Things I learned from running my first Kickstarter campaign

In November of last year I ran my first Kickstarter campaign. I wish I could say it was because I had invented a storage device for the iPhone or an actual working hoverboard, but sadly that level of technological acheivement remains beyond me.

Instead I wrote it to fund the design of the cover for my first novel. I needed £600, and, in the end I raised over £950.

I’m no Amanda Palmer or Veronica Mars, but during my month long campaign there are a couple of things I figured out about how to hit the target, and so I thought, despite this not being a digital publishing topic per se, I’d write it all up in a blog.

Hari’s tips on how to hit your Kickstarter target

1. Ask for the minimum feasible amount

I needed £400. But If I’d asked for £400 and hit the taregt of only £400 I would have lost about £50 of that straightaway in terms of taxes, transfer fees and Kickstarter’s kickback 5%.

So I would have had £350 – not enough to pay for my cover and definitely not enough to pay for my cover and for all the paperback and hardback reward copies I had just promised people. So £400, the amount I needed, was not actually a feasible amount.

So I asked for £600, thinking that I’d have £400 for the cover and £200 to pay for the rewards. I probably should have worked this out a little better – I’m still going to end up slightly out of pocket after I buy, sign and post all the books, but I didn’t want to be too greedy.

Honestly I probably should have asked for £700 – not least because I had no idea that I would lose over 10% to fees and charges.  But in the end it worked out all right.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask people to support you.

Seriously. Kickstarter has a new projects page and yes people do browse there way through and support random things from strangers, but when you are a virtual unknown, like me, your  best resource is your friends and family.

I through my project out on Facebook (224 friends) to people I know, and I sent it out on Tumblr (380 followers) to people who know my writing and I sent a few tweets (509 followers) that I got retweeted by people with large Twitter followings (5000+ followers) and the breakdown of pledges by referring social media was as follows:

Facebook – 14 pledges totalling £414.00

Tumblr – 7 pledges totalling £170.00

Twitter – 3 pledges totalling £16.00

So the moral of the story here guys is to hit up your friends and family ruthlessly because they are more likely to chip in, even if by the numbers you have larger followings on other social media networks.

3. Show people how to support you

I was amazed how many people came up to me afterwards and said “I wanted to support your Kickstarter but it closed? Why did it close?”

While they may just be buttering me up after the fact, it seems I have a moderately wide circle of contacts who didn’t understand that there was a time limit by which they had to act.

So if I was doing this again, I would send a few FB updates or mass emails that were time sensitive – only one day left to support me type thing. And if I was doing this again I would also send around a link to the  “how to support someone on Kickstarter” section of their help guide.

4. Plan your stretch goals ahead of time

Halfway through the Kickstarter I had the idea of having a launch party. Man, I wish I’d had that idea before I started the whole thing and then I could have included it as a reward. Learn from me, plan better.

5. Email is your friend

Aside from social media, my most succesful communication channel was when I sent an email to my work colleagues. I had held off doing this, but then I read The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (great book, very inspiring) and she points out that everyone has to start somewhere, and that most people won’t be offended if you ask, they’ll either give you money or go on and do something else.

So I sent an email and my pledges jumped. Should have done that at the beginning and not at the end.

I also should have sent an email to everyone in my personal inbox and told them all about it but I relied on Facebook – despite the fact that not everyone in my life in on Facebook. Should’ve sent an email. If there’s a next time I’m definitely sending an email.

And there we are, five tips from me to you. Good luck with your Kickstaters blog friends!

I’m off to edit my novel now. I have a cover and the publication date is coming up…

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