If you follow us on social media, you know that through all of September we ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the expansion of our studio – and it was hugely successful! We started the campaign with the goal of reaching $25k to cover our site survey, which we were able to raise in about four days thanks to all of your amazing support. Our stretch goal was to reach $75k to go towards solar panels and to help create an arts exposure program for Pontiac students. We finished up the month with just over $68k, which we are so proud of!
Now that we’ve made it through this journey, we wanted to share what we learned about crowdfunding with all of you and offer some tips and advice on Kickstarter for artists and creatives so you can also run a successful campaign to fund your creative projects.
There are a lot of benefits to crowdfunding. It’s a great way to include your supporters in the process, get their feedback, share the dream, and spread the joy of art and creativity and it’s positive power to make the world a better place.
There are many crowdfunding platforms, with the two most popular being Kickstarter and Indiegogo. We chose Kickstarter because we love what they stand for; Arts, People, Creativity, Community. Kickstarter does well by doing good and we love that at epiphany, that’s our mission too. When we found out how successful artists and other creatives are on Kickstarter’s platform, we knew it was the right fit for us. And we would definitely recommend that other artists and creatives use them too! But make sure to do your own research – search for past campaigns with projects similar to yours, see what platform they used and what made them successful – or unsuccessful.
Is Crowdfunding Right For You?
Running a Kickstarter campaign is stressful. All of the steps we’re going to lay out are necessary to the crowdfunding process. It’s a major commitment and something you’ll have to interact with daily through the course of your campaign. It’s really not something you can just set up and forget about until it’s over. You’re also asking people to donate to your cause, which some people aren’t comfortable doing. So if you don’t have the time and energy to commit and aren’t comfortable asking people to give you money, crowdfunding isn’t a good fit for you.
We decided that with our team and amazing supporters a Kickstarter campaign was a great route for us to take. Let’s take a look at how we strategized for our campaign and what helped us to reach our goals.
Set Your Goal
When we first started planning our campaign we were going to set our goal for $60,000. After speaking with the awesome representatives at Kickstarter, they informed us that $25,000 is the sweet spot for crowdfunding – it’s an obtainable goal and you can still raise more. Since Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform, if you reach your goal you can continue to raise funds (some projects get to be 500% funded!) but if you don’t reach your goal you don’t get any of the money you raised. This means you want to be really mindful about the goal you set.
Once you’ve set your goal, where do you go from there?
Tell Your Story
One of the most important parts of your campaign is sharing your story. Kickstarter allows you to share your story in to different ways – video and text – and both are equally important. There are millions of ways to get this message across, so this can seem like a very daunting task. We were lucky to work with a great multi-media team that helped us to compose our story in a concise and visually appealing way that fit with our brand. There really isn’t a one size fits all solution since everybody’s story and marketing are so unique. Here are some important points that you’ll definitely want to incorporate into your own narrative.
- Tell your audience about who you are and how you got to where you are – talk about your past, present and future.
- What is your project? Who will it benefit and how it will it benefit those who contribute to your campaign?
- What have you done up to this point, on your own, to reach your goals?
- What are your plans for the future?
- Why do you want the help of your community?
You’ll want to get this information across in a concise and interesting way while appealing to your audience. We chose the route of a feel-good story of a small business that is growing and wants to give back to the community that has always supported them. Both our video and written story focus on April as the face of epiphany studios, giving our supporters someone to connect with, whether they know her personally or not. We also incorporated visuals of her working in the studio – glassblowing is such a visually interesting process. And of course, we included mock ups of our addition so that people are able to see what we have planned to do with their funding.
Successfully communicating the story of our brand and our project was hugely important for us since we weren’t selling a product or something that everyone will access. Because of this, we spent a great deal of time on this portion of our campaign. You might be trying to fund a product that already has a huge following, which may be an easier sell. No matter what, you’ll want to put a good amount of thought and consideration into how you present yourself and your project.
Be Creative With Rewards!
Rewards are your opportunity to give something back to those who have contributed to your campaign. Kickstarter allows you to set rewards at different tiers, starting from $1 and going up to $10,000. It’s definitely beneficial to have a variety of price points for your rewards. The rewards we offered started at $5 and went up to $10,000 and ranged from epiphany stickers to private glassblowing lessons and beautiful sun catchers to a private event in the new addition. We’re artists so finding unique ways to share our art and the experience of making art with our community was a must.
For higher tiers we even teamed up with some of our friends, local businesses and charity partners to create truly one-of-a-kind experiences. For example, for a $5,000 pledge, we offered a year of flowers and vases. Each month of the year, the recipient will be hand delivered a beautiful bouquet from fleurdetroit, arranged in a one-of-a-kind vase made by April. Collaborations like this allow for cross-promotion, giving your campaign a wider reach to an audience you might not otherwise have easy access to.
It’s also a great idea to have an instant reward. We created memes featuring fun images of our studio cat, Cat Jack White, with cute sayings. Each one was completely unique and we customized them with a thank you to that individual donor. Once we received a donation, these memes went live immediately on Facebook, Instagram Stories and our website (you can see the collection here!). Each donor who pledged $25 and up was generated one of these memes and we encouraged them to share them. Having this type of instant reward allowed us to immediately thank people in a unique way while keeping the campaign in people’s feeds.
What if People Don't Want to Contribute Through Kickstarter?
It’s totally okay to accept donations in other forms- checks or cash. We actually raised another $10k from people who didn’t want to go through the Kickstarter platform. Not everybody will want to use Kickstarter because they don’t want to make an account or they don’t want to pay their fees. Allowing for other options is totally up to you, but it can certainly help you with your overall goal.
Stay on the Radar
The memes we mentioned above are just one way to stay on the radar. Keep people in the loop with how your campaign is going. If you feel you need to get an extra boost, consider adding some new rewards. We kept our audience up-to-date with weekly Kickstarter updates. These were posted directly on the platform and we adapted them to work on social media including Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. These updates would fill people in on how much we’d raised and give them new content and information about our goals. We repurposed unused footage from our campaign video and posted clips or bloopers once a week to keep people engaged.
Social media is a powerful tool but not everybody uses it and even if they do, your content isn’t guaranteed to be seen by everyone. Sending out eblasts to your audience can help facilitate this issue. For people you know personally and are close to, you will want to write them a personal email. We had everyone on our team contact their networks with personal messages through email or Facebook. This is a lot of work but it definitely paid off!
Don’t forget that not everyone will support this endeavor. People might make comments telling you that they can’t support giving you money, to take out a loan, that you’re not a nonprofit, etc. Don’t let this discourage you! They’re entitled to their opinions and you’ll find many more people support you than tell you you’re in the wrong. Keep pushing on and stay positive!
After Your Campaign Ends...
Keep everyone updated! Let your supporters know how the campaign went and send out rewards surveys so they can start receiving them. And be proud of what you’ve accomplished – crowdfunding is a huge undertaking but it’s definitely worth the time, effort and energy that goes into it.
As we said before, there is no one-size-fits-all structure for running your campaign, so do your research and think about the best ways to connect with your audience. We hope this gives you some insight and useful ideas on how to run your campaign. Good luck!