(This appears as part of a guest blog on Morgen Bailey's Writer's Blog. This was written with a writer/book in mind, but the same suggestions apply to chocolatiers, movie producers and organic gardeners.)
Creating a successful Kickstarter project!
I first heard about crowd-funding sites, such as Kickstarter.com a couple of years ago when a client of mine created a project. After learning about how it worked I get excited. With Kickstarter I could pledge a set amount of money with the assurance that I would either be rewarded with a particular item (in this case a musical cd) when the project reached its funding goal or my credit card would not be charged if the funding goal was not met by a specified date.
Other crowd-funding sites have all the pledged money goed to the person, regardless of whether or not the goal was met. Both types have their advantages. Today I’m going to focus on Kickstarter-type crowd-funding organizations; those where fundraising is all or nothing.
If you think you want to do a fundraiser, you need to create your project. You’ll need a thorough description of your project as well as a simple description. You’ll need visuals of your project and you’ll need rewards for your pledgers. And you’ll need a marketing plan!
My project is to raise funds to print a coffee table book, “Art of Winter.” My brief description is “Explore the art and beauty that winter creates with with ice and snow in this high-quality photography coffee table book, Art of Winter.” This goes on the general page and appears in linked text.
My thorough description appears on the project page. I’ll let the project page speak for itself http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1039439249/art-of-winter?ref=live
Your project page:
Write the beginning of the description as if it is a query for your book. In this case you want to sell your book to backers rather than to an agent. Also tell about your inspiration and reason for writing this book. Who's the audience for your book?
Answer all the who, what, when, where, why and hows. What questions would your grandmother, who loves you but hasn't got a clue, want to know? Give compelling answers as to why THIS book is special, why someone should back you, make them feel part of the project.
Look through projects in your same category (book) and different (movie, arts, etc). How do they present their book? What do you like? What don't you like? Which appeal to you? It's the projects that tell you details about the projects that you can start feeling a personal connection to and begin to say to yourself "Gee I wish I had thought of that!" or "Wow I'd like one of those for myself." Those are the projects that people are interested in supporting.
Look at projects that exceeded their goals and those that didn’t. What do you think they did "right" and "wrong." What can those projects teach you? Contact those people directly and ask them "Hey, what worked (or not) for you?"
Do a video! Get some face-time with your potential backers. Tell about the story and why it means a lot to you to get this in print and people reading it. Get something fun in there that is related to the project! But keep it professional.
Also show still pictures from the book. Show pictures of the manuscript. Show pictures of you sitting at your desk. Show something, other than just the house on the cover. And if you show the cover, let's see the whole cover - title, illustration, your name, etc.
Go check out Alain: http://www.pozible.com/index.php/archive/index/5184/description/0/0
I think he does a very good job presenting his project, he tells me about his book, he shows me his book even though it is only a manuscript (now I'm starting to connect to it emotionally and personally). His book's subject is not very flashy he's got something - information - that he is assuring me will be of help to me as a business person. I’m beginning to think "What does he know and what is he so confident about knowing that I don't?" This creates a desire to have his information. How can you do the same with your book?
About the $$$ and Rewards
Tell about where your money is going. I know it takes a lot, but a person who doesn't write or self-publish might think you want to pay your mortgage with their pledge.
How's it going to be printed? If you are going to ask people to give you money it has to be for something professionally produced, not something one step higher than printing it on a high quality printer at home.
Have reasonable and appealing rewards. To get a copy of the book the backer should be able to pledge a reasonable amount - $15 to $30 not $125. If you have a PDF convert it to an eBook. If possible have personalized rewards - personalizing an autograph, naming a character or a cameo appearance.
If it’s a suitable book for a gift offer a reward of a couple of books. For example if you pledge $125 you get either three copies of “Art of Winter” or a print and two copies. People love the idea for gift giving.
For your bio - pump yourself up. Even if you’ve never written anything before, don't talk down about yourself. Describe yourself by writing about what you know and love and why you have the authority to be writing this story.
Get the word out!
Marketing - this is your make or break point. It is the most crucial point. If you can’t do the marketing the sad truth is is that it won’t happen. Kickstarter is a place for you to direct the traffic to; they do not direct the traffic to you.
Use every resource you have - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, blogs, direct email and more.
It's all about word of mouth. And you have to ask people to pass on the word.
You have to get a tough skin and go ask for money. If you want to raise money you have to ask, ask, ask! Keep your message clear. Change up your spiel. Figure out what works.
I'm sending out direct emails twice a week and posting to FB and LinkedIn more regularly. And I'm blogging about it any where and everywhere. Two weeks have passed by and I’m funded over 77 percent, but the work isn’t over yet.
Make up some business cards. Put your book cover on the front put your name, book title, phone number, email, website and Kickstarter site on the card. Hand them out to everyone. "I'd really appreciate if you would pre-buy a copy of my book." "Will you pre-buy a copy of my book?" "Will you pledge?"
Give people five or six copies of your business card and tell them that in addition to pledging they can help by asking their friends, family and colleagues to pledge. Word of mouth scores them great karma points.
Don't prejudge who might or might not want to buy/pledge. I’m a massage therapist and teacher. I have over 600 names of past clients and students and have sent them emails. There was one man who had only one appointment with me years ago. He was on my email list but I did not know if his email was valid or his interest in my book. He pledged for my book. Turns out he loves photography just as much as I do. He posted to his Google+ group that "follows" him - 1200 people! Someone from that group pledged and said he'll post it on his sites.
A few days later he upped his pledge from $50 to $125! He had gotten my next email, with the suggestion to pledge $125 and get three copies of the book or two copies and a print. I thanked him for upping his pledge. He said that he loved the idea of giving it as gifts! I would not have guessed that one email would have brought me $158 in pledges.
I also have about 500 people that I've corresponded via email over the years - my realtor, dentist, chiropractor, college alumni, insurance rep, etc. Each of them has gotten my emails.
I have over 300 Facebook friends to whom I've sent "Event Invites.” I'm keeping a list of people who have said they would pledge and if they don't by the end of week two I'll send them a personal note to remind them and ask them to pledge and pass the word on.
Two other things to consider:
Check your project for typos - people will think that if you are a writer you should know how to spell. Have a couple others read it for clarity.
Be a backer yourself! Go back some projects that you believe in. It's good karma and it shows that you value the projects of others, just as you want others to back your project. Kind of the "you reap what you sow" mentality. You can start here by pledging for your own copy of “Art of Winter.”
And when you're done pledging to my book, check out these other unique and creative projects:
Michelle Kelly's exquisite and creative tarot deck, like no other tarot deck you've seen before. The way she has used photography as her artistic medium is amazing. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1731431525/a-photo-based-tarot-...
Fair Trade Chocolate - double the yum: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lemaraischocolat/le-marais-choc...
A librarian fills a void - a book for kids who are below their reading level but are too old for picture books: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/worstbestfriendbook/my-worst-be...
Inspiring stationary with a fabulous flair: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jennsprinkle/launch-invitation-...
Would you like more information and suggestions? I've learned a lot over the first 16 days of my Kickstarter project and have more to say. Drop me a line if you'd like me to check out your project or give you feedback on a forthcoming one.
First things first though - go help Kickstart some creative projects and back them so they can happen!