Perhaps one of the most overlooked uses of a crowdfunding campaign is the opportunity to build a platform and reach new fans and customers. Sure, raising money for your cause or project is a wonderful and important thing (especially if you’re a startup, or just broke), but when you really think about the long-term benefits of a crowdfunding campaign, it’s the reach that a crowdfunding campaign can bring you that is really the most valuable aspect. Never thought of that, did you?

Consider this. Every day I get contacted by people who are looking for ways to reach new people and grow a platform. They have a product, service or book to sell, and to do so, they need to reach new people. They need traffic. They need “eyeballs.” They need a big fat email list full of people who like them and are ready to receive their messages.

Usually, they want that overnight. As if you could just wake up one day and instantly grab the attention of thousands of new fans and customers with hardly any effort. I’ve spent 15+ years building a base of fans and customers through my content, overnight, get it? Unfortunately, that’s the dream for most people; that they can write one blog post or make one video and boom, instant overnight traffic and success.

We all know that isn’t really possible. Or is it? 

What if you could find a way to generate a massive amount of interest in you or what you’re doing, and harness that interest into new fans, practically overnight?

Crowdfunding isn’t easy. Neither is building a platform. Yet, they both have the same outcome if you think of them in the right way. You want, wait, you need, more customers. You need to reach more people. So, you do what you’re told by the smartest guys/gals in the room and you create massive amounts of high-quality, relevant content, over and over. And you use that content to drive leads to your business or brand, and get them to follow you on Twitter and friend you on Facebook, and hopefully, sign up for your email updates. You know, content marketing 101.

But what if the content was the crowdfunding?

I’ve been fascinated with the 1,000 true fans manifesto written by Kevin Kelly since it came out a few years ago.

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

You see, we all have a certain number of true fans that we reach. Those people will always buy your stuff and that’s great, but, the key to growing is to find the people outside of that circle. So, how do you reach those people? You either advertise to them, create content they need (mentioned already), do something viral, or spend years and years building new connections.

Crowfunding is so hot right now that if you can come up with a great story or cause that people must have or find interesting, you can in fact reach out to new people that you may have never been able to get to before. Case in point, I recently decided to start a crowdfunding campaign called Jim For Life where for only $1.00, you can have an early copy of every book I plan on writing over a year’s time. No catch, it’s just a buck. The ultimate no-brainer is how I pitch it. Even if you’ve never heard of me or don’t like me, it’s just a buck to get my future books.

Obviously, at a one-dollar minimum pledge level, this isn’t a crowdfunding campaign intended to make money. No, the entire point of the campaign is to raise awareness for me and my books, and help me continue to build a platform, to reach new people, and to grow my audience. So far, in a few days, the project has reached over $1200 in pledges. Not super amazing by any means, but still a campaign that has over 25 days to go and has already brought me new fans and customers, practically overnight.

Feel free to drop by (and drop a buck) and see how it all works here. Then, maybe try it on your own.

But, if you’re going to try and do the same thing (and you should), remember that you have to have a reason for people to want to participate in your campaign. The reward is key and the story even more. For crowdfunding tips, I highly recommend that you check this article from about how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.

So what do you think? Have you tried crowdfunding? Have you supported somebody else’s project? We’d love to hear about your experiences.