I love Kickstarter. It is an unabashed and unconditional love. Kickstarter has done more for my career in the past year than making great content and building my brand has for the previous 7. And in running my last Kickstarter I learned something that nobody talks about…ever. It’s the secret that will turn Kickstarter from a project funding platform into a career launching one. I’ve run two Kickstarters in the past 13 months, both successfully. Our first Kickstarter did respectably well. It raised $5400 from 163 backers at 150% of its goal. You can see from our Kicktraq below for our first project, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, finished October 2014, we did well despite not knowing what we were doing.
We only had a couple of $0 days, including the last one (yikes!). Now compare that to our last one for Katrina Hates the Dead, finished in October 2015.
Comparatively to the Ichabod, Katrina Hates the Dead had almost DOUBLE the backers, over $3000 more in pledges, was shared more than double our first project, and had nearly double the average daily pledges. And most of those were from new backers! Just check out how we did in the last 48 hours year over year. It’s hard to believe the same creator ran both projects.
So what accounted for that change? Before I tell you the lightbulb that clicked, I want to show you one more mind blowing statistic. These are the video plays of both the Ichabod and Katrina Kickstarters.
Katrina had almost 6x MORE video plays than Ichabod! That’s crazy for a new property for a still relatively unknown creator. But this isn’t about bragging, it’s about helping you guys do what I did. And you’re all asking yourself what I learned to completely transform my Kickstarter, and my personal brand? Easy.
I used Kickstarter to build an audience, NOT to fund a project.
Of course funding a project is important as well, but MORE important is finding your audience, and there is no better platform to do that than Kickstarter. Since our Kickstarter launched in September I’ve added 300 fans to my company’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/wannabepress), several hundred to my twitter accounts (www.twitter.com/russellnohelty), and over 2000 personal Facebook friends, which is where I conduct most of my business. That’s exponential growth, baby! Most people don’t like to think about Kickstarter this way. I mean we’re mostly creators, and business doesn’t enter our mind when we’re creating art. But it should, because if you want to quit your crappy job and do this full time, it HAS to be a business. So why should you treat Kickstarter as brand building instead of just project funding?
REASON #1: You want a career creating projects, right?Nobody creates one project and is satisfied. We all want to find an audience who will buy our projects over and over again. And that means starting small, and building. So you don’t have to do your dream project first. You don’t have to reach your whole audience at first. This is a marathon.
REASON #2: You can only beg your friends for money so many times, and so often.
Yes, they will donate to your first campaign, probably even if they don’t like it…just to support you. However, by the fourth campaign they might support you, but you might have just as easily worn out your welcome. Also, you can’t beg your friends more than once a year. With an audience you can go back to that well more often, because they WANT your stuff.
REASON #3: You can’t build a career on the same base audience.
If you want a career, and a career creating projects full time, you can’t make a living on your 50 Facebook friends and 10 Twitter followers. You have to grow that exponentially. You want 30,000 fans all willing to give you money for your project, and you can only do that if you build. Kickstarter is the best way to build from scratch.
REASON #4: Big companies want to hire people with built in fan bases.
More important than your writing or drawing quality, is your fan base. Even if you want to work for a big company and never do a creator owned project (why would that be?), they are all hiring people that have self-published and have an audience they can exploit.
REASON #5: Kickstarter is one big landing page made for conversion.
A landing page is built by marketing people and salespeople as a place to make sales. It’s a one page site that entices people to buy your product, and nobody does that as well as than Kickstarter. Marketing companies would kill to have a page that converts like a Kickstarter page, and it’s just there sitting for you. Nobody is using Kickstarter like this, and those few that are KILL their campaigns. At the end of a Kickstarter, you have the most important sales tool in the world, a mailing list of people that will buy your product. There’s nothing more valuable than that. So now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to use Kickstarter in a new way, how do you do it?
TIP #1: Start small.
We’re building a career here, so there’s no need to do a $50,000 project off the top. Try for $500 first. Do a short, or a single issue comic. If you raise more, great! Use that as a starting point for your next one. But it’s most important to get an audience talking about your book, liking it, and knowing you can deliver.
TIP #2: Build in a marketing budget.
30% of what you raise should go to marketing. That’s ads, companies, and everything else that goes into marketing a project. It’s the only way new people will know about your project. If you have to save for it. SAVE.
TIP #3: This is a business, treat it as such.
You’re building a brand for yourself. Brands aren’t built overnight. They’re built in time by adhering to quality, loyalty, and great content being delivered.
TIP #4: Activate your base FIRST, then drive in new customers.
You have to get your friends and family excited about your project before you find new fans. You need a good 30-50% of your budget raised before you can start targeting new people. And that base needs to come quick. So you need to do some planning and figure out how much you can raise from them, and build your budget around that.
TIP #5: Marketing is not an evil word.
Marketing, at its core, is not evil. People use marketing for evil, sure. But bad people use everything for evil. Marketing is about sharing your awesome project with new people. It means going to conventions and being in forums talking about how cool your project is…but not too much in the forums, I mean we’re all there for community building already. We ALL have cool projects.
BONUS: START NOW!
It’s never too early to start building a mailing list. Every business card you go to, everybody you meet, should go onto a list, and you should send them progress reports on your project.If you’re really serious about building your Kickstarter like this, it starts with planning.
Luckily, I’m here to help. That's why Kickstarter University exists. Make sure to check outfreekickstartercourse.com too in order to start your journey on the right foot.