Sunday, December 31, 2017

Promoting your crowdfunding campaigns on your own

Today I want to go over a few things about promoting your crowdfunding campaigns.

From what I've researched and what I've experienced to date, I have some points I would like to go over that I think can really help you with your crowdfunding efforts.  For reference, I'm going to be referring to KickStarter (where I've ran three campaigns to date, with two funding successfully). To my thinking, these points are perfectly valid for other platforms.

What everyone seems to agree upon:

When you research crowdfunding and "how to" points on the subject, you'll encounter a lot of suggestions on the following points.  These are things I've found to be valid processes in expanding upon your audience, and garnering more support.

1)  Begin your promotions weeks ahead of time.  This really cannot be understated. You want to build up awareness and create an anticipation of your new project.   We'll go more into the "how to" later in this article.   To put the importance of this into perspective, I'll remind you that my first Kickstarter campaign (for Tale of the Wizard's Eye), was only lightly promoted.  People saw it on this blog, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for a few days prior to launch.  With a funding goal of $600 it took TotWE three weeks to reach its funding goal.  When I launched my second KickStarter campaign (for Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow) I was promoting it for weeks in advance.  TDoG reached its funding goal in three (3) days.  

2)  Get other people involved in your promotion efforts.  For this article I'm going to focus on free or low cost promotional efforts, so I'll forgo any use of marketing services.  What I am advising is that you use every resource you have to spread the word.  For social media, I recommend that you prepare a list of those collaborators, friends and family who have agreed to help you out.  Provide these wonderful people with the links to the campaign and any other relevant content (pod casts about the project, online articles/blogs about the project, etc).  Make certain they each understand you want them to post about it often (work it out with them as to frequency), and be grateful for their help.  Seriously, they are doing an amazing favor for you.

3) Prepare your lead in promotions thoughtfully.  Utilize images of your product/project, incorporate information about it, bring in testimonials of people who have used your product, and make it sincere.  Sincerity is important.  Be genuine and honest. There is no need to, nor should you, exaggerate your project.  Use clear, best quality images, for each promotion blurb.  You should also check each link to make certain it functions correctly and routes to the correct page.  Watch through all of your video, check spelling, and have another person double check your work. In other words, be thorough folks.

4)  Low cost advertising on social media.  I have an admittedly limited experience with this.  I have utilized targeted Facebook advertising and post boosts.  I recommend that anyone who is to utilize social media advertising, do their research (extensively) and plan out within their budget.  This avenue is strongly recommended in the literature you will encounter.  Other people swear by it, but at this time I cannot.  I've had some limited success spending as much as $30 to boost posts on Facebook.  I say limited because I had only a handful of backers as a result of such a post.  You may do better than I with a more carefully executed effort.  

5) Prepare a press release and send it out to bloggers, pod casters, newspapers, magazines and associations with an interest in the subject of your project.  So for comic books, send out a press release to the admins for Facebook groups for comic book fans, to Twitter personalities who show interest in your genre, post examples of your product on Instagram (place the link to your campaign on the posts and in your biography), send the press release to bloggers, pod casters, news entities, comic book shops.  With comic shops, ask these guys if you can put a poster/flyer in their place and they'll often agree... but ask nicely, they're doing you a favor if they agree... and do something nice for them, like bringing them a signed copy or setting up a book signing event.  You can do a lot of mutually beneficial promotion that way with all parties and your comic book fan base all reaping the benefit from a bit of cooperation.  

6) Public appearances:  This is something that not many resources I've seen go over but something I've had a lot of success with.  Go places, meet people, and tell them about what you are doing.  I'm talking about setting up at events at shops or conventions that support your product type.  So, keeping with comic books as an example, at comic book stores and conventions.  Talk to people about the subject at hand, about the industry or art form, and leave about 20% of the conversation for your own self-promotion.  Personally, I recommend closing with your own promotion.  Give folks the value of your expertise/knowledge in the field, build a rapport, be social, and have fun.  Having fun is important.  You want to have a good time yourself, and if people have fun with your event they are more likely to support your cause.  So don't take yourself too seriously.  Enjoy the company of people with similar interests as yourself.  

How you promote it is up to you:  

I touched on "what" to do above, now lets talk about the "how".

1) I would recommend at least three weeks of lead time before launching your promotions for your crowdfunding campaigns.  Longer running efforts afford you the opportunity to reach more people, but you must be able to hold their attention.  To this end, use your promotional campaign to reach/retain potential backers by implementing a "remind me" feature link to your campaigns.

On your blog entries, on your social media posts, and on your pod cast episodes you place a feature to allow people to sign up for email notification.  Make this a transparent to people.  Let them know you'll email a reminder to them upon launch (of course you'll need to remember to do that, so put it on your calendar).  Build an email list of those people who have consented to receive those notifications, and assemble it well in advance of the release (updating as more emails come in).  In your email, be certain to include a link directly to your crowdfunding campaign.  Be courteous, professional, and genuine.  (NOTE:  make sure you blind copy the  email list when it goes out... I have accidentally only CC'd my list before which was horrifically embarrassing... don't do that).

2)  Your social media promotions should be informative, exciting, accurate, and contain links to things like a YouTube video for your coming campaign. (Example: )
You'll want people to be able to see and hear what all the excitement is about.  Do yourself and your future backers a favor, and keep your promo videos at or under two minutes.  Once your campaign is live and running, add a link to the campaign so people can move directly and easily to support your efforts.

For those people who are helping you out, give them information such as you would include in your press release.  What is the URL for the crowdfunding campaign?  What backer rewards/perks are available? When does the campaign start?  Are you doing a launch part, and if so when/where/how?  Include a graphic, link to your promotional video, and/or link to the campaign (once launched).  Make it easy for people to get to your campaign and support it.

3) Social media advertising:  I would like to recommend that you very carefully analyze the population you can expect to reach.  Make a realistic, or pessimistic estimate as to how likely people are to click through and support your campaign, then compare the amount of net funding you gain after the costs of such advertising.  Will you have a net gain at least equal to the amount you laid out for the advertising (in other words are you going to make twice your money back)?  If so then I would say its worth the effort.  If your numbers tell you that you might or are unlikely to have such a gain, then I would recommend against it.  If you are like me and don't know much about the social media advertising dynamics, consult a professional or someone with experience in using it before you  execute your marketing campaign.


That's the promotional concept, in brief, for you to consider.  As you develop your crowdfunding campaign, please carefully consider all facets of its finance, fulfillment, and promotion.  The idea is to bring your idea to life with the help of the funds from the public.  Be honest in all your dealings, me realistic in what you can achieve, own up to any problems you encounter, and be successful.  

Please remember from my prior blog posts that you are growing an audience.  Your backers aren't your personal money machine, they are the people you are creating for.  Treat them with the respect they deserve.

Thank you for joining me again on this great adventure into self-publishing.  As always, I welcome your comments below.

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