This week, my friends, the fatigue set in. I usually run 30ish day campaigns, but this one was 40 days. I was told by multiple people to do the longest campaign possible, so I tried it. As one person, I do not recommend it.
I have two dogs. I love them both to death. There is an adorable, regal, aloof one named Nala and a small, yappy, attention whore named Cheyenne.
Here’s the thing. They both want my attention. They want it more than anything…except my wife’s attention. They really love my wife’s attention.
But Nala doesn’t ask for it. She’ll sometimes look doe-eyed and wonder why I’m not giving her attention. She’ll curl up and look wounded that I’m not paying attention to her, but she will never come up and ask for it.
My small dog on the other hand…there’s nothing she won’t do for attention. She will barrel into people. She will jump on your lap even if you’re not sitting down. She will jump on the back of your foot causing you to trip and fall. She’ll lick your face while you’re doing yoga.
There is really nothing she won’t do to get cuddly. She is aggressively cuddly, which is the only appropriate term for her. She is relentless with her snuggles.
I don’t think she likes cuddling more than Nala. I think she is just vehement that she’s going to get hers. She doesn’t care if Nala gets pets too, but she’s gonna get hers.
So what does this have to do with business? Nothing. I just wanted to show off my two adorable dogs.
What it tells me about business is that in order to get what you want, you need to announce yourself! You have to tell people you want their business, and get in front of them. You have to be relentless about it, otherwise somebody else will be.
While both my dogs love us equally, and while we love both our dogs equally, one sleeps next to my wife and naps with me while the other one lays twenty feet away pining for our attention.
And all because Nala doesn’t ask and Cheyenne does. So if you want something in business, you have to ask for it. You have to be aggressively cuddly about it.
Today we talked to Cat Ranson about living in New Zealand, in a small town, and still making a living as an artist. I think this is fascinating as somebody that living in Los Angeles and has access to much more opportunity on the surface. We talked to Cat a lot about that, but also about devaluing yourself as an artist, creating a brand, and kickstarter...my favorite topic.
You can check out Cat on facebook @ Cat Ranson or Deviant Art @ Sunktokeca. Also, don't forget to check out our Kickstarter for My Father Didn't Kill Himself. If you want more info about Kickstarter, head to www.kickstarteruniversity.com and check out our courses. Or if you want some cool comics, check out www.wannabepress.com
It's a question we get asked all the time. Are we profitable? And since we just finished our taxes this is a great time to tackle it.
Sometimes I think people ask too much, but I'm glad people are talking about it, so on the other hand I'm flattered. I mean it's a valid question. We are a small press. We put out a lot of books, so are we? Unfortunately, both for us and for whomever asked, it's not just a simple yes no question. There's a lot of ins, outs, and what have yous. So I tackle both the simple answer to the question, and the much more complex answer. On top of that, I flip it back to YOU and tell you how you can use everything I've learned to help you, and what it means for your career.
This week...honestly not much happened with the Kickstarter. We've been really trying to focus on what works and cut out what doesn't work. You'll be surprised what doesn't work for us, even though it worked well on the last two campaigns we ran. Additionally, we talk about how important it is to just have focus, because if you know what works you can drive all your attention to it.
Let’s be fair. You read a lot of business articles. Too many business articles. Seriously, how do you have so much time to read business articles. Shouldn’t you be business-ing?
That’s a story for another day.
I’m going to get down to brass tacks. You’re going to screw up your first business. It’s going to happen. You’re going to overspend on things that is unnecessary. People are going to sucker you into buying crappy products. You’re going to blow thousands of dollars on useless things.
How do I know this?
Because I did it. Heck, I do it still.
And more so, every person I know that runs a business does the same thing. It’s inevitable. I can’t help that.
I mean I can mitigate it through coaching, but I can’t complete avoid it. You will come up to me adamant about trying a product. I’ll tell you not to do it, but you’ll do it anyway. I can’t help that.
I can tell you exactly what you’re going to do, though, so at least it won’t scare you when it happens. So how about we just get down to it.
I’m going to tell you the five biggest mistakes you’re going to make before launching your business. That way, you can just do it, push through it, and come out the other side.
That way, maybe you’ll just do it and quit reading these articles.
5. You won’t spend time validating your idea, but you will spend time reading books about validating your idea.
You can plop in any business term and replace it with “validating your idea”. It could be “getting a prototype made”, “building a website”, “hiring a consultant”, et al. The main thing is you spend lots of time reading things and not much time doing things. I get it, reading things is easy and cheap. Doing things is expensive and hard. You’ll never fail reading things, except that not doing is also failing.
4. You will make a horrible website, if you make one at all, and wonder why nobody buys from it.
You think you can design your website and logo on your own, so you try it. After all, you read all the books and watched all the videos about designing something. Maybe you took a class once.
Here’s the thing. You will fail at it b/c you don’t understand buyer psychology. You don’t understand why websites are set up how they are to maximize somebody clicking that all important ecommerce button.
It’s okay if you fail at it, just know that hiring a designer to make your logo and build your brand is one of the best things you can do to improve the professionalism of your brand.
3. After your website fails, you’re going to hire somebody who costs way too much money and does way too little. It will be your first huge mistake and make you want to give up.
Here’s the thing. People will screw you. Even people with good intentions will screw you. Maybe it’s because they overreach, or maybe it’s because they don’t know the scope of your site, or maybe it’s because they are swamped, but you will get screwed.
It takes years to hone your radar to find people who are appropriately priced AND will deliver the work. Even then you’ll get screwed sometimes.
2. You’re not going to calculate shipping costs, warehousing, distributor fees, or other hidden costs before you ship your first product.
It’s going to almost bankrupt you. It might bankrupt you. Because you’re not thinking of all the pieces yet.
Again, that’s okay. It’s not great. It’s not ideal, but it’s okay. You’ll definitely think about all that crap on your second product, and you’ll already have a distribution pipeline set up to make it easier.
Just make sure, even if you have to kill yourself for it, everybody gets paid and everybody get their product. Otherwise, your reputation is done for and will take years to rebuild.
- You’ll develop a great product, and pay no attention to marketing, sales, or how to get people in the door. Contrarily, you’ll develop great marketing skills, but have a product nobody wants to buy.
If you have to pick one or the other. Develop a great product. You can learn sales and marketing. However, sales and marketing can help even on a sub-par product. You don’t want to be known as the person who has slick marketing and crappy product through.
That’s it. They’re all going to happen. And so what? If those are the worst things that happen, guess what? You can survive it. It won’t be fun every day, but you’ll come out the other side better for it. All except #5. If you’re still reading articles and not making things, stop now. Do it. Worst that happens is you’re a monumental failures.
I’ve been a monumental failure before. On a long enough time horizon I’ll probably be one again. There are worse things to be.
Russell Nohelty is writer, publisher, and entrepreneur. He runs the publishing company Wannabe Press, and coaching people about how to kickstart their careers at Kickstarter Univerisity. He believes the best thing you can do is get a coach early because every business is different. He also believes you are awesome.
Today is the soft official launch of Kickstarter University, a project I've been working on since late last year. It's a big one, our biggest launch to date, and I have big plans. However, I am today filled with dread, so I take to the air to talk about it, about KU, about why we did it, and about why I'm filled with fear today instead of excitement.
I loved this episode. Les has been working as a professional artist since 1992, and he's seen everything. He's been and still is a comic book artist, 3d modeler, storyboard artist and more. He's been punched in the gut by this business more times than he can count, and come out stronger on the other side.
Comixlaunch, one of the best podcasts that deals with Kickstarter that I've dealt with, used us as a case study this week to discuss our $1 Kickstarter Campaign for My Father Didn't Kill Himself. http://www.comixlaunch.com/session030/
If you want analysis, hard facts and numbers, this is a great podcast. However, it does make some assumptions I don't like, and I'll cover them here.
- When it starts talking about campaigns that set a $2000+ goal, they only talk about successful campaigns instead of all campaigns. And successful campaigns are less than 50% of all campaigns, and having a success means you kind of know what you are doing.
-Additionally, the $11k average fund is inclusive of places like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and others that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those kinds of campaigns would not exist at the $1 level b/c they already have an audience.
Aside from that I think this is a great analysis. I especially liked when he talked about the $2-$25 goal. So check it out.
This week we hit 100 backers! That's a huge thing for me b/c 100 backers is sort of the mark of a successful campaign. Once you get to 200+ backers we're talking mega successful, but 100 backers is a great benchmark. After we talk about that, then we talk about the mission for Wannabe Press, and why companies should be vertically instead of horizontally delineated.
Another in our #askrussell segment! This week: Why should I add a photo to every campaign!
I love Kickstarter. It’s become ubiquitous with crowdfunding, creating projects, and growing the creative community.
It’s led to a golden age of movie, comics, books, and art.
However, most people miss out on the single most important way to use Kickstarter: to build your
audience from scratch.
As a creative there’s a good chance you’ve got a project aching to get out into the world. Either you’re
outlining it, writing it, or finished it. You may have even published it…but if you’re like 99% of people
your project quickly fell on its face through incredibly lackluster sales.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could release a book and have it go to the top of the charts, pay for itself,
generate income, and build your authority in the process?
It can! Do you know why it doesn’t happen for you? Because you don’t have an audience willing to buy
your book, and the authority to show you make good product.
That’s where Kickstarter can help you. It’s not just a website to beg your friends for money. It can be
strategically implemented to build your audience and give you the most important thing any creator can
have: a list of people that will pay for your content.
How? Here are three very simple ways you can use Kickstarter to build your audience.
1. Determine who you know that will pay for your product.
Your current Facebook friends, twitter followers, and even work contacts are your first step
toward building an audience. You need to determine which one of those will PAY for your
content, because it won’t be all of them.
2. Find new audiences through Kickstarter discover tool.
Kickstarter is the only platform where its audience looks for new content en masse. There are
trickles in other platforms, but Kickstarter really trained their audience to look for other cool
projects. So new people will find your project through the campaign.
3. Build authority by demonstrating success.
Everybody knows and trust Kickstarter, and by having a successful project you immediately build
credibility with your audience and your new audience. Unlike Amazon or any other publishing
platform, people can see your success in exact figures, and people know how hard it is to have a
BONUS: At the end of the campaign you get a list of buyers interested in your product and
willing to buy from you again!
So many creators are looking for a way to break out from the thousands of other projects on Amazon or
other platforms, and Kickstarter is a great way to find your audience, build your audience, and
communicate with your audience, even if you don’t have one person on your mailing list right now.
Hope that helps. Head over to www.freekickstartercourse.com to get a head start on your career.
Today we talk to Lou Frontier, writer of Wicked and American Bison for Insane Comics. We got into a lot in this episode, but what really stood out was how he is moving from a publishing company to self publishing his own stuff. We really dissect it and come up with some practical solutions for him, and talk about why Kickstarter is so great for comic books.
This is a new experiment for The Business of Art. I'm part of a networking group called Comic Book Sunday, which is a fantastic place to meet creators, artists, writers, directors, producers, and people making a living in the business of art. So I thought it would be a good idea to talk with some of them and get their best advice on how to turn your art into a business.
Today we talk about delusion...not really. We talk about being 32 days from the end of the Kickstarter, and how that compares to Katrina. Admittedly, it compares VERY favorable since Katrina only had a 31 day campaign :). We're going to get into how each campaign we've done is very different, and how we are expanding with this new one. It's all very exciting stuff. Don't forget to check out My Father Didn't Kill Himself on Kickstarter through March 1st!
This week was the first time I a while I've been straight up lambasted by somebody close to me for running a Kickstarter, and so I talk about it in a longer episode. I talk about why one critic can destroy the good will of hundreds of fans and shake creators to the core. This is pretty much unedited, even moreso than I usually don't edit my stuff. I did it specifically because I was really wounded during the episode and I wanted you to see that, that even somebody that seems to have it together, and usually does, can be taken down with a single word.
How you can get started from scratch: I was once where you are right now, scratching my head on where to even begin. I’d read books upon
books, researched online, read articles from thought leaders in the industry, and still have no idea what
to do in order to get started.
From ten years of painstaking failure and glorious success, here’s three things you can do to get started
right now, if you’ve got nothing done.
1. Create (and finish) stuff.
This sounds funny, but almost every single person I talk to has thought about or started a
project. Almost NONE of them have finished one. Either they are scared to finish, or they keep
tinkering with half-finished drafts, or they worked on outlines for years without finishing. 99.9%
of the time it’s because they don’t think their project is good enough.
I know it’s scary, but there’s great news. Everybody sucked at first. Nobody was good. Not one
person wrote their first piece, or drew their first project, or started their first business, and
knocked it out of the park. Remember what Jake the Dog said “Sucking at something is the first
step to being kind of good at something”. The only thing that separates you from somebody else
is how quickly you can suck at something, fail, and make something else, because each new
thing is going to be better than the last.
2. Meet people, show your work (and build a list).
I like to meet people, but it’s also very draining…especially when you have to show them your
work. I mean they could hate it, they could throw it down, they could insult you. It’s a horrible
feeling the first time.
Here’s the thing though…that first time doesn’t matter. All that matters about that first time is
that it’s closer to the ten thousandth time when you actually have a great product. By then it
won’t phase you. But it’s going to phase you at first. It’s going to hurt at first. The first time
somebody rejects your work is awful. Frankly, it’s a little awful every time, but by the millionth
time it gets better.
But when you meet somebody that likes your stuff, friend them on social media, put them on
your mailing list, and connect with them NOW. Build your list now because that list of your
friends and fans is the most valuable thing in the world.
3. Don’t worry about people not resonating with your projects.
Think about this. Stephen King has sold 300-350 million books. By all measurements that’s a
huge success, right? I don’t think anybody would complain about those numbers.
However, there are 7 BILLION people in the world, which means best case scenario 95% of people
have NOT bought his books.
That doesn’t account for the fact that many of his books were sold to repeat customers either!
Which means one of the bestselling authors only has at most 5% of the total audience of the
world willing to buy his book.
When you think about it like that, rejection doesn’t sound so scary right?
Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher and consultant. Check out www.freekickstartercourse.com to get a head start on your career.
Today we talk to Don Edwards, writer and artist of the UltraKyle comic book which is currently on Kickstarter.He's been a full time freelance artist since 2010, and he's kind of a Jack of All Trades. He does comic books, 2D and 3D art, branding, logos, and everything. I love that kind of hustle.
One of the great struggles of my professional life is when to run my Kickstarter campaigns, how to drive business, and how to integrate the Kickstarter into my convention appearances without distracting from con sales. See, we're a young company without the advantage of much book store shelf space at this point, so there's pretty much only a couple ways we make money and get our names out there.
- Online Advertising
Since we're only a couple weeks into our web comic run, #3 hasn't been the kind of driver we hope it to be. Even when we're full blast with advertising there probably won't be a huge uptick in revenue from it, just eyeballs and brand awareness...which will drive sales in the long term, but not the short term. When you're a young company, the best thing to do is get out there and shake people's hands at conventions, which is why we're planning to hit as many as possible. In person meetings lead to Facebook likes, which lead to brand engagement, which lead to long term sales. However, the #1 single revenue generator for me in 2014 was the Kickstarter we ran. It dwarfed the rest of my revenue last year by a wide margin, and we expect similar this year. But by running a Kickstarter campaign during a show, it drives DOWN the revenue from the show and takes away from all other sales...which in turn eats into all booth costs including booth space, printed copies, incentives, etc. etc. etc. It's a vicious cycle, with one nagging question... is it a good idea to run a Kickstarter campaign during a show you're selling at? Here are the positives and negatives.
1 - Immediate engagement - You can have somebody sign up for the Kickstarter and pledge on the spot. If people hem and haw you can help push them over the edge.
2 - Massive amount of interaction - shows, at least the kinds of shows I attend, have thousands of people all interested in the kind of thing you are selling.
3 - New audience/fans - Kickstarters are notorious for begging money from friends and family, which is fine and all, but it won't help you grow the kickstarters year over year...only new fans will do that.
4 - No immediate cost - Most con goers have a set spending limit and blow through it on big name stuff. There's not much money left for indies. However, with Kickstarter they don't pay until the Kickstarter funds. This is a great sales strategy for a kickstarter.
5 - Social media bump - Just by being at a con and posting photos you'll get a social media bump from people and more engagement on your page. Additionally, by meeting creators they will likely tweet out support for you on the spot to help drive sales.
6 - Built in mailing list - You get the email addresses of everybody that pledges to your book. These are all warm leads for your next book. Actually, they're hot leads because they already like the thing you are selling and will likely buy the next thing.
1 - Distracts from other products - If you have more than just the Kickstarter going, it will distract from your ability to sell other products, which will drive down show revenue, even if it boosts overall revenue. I saw a massive dip in other book sales at Long Beach Comic-Con last year because of the Ichabod Kickstarter.
2 - Complicated Kickstarter enrollment process - I'm hoping this has changed since last year, but when I ran my Kickstarter the process of enrolling somebody that didn't already have an account was a massive headache. I lost more than a few deals trying to get somebody signed up and having it take forever.
3 - Not selling something tangible - Most people go to cons to leave with something tangible. However, even if you give them some swag on the spot, by definition you won't have a tangible book for them to buy.
4 - Being out money if the Kickstarter fails - You've spent money on a booth, swag, parking, and food. It could all be for not if the Kickstarter craps the bed.
Overall, I would always plan to do a Kickstarter in tandem with a con. If I could do 2 I would do one to open and close the Kickstarter. If I could do 12 I would do 12. To me there's no better engagement than cons and no way to drive in new fans to your projects. I would be remiss if I didn't say that I tabled with a guy that ran an unsuccessful Kickstarter earlier this year. He gave out about $1000 in merch + table fees and got nothing in return. That kind of thing hurts, but if you set realistic expectations and have an amazing product there's a great chance you'll come out massively ahead.
Make sure to check out freekickstartercourse.com too in order to start your journey on the right foot.