Following the recent launch of the Rose and Bay Awards, I've been browsing through a great deal of crowdfunded creativity ... and things that might be cyberfunded projects but I can't really tell, and things that would be if they had a clear money path. I realized that the most popular projects had certain things in common. Doing these things doesn't guarantee success -- nothing does -- but will certainly move a project in that direction.
1) Name your project. This makes it easy for people to discuss and recommend your project. Now they can say, "I'm reading 'Awesome Content' by A.J. Muse" instead of "I'm reading this thing about ferrets with pictures and music." Like the title of a story, your project name should be descriptive and memorable, something not already in heavy use. Ideally, typing the project name into a search engine should put your project on the first page.
2) Design a landing page for your project. On a private website, this can be a whole separate page or section; in a blog, it can be an individual post. Title it something like "[Project Name] Landing Page." Include a brief description of crowdfunding/cyberfunded creativity, a description of your project, a description of your particular business model, and tips on how people can help support what you're doing. If your project is regularly updated, this is a good place for a link-list table of contents; otherwise feature or link to some other sample of the main content. If you have separate pages such as an honor roll of donors or instructions for special activities, link those pages or posts here as well. The landing page should be the one-stop-shop for linking to your project, so make sure all the information people need is on this page or accessible from it. It's a good idea to link your landing page at the end of each individual project post.
3) Create tags for your project. Tags are words or short phrases that identify what kind of content is there. All blog posts concerning your project should be accessible through a project tag. In a blog, tags appear above or below posts and in your tag list or tag cloud. This way, when people stumble across a blog post they like, they can easily find more. If you or your audience use Twitter, then you should also create a Twitter hashtag identifying your project. This allows people to tweet and retweet your project, hopefully expanding your exposure and audience. Some other social networks have other tagging systems, so keep an eye on this.
4) Establish definite audience interaction. This distinguishes your crowdfunded project from anything that is simply an online store. If someone looks at your site and wonders, "Is this cyberfunded creativity or just a store?" it should be easy for them to find your audience interaction for confirmation. Popular types of audience interaction include polls, contests, asking for prompts, how-to or step-by-step posts in response to questions, inviting the audience to set themes or other goals, adding characters or scenes or other tidbits inspired by frequent commenters, and listing your patrons for community praise.
5) Post a donation button. This makes your project instantly identifiable as cyberfunded creativity, even if you customarily use some other method of exchange such as subscriptions paid by check. It's an easy option for folks who just want to say, "I like what you're doing; have some random cash." PayPal is the most popular online money service for crowdfunding, but there are alternatives such as ChipIn, AlertPay, Moneybookers, Daopay, etc. You may want a general button on your landing page or profile page, and a specific button for each project post. If you're shy and/or new, put it on your profile page; if you're confident and/or experienced, put it on each post; if you're really organized, put it on your landing page. Make sure you put a button in at least one of those three places. They are the most likely places people will look when they want to give you money, and if there isn't an easy way to do it there, you'll miss opportunities.
Following these steps will give your project cohesion. It's a good idea to do these things even if you don't plan on promoting a particular project as a big deal -- you never know what people will like. Several of the more popular cyberfunded projects started out as whims, experiments, or practice. Once you start repeating a particular thing, though, there's a chance that people will start watching for it and then it has a following. Those folks should be able to tell you in a concrete fashion, "I enjoy this and want to see more of it." Feedback is candy, but cash is concrete. When people give you money, they are trading their time for yours, because money is crystallized time and energy. Make sure your audience has convenient ways to indicate their interest and support. Then you can deliver more of what they want the most -- and then you are truly on your way to crowdfunded success.