This post is part of a series ‘7 Things Artists Could Learn From Board Game Kickstarters‘ where I highlight some of the lessons artists and arts organisations could learn from the world of crowd-funded boardgames…
If you have been following the series so far, you should now have lots of great ideas about how to develop an exciting, engaging and successful arts project that uses Kickstarter as an integral part of its funding and distribution. You might be brimming with excitement at the thought of launching your own project and making amazing things happen, and I don’t want to put a dampener on any of that! Instead, this post covers some of the practical and logistical things you can do to counter the fact that many interested people won’t back your crowdfunding project.
Some people are never going to back things on Kickstarter
There are many reasons why some people will never back your project on Kickstarter. Although it has become far more mainstream, many people still haven’t got their head round how crowdfunding works (Kickstarter itself has only been around since 2009) and don’t necessarily feel comfortable using their payment details online. Some people will miss your project campaign or find out about it too late. Some people just won’t back things at their developmental stages, or give to online campaigns on principle.
There are, however, a number of things I would suggest to counter this.
Have an ‘exit strategy’ for your project
In his extremely detailed and useful series on how to run board game Kickstarter campaigns, Jamey Stegmaier writes:
There is one other hugely important detail you should know about the final hour, something I didn’t know until after my campaign ended: You can’t change your project page after the project is over.
Let that sink in for a minute. Your Kickstarter campaign runs for 20-40 days, during which time you can change the project page as much as you want. Then your Kickstarter project page will remain the same until the end of time.
Just like your original Kickstarter page is your first impression, your final Kickstarter page is your last impression. So put the really important stuff at the top of the page for people who discover the page in the months and years to come. The most important detail is where they can find you (and possibly your product if you’re giving it a life post-Kickstarter).
Jamey Stegmaier – Kickstarter Lesson #34: The Final Hour
Because Kickstarter’s SEO is really strong, the KS project page for your project may outrank your own web pages for the project when it goes live. This means that for many, it could be their first exposure to your project and you arts practice in general. For this reason, make sure that in the final hour of your campaign you have edited your KS project page so that it links through to an externally editable perma-page of some kind (ie on your own website).
- Set this page up in advance and maintain it during and after your crowdfunding campaign.
- It should link to other ways that people can support your project, pre-order (as appropriate), ‘buy’ different products you are offering and find out about what you are working on now.
- Offer documentation of the finished project (on completion), as people won’t always click on the ‘Updates’ tab on Kickstarter
Give your project a life after Kickstarter
When you are designing your project and rewards, decide which elements are ‘Kickstarter exclusive’ and which aren’t. Find ways to offer non-exclusive items or experiences to a wider audience who come to your project after the campaign itself has finished, or who may have been unable to back your project (eg educational establishments who can’t make speculative purchases like KS pledges). Make these clear to readers of your final/closing project page (see above) and think about them throughout the conception of the project.
Also, don’t forget about all those new friends you’ve made – make sure to keep in touch with backers and new online contacts you’ve made during the campaign. All of these people have showed and intense interest in your work and your project and really want to hear from you. Share work-in-progress via project updates, thank and congratulate your backers, and keep people involved in the project as it develops and comes to fruition. This advice stands whether on not your campaign was successful in hitting its funding target, which leads me neatly to my last point…
Everyday is a school day
By the end of your campaign, you will either (a) have successfully funded your new project or (b) not made it to your funding target – this is the risk you are taking by opening up your project to the crowd – and you will have done all of this in public, which can seem really daunting. In both of these cases, you will have learned a HUGE amount about promoting your ideas and your work, about approaching strangers and building new relationships and about what works (or doesn’t) on Kickstarter at this point in time. All of this knowledge is hugely valuable and it is really worth taking time to do a formal ‘debrief’ on how the campaign went to work out your own lessons learned. Who knows, you might even write them up as a blog post!!
I hope you’ve found this series of posts useful and I’d love to hear your feedback, either in the comments below or by tweeting me – I hope it has inspired you to think differently about crowdfunding in the arts and I really look forward to seeing future projects that take these points on board. When you launch something, be sure to let me know!
Are you an artist or arts organisation looking for some help in shaping a successful crowdfunding campaign? Get in touch to arrange an online Helpout! I also run workshops for students, arts practitioners and arts organisations in creative approaches to crowdfunding – contact me for more details.