I’ve been consistently surprised and pleased by the insightful feedback I receive from project creators, and this recent email from Layne Mosler of the Taxi Gourmet project is no exception. Project promotion is a unique endeavor for each creator, but the helpful tips she outlines below are universal. I had to share!
For the past three years, I’ve been getting into random cabs in Buenos Aires and New York, asking the drivers to take me to their favorite places to eat, and documenting my adventures at Taxi Gourmet.
Thanks to the good folks at Kickstarter and a set of amazing backers, I’m traveling to Berlin for two months this summer to do final research for a book based on my blog.
Here’s what I did to make it happen – I hope some of these ideas work for you!
- Posting the project: The great thing about Kickstarter? It gets you to focus, to articulate your goals, to be totally clear about what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and why your project rocks. It also forces you to be clear about why you’re asking for help and what the money is for. I tried to cover all of these points in my project description.
- Spreading the word (Phase 1): I started off big and impersonal and graduated to small and personal. The first day I posted my project, I wrote updates on my blog’s Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, and my Twitter feed – and got one donation. I tried not to let the lack of response bother me. Later on, I saw that these updates had helped me create buzz and let people know what I was up to. I also saw that I was going to have to do a lot more to get my project funded - social network posting wasn’t going to be enough.
- Spreading the word (Phase 2): I posted an entry on my blog about the Berlin adventures. I went beyond the project description I posted on my Kickstarter page, telling readers why I was asking for their help, outlining how they could help and what they’d get in return, what the money was for, why I’d chosen Berlin, what the book will be about, and how the fundraising was going to date.
- Spreading the word (Phase 3): After I posted the blog entry, readers and people I didn’t even know started contributing. Then two members of my family took it upon themselves to contact other family and friends, tell them about my project and encourage them to support it. If you don’t have anyone in your family who will do this for you, I’m guessing you have at least one fan who will toot your horn more loudly than you might be willing to, let people know what you’re doing and inspire them to pledge. Having an advocate for your project is important – and it takes a lot of the pressure off of you, the creator.
- Spreading the word (Phase 4): To raise the last round of funding, I wrote direct appeal letters to people in my inner and outer circles. Instead of sending a mass email to everyone on my contact list, I divided people into groups (colleagues from different workplaces, college friends and professors, expat buddies in specific countries where I’d traveled) and emailed each group a semi-personalized letter that reminded them of our shared experiences. The response to these direct appeals was unbelievable – I ended up going 37% over my funding goal.
Once my project was fully funded, I still had 34 days to go, and I knew I had to let potential backers know that any additional support would still be put to good use. I changed my short blurb on my Kickstarter widget from “I’m traveling to Berlin to do final research for the Taxi Gourmet book, and I need your help to get there.” to “I’m traveling to Berlin this summer to do final research for the Taxi Gourmet book. All funds pledged over my goal will go toward more taxi adventures!” Thanks to that change, I’m still getting much-needed pledges.
Other things I did that may or may not work for you:
- Every single time someone backed my project I wrote them a 2-3 line thank you note from the Kickstarter site – regardless of their pledge amount.
- I made pizza for the advocates in my family who were getting others to donate to the project. (It was the least I could do!)
- I updated my backers every time I reached a milestone (when the first funders donated, when I was halfway there, 75% of the way there, and 100% there). From now on, I’ll send backers weekly to biweekly updates leading up to my departure to Berlin, and weekly updates on my adventures (with photos) once I’m there.
A few final thoughts:
- Don’t get upset when people you thought would support you don’t end up pledging.
- Do celebrate your backers.
- Do have faith in your talent and your project.
- Don’t get discouraged when that little green stripe doesn’t move for a few days. - Do use the creative thinking you obviously have to figure out how to bring others on board.
Finally, most importantly, do keep making your art!