Happy 2013! After a few days off the grid, I thought it was about time that I share my wrap-up on the HERE NOW Kickstarter campaign.
First and foremost, THANK YOU to everyone who pledged, spread the word, tweeted, or had even one positive thought about my project. YOU made this successful, and I am so grateful and honored to be working on this album of new music for you!
Second, this is a VERY, VERY long blog. There, I warned you.
Average pledge: $66.83
Total pledged: $3,876
% of goal: 129%
THANK YOU SO SO SO MUCH!!!
How I Prepared: The Video
…was very important! And, it was a lot more work than I expected to keep it simple and relatively short (about 2 ½ minutes). I spent lots of time (as did other people who I asked for feedback) creating the video concept and script. And then, during the test shooting, we realized that my whiteboard prop was messing up the lighting. Instead, my husband made a chalkboard out of particle board, paint, and wood scraps. Same idea, easier on the lighting, and…a whole lot of chalk dust. I’m lucky that he’s also a budding filmmaker and helped me to keep video production costs down to props and supplies.
How I Prepared: The Story and The Rewards
Study, study, study. I’m a school junkie, a book nerd, and I love data and numbers. I researched other Kickstarter projects, especially those by musicians who are in my circle of friends (i.e. local musicians with a similarly-sized fan base and reach as me), as well as singer-songwriters I admire or who inspire me musically. I read their stories, looked at their goals, read all their rewards, watched their videos, and gave to campaigns to get a sense of both sides of the process, and took note of how successful people were communicating with their backers.
I also read up on fundraising in other areas. One organization that’s stood out to me is charity:water, which raises money to build wells for clean water across Africa. I learned of charity:water when I heard its founder Scott Harrison speak at the World Domination Summit (WDS) last summer. Not only was the talk inspiring, but one of their fundraising methods is pretty brilliant too: encourage people to “give up their birthdays” and request friends and family to donate to a fundraising campaign instead. Lots of the WDS attendees committed to do this (look for mine in the early spring!). One particular campaign I heard about since then was Sarah Peck’s – she set a goal of raising $29,000 for her 29th birthday, and promised to swim naked across the San Francisco Bay when she reached the goal. She reached her goal, did the swim, and wrote about her experience making this a successful fundraiser.
Inspiring stuff. Lessons I took from Sarah:
Craft the story.
For me, the songs I’ve written also help tell this story. I am transforming. It’s exciting. I want others to be excited about transformation too. We all have a voice. We want to find that voice. We have to face choices. We want to belong. We want to be Here Now.
Talk about it.
Posted on Facebook, made images to share on FB and Twitter, talked about it everywhere I went, emails to my list, and on and on.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Fear is a passion killer. My whole transformation and a big part of my story is about NOT BEING AFRAID anymore. Better walk the walk.
Talk about it some more.
Someone may have missed it. Or forgotten about it. Or planned to do it later.
The worst someone can say is no. Some people will. It will happen. Get over it. There are others who will say yes. So ask. That’s how you build momentum.
Some people want to help in ways beyond contributing funds. What might they want to do? Tell their friends about you? Encourage others to check out your (insert project here)? Tweet your project? Share your link on Facebook?
Believe in yourself.
I worked hard to get over the awkwardness of asking. After all…this is my art. This is my non-negotiable, super-important passion. If I’m not behind it, how would anyone else be?
It’s **all** good. Whether someone backs the campaign or not. I firmly believe that. Kickstarter isn’t for everyone. I embrace this. There’s a lot of love inside and outside of my Kickstarter campaign.
I hope it never gets old. I’ve heard it doesn’t. It’s overwhelming how much gratitude I feel for my campaign backers.
What Went Well
I did a good job of setting a realistic goal. I had to think about how many people **I ALREADY KNOW** that might contribute to my campaign, multiply that by x dollars (the average I thought they’d pledge). Looking through my friends’ campaigns, I noticed that their average was around $50-$60 per backer. I figured between my Facebook network and my email list, I should know about 50 people who would contribute.
My Funding Progress Chart:
— We had a terrific first week, getting all the way to 78% to goal.
— We hit 100%+ of the funding goal early – on November 9, day 18 of the 30-day campaign.
— On the last day, another 13% over and above the funding goal came through.
Facebook ended up being the biggest referral source. More than half the pledges, and just under 35% of the pledge dollars came from Facebook. Thanking backers on Facebook during the campaign presented an opportunity to re-share my project. Then, others shared it too, which brought in a couple of backers who wouldn’t have known about my campaign otherwise. It’s very cool when social media works.
What I’d Change
I’d work more on spreading the word about my campaign outside of my already-known network. I could have written press releases in advance, for example, and tried to find an interesting angle about my project that would catch some outside attention. But I wouldn’t use that in setting the goal higher – because going viral just isn’t something you can count on.
I’d be more active on Twitter, and create pre-formatted sharable Tweets to give to people to make it easier to share there.
I’d make a more active effort to find peace along the way. I get anxious – I stress the small stuff. (Oh no, a whole 24 hours with no backers! Tick…tock…tick…Is the project doomed?) There wasn’t time to get super-crazy, which was good! Having data to fall back on – comparing my project to averages and graphs charting a typical funding curve – was helpful in keeping the crazy at bay. All the same, I’d prefer fewer sleepless nights, and more in the moment belief that “everything is going to work out exactly the way it needs to” in my inner mentality. I’m working on that. It’s part of my story. 😉
On the other hand, what if…just maybe…it would be best to look at this project and consider: I did it just right for my place in time.
Be Ready. It Will Take Over Your Life.
I was single-minded in focusing on my Kickstarter campaign. As it turned out, I launched it the day after my 1st recording session, and my next session wasn’t scheduled until after the campaign was complete. This was a total coincidence. And aside from a 1:30AM guerrilla showcase at NERFA, I didn’t have solo gigs to promote during the campaign either. I’m glad and lucky it turned out that way.
I believe the research on choice that suggests too many choices leads to inaction. It was so helpful NOT to have to split my attention between promoting my campaign and promoting gigs. I know for those musicians working by gigging full time (without another income) this wouldn’t be an option – so I’m grateful that I was able to make this work.
The last two days of my campaign happened to be Thanksgiving and the day after – and I didn’t have to work at my day job. This was immeasurably useful as I was doing a big final push on that last day.
It became a healthy obsession. My 30-day campaign was the perfect length. I don’t think I could have sustained that level of attention and energy for more than that. 2 months? Forget it…Because it completely took over my life. If you’re doing it right, that’s what will happen. You’ll have to work really hard to keep your head out of the crazy place to be present for your kids (if you’ve got ’em), your spouse (my understanding husband can attest to this), your friends, and even your art. But it will be worth it – because it will help you to be successful.
To Sum Up
Transparency helps, if you’ve got good art and a good story. My intention was (and still is) to be up front, earnest, and honest and forthcoming about why I’m so passionate about making my music. So I:
— Posted about the project, very, very often, to my Facebook profile and page – daily or more, whenever new backers came on board.
— Emailed my mailing list about a at the beginning, middle, and end to gently yet passionately remind them about the campaign.
— Wrote blogs explaining my numbers, the progress, and why it was so important to me to be successful in the campaign. I tried to make the headlines catchy and timely (the idea that “numbers are sexy” became very popular right around Election Day).
— A successful funding campaign – 129% funded!
— A wonderful community of supporters to whom I’ll always be grateful and hope to treat amazingly well over the coming years of my music career.
— A sense that I have to seriously “bring it” for my supporters and fans, more now than ever.
— Increased confidence in my ability to promote my music effectively.
— Insight that I need to keep improving my ability to find peace in the journey.
Here’s to your inspiration and passion. Here Now.