6 Rules for Creating Compelling Crowdfunding Rewards

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I recently wrote a post about how to make sure your rewards help you reach your target, “Crowdfunding Is a Numbers Game.” But of course, the math behind your rewards is only one part of the puzzle.

Good rewards can turn an interested reader into an actual supporter. Your rewards should be creative and fun, while offering something for everyone. Today I’m going to give you my top 6 tips for doing just that. 

Rule 1: Consider your audience and your campaign’s purpose.

Before you start getting too creative, ask yourself why you’re running your campaign and who your audience is.

Example 1: You’re a first-time campaigner who needs help funding your book, and your audience is largely made up of your own friends and family. In many ways, these campaigns can be quite a lot of fun. Of course, your focus will be on pre-selling your book, but you could consider your skills outside of writing too. Perhaps you’ve written a chilling thriller, but you’re also an expert sailor or skilled quilter. You could offer a murder mystery­–themed sailing day, or a gothic-print quilt.

Example 2: You’re a published writer who is using crowdfunding as a marketing strategy, and you already have a growing audience. Your campaign should have rewards based exclusively on your book and your writing. Adding previously published works as book bundles, offering writing advice, or discounting exclusive fan club offers will appeal to your readership far more than a sailing lesson or a quilt.

Rule 2: Add rewards for every funding level.

Low-level rewards ($5 to $10): Some contributors will only have $5 or $10 to spare but still want to be a part of your campaign. Offer something as simple as a bookmark, a thank-you note, or a high five.

Mid-level rewards ($20 to $100): A vast majority of your contributors will visit your page because they’re interested in pre-ordering your book. Consider offering various formats (ebook, paperback, and hardcover), and bundle these together as gift and book club options.

High-level rewards ($150 to $5000): Prioritize your first-wave contributors when thinking up these rewards. Some friends and family will be willing to offer quite a bit to your campaign, so be sure to give them the opportunity and motivation to do so. And don’t hesitate to ask your friends and family what they’d like to receive as a reward! By reaching out, you’re also giving them a heads-up that the campaign is forthcoming.

Rule 3: Get creative.

With your audience and your reward levels in mind, it’s time to get creative. Your campaign is an opportunity for supporters to get in on the ground floor, be a part of your book project, and maybe even interact with you. Give people a chance to be part of the process. Create rewards with a behind-the-scenes peek: a copy of an early draft or early cover art, character studies from your novel, or an opportunity to name a character in the book. A great incentive to add to rewards is to list contributors’ names on a thank-you page at the back of your book. For a high reward level, offer to dedicate your book to the contributor.

And be creative with your presentation too. Use your messaging (see last week’s post for more on this) to stay on point with clever reward titles. Add an image to each reward that works with your banner image and, if possible, include pictures of the rewards themselves.

Rule 4: Give your contributors incentives to buy early.

Rewards are meant to be exclusive offers that the public won’t be able to get once your book is published, so it’s extremely important that you’re not overcharging your supporters. If one of your rewards is your book listed for twice your planned retail price, you’re not providing the sense of urgency that is so important for a time-limited campaign. If you’re providing your book at a discount, make it clear in the title what the discount is and list the retail price at the end of your reward description.

But discounts are not always possible when you’re trying to keep your fulfillment costs down (Tip 5). If that’s the case for you, add something extra to your reward that’s exclusive but low cost. Anything that can be sent digitally is ideal – a desktop wallpaper of your cover art, character studies, getting named on the book’s thank-you page, etc. But low-cost, tangible gifts can work too, like a personalized note or a bookmark featuring the cover or character art. When you can, combine a discount with a bonus gift.

Rule 5: Avoid high fulfillment costs.

People often forget to consider the cost of reward fulfillment. Printing and shipping books cost money, and these costs need to be considered when your setting your reward levels. When packaging your rewards, combine the tangible (your book) with the intangible (digital gifts, being featured in the book, etc.). Also consider how you can skip shipping fees. Hand deliver rewards whenever possible, and avoid offering signed copies of your book if it means you’ll need to ship the book to yourself first and then the contributor.

As a general rule, your fulfillment costs should be about 15% of your original budget. The most common contribution is about $25 to $30, so pay careful attention to your fulfillment cost for that reward level. If your mid-level rewards do have a higher margin than 15%, however, you can often level these margins out by offering high-value, high-level rewards that have an extremely low fulfillment cost. Once you’ve created a draft of your reward levels, calculate your estimated fulfillment costs for each and do a reality check before committing.

Rule 6: Package your rewards clearly.

There is no limit to how many reward levels you can create for your campaign. It’s common to see a book project offering as many as 12 to 15 reward levels. The key when adding many levels is to list them clearly and concisely to avoid overwhelming your audience. Use consistent wording in both your reward titles and the way you describe each reward. Add images whenever possible, preferably images of the rewards.

Most importantly, stack your rewards. If your low-level reward is a thank-you note, you don’t need to repeat that wording on every level as you continue to add to it. For example, your next two levels could say: “Level 1, plus the ebook edition of my book” and “Level 1, plus the paperback edition of my book.” This lets you stay organized and helps your audience keep track of your offers.

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