Launching a Make 100 Kickstarter has been on my bucket list as an artist for a while now. However, I was hugely unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster! Which is probably for the best because if I imagine if I had known, I probably wouldn't have bothered, and what's the fun in that?!
Despite being stressful and anxiety inducing, my Make 100 Kickstarter was a good way to put myself out there to a bigger online audience. While my goal was 100 backers, the Kickstarter closed at 50 backers, which I am quite happy with as a first try!
A lot of my initial business focus when I started out as a self-employed artist three years ago was in-person events. But in 2020, I wanted to focus 100% of my attention to online marketing efforts. So Here's the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of running a Make 100 Kickstarter!
The Basic Conditions Before Launching a Kickstarter
To be somewhat successful in reaching your funding goal, you will need different networks you can reach out to because most of your backers will come from your network of family and friends. So if you have an email list (my business email list is rather small but better than nothing!), a social media presence (I had 1,400 followers on Instagram at the start of the campaign, and 300 on Twitter), and different communities you can reach out to, then you will be much more likely in reaching your funding goal.
Knowing this, I kept my funding goal on the lower side as I already had all the supplies and materials needed to make and ship my prints, but also because I felt confident I could reach a $400 goal. In retrospect, I could have aimed higher, maybe $800-1000.
Here's a breakdown of where my backers came from:
Friends, Friends of Friends, etc - 37%
Kickstarter - 33%
Social Media - 24%
Google Search - 6%
Ultimately, that means I generated 64% of the backers through my own marketing efforts and networking, while just being on the Kickstarter platform only netted me 33% of my backers.
What's Been Good About a Kickstarter?
Like many artists, I don't LIKE asking people to buy my work, especially directly. I post lots of new creative work to Instagram, forgetting to also include an ASK once in a while. Because hey, a girl has gotta pay the bills! Coffee don't pay for itself!
My Kickstarter allowed me to reach a bigger online audience than I could on my own by leveraging my networks and community. As a result, I grew my Instagram following from 1,400 followers to 1,600 followers. I also began to use Twitter again! Of course, it is always good to have something new to email one's newsletter with as well, and each week, I made sure to email out an update.
I also got good insight on which of my designs people liked (based on the rewards people bought) beyond the overly positive feedback I usually receive on Instagram. On a creative note, I had a lot of fun making the rewards, including taking the opportunity to learn a new printmaking process - riso printmaking! I also experimented with offering a custom spirograph reward, and got backers! It's definitely something I want to offer on my website now moving forward.
Lastly, the whole experience taught me the power of limiting the timeframe, and amount of prints I offer as a way to encourage people to buy-in. I would like to apply this strategy more to my future collection releases. This strategy allows me to offer new work in a timeframe I can accommodate for making, while also giving me the room to make new work and leave behind old work (i.e. continue to progress as a visual artist!)
What's Been Bad About a Kickstarter?
Wow, talk about crowdfunding as a nail-biting, anxiety-inducing nightmare! Woah! Unless you have superhuman confidence, the launch day was the worst day for me. Luckily, meeting my funding goal in 12 hours time helped alleviate most of my launch anxiety. Hopefully the end result of my Make 100 Kickstarter will be a boost in my confidence as an artist in the long run!
Crowdfunding will have you on edge, watching and waiting to see if you will get backers each and every day. Leading up to launch, I began to procrastinate a bit as I was starting to dread the whole thing. The worst of it for me though was by far the first day, mostly because I had no idea what to expect and became rather pessimistic about the whole thing once I launched. If, like me, you suffer from bouts of anxiety, expect the whole thing to possibly trigger some internal panic!
Another thing to watch out for are all the emails and messages you will receive after launch from so-called marketing companies claiming they can get you backers. I ignored them all, treating them as spam.
Now that my Kickstarter is over, I am thrilled I did it, I am thrilled with the result, and am also thrilled it is over. If you were a backer of my Kickstarter, a huge THANK YOU and virtual high-five to you for indulging me in this experiment. :)
Dirt Alley Design was founded just off a dirt alley in San Francisco in December of 2016 by artist Michelle Chandra. Inspired by the beauty of street grids, Michelle invented maze maps in which she transforms street grids into mazes. In 2019, she began a new project - generative spirograph prints created with code and drawn with a pen plotter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @dirtalleydesign where she posts new spirograph designs daily.