Last week we were invited by Paved with Gold to speak about our experiences with Kickstarter *insert manic laughing* we agreed, if anything, people can learn from our mistakes.
Although we were successful in our campaign and my now second successful campaign, it was one of the most stressful times of our career to date. But let's put things into perspective, we ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise £30,000, we raised just almost £32,000, not bad for a months work! It's totally worth it but you need to have nerves of steel.
We will be forever thankful to the crowd for supporting us again and we definitely would not be in the space we are now without the support of our crowd, however, we would suggest that if you are planning a crowdfunding campaign be prepared.
Be prepared to be pulling your hair out, enjoy sleepless nights, experience serious highs and serious lows and being completely exposed. Once you click 'GO' that's you, out there and in front of the crowd, everyone will see whether you succeed or fail.
Not everyone was able to make the talk so we thought we would share our tips. I personally have been through 2 Kickstarter campaigns...I compared it to getting a tattoo or childbirth, and while I have not experienced the latter I've been told you forget the severe pain just like having a tattoo. That once you are through it you want another and forget the pain. That's what it's like to run a Kickstarter for the second time. But perhaps it's different if you are more prepared?
Maybe it's plain sailing if you have researched, planned, pre campaigned and got your shit together...
We maybe did things a bit back to front...we knew the idea was good, we knew that the idea was needed, we knew that we had to move into a new space...so we got one! But perhaps we should have raised the funds first? Would people have trusted us, would they know we were serious and not just take their money and run?! We decided to sign a years lease on a new space, then raise the funds!
£30,000 is A LOT of money, we were asking for people to fund our dream, dreams don't come cheap. So here are my comments and nuggets about running a crowdfunding campaign;
*it takes longer than 2 weeks to build an awesome campaign - we decided to crowdfund for our project and launched the project in less than two weeks. If you would like to see your loved ones ever, I would recommend planning a bit longer to launch your campaign. Put the effort in to make your campaign look amazing, visually pleasing but most importantly tells a story!
*Pre-Campaign - this was a new concept, we sought advice ahead of the campaign but knowing that we only had less than two weeks, this concept didn't fit! This was taking the time to understand your crowd, who you were aiming it at, building your crowd and this meant your immediate crowd (friends/family), your networks (people you know in the industry) and your influencers (people who will help you to push your idea and push your campaign). This involves press releases, emails campaigns, basically warming the crowd ahead of the launch.
*Kickstarter Live is your friend - a new concept for Kickstarter is Kickstarter Live. A live feed for you to communicate with your crowd. This I feel is great for you to connect with your audience, allow them to see behind the scenes, allow them to understand you, your values and your passion. This is particularly important if you are trying to sell an idea, an ethos, a service.
*Use your networks - ask for help - think about your crowd, who can help you? Who can make your film, who can help with your rewards, who can offer you a shoulder to cry on. Don't tackle this on your own. Get the support when you can! I am part of a closed facebook group called W.E Mean business, a group for like minded, female business owners. When we were really struggling with our campaign we laid ourselves bare and asked the group to offer some critical feedback and they responded and played a huge part in our tipping point and allowed us some outside perspective.
*Cold call or find someone that will do it for you - I hate speaking on the phone, especially when I'm trying to 'sell' something! Scott played the part of car sales man and made his way through our list of industry influencers, local businesses and those who could help us raise the capital. A horrible job but one that made us be known to the people we wanted to know us. There were a lot of nos and a lot of heartache but something that turned in to cash towards our campaign.
*It's harder to crowdfund a service - we didn't have a product to sell, we didn't have prototypes, we had an idea and that's what we had to sell. I guess it's what everyone is doing but we had nothing tangible to sell but ourselves. This is where Kickstarter Live really helped to let the crowd understand us and what we were trying to do.
*Know your audience - We knew ours! Our crowd is the jewellery industry, the jewellers we want to serve, the jewellers we want to build but the issue was, they were skint too. This is why we had rewards set at various levels for people to access comfortably. We also sold the idea, we sold the classes we wanted to run ahead of us running them. Pre sales if you like! These seemed to work but we knew this couldn't be our main audience and we were excluding a huge audience by trying to target our small one. Once we changed the language and made it a bit more user friendly, others could see our concept for what it was and started to back us more.
*Don't just rely on Social Media - although it was our best friend you can't just rely on that. Press releases, influencers, blog content, kickstarter live, they all add to your repertoire and build your story.
*Make awesome rewards - Be clear, concise and be awesome! We understood that we are a service based in Glasgow and not everyone can access it so we had to make rewards where people can be a part of Vanilla Ink without physically being in Glasgow. Don't have too many, you want to make it easy for people and you want to make it accessible at all levels. Our lowest was £10 and our highest £1000. We can't wait to see people walking around with our Vanilla Ink hoodies on!
our kick ass hoodie!
*DON'T BE COCKY but BE BRAVE! As I said, this is my second Kickstarter and I fooled Scott into thinking it would be fine...£30,000 no bother! We didn't plan as much as we should have and we maybe should have taken less risks but if it's not scaring you or challenging you then what's the point?! You could squirm over every little detail, be too scared to hit send, think it's not perfect but it's never going to be perfect. Sometimes you just got to press GO!
Scott will be offering his installment of tips and highs and lows from someone's first time at raising funding through Kickstarter...stay tuned!