Okay, I lied. I said I thought probably figuring out the reward tiers is the hardest thing about crowdfunding, but then I thought about advertising it and that’s much worse.
There are people who are really good at shameless self promotion, and getting themselves out there where everybody in the whole world knows about the projects they’re working on. Despite No Dominion’s success, I’m not actually one of those.
What I did learn doing it, though, is that either I have the most tolerant fans, readers, followers and friends on the earth, or the saturation point for reminders, endless discussion, and squeeing over a crowdfunded project is much, much higher than I would have imagined.
Although I clearly have amazing readers, I suspect there is a lot of truth to the second part of that statement.
Honestly, I don’t know how to really truly spread the word. I don’t know how to reach completely new audiences, people who might not have ever heard of you before. Using Kickstarter at all helps that, because there are people there who just check out new projects. But it doesn’t help a *lot*: the pie chart I got after the campaign ended shows that 5% of the final dollar amount came from within Kickstarter. The other 95% came from without.
About 3/5ths of pledges came from my sites or people sharing my links on FB/Twitter/G+. Another 1/5th have no direct referral information. The other fifth came from within Kickstarter and from people independently boosting the signal in their journals, so those *do* make a difference. I just don’t know how to capitalize on any of those things for future projects.
What I *do* know is that unmitigated enthusiasm is your friend. Now, it is true that it’s easy to have unmitigated enthusiasm if the project explodes beyond your wildest dreams, as “No Dominion” did, but here are things that I did which may have helped:
– Start talking the project up before you launch it. Ideally several weeks before you launch it. Let your readers know that you’re really excited about this thing. People get excited about what you’re excited about. It’s a feedback loop. Use it.
– Hold your breath, squee, squeak, peek between your hands, gasp in astonishment, wonder if a magic number can be reached in a magic time in public. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting there in your computer chair squirming with embarrassment about it. This is the Internet. Nobody knows you’re a dog, as it were. What people *see* is your blog/Twitter/FB/whatever going OMG HOLY CRAP, not you sitting there hiding your face behind one hand while you type OMG HOLY CRAP. They get excited because you are. It’s a feedback loop. Use it.
– I didn’t actually do this on purpose, but offer a reward idea to encourage people to go charging for a finish line. “No Dominion” cracked its goal in the first 24 hours, which I utterly did not expect. Somewhere around hour 18 I said “Holy shit if we do this in the first 24 hours I will write an extra story for everybody!” Be prepared to have something like that waiting. It doesn’t matter if you’re aiming for full funding, 25%, 50%, whatever, in X time. Give people a shiny sparkly reason to fling themselves in headfirst RIGHT NOW. They get excited because you are. It’s a–you get the idea. :)
– Do not be embarrassed to ask people to boost the signal. Some of them will. Some of them won’t. But go ahead and ask.
I am *more* than happy to take other suggestions about how to boost the signal, and will post a follow-up to this if there are ideas suggested!