Apr
Financing

Running a Successful Kickstarter

This past July we set up, ran, and successfully funded a Kickstarter. In the meantime I’ve received some questions and all of them boil down to “how?”

Our Kickstarter 

I can literally boil down the entire process down to one rule:

Persistence.

You know your goal and you know how long you have to get there. There are no variables in this, it’s all right there in front of you. We wanted to raise $8000 in 45 days. It’s on the low/middle side of average Kickstarter goals and it’s not a tremendous amount of money when you sit down to think about it. So how did I do it?

Network Utilization.

I, personally, have 400 Facebook friends, 204 Twitter followers and 836 LinkedIn connection. Eliminating any crossovers I have a network of roughly 500 people that I can personally reach out to. That means that if I get every one of those individuals to contribute $16, I’ve met our goal.

Obviously that’s never going to happen, but, you have to try it anyway. So on day 1 of the Kickstarter I went through and sent a personal message to every single person on my Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn about the project, how much we were trying to raise, and how long we were running the fundraiser.

Eight days later we had 26 backs are 20% of our budget.

From that initial message blast (Facebook put me on spam limiter twice) I was able to lump people into four separate categories:

1. Contributors 

2. Follow Up

3. No Contact

4. Disconnected

People in category 1 were the easiest, I was done with them. The people in category 2 were a running list of people that got back to me but were wishy washy in their answers, or claimed that they had no money and if I could check back with them later. That’s great, it means they at least read what I wrote and so long as I checked back, they might contribute.

Category 3 were people that ignored my message entirely and I would send a second one as a reminder in ten days time. Category 4 were people that apparently didn’t like me and were just keeping tabs on me by being connected in some way, no big loss.

Now that we hit 20% of our goal, it looked like we were on our way – the equivalent of putting a few dollars into a tip jar to get the ball rolling. This was a project that people were starting to believe in. Now was the time to reach out to family.

I gave them all a heads up about the project, but didn’t ask them to contribute right then and there. Obviously your family are a group of people that care about you (hopefully!) so the odds of them contributing something are high, but it’s best to keep them in reserve until the end of the project.

This was also the time that I reached out to the other people directly involved in the project, who each have their own network. As the Kickstarter lead as well as Jesse and Jesse showrunner, I thought it was my responsibility to get things started on my own to give them a better idea of how to approach the situation. Obviously if you have a team you can get them involved from the get go.

I spoke to Jesse (the white one), Shawn, Olivia and Sean about reaching out to their own networks to ask people to contribute. Keeping it only to Facebook, that group has a combined facebook network of 1416. Eliminating crossover, that’s around 1000 people they can reach out to. Suddenly, we only need to raise $5/person. It’s the future of our show versus a large cup of coffee from Starbucks from 1500 people.

Here’s one major thing I learned about the length of time you set for a Kickstarter:

Time is Meaningless. 

Obviously you shouldn’t set it for a week, but, once you get past 30 days it’s just kind of spreading out the whole process. Early contributors will contribute early and the rest of the people will wait until it gets closer to the end.

Between waiting for my team to get in gear and message people, performing all of my followups, and finally hearing from the people in category 3 (took 3-4 messages, all spaced out 4-5 days apart) and growing my category 4 (whoops!) the entire month of June had elapsed – but – there was a sudden growth spurt.

I think it was a combination of the end of the month, people getting paid, and some followups getting tired of me but at any rate, we had a huge jump to 58%. We were over halfway there.

Here’s the thing though, we only had 47 backers. That means that every person who contributed gave around $100. This was a real eye opener to me and lead this this:

Expect the Unexpected. 

Some people I thought would give a good amount only gave $5. People that I didn’t expect to contribute at all ended up being some of the BIGGEST contributors of all! As a for instance, two of our high school teachers (Jesse, Shawn and I graduated high school together) ended up giving one of the higher tier rewards levels each. I was flabbergasted since it was such a generous amount, but, it helped push us up quite a bit. So what does that mean?

Don’t Discount Anyone. 

Out of your entire network you never know who would be willing to support you the most. You never know who really, really enjoys your product, which in our case was a dry comedy web series. There were a few people that found the show on youtube, absolutely loved it, and also contributed a lot on their own. It just goes to show that by reaching out to everyone you’re bound to find people that really appreciate what you do.

So now we’ve had another big bump and the contributions keep trickling in as the July 12th deadline approaches.

It’s July 11th, we’re 65% funded and have 57 backers. Unfortunately we have less than twenty-four hours to full this off. So in your finals hours you have to remember one thing:

Everyone Loves a Success Story

No one WANTS to see you fail (well, maybe a few people) so now’s the time to call in all those favors, send out another huge blast of messages and constantly remind people A) How much time remains and B) How close you are.

In that last day I sent out a couple hundred messages. I contacted my family, I contacted people that told me to check back and I wasn’t afraid to beg. If this is your dream, you’ll do what it takes to accomplish the goal.

People came out of the woodwork to start helping, people I’d completely written off but thought why not ask at the end, just in case. In addition, people began to raise their contributions. People that contributed $5 suddenly upped it to $25. People that put in $100 moved it up to $150. Things were looking promising but time was running out.

Thankfully, we made it happen.

We finished at 101% with 89 total backers. This means that 35% of our backers waited until the very last day to contribute. It also means that our average contribution amount stayed right around the $100 mark.

Kickstarter is a wild and emotional ride, and it gives you a good idea of who truly cares about what you’re doing. It also shows that with enough persistence, anyone can pull it off.

At any rate, I hope you found this helpful. Please watch and subscribe on our YouTube Channel – new episodes will be coming as soon as the Black Magic Cinema Camera preorders from last July are fulfilled!

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