Thursday, 5 December 2013

How to run a successful Kickstarter project

So I ran a Kickstarter project, to crowdfund a project for my new publishing company, Fisherton Press. You can read all about it here. And see the official Kickstarter project page here

Given I read a lot of blogs on how to run a Kickstarter campaign first, and have been asked that question lots of times since my campaign ended, I thought I would blog some reflections I can point people to. I hope it helps. Feel free to add yours in the comments. 

1) I feel you probably only have one chance to run a small scale friend reliant project. One of my funders, an American musician, shared some advice with me from her own experience running a Kickstarter project and said not to be afraid to cancel the project and set it up again with new tactics and asking everyone to donate again (effectively for the first time as the first donation wouldn't have been cashed), preferably all at the same time so it made the 'popular' slot on the Kickstarter homepage. I don't feel this would have worked for my project as I suspect friends of mine wouldn't necessarily know their donation hadn't been taken, just that they had offered it, and consequently I would have had my slice of their generosity already. But perhaps this does work for some people. 

2) I am based in the UK and concentrated a lot on trying to crack America where crowdfunding is a bigger thing. I tried to get retweets from American celebrities, politicians and journalists thinking if the word spread donations would pour in. This didn't happen. Nearly all of my donations come from people in the UK. 

3) However I think lots of people I know on Twitter saw me sending out loads of tweets to the above people and this reminded them to donate. In that sense it wasn't wasted. 

4) Lots of people told me that they wanted to donate but then didn't. Were they just being nice? Should I have reminded them? Perhaps I would have if near the deadline I hadn't made my target, but I had. Directly asking for money is, it turns out, rather awkward. I preferred the British thing of talking around the project, asking for retweets, and hoping people would thing 'hmmm, a retweet, I can do better than that, have a thousand pounds.'

5) Before I reached my target of £2000 ($3260 US at today's conversion rate) I wondered if perhaps I was being greedy and asking for too much. Then I made the target and wished I had asked for more. I think that means I probably got it about right. What I think you should do is ask for the amount you actually need to make the project happen, which is what I did. Any more is greedy. 

6) I am a journalist. Here is what I should have done. I should have had a media strategy, a press release written and some pitches for articles by me sent before launching the project. I should have had an angle ready for my local paper, for the Jewish press, for the London wide paper, for political magazines, for parenting publications and for publishing titles. And I should have briefed friendly journalists I know and pulled in favours for mentions in their columns in national newspapers. I didn't do any of this until the project launched? And even then a bit half heartedly. In my defence I was on maternity leave. Still, silly me - it was an error not to. Despite all the blogposts I read in advance telling me to prepare, prepare, prepare, I didn't really. You should. It doesn't matter how great your project is, if no one knows about it no one will fund it. 

7) Actually I thought Kickstarter would be so bowled over by my genius idea it would immediately become a staff pick. It didn't. Don't rely on this happening. 

8) I am not a natural fundraiser. One friend sent a particularly generous donation. I immediately emailed him to query whether he had added an extra 0 by mistake and offering to reimburse him. He said he had given what he would have given anyone in sponsorship for running the marathon and that he meant it. I have promised him I will never run a marathon. He has sworn to give up marathons and start publishing books. I am telling the truth. I am not sure he is. 

9) I personally know about 60% of my funders. Truth is, most of your money will come from people you know. Still, that's nearly 50 strangers who are taking a punt on me. Wow!

10) I think I got lucky. Since launching my campaign in October I have read a dozen articles about crowdfunding in newspapers or magazines and had a few approaches from other people I know about their projects or projects run by their friends. I think I got in just on time, probably being the first person to ask many people I know to donate to such a project. As such I suspect people will soon get crowdfunding fatigue. 

Thank you again to everyone who contributed financially, or by tweeting, emailing or Facebooking about the project. 

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