Well met, my friends!
After analyzing a few Kickstarter campaigns and running my own, I decided to write up a list of the ten Kickstarter dos and don’ts. However, since “don’ts” are too negative, I’ll only mention dos :D
1. Look at other projects in your category
Before starting my publishing project, I looked at other campaigns in the publishing group. It gives a good indication of what to expect regarding the funding goal and the rewards. I specifically looked at The Betrayal of Renegade X, which had a similar aim.
2. Have an impressive cover image
For the most part, the campaign image is what’s going to make people click on the project, so it’s a good idea to have a colorful eye-catching picture.
3. Pick the right funding goal
You need to tailor your funding goal depending on what kind of project you are running: film projects typically raise more than game projects, which raise more than music projects. Publishing projects are on the lower end, but since the aforementioned Betrayal of Renegade X had a funding goal of $2500, I knew that my funding goal of €1500 was realistic. It was also exactly what I needed, because I already had a quote from the artist and knew what the kickstarter share and taxes would amount to.
However, if you’re able to complete the project with less money, you could also pick a funding goal based on your clout. In my case, I would have guessed that I could reach a goal of about €300. The advantage of a lower goal is that you do not get anything, if you fall short of a higher goal, but might be able to attain a lower figure.
4. Take the generosity of kickstarter backers into account
I’ve backed a few projects and have always wondered about the $5 reward tier, which often times is just a symbolic thank you for backing the project. I disliked this reward tier, but I’ve had people not pick a reward in my own campaign. Others picked a reward, but increased the pledge by a multiple of the original figure. People, who are backing projects on Kickstarter, are not looking for a good monetary deal, but rather want to see creators succeed. Therefore, this symbolic reward tier, which I avoided, is not considered to be bad.
5. Start with few rewards, then add new ones as the campaign progresses
On the one hand, making people read and decide between many reward tiers is tiresome. On the other hand, giving people a choice is important. My proposed solution is to start with few rewards (1-3) and then add others as the campaign progresses. Perhaps there is even backer feedback that leads to additional reward tiers.
6. The limited reward should already fund the campaign
The very successful Karnivore Koala board game campaign started out with 2 rewards: the €20 early bird version of the game, which was limited to 250 copies and the €25 version of the game. The limited reward created a sense of urgency and since the funding goal was set to €5000, the campaign was already successful once the early bird versions had been sold out.
7. Provide updates throughout the campaign
To keep things fresh and interesting it is important to post an update at least once a week. Since most projects are not progressing at that pace, it is perhaps necessary to hold back a few updates and release them later. In my case, I recorded myself reading the first three chapters of the novel and would post a new chapter each week. Since this was a campaign to collect money for the cover art, the artist Zelda Devon provided some sketches as well.
8. Advertise in the correct channels
In order for people to be able to back your campaign, you need to make them aware that it exists. I looked through several message boards related to fantasy books to mention the campaign. Be respectful of the rules of those boards. In many cases they specifically mentioned that they did not want any “advertisement”. If you do mess up, it’s no problem – I accidently posted in the wrong section on fantasy faction, but they were kind enough to move it. In another board, I didn’t see that they don’t allow posts like this and they hid my thread. No big deal.
However, talking about my campaign in these new fantasy message boards was not very successful. I received the best response on social media (facebook, twitter) and on unrelated message boards where I was a regular. For instance, the Day community, which is about Starcraft and computer games, was very supportive.
9. Be unobtrusive with your promotion
This is an extension of point 8 – you need to pick the right channels and sending messages to people, who you don’t know isn’t going to help. Even if you reference stuff they wrote, this will only be seen as spam and is not going to help in any way.
10. No matter the outcome, get something out of the campaign
Running a successful campaign can be rewarding, but there is also something to be learned about failed pitches. If Age of Torridan hadn’t peaked at €234, I wouldn’t have looked at it in detail and wouldn’t have written this blog post. Thus, don’t be discouraged, if the campaign doesn’t run as smoothly as expected. There is still something to draw out of running it.
Pursue your dreams and see you next time,