So you want to take this epic trip somewhere in the world and you’re looking for ways to raise money to cover your expenses? Great, but how are you going to get people to donate to your campaign? Everybody’s got dreams and we only pay attention to others when they’re either close friends or there’s something in it for us. Maybe it’s something we can learn from them and apply to our own projects, maybe it’s a destination we’ve always wanted to go to, like Argentina, or to visit a faraway secluded tribe in Papua New Guinea. We pay attention to someone else’s story when it becomes meaningful to us.
Be Clear On Why People Should Back Your Journey
Why do you think someone would want to chip in to fund your travels in exchange for a postcard, t-shirt, coffee mug or some other thing you might never rush out the door to purchase yourself? Especially if they’re bound to their desk doing work they wish didn’t exist?
It’s because they’re interested in your travel destination(s) or are probably ready for an escape, even if it’s just a mental getaway. Think of your supporters as people who are already traveling or are wishing they were. Travelers know how important it is to cover your expenses and not have to worry about every dollar each day. And the dreamers are those who’re craving for travel stories to devour and quench their thirst for freedom and adventure.
The best way to get started with your crowdsourced funding campaign is to ask yourself “How do I want people to feel when they take a look at my pictures from my trip, when they read my blog posts and when they get updates from me on Facebook?”
How do you want these supporters to feel? Excited, curious, adventurous? If you can make them see themselves right there with you, then you might have a good chance of getting your travels funded and acquiring some hardcore followers along the way.
Paint A Picture
Help your supporters travel through you and see the world through your photos, your stories and videos, and make them feel as if they’re actually in that part of the world with you. Make people see how their contribution is making an impact, big or small.
Describe your ideas as if you were talking to your best friend, discuss the reasons behind your journey, whether it’s a self-discovery odyssey somewhere in Asia, or you’re planning to make a documentary movie about schools somewhere in Africa.
It doesn’t even have to be that glamorous or Earth-shattering, as long as you’re sharing the “Why” behind your vision and are putting the real you out there where people can see you, relate to you and see your goals as an extension of theirs.
What Will You Give In Return?
It’s time to think about what rewards you’ll be giving your donors. These can be travel-related and should make donors feel part of your journey. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Send real, handwritten postcards from the road.
- Custom t-shirts with a unique designed created especially for your campaign.
- Other gifts like key chains, luggage tags, posters, etc.
- Offer a place to stay for supporters who visit your city.
- Cook something for your next guest and help them discover the local flavors of where you live.
- Teach people how to take better pictures or videos or whatever skill you can easily package in a mini tutorial.
- Coffee-table photography album on glossy paper of the photos taken throughout the journey.
Keep in mind that people usually donate at the low-end ($15-$20), somewhere in the middle, around $50-$60 and then at around $100. So make sure you consider all the costs of delivering the rewards before making any promises.
Get Supporters Early
Next, make a plan to spread the word about your journey, get some feedback and attract your first supporters that truly care about your vision. The sooner you can make some buzz, the better!
Start off with two emails, one to all of your closest contacts letting them know what you’re planning to do and then a second one sent once your campaign is live, sending them the link, explaining the donation process and encouraging them to share the news on social media.
A few tips prior to launch:
- Start a blog or a Medium.com profile. Write at least three articles a week leading up to the launch of your crowdsourced funding campaign. Be sure to include all the relevant links to the campaign and social media profiles, so people can keep up with your progress.
- Start a YouTube channel or Instagram to let people experience the visual side of our journey.
- Invite people to sign-up to your newsletter where you can also share the updates leading up to your journey and throughout your travels.
Ideally, you should launch your campaign on a Thursday because people seem to be less swamped with emails and are also a little bored, looking for the weekend. Never launch around major holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving because people are just way too busy and won’t pay much attention to anything else.
Once your campaign is live, make sure to drip continuous updates and stay in touch with your supporters and show them how their money is helping you make progress.
Share daily posts on social media, take lots of pictures and stay connected with your donors just as you would with your family. Make your backers feel like they are apart of your journey and show gratitude for their input. Make new videos, thank the newest donors, add new rewards, etc. Share your ideas and ask for feedback – you’d be amazed how many brilliant new perspectives you can get by simply asking (people love to share their opinion!).
After your campaign has come to an end (no matter if you reached your goal or not), update all your backers and thank them again for their help. Share with them your further plans and keep them updated as you move forward.
That’s it! These are the basic steps for launching a campaign for funding your travel expenses. The core of it all is your vision, your reasons for starting the adventure and your ability to communicate it in a clear and appealing manner.
People are willing to support whatever resonates with their own values, so keep your ideal supporter in mind, connect at a genuine level with them and make them feel their contribution made a real difference in your journey.
Hopefully, these guidelines will help you create your own campaign and fund your travels as soon as possible!
About the Author:
Sarah Williams is a Berlin based entrepreneur, dating coach and travel enthusiast. She loves doing things she’s never done before, because she thinks the key to happiness is a continuous learning process of expanding your comfort zone and having mindful interactions with people. Check out her tips in Wingman Magazine.