Today, I will explain how I was able to succeed on Kickstarter with a very small following. I am not trying to sell a ‘’get rich quick’’ scheme or to tell you the ‘’3 secrets you can apply right now’’ to gain a ton of money for your project. I am simply sharing my experience. Some things I will be saying are totally subjective and could not work for you.
My Experience after 2 Campaigns – Why Does It Work?
I really like the idea behind Kickstarter. Unlike some other crowdfunding sites, it is an all-or-nothing platform. If you don’t reach your funding goal, you literally get zero dollar and all the fans who already committed to buy your stuff will never get charged. At first it looks like a huge gamble. If everything falls apart you’re just going to leave your fans empty-handed and frustrated. Just the thought of having to apologize for not being able to fulfill your promises is very scary. But I can confirm that this method really gives a sense of urgency to the fans that is very powerful. Would you let a musician you admire fail his campaign when he has 2 days left and already 90% of the funds collected? This would be a shame. So in the last days, you always, always see a huge bump in donations. Incredibly powerful, indeed!
That being said, Kickstarter is very popular for technology, games, clothing, but a little less for music. You’ll never see a musician make multiple million dollars for his art, but it is pretty common in the industries I mentioned above. That leaves us, independent musicians, with little to no flexibility in terms of setting our goals.
I have made 2 different campaigns on Kickstarter, both successful:
1 – The first on July 2015 – 900 Youtube subscribers at the time – 1450$ collected out of a 1100$ goal (131% of the goal).
2- The second on December 2016 – 2700 Youtube subscribers at the time – 4673$ collected out of a 2200$ goal (212% of the goal).
You will be stressed and annoying for everyone
Both campaigns were almost identical. The project was guaranteed to be funded the 15th day out of 20 days, so at the three quarter mark. It is very late into the process and induces a lot of stress and doubt.
The first three days are always good days. You build from the hype of your new campaign and your most loyal fans are the first to participate and pledge. It gets you excited about the pace: ‘’it’s going to be a great run!’’ you say to yourself. But after that, the pace starts slowing down and then comes self-doubt.
‘’Oh my god, I have already made everything I could: social media posts, e-mail list, Youtube video, asking close friends and family, re-posting on social media…’’.
You know there’s still time, but in the last 2 days, you have made only 40$, which is not even 2% of your goal. You now start to panic. ‘’I have to find a way!!!’’. Then you start searching for sites that offer marketing and visibility for Kickstarter. You spend hours on that, but they all seem like scams. You invest 20$ here for Facebook ads, 30$ here on content discovery platforms, which gives you zero results in the end.
Now you have no choice. Social media posts don’t work, so you proceed to send personal messages to almost everyone you know. A little bit each day. You feel like you are really annoying those people. You feel bad. You cannot believe this is already your last resort. But hey, maybe you have been nice to a lot of people, because a good bunch of them respond and pledge a little something to help you. The pace is now good enough to reach your goal in extremis on the last days.
The Secret for a Successful Campaign Without a Big Following
Now, up until here, it seems like an awful experience, doesn’t it? I’m not giving you any incentive to embark on a campaign yourself, do I? But what I am not telling you is that there are always some people to surprise you. People who believe in you more than you do. People who care so much about your success, they would do anything to make you successful.
You guessed it: the secret for a successful campaign without a big following is… super fans.
The best way to get super fans in your following is not to try to get super fans. Confusing, huh? I mean, if you push too hard to get your fans, either by annoyingly auto-promoting yourself everywhere you can or by doing things that are not true to your personality and your vision just to make views and go viral… you’re never going to get any. Super fans feel when your art is sincere. They feel when you are a genuine person. They feel when you create once and foremost for yourself and to express your own inner artistic expression. They are touched by all of this.
Super fans don’t want to be labelled like this either. They don’t want to be identified publicly and they will definitely not brag about it anywhere. Hey, they don’t even want you to spend your precious time making something special for them. They just want you to be successful, period. Just to know they are able to make a difference for you is enough for them. Faith in humanity restored! I don’t like to call them ‘’super fans’’ myself too. I’d rather know their names and get to know each of them more personally. I don’t want to label them, because they are very unique individuals who deserve to be listened and thanked all in their own special way. But we still need some term to speak about those people and I think this is an appropriate one, in lack of a better term.
So this is how I got a campaign so successful last month. Just because of those 4-5 super fans. Those 4-5 people who really believed in me. I am eternally grateful for what they did to support me. In fact, if it were not for these super fans, I would have missed my original goal from a couple dollars. I would not have reached my goal! This is incredible to realize. In reality, I’m sure I would have reached my goal, because of the sense of urgency I was writing about earlier (no one would have let a 97% funded campaign fall apart in the last hours), but it is still pretty amazing!
What if you want to do the same thing?
So now you know how I was able to get successful with my crowdfunding campaigns. Once again, what I did might not work for you for a number of reasons, but I think that if you:
a) Set yourself a reasonable goal;
b) Know that your art is genuine;
c) Have supportive people surrounding you and can identify potential super fans;
You are quite good to go! I recommend doing a very short campaign, something like I did: 20 days. If you drag it for too long, your social media shares will become redundant and the sense of urgency will not be exploited that much. You have to know, though, that this is still a very stressful experience and that you will have to invest more energy than you think in managing your crowdfunding campaign. But in the end, when you are successful, it is so fulfilling and rewarding. I wish you to live that same relief and joy of succeeding with your project one day.
What about you? Did you ever make a crowdfunding campaign for your project? Would you like to make one someday? What do you think about Kickstarter way of crowdfunding?