Well that was a bit of a surprise! If you were here reading my post last Thursday you'll know that while things were going well, I was still somewhat apprehensive - maybe I'd found all the colour fans already...
I received quite a lot of advice about my Kickstarter (lots of which was welcome, lots of which was unsolicited, promised miracles AND was almost certainly going to cost me - what's the point?) and I only really followed a few principles. You could say it was a fluke. Anyway, if you're interested I've written about my first week and what I did below. My Kickstarter is still running and will do so until Monday 9 April (subject to the books selling out beforehand of course). You can pledge here and read last week's post about it here.
Launching a Kickstarter was not in my long term plan (in fact not even in my short term one - my 90 goal in my Dream Plan Do planner made no mention of such a thing). Back in January when started planning for the year, I really liked the idea of getting my 365 Project printed up as a book - but mostly just for myself so I had a nice record of it. I was really pleased to have completed the challenge I'd set myself and wanted to celebrate this.
However once I'd got this one copy printed and shared it around, people started asking for one of their own. The copy I had was a one off and as a result had cost me just over £20 (and that was with a 30% discount code). As you will have seen from the photos the book isn't huge and there was no way I could retail it, even at cost price.
Blurb provide the option to sell your book via their website or Amazon, but even forgetting for a moment about the crazy retail price it would have, the terms and conditions scared me. Books sold would be printed to order and should someone decide to return it for any reason you, the creator of the book, has to cover all the costs (on the basis of £20-odd per book plus shipping etc). Ouch. Now I think my book is ace but that's too much of a risk to enable me to sleep well at night!
So I looked at the bulk discounts, and you have to buy A LOT of books to get the price down to an acceptable point. So I abandoned the idea. But still people were asking...
It was at that point I remembered that a friend had used a local printers to produce some children's books at the end of last year, so I approached them. I felt a lot happier about this as not only am I doing my Just A Card duty by shopping small and using a local business, but I can have proper contact with the people are producing the book. I've used them to print cards in the past, and I have a friend's recommendation for their books.
This brought the retail price down to a much more acceptable level but only if I bought 50 or more. So I was left in a bit of a quandry. People had said they wanted it (not 50 people though!), but what if it was only those people who did, or actually when it came to it they didn't (fallen into that trap before). So I sat on it again.
Until I realised this was the perfect opportunity to launch a Kickstarter. When I went onto the site to set the project up I discovered that I'd already backed no less than 17 of them. I figured it was a tried and tested way to see if the books had a market - I already had my prototype and imagery so I just needed to spend some time making a video, planning and preparing. I decided not to get too stressed about it unless I failed to get any backers at all!
In case it's of interest, here's the process I went through to set up the campaign (it took roughly a day):
1. Pricing - this was the first and most important thing I did. Do not pluck an arbitrary figure out of the air when you set your target! Make sure you will have covered your costs (or at least the costs you have to cover to avoid financial ruin!). You need to take into account a number of things - cost of your product, postage (which is variable if you're accepting International pledges), packaging materials (including any flyers, stickers and business cards - you might need quite a few!) and Kickstarter's fees. This figure may look scary and unattainable... Depending upon how scary it looks you may want to add a small profit too or only make a profit on the pledges after you reach your target. Do price it up properly - there's nothing more panic inducing or with the ability to ruin your "I'm funded!" celebrations than realising you're going to be out of pocket after all.
2. Rewards - once the pricing was sorted I needed to work out the rewards. All the advice I'd read (and most of the successful Kickstarter's I'd funded myself) had a reasonable range of rewards, not only to suit all budgets but also so there's something for people who may want to support you but possibly don't want your main product. So I offered a digital copy of the book, a postcard set, 1 copy or a slight discount if you pledged for 2. Different items have different lead times too - also consider that you won't receive funds until at least 14 days after the end of the campaign - so if you need the money before placing the order, you must factor this in to your estimated delivery date.
3. Video - everyone keeps talking about how important video is to EVERYTHING when for the most point I find videos in my feed irritating and scroll straight past them! Anyway, it had to be done. You're not getting me talking on camera anytime soon, so I used Adobe Clip to make a slideshow set to music (I used one of the Adobe Clip tracks so as to avoid copyright issues - don't forget this!) and I was rather pleased with my efforts.
4. Images - as I mentioned I already had 365 photos from the project, plus pictures of the book itself and montages so I made full use of these. If you don't have images you need really good ones/mock ups if you don't have a physical sample to photograph.
5. The blurb - I'm quite quick at writing when I get down to it... I rewrote a few things I'd already written about the project and added to/updated this. I explained the background to the 365 project itself, why I turned it into a book. You also need to think about what could possibly go wrong with the project and let people know the potential risks before they pledge.
And then I submitted it to Kickstarter for their approval. This took a few hours (even on a Sunday night - I was impressed!). I hovered on the publish button for quite a while before going for it.
I'll have to admit that my pre-launch whetting the appetite type marketing was pretty pathetic. A couple of shares of the video on Twitter and that was it. I did however do the following:
1. Listed the press contacts I have who might be interested in the project. I then drafted tailored emails to all of them and they sat in my drafts until I'd pressed publish. Quite a few people picked these up and shared my campaign which was brilliant.
2. Sent direct emails to the people who had previously expressed an interest in the book - as soon as it went live.
3. Drafted an email to my mailing list about it - which I also send just after it went live.
4. Scheduled a series of promotional tweets and Facebook posts (which I hasten to add I didn't pay to promote - I did ask my friends on FB to please share the post if they weren't able to/didn't want to pledge though and a lot of them did this for me).
5. Planned a series of Instagram stories - keeping the campaign up there all the time with regular updates.
And then I went and made a cup of tea. In the first 24 hours the campaign reached 37% funded. I'd been told to aim for 50% in the first 7 days, and then expect a lull before a final push in the last week - I was a little anxious, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. I was determined to stay chilled about it (easier said than done!). When I reached 50% on day 2 I realised I needed to keep pushing to get to 100% as soon as possible, in order to be able to keep promoting but without the pressure. I reached 100% four days in (almost to the minute).
Momentum has definitely dropped off since I reached my target and I'm now aiming for 1-2 pledges a day. I'd like to have a bit of a cushion (what I didn't realise until recently is that backers can pull out right up until the final deadline leaving you underfunded after all and then you don't receive any of the pledges - a bit scary!) and I'm also keen to only have a handful of copies of the book remaining at the end, as I don't do many events nowadays so my options to sell them are more limited than they used to be.
People have already been asking me for advice despite the fact the Kickstarter is still running (I'm not there yet kids!), but I honestly think that other than identifying who to promote it to and who to ask for help in doing this, the only way to achieve it is to produce a professional product, a well put together campaign page and have something people want to buy! The beauty of Kickstarter is that it tells you if people want to buy your thing... a little publicly perhaps which can be scary, but other than time (and possibly pride) there's not a huge amount to loose.
I'm pretty sure if I'd gone ahead and just got the 50 books printed I'd be sitting here now fretting about how to sell them. Kickstarter provides a fanfare and a deadline and these work well both from the perspective of giving you the incentive to keep pushing, and in helping people to make the decision to support now rather than maybe buy a copy in a few months.
I'll be back to share how the fulfillment stage goes! In the meantime, as I mentioned you can still support my Kickstarter until 9 April via this link. Thank you!