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.
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.
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.
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.
It seems silly to have a $1 pledge level, right? I mean how much is $1 going to move the needle? You would need 100 backers to make $100. That’s insane.However, there’s a great reason that the $1 level might be the most important level of your whole campaign. It all comes down to a marketing tactic people have been employing forever. It’s called the tripwire offer.
The tripwire offer is the one that turns free customers into buying customers. See, tons of people will take your free information, or free content. However, a very small percentage will even consider paying for it.
That number? 3%.
That’s right. Only 3% of people who you offer something to for free will consider paying for it. That’s not actually pay for it, mind you. It’s just that they are open to the idea.
Additionally, most people won’t go from not paying to paying hundreds of dollars for your product. They need to be eased in first. Thus, the tripwire offer.
It’s much easier to convert somebody that pays $1 into somebody that pays $10 than it is to convert somebody that has never paid for your work to pay you $1.
Why? Because their credit card is already out, so it allows you to upsell them on the spot. But, people won’t pay even $1 if it’s not worth it for them.
That’s why the $1 pledge level is so important. It gives them something to buy for cheap, see the value in what you are giving them, and consider buying more. If you give them a lot of value at the lowest rung of your funnel, there must be incredible value all the way through.
This doesn’t have to be something that’s labor intensive on your part, either. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should be something they get, like, and want to buy more.
If you’re making a book, maybe write a short story in the world and give it to anybody that pledges a dollar to whet their appetite. If you’re making a tech product, maybe make a wallpaper of fun SWAG that people can get digitally and can easily be scaled.
The point is value at the lowest rung of the pledge level means value all the way through, which makes people inclined to pay for your higher tiered products.
Hope that helps. Make sure to check out www.freekickstartercourse.com to get your journey off on the right foot.
This is an extra special launch day episode. Extra long too. Throughout the day we come back to talk about what's happened at that moment, from pushing the launch button through the next morning wrap up. This is a RAW episode, as I'm pretty much just stream of consciousness throughout, talking about things. I may have repeated myself in different segments, but if you want to know what it's like to launch a Kickstarter, this is as real as it gets.
Bob Salley is universally adored in the indie comic scene, because he is already ready to help. Seriously, if you find him online and ask him a question, Bob will open up like a geyser. I brought Bob on for two reasons:
In the second episode of our mini-season we talk about how things are different this time that our last kickstarter which we ran just a few months ago, plus what we're doing now that we're less than a week away from our campaign going live.
I was on Comixlaunch this week, one of my favorite podcasts, talking about how to use Kickstarter as a launching pad to bigger and better projects, launching new lines of services, and overall strategies that hold creators back. http://www.comixlaunch.com/session026/
Since we're launching a kickstarter in two weeks for My Father Didn't Kill Himself (www.myfatherdidntkillhimself.com), and because I have a kickstarter training academy, I thought it would be fun to do little mini-episodes to show exactly how we go about doing a kickstarter.
Today, we're talking about prepping a Kickstarter through Facebook events and landing pages. If you like this, check out www.kickstarteruniversity.com.
Another in our #askrussell segment! This month: How do I get on the front page of Kickstarter!
***RESYNDICATED FROM BLEEDING COOL*** Last year, my publishing company Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) ran a Kickstarter for our first book Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter. It was a long row to hoe, but we funded and even hit a stretch goal! Yay! 162 backers and 150% of our goal. Yaay! We delivered, shipped and funded everything. Then, we readied ourselves for the second project, KATRINA HATES THE DEAD, which is live now. Check it out! The most important thing we’ve learned in launching two Kickstarters is that first 48 hours are critical, just like when a child goes missing.
Seriously, once the project launches everything is over. If you’ve done a good job of pre-launch then everything will be gravy, you’ll have a great first day, and things will fall into place. If not…well let’s just talk about how to make sure you eat gravy.
1. Start talking to people early and often.
Your marketing needs to start six months before a campaign begins. You need to start telling people about it, asking what they think, sending them previews for your campaign, and pumping them up. Also, you need to see if your project is a good idea. If people respond positively, then you’ll know you have something. Make sure to write down people who are interested, and start a mailing list. This never stops. You have to keep on them throughout the campaign and beyond too.
2. Grow your fans now to pay off later.
You need more Facebook fans. You need a bigger mailing list. You need the biggest, best social media presence ever. You need more twitter followers. You need to hand out fliers at conventions, to meet people all the time. The more people you have, the bigger your potential audience in the first two days. And the first two days are everything
3. Keep people updated.
As you near the beginning of the campaign, send out mailing list and social media updates more often and more vigorously. Make sure to tell your followers what you need. So often people do promo without a “call to action”. Use things like “THE FIRST 24 HOURS ARE CRUCIAL”, “BE SURE TO BACK EARLY”, and other things so people know what you want. I kept getting this comment when I talked to people about the campaign; I knew exactly what you wanted from me. People want to help, but they aren’t mind readers. They are also lazy.
4. Make early bird perks.
I’m not a fan of lowering your perks for the first 50 people or things like that, but I’ll gladly give perks for fans that back early. For both of my projects I gave an early PDF to everybody that backed on DAY 1 so they didn’t have to wait until the end of the campaign. For Katrina, I also gave away sneak peaks of other projects and a pdf of my first novel. People love free things.
5. Let them in on the fun.
When you finish your campaign video, or the preview page, send it off to the people that want to support you. Let them make notes. Ask for their feedback. Let them in on the experience. Make them want to support you by tailoring the campaign to address their feedback.
6. Create Facebook events and invite everybody to it.
Only 5% of your friends will see Facebook posts, but with an event that number goes up a lot. Additionally, you can share events on groups and boost events with ads in order to invite people that aren’t your friends. When you create an event, make sure they know what it means to say they are GOING (By going it means you will back on Day 1) and MAYBE GOING (By saying maybe you agree to help promote). I like events because people can leave whenever they want so I feel like I can spam the crap out of them.
7. Make sure people know when your campaign launches.
It seems so simple, but people always forget this. It’s not enough to make a social media announcement, you need to personally tell all of the people that are interested exactly what you do. That means emails, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, Instagram posts, and very detailed instructions about how to set up an account, how to find an account, and how to pledge. You need to stay on them. If they agreed to pledge, they should pledge dang it! You didn’t force them say yes.
8. Remember that people are active on different forms of social media. It’s not enough to be active on one platform. Audiences are segmented and you need to be where your audience is, bugging the crap out of them to pledge.
9. Include a link to your Kickstarter in EVERY post. Again, make it easy. Somebody may want to back you, but they won’t go to Kickstarter and type in your campaign. You HAVE TO make it easy. So, so, so, so easy. Here’s an example: Don’t forget to back our new Kickstarter. The first 24 hours are crucial.https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/russellnohelt... #horror #comics
10. Make it easy. I know I’ve been talking about it, but it warrants its own point. You have to make it easy for people to help you. They (mostly) aren’t going to go out of their way to help you.
11. Post every time somebody backs you. This makes people think they are backing a winning, and it reminds them to back your project every time it comes up on their feed. It’s a no lose situation for you. Remember to include a link. Like this: Thanks Becky! You rock! Join us now!https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/russellnohelt... #horror #comics
12. 33%. The golden rule is if you hit 33% of your funds on Day 1, you’re nearly guaranteed to fund. Don’t get on me if you don’t fund, though. 25% is good, but 33% is the magic number I’ve always used. The biggest things to make sure people know you’re about to launch, that you’ve launched, and what to do when you’ve launched. You have to plant the seeds in their head so they are ready to back on Day 1, and you have to make it easy for them. People want to help you. They just want to not do things more. Don’t forget to check out our campaign:
See how easy I made that? You don’t even have to scroll up.
Make sure to check out freekickstartercourse.com too in order to start your journey on the right foot.
On the surface it sounds like of nutty, right? You don’t have money for your project, which is why you’re on Kickstarter to begin with. So of course you can’t afford a coach or a class to help you make your project a success, right? Honestly, I know how you feel. That’s how I felt before we designed Kickstarter University, but what I found was most people can’t afford NOT to hire one.
Because over 60% of Kickstarters fail.
Here’s the thing though, they don’t all fail in the same way. Some fail in the inception stage. Others fail by writing a poorly worded campaign. Still more fail by not driving traffic to their site, while other are successful, but they’ve spent so much money on stretch goals they end up in the red. All of these are failures, but there’s no catch all way to figure out what YOUR problem is. As a coach and instructor, here’s exactly why it’s worth it to get into a course that can pinpoint your issues and make sure you are set for the future.
No matter how much research creators do, there are critical mistakes which set them up for failure.
I was talking with a creator the other day, who was asking me why he wasn’t getting backers even though he was spending money on Facebook ads. I looked at his campaign and saw it was a mess. His video didn’t focus on what made his project different. His campaign was clumped into hard to read paragraphs, and his rewards were confusing with no core offer he was driving people to buy. And we figured that out in a couple of minutes chatting over Facebook. Now, he can take that information back and design something that works, without having to waste more money in a campaign that wasn’t designed properly. How many hundreds of dollars does he save with that knowledge? How many thousands of dollars more in pledges will he get? How many hours in lost time will he have to spend with his loved ones?
You can build coaching or classes into your budget!
That’s right. When you build a budget, you can add a line item for coaching to make sure you make enough to cover the cost! Is it guaranteed you’ll make your budget? Of course not. But coaches are very good at what they do. It comes down to this. You are trying to launch a career. 90% of people on Kickstarter aren’t thinking of their passion as a lifetime hobby. They want to succeed on such a massive scale they can make their passion their job. In business, almost every high powered executive or sports star has a coach advising them to make the right moves, find what’s broken, cut down wasted time, and make their business more profitable.
Studies show coaches get 5x return on investment.
That means even if you spend $1000 on a coach, you can expect to return $5000 in both increased revenue and decreased time loss. It might not happen on your first campaign, but you’ll build a solid foundation you can build on forever, replicate forever, and reap the rewards of somebody else’s pointed knowledge. Kickstarter is a great way to turn your passion into a career. However, you have to know the pitfalls. You have to know where to spend your time. You have to know what maximizes your dollar spent. You need the kinds of strategic planning only a coach or instructor can offer. There’s a reason universities exist, and courses are ubiquitous. It’s so that people can learn from somebody that’s been through it before and improve themselves.
Hope it helps. Make sure you sign up at www.freekickstartercourse.com and learn how to crush it on your next kickstarter
Another in our #askrussell segment! This month: What is the best time of month to start my Kickstarter campaign!
Another in our #askrussell segment! This month: What is the best way to update my friends without bugging them!
I can't believe it's been a year since I've run a Kickstarter. Our first Kickstarter actually launched this company and helped us release five books in 2015. Even though we hit 150% of our goal for Ichabod, our goals this year are much more ambitious. In order to hit them we've put together a MASSIVE marketing effort this year. I mean massive for us, not massive for McDonald's. How are we doing it? It's important to note that all this starts MONTHS before the Kickstarter launches, and ramps up slowly as you get closer to the day. So your ad spend should be higher right before and during the kickstarter than it was months before. However, it still needs to be there continuously.
1 - Word of mouth. We start on our own Facebook and twitter channels, talking about the book, why it's awesome, and why we need the help of our community. Last year this was our best way to get funding, and we have no doubt that it will be similar this year.
2 - Find press resources. I'm not one for doing press releases online. I don't think that does a lot to drive traffic or conversion. However, we certainly believe in finding friends in the press to write articles and help us promote.
3 - Focus on Facebook likes. Some people see Facebook likes as a waste of time. I don't. I think they are as important as building a mailing list. Even if people click on a lot of likes, they are still people that I targeted who like things that align with my products. So finding them are as helpful as finding somebody to sign up for my mailing list.
4 - Drive traffic with banner adverts. Again, we could have a discussion all day about whether banner adverts are effective. I personally think they are. Getting in the mind of consumers is something that businesses have done for as long as there have been businesses. Maybe it won't lead to traffic today, but marketing is a long game, not for immediate gratification. You don't even need a lot of money, or any money at all. You can advertise for free with Project Wonderful.
5 - Build a quality mailing list. While you're meeting people, networking, and going to cons, you should be building a mailing list for your work. It's something I didn't learn until very late in the game. A mailing list can be your best friend. So that's how we do. That's how we're building this buzz. Hope it helps. Make sure to check out freekickstartercourse.com too in order to start your journey on the right foot.