Crowdfunding has exploded in recent years with the success of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These sites have allowed individuals and small businesses to discover the viability of whatever they want to produce before going to the trouble of actually creating it. Armed with nothing more than an idea and a sales video, millions of projects that would have never otherwise happened have become profitable endeavors.
If you’ve ever used these sites (either as a creator or backer), you’ll know how useful they can be. Creating a project on the likes of Kickstarter can be great for getting funding. However, you are ultimately competing for attention with thousands of other live projects.
Instead of competing for attention with everyone else, why not create a WordPress site for your project and allow your audience to fund it directly? It’s not as difficult as you would expect. All you need is a self-hosted WordPress installation, a free plugin and a theme developed to allow the plugin to work correctly.
I’ll assume the self-hosted WordPress installation isn’t a problem for you and instead focus on the available plugin and theme options.
The Crowdfunding Plugin
Crowdfunding is a plugin developed by the team at Astoundify. It is a funding platform that integrates with another free eCommerce plugin called Easy Digital Downloads. Essentially this plugin allows you to create projects and dictate the methods in which “backers” can pledge money to help you fund your project.
In the same manner as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Crowdfunding gives you the option to create rewards, allowing your campaign backers to pledge specific amounts and receive these rewards dependent on their contributions.
The plugin accepts backer pledges throughout the project lifespan but will only collect the amounts pledged at the end of the funding period (once the project has been successfully funded). However, unlike the sites mentioned previously, you get to dictate how long that funding period lasts.
Crowdfunding is designed to be compatible with multiple payment providers and uses the Adaptive Payments APIs of PayPal, Stripe, and WePay to allow your backer payments to be collected once the project has been funded.
You can also set your campaign as a donation-based project that has no end date. This will process the payments as they are made.
The plugin doesn’t just limit you as the site owner to create projects to be funded. It gives you the option to allow trusted community members to submit their own crowd funding projects to your site. This feature would allow you to grow your community and develop a crowd funding site bigger than you or your company.
Theme Options For Your Site
To make it easy to launch your crowdfunding website, the team at Astoundify have created two specific premium themes. Both are very different in what they are intended to achieve. There are also a handful of third party themes that you can use, or for the more adventurous of you, the option to create your own theme is always available.
The first theme from Astoundify, called Fundify, is designed to replicate the models of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This theme displays multiple projects and gives you the ability to tag campaigns as Staff Picks and display them by category or by those that have been recently added.
Each project is then tagged with a banner image to show whether it has been selected as a staff pick and whether it has been successfully or unsuccessfully funded after the funding period ends. It is a very clean and recognizable style universally used for this kind of website.
This theme is perfect to display projects that both you and your trusted community members have created. Each project is given its own page that allows the creator to post project updates, people to add comments and also allows you to showcase the project backers.
In order to use this theme you will need to purchase a license. This license entitles you to install the theme on one single site and costs $60.
Campaignify is very different from the other theme. Fundify allows you to create a website with multiple projects, all sharing space and attention on the home page. Campaignify has been developed to showcase one project without any distractions.
This theme displays all of the important information on one page by using multiple widgets. The top of the page allows for a slider with the vital funding information for the project overlaying it. The widgets allow you to add photo galleries, information about the project, the pledge level information and also showcase your backers as well as many other options.
Just like the individual projects on Fundify you can create updates for this project. In this theme, rather than display the updates on the main page it creates a separate page specifically to for the updates allowing them more prominence on your site.
This theme is perfect for creating one large project and offers a range of styles for you to use to showcase it to your potential backers.
As with Fundify, this theme is not free. The license cost for this theme is $55 and allows the theme to be used on one site.
Using Other Themes
The plugin doesn’t need either of these themes to work, they merely make the launch process much easier. The plugin can be used with any theme you want, however there will be development work required. Most themes have no way to display the custom post functions used by the Crowdfunding plugin. This means you will need to make changes to your theme templates in order to display everything correctly.
Unfortunately there is no documentation on how to configure your theme to work with the plugin at the moment. You can find a lot of useful information about the process by following the plugin project on GitHub. This isn’t really a place for support queries. It’s used for the continuing development of the plugin so it isn’t really ideal for your average user.
Third party developers have started to build themes that are designed to work specifically with the Crowdfunding plugin. Themes such as Funder ($45), CrowdPress ($45) and Fundler (free with premium options) are currently available and more will begin to show up as the plugin grows in popularity.
While these third party themes are quite good, I would still recommend you use one of the two themes developed by Astoundify. Both of these themes and the plugin share developers that will allow for deeper integration testing and far fewer problems.
With very little work you could have your own crowd funding website live and ready to rival the big names on the web. You can easily have a funding campaign for your project that is built specifically to encourage your community to become backers first before spreading it out to the world at large.
Creating a crowd funding website allows you to create campaigns and projects as small or as large as you desire and have complete control over every aspect of it. These options and more are available to you with the plugin and theme combo.
Have you thought about creating your own crowd funded project? Have you ever used the Crowdfunding plugin? We’d love to read all about it in the comments.