Category: Kickstarter for Artists

My First Kickstarter – Part 3 – What I Learned

So my first ever Kickstarter has ended and I regret to say that it did not meet its goal!  I am not completely crushed, however, as this has been an  experiment from the beginning.  I knew it might fail due to my own inexperience with hosting this kind of campaign.  I’m writing my thoughts here so that I (and you) can learn from my mistakes and triumphs.

“As the Lady of January, I must protest this treatment!”

What Promotion was Effective (or Not)?

To see a full list of the places where I promoted my Kickstarter, see Part 1.

– The Art Nouveau Tumblr blogs I submitted my promo posts to took about 2 weeks to process submissions.

– The Facebook Groups and Pages I submitted to never replied.

– The DeviantART Groups I posted to, especially artnouveau, were very supportive and enthusiastic! I had a few pledges directly from dA due to spreading the word there.  It’s also a community I’ve been on for 10+ years, which probably plays a factor.

–  Reddit, despite everyone’s insistence that it is vital, was useless for me.  I got a couple of upvotes, but I suspect Reddit is only effective if you have a particular fandom that would be interested in your topic. Alas, none of the several subreddits I posted to provided a single clickthru of support according to my statistics panel.  Perhaps I just didn’t find the right subreddit with the right people?

–  Paid Facebook ads ($40 worth, to be exact) seemed to be somewhat effective.  I got plenty of shares and Likes and a few pledges via Facebook, according to KS’s stats.  I promoted both a video post and a text post.

–  Paid Twitter ads (or promoted Tweets) got plenty of Favorites, but resulted in no direct pledges.  I have to wonder if people bookmarked the project page and came back later, which made them come up as direct traffic instead?  Either way, I had $100 free credit on Twitter for trying out their Ad area for the first time, so it was a great risk free promotion.

– During my campaign, Kickstarter launched a whole new way for projects to be found via their ‘Discover’ panel, which now includes clickable sub-categories for their main categories, which make it easier to narrow the focus of the projects that pop up for random discovery viewers.

The Bottom Line:  Out of all of the sites I promoted my Kickstarter at, my top three referrers which resulted directly in pledges were direct traffic via Kickstarter’s site (especially after the debut of the new discovery panel), DeviantART, and Facebook.

Disclaimer:  My results may not reflect your results, especially if we have unrelated projects.  Best to test them out for yourself and see where your target audience exists on the net!

Toughest Challenges

Losing sleep – I spent a lot of time at night trying to think of the exact perfect way I could say the right thing to encourage people to invest in my project.  I kept thinking up endless tasks for myself to do.  Not a recipe for good sleep!

Obsessively checking email – Even though I promised myself I would not become obsessed with this, I could not help but clicking refresh to see when Pledges came in.  With such a short timeline, every day is vital and might bring new pledges!  This is a dangerous activity for our egos, especially when a campaign fails.

Fear of not promoting enough or too much – Was I spamming people?  Was I not asking people to do enough?  Was I not clear about what my project was trying to do?  All of these thoughts kept bouncing around in my head every day and night, also not conducive to sleep.

Why Did My Campaign Fail?

And now the tough question!  Why did my campaign fail, anyways?  I got some great feedback from a person who was kind enough to come forward and tell me why they did not back my project as well as fellow artists who have ran their own campaigns in the past, which made me come to some important revelations.

Confusing Expectations – Most potential Backers thought they were getting the entire series at once or they wanted to get the whole series at once, instead of waiting.  What they did not understand is that by backing this Lady, they actually help to fund the next Lady in the series.

If I were to just finish all of the paintings first without breaking them up into a series, I wouldn’t actually be able to put any of the funding received along the way to a good use (IE. helping me to hire models, acquire new art supplies, etc) and therefore being able to improve the next Lady in the series.  I was not clear enough with my project Story and videos with how vital backers would be in influencing the creative output of this series and thus helping these paintings to meet their full potential.

Lack of Variety/Demand – The downside of only having one Lady in the series so far is that it is highly reliant on those with a connection to January.  January isn’t a popular birthday, as far as I can tell, meaning there were less Backers interested in picking this one up.  Now October?  I have a feeling she’s going to have an easier time meeting her goal!  (October has been the number 1 requested Lady so far!)  By the time I get to the later Ladies, the previous Ladies will be included as part of the Rewards, which will add to the demand for that Lady.

EDIT: I have since moved the Ladies of the Months project to Patreon where it’s currently gaining traction!

What Would I Do Differently Next Time?

I definitely want to try Kickstarter again and I plan to continue the Ladies of the Months Kickstarter series. However, I will definitely be going about things quite differently after this first experience.

–  Plan a strict time table BEFORE I start.
I had a loose time table in my head, but so many delays came up, particularly with the video editing, that I stressed myself out more than I should have trying to get things posted within the relatively small window I had to promote in.  Next time, I hope to have all of my sample Rewards and videos created and ready to post before the campaign even begins.

– Target my promoters ahead of time.
I’m going to make a list of places to promote my Kickstarter ahead of time so I’m not scrounging during the final days stressing myself out and desperately trying to find the right outlets who will respond to me.  I hope to approach promoters first and give them some lead time for working in an article about my Kickstarter into their schedules first so they won’t run into the problem of my campaign being over before they even have a free slot.

– Build a bigger fanbase first?
I’m torn on this one. Many people offering advice about this campaign stated you don’t need a fan base before running a Kickstarter, but the people I have seen succeeding the most on Kickstarter already have a collector base they have built or have worked with well-known IPs.  I have a small fanbase, but it’s not nearly as big as I would like nor does it seem big enough at the moment to support a Kickstarter for people who might pitch in on a whim.  Should I wait till I have built more of a collector base for a particular brand of art before starting another Kickstarter in this series?

By the same token, I’ve had many people notice Lady of January (and my Ladies of the Months series) thanks to the Kickstarter and just simply having the paintings out there at conventions and online has grown interest in them.  Most of my mailing list sign-ups at this past DragonCon were thanks to people wanting to know when their Lady’s month comes up.  Does this mean that though January failed, my audience has grown just enough to make chances of the future Ladies’ success bigger?  I’m still pondering on this one!

– Have a clearer creative journey.
I really believe focusing on how awesome Art Nouveau is and the physical rewards over the creative journey hurt my chances for success.  I intend to focus on how this series is actually helping me maximize the potential of these paintings beyond my current capabilities the next time.

I hope documenting my process has helped someone else out there.  I know it has helped me!  I look forward to presenting the Lady of February’s Kickstarter in the coming months armed with new knowledge and enthusiasm.

Thanks to all who pitched in and gave words of encouragement!  If anything, running a Kickstarter gave me real, tangible evidence of all the amazing folks out there who are wishing me well and sending their support.  You guys are fabulous!

Till the next time!  I cheer to your own Kickstarter’s success!

You can read the other parts in this series here:
My First Kickstarter – Part 1 – Concept, Preparation, and Promotion
My First Kickstarter – Part 2 – During the Campaign

My First Kickstarter – Part 2 – During the Campaign

Well here we are a little past the halfway point for my recent Kickstarter project!  My Kickstarter has had a slow start at only 6 Backers and 13% funding with 10 days left trending towards 45% by the end according to Kicktraq, but I also know from reading about other projects that the last week of a campaign is usually the most crucial with the most pledges taking place.  I haven’t given up yet!

While the campaign has been running, I’ve been trying to find ways to continue to get the word out without hounding my fans.  This has been a really difficult balancing act of creating relevant posts without being repetitive.

Project Updates as a Promotional Tool

Each time I have shared something interesting via the Project Updates section, such as the release of the exclusive Sketch Diary for Backers and Patreon Patrons, I share this info through my promotion channels (social media, art communties, etc.) since it represents a relevant creative update to the project, rather than just another HEY LOOKIT MAH KICKSTARTER AND THROW MONEY AT IT!

Relevancy is the key word here.  If you become too repetitive about your Kickstarter, you’re going to sound like an annoying spammy desperate beggar, and that’s not a very positive thing to be seen as. Another advantage of utilizing the Updates section of your project is the fact this also makes your project visible in the ‘recently updated’ section of Kickstarter.

Relevant Creative Updates

Here are some of the project updates I’ve utilized (or am planning to utilize):

–  A Backers Only Preview.  I timed this to drop a week early for my KS Backers and Patreon Patrons, but I didn’t plan ahead and I had to rush the video to get it out on time so that the week early lead-in didn’t place the public release of the video after the deadline for my project.  The public release will also coincide with the 15th of the month, which is payday for most people.  I’m hoping that theoretically this means more people will be able to pitch in, thanks to that paycheck!

Promo Tip – an ‘ad’ is included for my Kickstarter 
at the end of the tutorial.

The 2nd part of January’s tutorial video will drop a week after the first, where I hope the fresh attention of the video’s posting will draw those last few Backers that I need to meet my goal.  I’m still in the midst of processing the 2nd video, which is taking way longer than expected.  Lesson learned – start video editing early!

–  Extra Rewards.   Not sure if this was a good idea or not, but to keep my project updates fresh, I also released three more ink drawing bundles as rewards later on.  I did this because after seeing the slow start my campaign had, I thought that providing more options would encourage more backers.  I think next time I would include these Rewards from the beginning, instead.

A montage of the extra Rewards I added during the campaign.

–  Rewards Video.  Rather than simply type a wall of text for people to read, I plan to do a video showing a preview of some of the Rewards for this video so future and current Backers will have a tangible representation they can view and also to connect once again with them ‘face to face’.  I plan for this video to drop during the 2nd half of the campaign.  I would rather have shared this Rewards video earlier, but the production of the sample rewards took longer than anticipated.  Lesson learned – have a sample product/reward made before you start your campaign!

Fun Art.  I won’t spoil this one, but there’s a fun idea I came up with involving the Ladies that I’ll be sharing in the Project Updates too.  It’s not really an ‘important’ update, but it is one that I think helps get across my sense of humor and provides ever-more personal connection with the people who have chosen to help with this project.  This fun art update will be coming in the final week.

Admittedly, I only had a general update schedule in mind instead of a very tightly planned out one before I began.  I’m beginning to think I didn’t plan enough relevant updates to keep my project on people’s radar, or perhaps my Rewards aren’t enticing enough?  Perhaps I simply don’t have the reach yet to really support doing a Kickstarter project?

I’m eager to look at all the information after this project has finished and discover where I saw tangible results in my promotional efforts, as this could be extremely useful information for me beyond Kickstarter.

So Many Thanks!

Most of all, I am trying to be thorough in thanking each and every person who has helped spread the word about my Kickstarter.  This means replying on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere I’ve noticed anyone sharing.

I want people to know that I am a real person and the fact that people believe in me enough to share my project really means a lot!

So here’s a big THANK YOU to any of my dear readers who have read along with this journey as it has happened and helped me by pitching in or spreading the word.  I am so grateful!

Even if I don’t get funded by the end of this blog series, I’ve already learned so much about how to improve my project’s communication, goals, and timetables for the next time.  This is amazing priceless info!

I look forward to seeing how my first Kickstarter journey ends.  Here’s to riding the waves to the end!

My First Kickstarter – Part 1 – Concept, Preparation, and Promotion

I’m excited to announce that I launched my first Kickstarter project this week!  Rather than just shamelessly plug it here, I thought I’d talk about my journey through the conception, promotion, and closure of this campaign.

I’m an absolute newbie at this, so I’m bound to learn a lot and hope other artists considering Kickstarter might learn something from my experience too!

Check out my project here!

Why Kickstarter?

I’ll be honest, I would never have thought of using Kickstarter for funding paintings, at first.  The site was originally founded to ‘kickstart’ projects that would not otherwise get off the ground.  I’ll still be able to make these paintings.

What finally encouraged me to pursue this series via Kickstarter was the fact that having an extra infusion of income would actually help me be able to worry less about pursuing other freelance work so that I can create these paintings faster while also aiding me in maximizing the potential quality of this series (ie. afford models to have more variety than my own visage, afford updating old supplies, etc.).

Kickstarter also reaches a potential worldwide audience I didn’t have access to before.  This project also represents a chance for me to not just maximize the series’ potential, but also provide an opportunity to offer very unique limited items to my collectors, which is mutually beneficial to us both.

I also saw other artists using the Kickstarter format to similar effect with their own series of paintings which really motivated me to give it a try at least once.  Echo Chernik used Kickstarter to fund her Winged Women series so that she might be able to have more time off from her packed schedule to invest in this Kickstarter-only personal project.  Sam Flegal also used Kickstarter as a boost for his Norse Mythology series of paintings for similar reasons.

The low risk nature of Kickstarter is also appealing.  If the project is not funded, I’m not stuck with a closet full of prints no one wants gathering dust in my apartment.
In the end, embarking on this project is also a mad scientist experiment for me as an Arts Admin grad.  My main hopes are to educate myself on how I can best use Kickstarter for both myself and my fans, whether I succeed with this first project or not.  All mistakes and triumphs will inform future ventures!

Preparing for the Project

It took a lot of research and reassurance for me to finally launch this project.  I did the following before even considering making it a reality:
  • Researched similar Kickstarter projects to mine.
  • Took the Succeeding on Kickstarter class on Skillshare, which was exceedingly detailed about the process and best practices for Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
  • Had many friends, colleagues, and family review my project via the preview link before launching.
  • Planned a cross-promotion with my Patreon patrons so that I could be sure that they still receive the special treatment they deserve for supporting me directly.  Patrons receive a pack of postcards for free for backing the Kicstarter at any level.

Promoting the Projects

Currently I have done the following to promote my project:-  Posted on Reddit in /r/artnouveau, /r/crowdfundingprojects, /r/kickstarter, /r/artstore, and /r/art (still researching other relevant subreddits).

–  Contacted Art Nouveau themed tumblr blogs in hopes of utilizing tumblr’s amazing organic reach (still awaiting a reply).  Also posted a video post on my own Tumblr (please give it a re-blog, if you like this project!).-  Contacted several Art Nouveau dedicated Pages on Facebook (still awaiting response).

–  Paid $40 for boosting my Kickstarter’s video post on my Facebook Page over the next few days.  My Facebook Page also feeds automatically to my Twitter.
–  Paid $100 for promoted Tweets on Twitter.  Hurray for $100 credit for trying it out for the first time!  I am essentially getting free advertising.  Never used this before. We’ll see how it works!
–  Contacted several Art Nouveau themed Groups on DeviantART as well as a couple of Kickstarter themed Groups to ask for promotion.  I’ve heard back from at least one Group with 2,595 Members and 3,450 Watchers thus far.  This group has featured my Kickstarter deviation on their front page and has agreed to do a journal feature soon.
–  Posted the project’s video to YouTube.
–  Posted the project to Prefundia with their free package.
–  Emailed the Art Career Project about featuring my Kickstarter, if they still do that (still awaiting a reply).
–  Posted on my Instagram.-  EDIT:  Added a promo image on my website’s main page and this blog.

–  EDIT:  Added a promo Cover photo to my Facebook Page.

–  EDIT:  Submitted a press release to http://www.crowdfundingpr.org‘s free submission area and to TheMarySue, a site dedicated to female geek news where I have seen other female artists get some promotion, if they found the project relevant to their readers (which I hope they do!).

–  EDIT:  Asked friends and family to get on the promo boat, if they can.  Many have already shared via Facebook and Twitter.

– EDIT:  Sent out e-mail updates about my Kickstarter to my mailing list.

I’ll share results of which places seemed the most effective for me once the project has ended!If you can help me spread the word too with a share on your favorite social network, that’d be fabulous as well!

Next up: What on earth do I do while the campaign is running??