K is for Kickstarter

K is for KickstarterToday the A to Z Challenge continues! I’ll be posting about one letter/word on every weekday in April. Don’t want the barrage of posts? Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when I start doing new stuff next month!

K is for Kickstarter.

If you haven’t already heard of it, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website that allows you to raise money for pretty much any project you can dream up. Among other things, the site has been used to fund exciting tech projects, non-profit education spaces, movies, music and of course books. Many wonderful board games have also been funded on Kickstarter.

There are actually many different crowdfunding websites including specialized sites such as Inkshares(for books) and Tubestart(for film) but Kickstarter is by far the most well known. If you’ve only ever heard of one crowdfunding site chances are it’s Kickstarter.

Kickstarter and similar sites are amazing things, giving power to the consumer and allowing for the creation of projects mainstream media gatekeepers would never permit. Some deliberately challenge the mainstream, whether it’s by analyzing societal problems and telling the hard truths or simply by sharing the stories of people mainstream media usually silences. Others are simply too wacky, too out there to have mainstream appeal–but the people who care are willing to pay big bucks to make it happen.

Unfortunately the vast majority of Kickstarters still go unfunded, largely because people rarely understand how much work goes into completing a successful campaign until they’re actually flailing their arms around in the middle of a collapsing one. They fail to research their audience properly, to write clean copy and proofread it(and have someone else proofread it), to shoot a stellar campaign video. They don’t ask anyone they know to contribute until the campaign is in its final hours and already likely to be unsuccessful.

If you take the time to do it properly a Kickstarter can be a great way to launch your career. The only way to 100% guarantee that you’ll hit your goal is to already have a large existing following but there are proven ways to improve your odds of success. One is to go all out on producing an epic video. Even if the project you’re funding is a novel your video is one of the main factors people consider when choosing whether or not to fund your campaign.

Another way to improve your odds of success is to ask friends and family to commit their contributions before you begin the campaign. If you can get people you know to contribute 30% of your goal within the first three days of your campaign you’re a lot more likely to inspire confidence in other people. And once you start asking you’ll probably be surprised how many people are eager to help your creative dreams come true–but you have to outright ask or they won’t even know how to help you.

Of course, the most important thing you can do to not only have your campaign funded but also have your backers become loyal fans is make sure your product is of the utmost quality. You want to have your project as close to ready for them as it can be before you start the campaign. If you’re trying to fund a novel, this means having edited it several times yourself with feedback from beta readers and ideally having paid for a professional edit and cover art. If you’re trying to fund a web series you want to have as much footage already shot as you possibly can. Researching successful projects in your niche can help you figure out how much you should have ready before you start your campaign.

Remember that the work isn’t over after the Kickstarter campaign either. Even if your project is 95% complete and you’re only paying for proofreading and printing, there’s still a lot of organizing you have to do: contacting your backers to confirm what they want, mailing and emailing rewards, setting up all those thank you’s on your website or inside your book, helping anyone who has technical issues or issues with mail. And you still have to do the rest of the marketing for your project yourself unless your campaign included marketing money.

Even so Kickstarter is a great place to take your creative projects if you want to retain full creative control–and a wonderful place to find unique creative projects of all kinds.

Have you ever considered running a Kickstarter campaign for one of your creative projects? Contributed to a Kickstarter campaign? Let me know about it in the comments section below!