In February, I launched a Kickstarter for my newest comic book endeavor, "Sylvanna". I was only seeking $3,000 and with the work I'd already put into the project, I fully expected it to be successful in the end. What I didn't expect, was for the project to be funded in less than 24 hours from its start, and to more than double its original goal by the end. Here, in a nutshell (hey, I have to save some of this for the eBook!) is how I did it:
- I built up some hype. Before the Kickstarter launched, I told everyone I knew about my intentions. I made a website, I posted on forums, and I engaged everyone on my social media networks, letting the masses know that I was on the verge of crowd-funding my new comic series. I did this for about a month before launch, in fact. Some people make the mistake of launching a crowd-funding project and then reaching out to potential funders. Understand that you lose precious time (and therefore backer money) when you do it this way. Give your audience time to get their finances together and to budget so they can get behind you 100%.
- I used my "unfair advantage". I'm a known artist. Well, almost! I'm known to a very select and elite group of people who grew up in the early 2000's reading Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comics, which I was a penciller for. This audience, for as young as the people were when they first saw my published work in those books, is very loyal. I have fans who have become friends, and some whom I've never met, who are excited to support whatever project I'm doing and especially if it taps into the same reasons they loved my work on Sonic. Needless to say, these fine folks were more than happy to contribute to my Kickstarter, and all I needed to do was make them aware of it and give them time to contribute (see point one). You may not have this kind of background yourself, but it's worth asking -- what is your specific unfair advantage? Understanding that there truly is no such thing as an unfair advantage (unless you are acting unethically of course!) is sometimes the first step towards taking the best advantage of it.
- I considered my audience. Knowing that the people whom my project appealed to most were very likely to be young and unable to afford the bigger rewards, was key in not only considering what rewards to offer, but at what level of investment they should be offered at. To that end, I had rewards as low as the $1, $5 and $10 marks, where each was guaranteed a very cool set of prizes for their contribution. This also played into how I advertised, and where. I set up some banner ads before starting my Kickstarter, which were posted on forums and comic sites that people of this age group were known to frequent. It's been said before but bears repeating: Knowing your audience is everything, so make sure you're doing your research so you can market effectively.
- I set a reasonable funding goal for my project. I didn't need a million dollars to launch a webcomic. Frankly, I have had webcomics launch on zero dollars, before. Most people who came before me in this arena, in fact, were looking for far less than $3,000 for their Kickstarters to take off. I risked being called out for this in the worst way possible if I'd asked for an insane amount of money -- and that was people not backing me because they saw me as funding my wallet and not the project. Be aware that the modern consumer is savvy and will check to see that you're not being unreasonable with the amount of money you claim to need for your given venture. Too, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have rules that prohibit "fund your life" projects. Do your research by checking out similar projects, first, and determine exactly how much you absolutely need before you launch. Don't forget to factor in such things as shipping and hiring costs.
- I had some great rewards... And when I say great rewards, I mean desirable on all levels. Sometimes people who crowd-fund only throw the bare minimum of rewards, or irrelevant rewards at their backers. Things like buttons and bookmarks don't cost a penny, sure, but do they offer much incentive to back the project by themselves? Of course not! You can beat the crowd by giving out cool stuff that people will actually use, and not the least of these is the finished product itself. You should not be afraid to up your costs by throwing in extra value, either! Offer scarce items, or limited editions. Some of my most popular prizes were in fact, those which cost very little to make, but came autographed and personalized. People love things that are once-in-a-lifetime offers so don't be stingy in promoting those!
- I made all of my channels aware of the launch date. And when I say all of my channels, I mean all of my channels and all of my team's channels, and all of my friends' channels and all of my family's channels! It's not as much work as you think! If you have a place where people gather to interact with you, you simply must put out the APB on your upcoming project. Post to those forums, send out social media updates, and alert your real-life friends of course! Since I'm an artist, I did a number of "promo pieces" which were viewed in my more popular galleries online, which happened to mention I would soon be launching a Kickstarter to fund a project which the given piece of art centered around. This drew tons of interest! If you're a writer, you may consider doing the same with your blog, or a musician could easily promote through a Youtube video! It's wide open, and you should leave no stone unturned when it comes to letting people know that you're in crowd-funding mode.