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Anatomy of a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

My hope is that my data can help you with your crowdfunding campaign be it on Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

In my Kickstarter, I set out to raise $1,000 in 18 days to fund the cover art, editing and formatting for the 3rd book in my Assured Destruction Series. It was the finale.

Here’s the archived campaign.

The Result
$2,095 raised.
43 backers
25% hit in first 3 days.
Goal hit 9 days in.
The video had 323 plays. I think that’s a pretty great conversion ratio.

My plan
My plan was to start slow and to steadily hit different aspects of my networks rather than do so all at once. So I started with my social media contacts and author friends who are also social media savvy. I also created a Facebook event for the very end of the campaign. This all quickly got me to 25% and it also revealed some wonderful champions to my cause that stayed with me throughout the campaign. I can’t understate the importance of campaign champions.

After the campaign slowed, I then targeted a friends, colleagues and family email. This jump-started the campaign once more and took me just over my target.

At the three quarters mark I received some help from bloggers on a cover reveal, an author interview and a media interview with the Ottawa Sun. I also targeted my LinkedIn network.

Although I steadily tweeted and Facebooked throughout, I did so on a daily, not hourly basis. Having the Facebook event scheduled for the end of the campaign turned out to be helpful because I could remind only those people who were truly interested in my campaign that this was their last chance to make a pledge.
I didn’t know when or if Kickstarter community would start backing my campaign. I’m really glad they did, but I also didn’t want to depend on it.

My Backers
Your pledgers are what make a campaign successful so it’s important to know where they’re going to come from. I suspect that this is very different depending on each campaign, and the more backers the likely the higher the ‘unknown’ factor becomes. Here are my stats:

40% Close friends and family
40% Internet links (people I know in via social media, listservs, forums, etc.)
20% Previously unknown to me

What I could have done better:
I likely could have gone after big name authors and asked them to highlight my campaign. I know several and I think they would have been amenable.
I left some powder dry. I run a number of local writers workshops and I likely could have leaned on them for support but I kept them out of it for the most part. I also only hit up a select group of neighborhood friends.

I also should have had better stretch goals. I didn’t have any at all after $1,500, and my goal at $1,500 wasn’t all that interesting.

What surprised me:
The high average pledge level. This was the single biggest determinate of hitting $2,000 vs $1,000. Be sure to have options that run from $5 to $500 because you never know where your support is going to come from.
I didn’t lose any friends/followers in the marketing. This really is a balance and one of the reasons why I picked an 18 day campaign rather than a 30 day or longer.
I met a lot of really cool supportive people.

Where I got lucky:
I was featured by Kickstarter. Kickstarter-sourced pledgers totaled 25% of my campaign (but that would have jumped to 50% had I only hit $1,000). So an important component.

Where I need to be careful:
I know that I could not run a similar campaign tomorrow and expect the same result. For one thing, many of my pledges came from people I know, and this will have tapped them out, and I don’t want to ask them for money again.

This was an entire series I was offering. It has great reviews and a lot of cool art to go along with it. This means a great selection of credible reward options. This would not be the case with some of my adult books for instance.

Campaign Design
I cannot stress the importance of good reward options enough. Give people back something for their support and be sure to have a broad range.

I followed advice I found on blogs. Search online for what words to use in a successful campaign and what words not to use. Focus on your credibility and provide social proof for that credibility.
A video is an absolute must. Go heavy on the graphics.

Be sure to mentions cats and Karma. 😛 YMMV

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