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10 February 2012 @ 02:40 pm
On Running Crowdfunding: Boosting the Signal  
Okay, I lied. I said I thought probably figuring out the reward tiers is the hardest thing about crowdfunding, but then I thought about advertising it and that's much worse.

There are people who are really good at shameless self promotion, and getting themselves out there where everybody in the whole world knows about the projects they're working on. Despite No Dominion's success, I'm not actually one of those.

What I did learn doing it, though, is that either I have the most tolerant fans, readers, followers and friends on the earth, or the saturation point for reminders, endless discussion, and squeeing over a crowdfunded project is much, much higher than I would have imagined.

Although I clearly have amazing readers, I suspect there is a lot of truth to the second part of that statement.

Honestly, I don't know how to really truly spread the word. I don't know how to reach completely new audiences, people who might not have ever heard of you before. Using Kickstarter at all helps that, because there are people there who just check out new projects. But it doesn't help a *lot*: the pie chart I got after the campaign ended shows that 5% of the final dollar amount came from within Kickstarter. The other 95% came from without.

About 3/5ths of pledges came from my sites or people sharing my links on FB/Twitter/G+. Another 1/5th have no direct referral information. The other fifth came from within Kickstarter and from people independently boosting the signal in their journals, so those *do* make a difference. I just don't know how to capitalize on any of those things for future projects.

What I *do* know is that unmitigated enthusiasm is your friend. Now, it is true that it's easy to have unmitigated enthusiasm if the project explodes beyond your wildest dreams, as "No Dominion" did, but here are things that I did which may have helped:

- Start talking the project up before you launch it. Ideally several weeks before you launch it. Let your readers know that you're really excited about this thing. People get excited about what you're excited about. It's a feedback loop. Use it.

- Hold your breath, squee, squeak, peek between your hands, gasp in astonishment, wonder if a magic number can be reached in a magic time in public. It doesn't matter if you're sitting there in your computer chair squirming with embarrassment about it. This is the Internet. Nobody knows you're a dog, as it were. What people *see* is your blog/Twitter/FB/whatever going OMG HOLY CRAP, not you sitting there hiding your face behind one hand while you type OMG HOLY CRAP. They get excited because you are. It's a feedback loop. Use it.

- I didn't actually do this on purpose, but offer a reward idea to encourage people to go charging for a finish line. "No Dominion" cracked its goal in the first 24 hours, which I utterly did not expect. Somewhere around hour 18 I said "Holy shit if we do this in the first 24 hours I will write an extra story for everybody!" Be prepared to have something like that waiting. It doesn't matter if you're aiming for full funding, 25%, 50%, whatever, in X time. Give people a shiny sparkly reason to fling themselves in headfirst RIGHT NOW. They get excited because you are. It's a--you get the idea. :)

- Do not be embarrassed to ask people to boost the signal. Some of them will. Some of them won't. But go ahead and ask.


I am *more* than happy to take other suggestions about how to boost the signal, and will post a follow-up to this if there are ideas suggested!
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on February 10th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
I, for one, think you have handled this perfectly, with the right balance of professionalism, promotion, engagement and information.
jamileigh17: Cookiejamileigh17 on February 10th, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
I think the excitement was what got me to participate. Having frequent, excited mentions of it helped, because even if I forgot about the open kickstarter tab after first checking it out, it would have reminded me to poke at it again. (I'd never actually backed anything on kickstarter prior to yours, and now I'm hooked. I love seeing what inventive things people are doing on there!)
The owner of a grey cat: book sarahjennielf on February 10th, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
I think the biggest reason why you got funded in the first 24 hours is the whole you were way excited before kicking it off and were mentioning it for *ages* here and on twitter. Yes, getting excited before it is even launched is very contagious. :)

*edited to make sense*

Edited at 2012-02-10 04:04 pm (UTC)
dancinghorsedancinghorse on February 10th, 2012 04:38 pm (UTC)
Promo is the hardest part for me. I tend to go all New England and reserved.

Clearly this is not the way to do it.

So people don't get frustrated if you keep mentioning a project that's not available yet? They do this with ebooks, so one learns to not mention them until they can be ordered.
Mary Annepers1stence on February 10th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
A friend was intrigued by the notion of a Kickstarter campaign, but the biggest obstacle I saw for her, which is really not a problem for you, is that she is pretty much an unknown. Having name recognition and having an established series that is already popular, I suspect, is also a large part of the insane success here. I would've taken a leap of faith on you as an unknown, because I have known you for eons, but would not likely take one on an unknown author.
Cynssha on February 11th, 2012 09:03 am (UTC)
What if that unknown author were touted (for free) by one you already respect and admire? Because I'm thinking that a HUGE part of this was word of mouth from fellow authors to their fans, and encouragements to same from same to go check them out. I have no direct evidence that this is the case, but my correlary evidence lies in what I've seen happen around other, similar situations amongst my writerly friends (of which I have several, a percentage of whom have actually been published/have contracts for same).
Geek of Weird Shit: fireygows on February 10th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
If you are unsure if you are oversaturating your audience with the "All Kickstarter, All The Time" channel, ask. Ask them, ask a friend, ask a neutral party, etc.

I recently read a piece of marketing advice that went something like, think of someone in your line of business (or not) who you respect or admire, who is a bit further down the success road than you. Think about the self-promotion things that make you uncomfortable (emailing old clients, running a promo, shilling oneself on Kickstarter, etc.), and ask yourself if that person you admire would be afraid to do those things, or if they'd just get off the pot and do them. (Generally, they'd be doing them--and if they're afraid, they're probably pretty damn good at hiding it!)

So, stop worrying, and just go for it. :)
Cynssha on February 11th, 2012 09:08 am (UTC)
There is a similar issue related to working with not-for-profits. I am on boards and/or actively volunteer for several; some of them quite well known, others not so much.

It can be really intimidating to approach active fundraising. The biggest cushion I've found is, as I mentioned in my previous comment, networking amongst those who you already know support your effort; i.e. friends/board members/those already connected to and invested in your particular cause. Your fans are also your biggest advocates/marketing tools, in my experience--especially if they, in turn, have fans they can pass the excitement on to.
Geek of Weird Shit: weldinggows on February 13th, 2012 05:31 am (UTC)
Indeed! I've recently become too busy to keep up with my volunteer work, but before that, I sat on the BoD of a couple of different non-profits. I ended up going to a fundraising workshop for one of them, and the gal teaching it had a little four-bullet-point slip that she handed out for us to keep in our wallets, if needed.

They were:
- All I have to do is ask
- The more people I ask, the more successful I am.
- I'm okay with "no."
- My faith [that what I'm doing is good and worthy] is stronger than my fear.
Cynssha on February 13th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
Those are very good reminders to keep around.

I find that it is especially difficult, for me, when I'm asking on behalf of something I care about, as opposed to something I don't. I think this is mostly because I don't get the same sense of frustration/failure/general let-down in cases where I'm not emotionally invested in the outcome.
Geek of Weird Shit: weldinggows on February 13th, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
*nod* I can understand that. It's the other way around for me, though--the passion and excitement bleed through.

If I don't care about it, it's much more difficult to make the sale. That's why I was so terrible at selling Girl Scout Cookies or doing any other fundraisers when I was a kid--I really didn't give a damn about any of them.
ruford42 on February 11th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering how No Dominion stacks up to your other crowd funded projects from outside Kick Starter. I know that my wife and I
enjoy the enthusiasm that generally shows up while you cackle at
the keyboard over various projects, and this time it was only more
exciting because of that feedback loop of being able to track how
excited other readers were by the comments and pledges...It didn't
work that we've all been crying out for More Gary since book one
either :)

Geek of Weird Shit: statlerwaldorfgows on February 13th, 2012 05:32 am (UTC)
There are people who are really good at shameless self promotion, and getting themselves out there where everybody in the whole world knows about the projects they're working on. Despite No Dominion's success, I'm not actually one of those.

So, what you're really saying is, everyone who runs a KS campaign should have a gows in their corner. *wink*
kitmizkit on February 13th, 2012 08:09 am (UTC)
Geek of Weird Shit: statlerwaldorfgows on February 13th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Hee! <3 <3 <3