Researcher Guide


Setting a Target

Every community starts with you at the center and grows through network effects as your project builds momentum. Crowdfunding is a marathon, not a sprint, so lean on your creativity, determination, and passion to help you succeed.

As you start planning, do some back of the napkin math for your campaign. Given a certain funding target, you can estimate the number of backers and pageviews you're campaign will require to be successful. You should know that the average backer donation is $100, and a ballpark conversion rate is 2%.

Take your funding target, divide by $100, and that equals the number of backers you can expect for your project. If you divide this number by a conversion rate of 2%, this will tell you roughly how many pageviews you should expect to have to generate.

Number of Backers = Funding Target / $100

Number of Pageviews = Backers / 2% conversion rate

This should give you an idea of what to prepare for, so the rest of your planning should now focus on the tactics of getting eyeballs onto your page.

Using Your Networks

This is the communication part of 'science communication'. It may seem like a daunting task, but you should know that the closer you get to your funding target, the more likely you'll succeed.This means it can be helpful to think about your project in terms of chunks - the first 30%, the 50% halfway mark, and the final stretch to 100%. With those checkpoints in mind, strategize and be tactical and you'll find that process becomes much more manageable.

One constant is that your attitude will make a big difference. Inviting the public into your project can be positive and delightful. Don't be spammy!

Friends and family

The natural starting point for growing a community is those that know you best. Friends, family, and colleagues are a great method for initiating momentum around your campaign. Instead of broadcasting to a mailing list of colleagues, try sending personalized individual emails announcing your launch. Instead of sharing just one post on social media, try messaging followers directly as a way to get them involved.

It can be hard to ask directly for contributions, so a great way to kickstart the momentum is to instead ask for help or ideas for how get the launch rolling. When done artfully, you might be surprised by how many science fans you uncover in the process.

Second degree network effects

Identify specific groups you think will be interested in your work and potential outcomes. The best way to engage strangers is with original content direct from you.

Social networks are the best place for you to broadcast a steady stream of real science content. This is a great chance to invite the public into being a part of your journey of scientific discovery. What you might take for granted, someone else might not ever have a chance to see.

Got a new collaborator joining your project? Introduce them with a short interview. Are you particularly excited to be using a new piece of equipment? Snap some photos and share it through a tweet.

Influencers, communities, and media

The last phase of your campaign is about amplifying your message to a much larger audience with the progress of your campaign so far. Press, media, organizations, and blogs love to hear about breaking events. Remember, when reaching out to anyone who might cover your story, do the work for them: why would their audience appreciate your recent progress? Be plain and direct. At this point, you should have your message down.

Don’t worry if folks initially don’t respond, in the end if the story is a good fit then they’ll want to hear from you. Sometimes it takes a journalist seeing progress or for the story pop up in a few places before they bite. Some tips for starting, try reaching out to your university press office, search for recent and relevant news articles, and craft a press release.

Tools and Metrics

We've built a handy outreach tool that's found in your project dashboard. The outreach tool is an automatic news aggregator that will search Google News based on a keyword. It will then return all recent articles and any author information (if available).

Additionally, your dashboard will have other useful resources. There is a live analytics page that will provide a breakdown of your project traffic and traffic sources. Visually, you can track your progress as well as see when certain traffic events occur. This is great if you've got campaigns or events and you'd like to track how effective they are in bringing eyeballs to your page.

There is also a page view calculator, which shares your current average donation and page view count, and helps you estimate the number of page views you'll need to reach your goal by adjusting projected conversion and average donation rates. You can learn more about conversion rates here.

Outreach Tactics

There are infinite number of ways to get the word out about your Experiment - but here's a sampling of actions you can do to share your project.

Create a Project Short Link

As you build your project, you can create a short, catchy URL for your page.

Just pick a relevant word or phrase to tack onto ‘'. That URL will then link to your project. Now, whenever your project comes up in conversation, you can encourage people to visit your short link.

E-mail Signature

When your project launches, include your project short-link in all your e-mail signatures. You should also include a short note along with the signature inviting people to check out and support your experiment.

Setting up a Twitter account

To explain how to set up a twitter account I'm going to use Beth Koontz Scaffidi's account as an example.

She already has a twitter handle set up @CBethKoontz with 23 followers. If you are starting a new account, now is the time to register an account

Once you have an account set up your twitter account will look similar to the one above.

During your campaign you want to drive as much traffic as possible directly to your project page. Below are a few things that you can do to make sure people know exactly who you are and how they can find out more about your campaign when they visit your twitter.

Add a background image

Your Experiment project already has a high resolution background image. Beth has this amazing image that shows the trophy skulls from her excavation. She can take that directly from her project page and add it as a background image on twitter.

Add a biography

Beth is a third year graduate student at Vanderbilt University. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in Anthropology and Dramatic Art and then earned a J.D. at University of New Hampshire School of Law. She served the State of North Carolina for two years as Assistant District Attorney. Now, she is focused on the Wari expansionism in the Majes Valley and Valley of Volcanoes, Peru.

Bios on twitter need to be short, so let's try to shorten this.

"PhD Candidate @VanderbiltU studying Wari expansionism in Peru, teaching GIS @ColoradoCollege; formerly @UNC and @UNHLaw"

Add a location

Most of you are located in a set location like 'Nashville, TN' if you work at or are a student at Vanderbilt University. However, in Beth's case she is located at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO, she's a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt, and spends time in Peru at her excavation site.

There is quite a strict character limit from Twitter, so in Beth's case I would set her location to where she spends most of her time:

"Colorado Springs, CO"

Add a website

If you've already set up your short link and your campaign is live, use your shortlink here. You may be tempted to use your personal website, but during your campaign we highly advise that you use your Experiment page shortlink for the duration of your campaign. In Beth's case her short link is

You don't need the "http://" or the "www." to have a valid link in this field, so to keep things simple we prefer to start the website with "".


When editing Beth's twitter profile the fields will look like this:

Who should I follow?

You can start out by following some or all of the researchers Experiment is following. On our twiter account @lets_experiment we only follow other researchers who have run campaigns. To get started, follow a few other researchers and get a sense for how they share their project and lab notes on twitter.

Beyond that, look for other friends and colleagues that you know on twitter and start following them.

We've got more downloads, checklists, and handy shortcuts over in our Extra Topics section.

Campaign Tools

After you launch your campaign, you’ll have access to your researcher dashboard which will give you real-time indicators. While there’s no formula for success, you’ll want to be mindful of some metrics.

  • Number of backers
  • Traffic sources
  • Page traffic

Using the researcher dashboard will help you understand what is working, and how far off the finish line is.