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Amateur hour on Kickstarter is over: Commentary

Two years ago (or even less than that) the crowdfunding space was still novel. If you were launching a crowdfunding campaign, that was your press plug. But today everyone seems to be crowdfunding. So what differentiates you from the pack?

One of the most underestimated aspects of a crowdfunding campaign is the look of your crowdfunding home page. Visuals need to tell your story, and they need to be sophisticated, meaningful, consistent and attractive. Otherwise, you will quickly lose the attention of potential donors.

Here are six ways to craft a compelling visual site that will increase traffic and encourage backers to invest in your campaign.

Bilgehan Yilmaz | E+ | Getty Images

1. Hire a professional to shoot your video.
The video is one of the most powerful tools of your campaign, so make it look awesome. Don't rely on your iPhone to shoot footage. While the visuals may look passable, your audio will sound like you filmed it under water. Invest in hiring a professional video production company; your cost will be covered through the additional support the video generates. Low on cash? Ask a filmmaker friend for a low-cost favor or hire a film school student.

2. Make sure your video is relevant.
Your video should fit your story and concept. Deviating from the basics of what you are actually fundraising for will detract from your campaign. Trying to fund a design and video project? Make a highly stylized and design-focused video, such as this one á la Wes Anderson, with homemade props and desaturated color. Crowdfunding an indie experimental film? Tell the film's story with the actual costumes and cast members you are working with. And make it look experimental!

3. Be original.
Stay away from what most project creators are doing nowadays: sitting in front of a camera and talking straight into it. Instead, identify key components. Make your pitch compelling and convincing, but do it in a creative way.

Read More5 mistakes that kill crowdfunding campaigns

4. Increase your video's potential to go viral.
Even if someone can't donate to your campaign, they can still share it, which opens up the possibility for someone else to donate and share it, too. The best way to reach a lot of people quickly? With a video that goes viral. Speak to the most accessible and widespread themes surrounding your project. Solar Roadways' crowdfunding campaign, for example, pushed the themes of sustainability, health and the environment and ultimately raised more than $2 million, doubling its goal in just two months on Indiegogo. Much of its success is attributed to the campaign's seven-minute video—"Solar FREAKIN' Roadways!"—which was viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube.Although this video is of lower quality (contrary to the above advice), what's essential here is "shareability."

In a campaign I am running right now for the widely acclaimed citizen investigative journalist Brown Moses, we decided to make the campaign video as visual and shareable as possible. Brown Moses has broken several stories around the Syrian War through crowdsourcing YouTube videos. We wanted to capture the graphic quality of his work by including these videos with their stark and violent imagery. Our intent was to educate viewers so they felt compelled to pass the campaign on to others.

"Amateur hour in crowdfunding is over. It is no longer good enough to skimp on production and put something out there half-baked." -Hamish Smyth, Graphic designer

5. Create a project page that is as professional as your video.
You want donors to feel that you put a lot of thought into your page, so work to make it look as professional and aesthetically pleasing as possible. This campaign, introducing an elegant four-volume book with biblical literature, raised more than $100,000 in two days. The images are extremely high quality in order to capture the intricacies of the book, and the project creator even asks donors to watch the hi-res version of the video versus the one on the page so they can get the best experience. While there is a ton of text on the page, when it comes to visuals, it's quality over quantity.

6. Be consistent with your visual style.
It's critical to convey a consistent style across your crowdfunding page. This means the same typography, color, graphics and style of photography and video. A crowdfunding campaign is a huge marketing tool and a mechanism to launch your brand, so think about your brand identity when you are presenting your content. In this beautiful campaign for Rachel Rector lingerie, Rector used a quirky video and DIY-style photography, which perfectly fits with her vibe as a company. Some campaigns even go so far as creating their own headlines for different sections on the page, which requires project creators to implement the right typography.

Read MoreHow to crowdfund without losing your shirt

Overall, it's a good idea to get a consultation from a designer who can advise you on the design process. Graphic designer Hamish Smyth told me, "Kickstarter's default headings, set in helvetica, are clear and easy to read. Unless you are working with a designer, I recommend most campaigns take this approach for typography and focus on creating great photos, videos and images."

The Internet has forever changed the way we see things visually. A daily bombardment of quality content means it's harder than ever to be seen among the crowd—especially in the increasingly saturated space of crowdfunding. So create and choose your visuals wisely, because it will determine how much you engage your audience and your ability to build a larger audience through a campaign.

"The biggest thing you want to convey is that with a lot of campaigns, you're competing against established companies (or other campaigns) with designers and teams of people whose sole job is making them look and sound good," Smyth said, adding, "Amateur hour in crowdfunding is over. It is no longer good enough to skimp on production and put something out there half-baked. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."

By Alex Daly, founder of creative services agency Vann Alexandra and a member of the CNBC Tech Crowd Council.

Technology

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