Last fall I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to purchase Lady Blue, the 1977 VW bus I will be Crusading in around the country come March. At the time, most of my art friends had heard of Kickstarter and only a few non-art friends knew what it was. It still seemed fun and new and I had only known a couple of people who had launched a Kickstarter campaign. Now Kickstarter exhaustion seems to be setting in on everyone. If I can’t find $4 in my wallet to buy a latte, inevitably someone will suggest doing a Kickstarter for it. Hey, why not? Cash money!
I love the platform. I beyond love it. I think it’s genius. And it’s a wonderful opportunity for artists to build an audience and a funding source for their projects. My concern is that so many people are using it that potential backers are getting flooded with requests, which will ultimately cause people to write off projects before taking the time to learn about them. Too many too look at, too little money to go around.
On the other hand, when I did my Kickstarter campaign, I had a difficult time explaining to my non-art friends that yes, they were giving me money to buy a bus, and no, there were not any starving children or sick animals that would benefit from it. Now that the concept is more mainstream and people trust it, I think it is easier to fund a project, because the pool of potential supporters is deeper.
If you are going to go for it, go big or go home. Kickstarter is a one-time ask. You can’t put up a project, not have it fund or not have asked for enough money the first go-round, and then go back to your people and ask again. Well, you can, but you’ll look like an ass (unless I decide to do this, in which case I take it back. . .).
So if you are going for it, here are my tips to give you the best chance at a successful campaign:
1. Choose a goal amount that is enough to fund your project but not completely unrealistic, given your audience. This is tricky, I’ll admit, and you have to consider the fee percentage Kickstarter takes from your total.
2. Choose the shortest timeline to achieve your goal. People’s attention span is short, and most people wait until the end to contribute. Trust me, by day 4 you will be sick of hearing yourself talk/tweet/facebook/email about it. Push it hard and fast and then be done.
3. Rewards are huge. We want to support a good cause, but really, we all want something cool. Offer small rewards ($5 or $10) that get people invested in your idea. For example, I offered a $10 reward where backers could send in a sticker that would go on the bus.
4. Another note on rewards – make sure you aren’t offering too many rewards that will cost you money to produce and take away from your bottom line.
5. People like to support projects that seem popular and have momentum. It is really important to start out of the gate with a bang. Choose a handful (a large handful, ideally) of “ambassadors” – people you are close with and who you know will support you – and give them a heads up that you are about to launch the campaign. Ask them to please contribute within the first 24 hours and to help spread the word.
6. And then after the first 24 hours, keep the momentum going and the reminders coming by posting relevant updates to the project. Tell us about a new facet of the project that just came up, a new detail that was just nailed down, a bit of press that just came out about you or your project – something beyond, “Hey, remember me? I still need money. . .”.
7. Another great method to keep momentum going is to release limited edition backer rewards every 4-5 days. We had artists volunteer to donate pieces for us to offer at a great value, which was an opportunity to post an update to announce the new reward and create some urgency to contribute, since only a few of each were available.
8. Finally, talk about it (over social media, in emails, person to person) until you are blue in the face. Then talk about it some more. If every person you have ever met (virtually or otherwise) doesn’t know about it and isn’t sick of hearing about it, you are not promoting it enough.
So what do you think? Tired party trick or genius platform?
Looking for help crowd-sourcing your project? Read more here.