I can’t back out now…or can I? (8 things I’ve done to launch a Kickstarter campaign)

62-hours ago I pressed the ‘Go live’ on the Kickstarter campaign that will reveal if my husband and my past two years of hard graft will be met with applause – or rejection. Naturally I am nervous. Let’s also say that there is fear and intense excitement too. It’s strange to have such opposing emotions racing around my body.

This Kickstarter campaign that is causing the nerves that feel worse than those of a teenage first-date is for two books that my photographer husband and I have spent the past two years creating. OK let’s load even more pressure on – creating these two books is the reason I left my job whilst heavily pregnant and took off to Paris, with first child in tow. I say this not to make myself look desperate but to show how much I believe in this project. How much I wanted these books to be created and shown to the world.

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I knew from the day that I got pregnant again that it was now or never. I had fallen in love with my husband for his ability to notice the beauty in one’s every-day surroundings: a bilious white cloud on an otherwise grey, miserable day; a shaft of intense light appearing momentarily turning a tree golden and magical; the deep green of the grass after rain. It’s because of his photographs that I notice what is special in my every day.

Fuck good jobs and regular pay cheques. This is art, the art of life.

So here we are two years down the line. A hundred (and fifty thousand) ‘creative arguments’ had; a baby-turned toddler; an ever growing boy who has become wild with knowledge and curiosity since we started homeschooling – and two breathtakingly beautiful books. I can say that because I did not take the photos. I am the woman supporting the man holding the camera. And I don’t care how old fashioned that sounds, it’s friggin’ awesome to know that it’s because of me that all this is happening.

ImageSo, after my digression I wanted to share with you the things I have done (on other very wise people’s advice) in preparation for my Kickstarter campaign, in the hope that it might inspire you to take the plunge to do something creative (and possibly nuts) yourself. In 30 days time I will probably look back at this list (see below) and roll my eyes – why didn’t I think of this, that and the other? Well – good news, the web can accommodate my love of list making, so I will republish this list as I go. I am so inspired by Kickstarter and the other crowdfunding platforms like it. It is an unbelievably amazing way for creative projects to get off the ground – and an opportunity to cut out the middle man and build your audience for your work.

I would SO SO SO welcome thoughts, comments, ideas and any other thinking things you can throw my way. This is super intense, and so I’d love to hear some words from you guys.

1. I am not going to think this will be easy

The best article I’ve read (and advice taken) was from Nathaniel Hansen. Some of his key advice is that you have to fundraise like it’s a full time job. Every day, getting the word out there and yes, losing sleep, lots of sleep.

I have done one previous crowdfunding campaign for £2000. It was to raise money for Anthony to go and photograph the Homeless World Cup and even though it was for 5 times less than what we are now asking for, it was CRAZY INTENSE. I was constantly emailing, facebooking etc. It was a real shock to realise that you may be super super passionate about what you do – but to get other people to feel even a tinsy, winsy bit passionate, requires a tremendous amount of hard work. There is a lot of stuff in this world competing for their support.

2. I need my campaign to be seen by 30,000 people

In this article on 99u they explain some of the things you need to work out to get your campaign funded:

“Ryan Koo of NoFilmSchool.com ran one of the highest grossing film campaigns in Kickstarter’s history at $125,000. He decided to set a big goal to make himself rise to the challenge, but he also made sure it was viable by calculating the number of people he had to reach at a 1% contribution rate for an average of $50. Don’t be afraid to dream big, but back it up with some math.”

If my average contribution is £30, and the contribution rate is 1% then 33,333 people need to see my campaign. That’s pretty wild.

3. I will be shameless (but polite)

If this is going to work I am going to have to turn on a giant ‘I love this and I hope you will too’ button and just tell everyone and any one about what we are doing. I am not going to spam, but this has to be my obsession (polite obsession) this month.

4. I have asked many of my more talented friends and family to help

When I told my husband that we would be a perfect team, one of the reasons I gave was that I would be awesome at writing about his work. I would tell his story beautifully, perfectly, amazingly. But you know what – I can’t. I have now grown too close, and I write like I have a proverbial stick up the proverbial place. I am so in love with what he’s done, I have paralysed myself. And so my film maker brother has stepped in, made a film about the project and told the story we wanted to tell, without knowing how. Telling your story in a compelling, real and interesting way is imperative to this process, so because I couldn’t I asked someone who could.

5. I have written lists, and more lists of people I can tell

I have done epic amounts of research – bloggers, journalists, tweeters. Anyone who might think ‘this is awesome’, I have on my list of people and I will tell. In my previous lives I’ve done lots of press work myself and I’ve also hired, at great expense, fancy PR firms. One thing I’ve learnt is that if you are really passionate about what you are doing, you don’t need a fancy PR firm. If you have the money and no time – a PR firm is brilliant. But I am in a lots-of-time – no-money situation so I am going it alone and that’s fine. My advice on this front is:

Research your journalists, bloggers: Don’t just send a press release to every magazine you can think of, that will turn people off. Find out what writers are interested in your subject and carefully sculpt an email to that person. Don’t spam.

Be yourself and be passionate: people respond to real people, real stories and interesting journeys.

A lot of people think that getting on the TV or radio, having  a piece written about you in print or online is going to be world changing. On rare occasions it is. But most of the time it’s another trickle in the bucket, of which you need hundreds of trickles to get the bucket to over flow. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it, of course you should, but you need to lots of press, lots of promotion, all the time. It’s super rare that one piece will make your business. So reach out to lots of people. Again and again.

6. And I have templates for emails coming out of my ears

I know myself well enough to know that intense pressure and me are not great friends. So before we pressed go I wrote a bunch of emails for different situations and stored them. What I didn’t do was think of a subject line for said emails. Doesn’t sound like a big problem? Well, we spent an hour coming up with lame-ass subject lines yesterday. I should have done that when I had more head space. Here is an awesome article that has tonnes of templates for you to use and generally great tips for other crowdfunding tools.

7. I have looked at hundreds of other crowdfunding campaigns

I have modelled our campaign after two highly successful photography campaigns on Kickstarter. They chose to be short, let the photos do the talking, and have less than ten rewards. To the point. I’m sure it’s possible to innovate, but for me I find it easier to emulate what seems to have worked for others. Choose your path and stick to it.

8. I have chosen the crowdfunding platform that I think is right for me

There are tonnes of crowdfunding platforms that are out there and I have done extensive research as to which one is right for us. We have chosen Kickstarter because I thought we would get more contributions from people we don’t know and as we are a creative project I think the site looks better overall. Also there is lots of research to show that the all or nothing way is the most galvanising for your crowd and the most successful way. Look here and here

Ok, so that’s not everything, but it’s pretty much most of it. I’ll keep you posted! See our campaign here.

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