend money on what you need and thanks for your support!
Our Main Recommendations:
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Super easy, unlimited website hosting: Every campaign should have a website that informs, builds interest and collects emails for launch day. Get one that you 100% control in only a few clicks, in minutes, for almost nothing at HostGator. They're far cheaper than almost anyone, have good support, and let you pay month by month. They'll also automatically install the software you need to get a site up and running in just a couple of clicks.
Just click here and use the code "crowdfunding" to get your first month for only a penny, and even after that everything's covered by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Mailing list, free for 2,500 emails: Who we use to this day. Email gets viewing and response rates that runs rings around social media, which is rapidly moving towards only paid posts ever actually being seen by your followers. Mailchimp let you have a mailing list with thousands of people for free, and even when you grow larger as we have, they still have the easiest, most advanced interface in the industry. I'm also impressed by how much they listen to their users, integrate with social media and other platforms, and novate with new features regularly.
Completely free, stock photos for use without restriction. These images are all licensed under the Creative Commons CC Zero license. That basically means you can use them however you like, commercially or not, without attribution for anything. Another good site to find more images is thestocks.io Be aware though that while all of the images listed by TheStocks source websites are free (as in beer) to use, that they use a number of different licenses with slightly different restrictions.
Snappa.io is a great tool for creating images to share on social media quickly. Instantly search for and add any image from StockSnap above and use high quality templates and automatic sizing that's optimal for your social media platform. Combine that with ease of use and intelligent snapping options that get everything lining up nicely, and you have a great tool for making social images super quick. Even though we're trained in professional image generation tools, we still often use Snappa for quick social images.
Free domain names: On a *really* tight budget? Many people have told me that you can get almost any part of running a website for free ... except registering a domain name (the name people put in their browsers to get to your site). Well, good news. You *can* get a domain name for free, and without having to buy anything else to get it. DotTK will let you register a name ending in .tk (eg. CrowdfundingCampaign.tk) without paying a cent. You just have to log in a couple of times a year to let them know you still want it. This is great if you really have no money or are doing a short term experiment. For a website you intend to keep forever though, I still recommend registering a .com name if you can for a bunch of reasons. The only exception is where your potential backers are in a non-US country, in which case you will still want that country's equivalent (eg. .com.au for Australia).
Fast, easy creation of key conversion pages: You can do just about everything that LeadPages does with the right combination of plugins, customization, graphic design and tweaking. The beauty of Leadpages is that they will just save you ridiculous amounts of time setting up most of the most important pages on your site from the landing page where people first look at what your campaign offers, to the opt in where people give you their emails, to the thank you pages where you can encourage them to share your campaign. Everything is designed by professionals to be easily used in minutes by amateurs, and is constantly tested to get the highest conversion rates (that is, to get the result needed). If you're on a shoestring budget with lots of time, skip this and just get HostGator + MailChimp above. If you need a site that gets great results up NOW, without hiring a web developer, then LeadPages is the way to go.
Free legal, photos for your site: Free (cost + legally) photos for your site. Be aware that running a crowdfunding campaign likely falls under the "commercial" category unless you're a registered non-profit in our opinion (this is not legal / financial advice), so read the article and generally speaking avoid any of the "NC" (non commercial) images. Understand the impact if you use any "SA" (share alike) ones. (i.e. if you make a new image with it, other people can use your image).
TIP: You can change the order images are displayed so the ones found "interesting" to other Flickr users rank higher. Just change it to Sort > Interesting
More free, legal photos: Another source for free, creative commons images. Read the Flickr article linked above, then just do a Google search and then choose "Images", "Search Tools", "Usage Rights" and then "Labeled for reuse" if you don't need to make a new image out of it, or "Labeled for reuse with modification" if you do. The first option gives you a wider choice of photos, but you're not allowed to alter the photo itself. The second shows less images, but you can basically do what you like, usually (but not always) just having to attribute the original photographer.
High quality stock photos: Have a few dollars to spend but very little time, or patience for amateur photography? iStockPhoto let you choose from a huge catalog of professionally taken photos with legal rights to use in your project (no attribution needed). The only downsides are that a) you have to pay (not much, though) and b) stock photos can look pretty generic and are often used in many other places. Be careful to avoid using the same photo people have seen all over the place already. If you use the photo of the woman standing in a field with her head and arms thrown back in bliss again, we will hunt you down and delete your site. Seriously.
Find names not claimed on social media: If you're just starting out, then you want to choose a name that is memorable, short and unique. Preferably it is also available on all of the social media accounts important to you and your market (which also assures uniqueness). A quick way to look this up is KnowEm, which will quickly let you check if a username has been registered on many social media accounts. Often, even if you *don't* plan on using a particular social media account, it's still worth registering just to stop impostors pretending to be you later, or registering and trying to sell you the account, when you are better known. This is what we did when we started out.
Read & post to social networks in one place: Save time on reading and replying and sharing to social media accounts all over the place, by using HootSuite as your central, one-website hub. They have a great free plan which lets you include three social media accounts (eg Facebook, Twitter and Google+). We use Hootsuite ourselves.
Low cost, custom logos / graphic design: If you don't have an artistic bone in your body, or don't have time to create a professional logo, go to 99Designs. You'll have a bunch of different designers create different designs at no cost. Let them know which ones you want and why, and they'll do more versions until you find the one you love the most and only pay for that. You choose the price. Obviously a higher price gets more and better designers, buy you can get surprisingly good custom designs for very little, even at the lowest price points.
Cheap US Company Incorporation: A cheap and easy way to set up a company or other legal structure in the US. Useful if you're setting up a US crowdfunding campaign from overseas, or "just" to protect all of your personal assets when you're running a campaign.