Hi there, SciFunders! Kelly and Zach Weinersmith here, with our thoughts on how to drive traffic to your RocketHub video proposal. Why should you care what we think? Well, SMBC Theater, the sketch comedy troupe we work with, recently crowdedfunded a project in which we requested $15,000. When it was all said and done, we managed to pull in $75,000. Also, Zach has years of experience from driving people to his geek comic, SMBC, and he now pulls in 5-10 million page views per week.
Tip 1: Milk the internet
1) Post about your project on Reddit.Reddit.com is a news aggregator that is subdivided into thousands of individual communities called subreddits. Use their subreddit search function to find an appropriate place to pimp your project. The bigger the subreddit, the less likely you are to get any traction. So, try to find the best place, rather than the most popular place.
2) Post about your project in geek forums.You may already be familiar with online communities of people who are enthusiasts of your research topic. If you aren’t familiar, then search around the Internet to try to find these communities. For example, if you are doing a physics project then your RocketHub video proposal should contain a very straightforward and simple explanation of your project and how it relates to bigger questions in physics.
If you’re pitching your project to a physics forum (e.g., Physics Forums), then give these geeks a bit more detail about your project to get them excited before linking them over to your RocketHub site. You’ll have much better luck if you’re already a community member. Having your first post on a forum be a request to go offsite to give you money is generally considered bad form.
3) Ask “science personalities” to endorse your project.
Look for blogs or other popular science outlets that might be interested in your project, and ask the person who runs the site to post about your RocketHub proposal. If you go this route then be sure to spend a lot of time on the e-mail, and put in the time to explain the project and why you think they and their audience would be excited about what you are doing. This person will essentially be vouching for the awesomeness of your project, so expect to do some legwork to earn this honor. Do not be disappointed if you are turned down. Bloggers have to be picky about what they post and some simply may have a policy against posts that ask their readers for money. It can’t hurt to try, but don’t be pushy.
Additionally, your post should be mostly about the project. A little flattery won’t hurt, but popular bloggers get plenty of that already. The decision as to whether to link your project will not hinge on how big of a fan you are.
Try these blog sites:
If you already have followers through these social media outlets, tell them about your project and ask them to contribute! Don’t harass your followers for money, but keep them updated about your fundraising success and ask them from time to time to contribute.
5) Hit up your academic institution.
If you are in academia, then ask the webmaster for your home department or lab website to post about your project.
Find the information for your institution’s Office of Public Affairs or Press department. Ask them for advice about how to get the public excited about your project, and see if they are willing to cover your involvement in the SciFund Challenge. Get them excited by explaining that the SciFund Challenge is an experiment in getting the public involved in funding science research while also engaging scientists in public education.
Tip 2: Try the “real world”
1) Family and friends
“Remember that time you raised me for 18 years? Well, the cost of contributing to my SciFund will be wayyyy smaller!”
2) Find communities with a shared interest.
There are lots of public interest groups that may be excited about your research and would be willing to contribute. For example, there are lots of groups devoted to a love of black bass (e.g., largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, etc.), that might be willing to donate funds to a project that aims to learn more about these fish. There are a lot of niche groups full of people who would be happy to help in exchange for the inside scoop on your project.
Our suggested fundraising push timeline
Our sense is that people are hesitant to be the first to fund a new project. It might be a little hard to get the ball rolling, but once people see that your project has been receiving some donations they’re more likely to donate themselves. If your family and friends are going to donate, ask them to donate early on in your campaign so you can gain some momentum. Give your RocketHub proposal a real push when it first goes up, share fundraising updates with those interested in listening (e.g., Twitter and Facebook followers), and give your proposal another big push a few days before the fundraising deadline. This way you won’t be beating your potential fundraisers over the head repeatedly with the begging stick, but instead will give them two big appeals for fundraising.
If you have traffic-driving tips of your own, please share them with us! Good luck!