6 Tips For Running A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

We’ve all seen them before. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns with lofty goals, and at times even loftier incomes that make it look so easy. It’s not as easy as just putting up a listing and watching money pour in however. I’ve personally run a successful campaign before and this week we’re discussing some tips on how you can put your best into a campaign. Honestly, it’s stressful and a lot of work unless you get really lucky, so you do want to consider if you’re up for it before launching a campaign.

6. Don’t Panic

The easiest thing you can do when making a campaign is considering how much you need to make, setting a length for your campaign, and then becoming worried when you see that needed daily average isn’t coming in. Campaigns are not daily job. Things come in waves usually and of course there’s usually a lot of panic and buzz as you get near the end. Don’t forget, your supporters are going to want to see you succeed too and when the final days are ticking down, they’re going to do all they can to get attention for your campaign. Don’t get caught up in the worry that you don’t have many donations early on. People love a dramatic finish. My campaign didn’t succeed until the very last hour!

5. Update, update, update!

Both IndieGoGo and Kickstarter allow you to add updates to your campaign. That isn’t changing the main part of your campaign itself, it’s actually adding content to a separate update section. This is where most of your time will go. Especially with art projects, you’ll want to get these teasers on the go and encourage your readers to check them out. After all, it’s new free artwork from you! It’s similar to incentive art here on Top Web Comics. Updates are a great way to get your audience more excited about your project and show everyone that you’re not just posting up your campaign to cash in if you get lucky, you’re showing dedication.

4. Make good tier rewards, but don’t go overboard.

Remember, you want donations to fund a project. If you give away $20 plush toys of your characters for a $5 donation, you’re losing money. You want to keep things balanced but you do very much want rewards to encourage donations. One of the easiest things as an artist is to offer digital copies of even previous works, or pre-orders of the product you’re wanting to produce. Just remember, make sure the money involved is worth the time or money it will take you to make the reward. If it takes you an hour to draw a commission, it may not be worthwhile to give them out for $5 each. Worst off, if your campaign is successful, a mountain of 300 commissions could become a complete nightmare, and even worse, keep you from producing the product you ran the campaign for in the first place.

What I did was offered a poster at the lowest level. Contributors would write in and give a description of themselves. I’d add them in as characters on the poster and everyone received the same image. Nice, simple, and even if lots of people did go for that reward, it was still just one image. Consider a bunch of goodies. Maybe even avatar packs and desktop backgrounds. Anything themed to your project that is easy for you to produce, but is something different.

You’ll want rewards especially if you have high goals. It happens, but you can’t expect people to give large amounts just out of the kindness of their hearts. Offer guest appearances of a new character based on the contributor. Naturally you’ll want to be careful with offering rewards for original characters. While this is an awesome prize many may love, you need to cover yourself and be sure they aren’t copyrighted characters. Yes, there are a lot of creative people out there, but for your legal rights you don’t want to accidentally include a licensed character that you just didn’t recognize.

3. Pick a reasonable goal.

While it is tempting to ask for a fortune, especially after seeing so many successful campaigns, be sure to budget your project and keep things realistic. See your project from a contributors point of view. They will be scrutinizing your costs and what you hope to gain through your campaign. After all, you would too wouldn’t you? Be realistic and make sure you pay yourself for your time, pay for your materials, and for production costs. Then consider the percentage the crowdfunding site will take and any potential additional costs. If you get any questions or doubts about your costs, be honest and explain what your project takes to produce.

2. Stretch goals can keep interest coming.

When you reach your goal, odds are everyone will throw confetti and leave. You’ll have ghost town of a crowdfunding campaign and lots of eager contributors. That’s where stretch goals come in. These are additions you can include in your project if you reach certain amounts over your original goal. There’s no harm in adding these, and if they’re good you’ll have fans wanting to push for them even harder. They’ll be excited that the project is a go, but more things could be added to their confirmed project if the campaign could just get more funds! For me, I barely made it over the finish line to start with, but if my campaign wrapped up days earlier, then I would have added stretch goals to keep interest coming. Naturally, pre-orders help with this too. The project is a go, so others may join in knowing it is now secure that they won’t just be refunded. Which brings us to our last topic.

1. Fixed or Flexable Funding?

I’m sadly unfamiliar if KickStarter has this option, but I do imagine it’s quite standard. You can actually choose to run a campaign that needs to meet a fixed goal, or a campaign which is flexable that allows you to keep all funds when it’s over. First off, not everyone knows what a crowdfunding campaign is yet. It seems hard to believe, but it is a very good idea to mention to your fans that if a fixed goal campaign doesn’t succeed, they do get their money back. Fans can fear that they’re just throwing their money into a void, and could lose out if the campaign isn’t successful. You’ll want to reassure them of this. After all, you need as many donations as you can get. The last thing you need is to lose out because some of your fans are unfamiliar with the process.

So when should you run a flexable campaign? When the money is an addition to what you’re producing and doesn’t really rely on it. At least with these sorts of artistic projects. Imagine what a nightmare it would be if you told your fans you’d draw a 500 page comic and one person donates $5 and because of flexable funding, it succeeds. You’d then be obligated to produce that whole book, for one person. Sure you could try to refund them, but it’s much easier to just be realistic at the start. Consider flexable funding for projects you are completing anyway. Naturally you don’t want to flood your fans with campaigns. They can get stressed out too and really, a campaign is a high stress endeavour. Don’t forget too, you need to pay a certain percent of your donations for hosting on a crowdfunding site. If you’re just taking pre-orders, you can make a Paypal button for that.

Naturally, even with all of the advice above, a campaign can still fail. That doesn’t mean there isn’t interest there, nor that you did something wrong. Many factors can play into what happens with a campaign and you shouldn’t take it to heart. It doesn’t mean you have to give up either. Maybe take some time and try a campaign again at a later date. A failed campaign doesn’t mean the project is over, it just means your current attempt didn’t work out.

Have any questions or ideas for future crowdfunding articles? Let me know! I’ll be more than happy to elaborate and give the best advice I can. Don’t forget, you can comment by logging into your Top Web Comics login on the front page of the site, and then coming back here when you’re logged in to post.


6 Comments

  1. DemonDan March 28, 2014 5:35 pm 

    Interesting thoughts, Les. We’re actually considering a print run of the first 3 chapters in a single volume. We’ve had some discussion about waiting until we can fund it ourselves if needs be to ensure success. What do you think of that?

    Also, I don’t think Kickstarter has flexible funding, but I’m pretty sure Indiegogo does.

    • Les Major March 30, 2014 7:56 pm 

      There’s no harm in trying out crowdfunding. After all, even if it doesn’t succeed you can still print the books and sell them on your site when you are able to raise the funds yourself. If you are planning to print them anyway, you could even try for a flexable funding campaign to offer pre-orders. It all depends if you want to cover your costs beforehand.

  2. DemonArchives March 28, 2014 7:13 pm 

    I’d say one thing… a buddy and I did a review of successful KickStarters and IndieGogo’s… and honestly a lot of the ones that did get funding but “shouldn’t have” (cuz they were crap etc) had one thing in common…

    Professional quality video…

    Have to spend money to make money.

    • Les Major March 30, 2014 8:33 pm 

      Fair enough too. Definitely that kind of presentation is good. I’m kind of a fan of including the people involved in the video myself. Kinda gives it that human touch.

      • DemonArchives April 1, 2014 4:03 pm 

        Oh, I’d completely agree that the founders and such should be in the video… just a note that for some reason good videos make or break a ton of KickStarters

  3. DemonArchives April 3, 2014 9:24 pm 

    Oh, one other thing that I don’t think was mentioned, but that should probably be… is to have something that is worth asking money for. Looking through Kickstarter I’m surprised by the stuff on there… have some pride in your craft and offer a return on the $, not just a “help me out pls…”

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