Jen’s Kickstarter 101 (or how to get the money you need)

My Kickstarter project was successful. I raised the money I needed, with a little bit extra on the side for an additional project, or if my costs were slightly higher than forecast. I didn’t blow it out of the water, but I got a little more than what I asked for.

So, here are my thoughts on how to have a successful Kickstarter campaign.

One: You will have to hustle.
Don’t start a Kickstarter project without having a marketing plan, however informal it may be. Heck, don’t start your Kickstarter project without having a market. When I looked at the stats for my Kickstarter backers, I saw that 30% of them came to me through Kickstarter. The remaining 70% came from my network. This doesn’t mean that my friends and family made up the majority of my funders. No, many of the people who backed my project were people I’ve never met, but who I interact with on a regular basis through my studio’s Facebook page, or on Twitter, or Instagram. A few were regular blog readers. A lot of them had bought my artwork in the past. And many were people connected to my own, loose connections.

Someone with a potential Kickstarter project emailed me to ask me what sites I’d advertised my project on. I never paid for project publicity; rather, I sent an email to my mailing list, tweeted about the project regularly, posted regular updates to Facebook, and posted screenshots of my project and photos of my blog to Instagram. But this network was full of people I’d engaged with long before I’d ever though about launching a Kickstarter project.

Lesson: Your own network is key to the success of your Kickstarter project. Don’t expect Kickstarter to do all (or even most) of the work for you. And if you don’t already have a network, start to build one. You’re going to need it as you continue to grow your business or promote your products/services.

Two: People want to help you, but you have to tell them exactly how to do this.
My backers were super excited about my project, and they wanted to see me get funded (so they could get a bag or two). But they’re also busy people. If I didn’t tell them exactly how to help me (beyond backing my project), they probably wouldn’t spend the time figuring out what they could do.

So I told them exactly what they could do, and I gave them the simple steps and words to do so. You can see what I proposed here. In a nutshell, I asked them to tweet about my project and/or post it to Facebook and I gave them the exact text to do so. All they had to do was copy, paste, and hit “post.” And do you know what happened the day I sent that to my network?

1.    Over a dozen people posted about my project, using the exact words I’d given them, in one day; and
2.    I raised more than $1k in 12 hours.

Three: It’s a lot easier to raise a small amount than a large amount
I mean, duh.

But really, it’s true. My original estimate for this project was around $8500, but I knew that if I scaled back my production run, I could do it for $6500. The point is to ask for just enough money to realize your project, but not so much that you’re unable to raise the full amount. I can’t tell you what the magic number is, but it’s somewhere between how much people in your network will pledge and how much it will cost you to make the most souped-up version of your project.  A little challenge is always good. A big challenge just means you have to hustle more.

Those are my thoughts. Anyone else want to share what worked for you? Any questions?

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Funded – and a HUGE thank you!

At 5:20 am on Thursday, November 8th, my Kickstarter project ended, and I had $6763 in pledges. To my 86 backers, as well as everyone who helped me spread the word about this project, thank you!

I just realized today that I didn’t blog about the close of my Kickstarter project. That’s the funny thing about social media – it’s hard to keep track of what I’ve said where. I emailed all my Kickstarter backers through the site, took a screenshot of my project page and posted it to Instagram, tweeted about my project’s close, and announced it on my Facebook page. Yup, project ended successfully.

So what’s next?

This week, my pattern maker will finalize my technical patterns. I will order quite a few zippers and snaps. Next week, I’ll be in LA for Thanksgiving, and will buy my fabric from my supplier then. After that, the fabric will be off to my manufacturer here in San Francisco for cutting. I’ll get the cut fabric back, and will print everything the week before Christmas. I’ll hand it all back to the manufacturer, along with the leather straps that are being cut for me by a supplier just south of San Francisco. And, if all goes according to plan, I’ll have bags ready to ship by mid-to-late-January.

So, no rest for me for a while. But this is exactly what I wanted when I first hatched this idea last winter, so I am not complaining at all. Many amazing things are yet to come; this is just the beginning!

Get the word out!

I have $679 left to raise for my Kickstarter project, which ends on Wednesday, November 8th.

Thank you! I can’t believe I’ve raised so much for this project in such a short period of time.

But, as you may or may not know, I will only receive money from Kickstarter if my project is 100% funded. This means that the $5821 I’ve raised so far won’t be charged to my backers’ cards and I won’t be able to get these bags into production.

And I will be very, very sad if this happens.

If you’ve already pledged, thank you. If you’d like to pledge, you can do so here. And if you’d like to get your friends to pledge, well, please tweet about this project or post it to your Facebook page, or sing a song about it and post the video to YouTube.

Anyway. If you’d like to hit up the social media on my behalf, I’ll gladly provide you with some sample posts.

Here’s something you could post to Twitter:
Help @jenhewett get her colorful, new line of hand-printed linen and leather bags into production, and into your hands! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/708280262/jen-hewett-studios-linen-and-leather-bags-collecti

And if you’d like to post on Facebook:
Help Jen Hewett get her colorful, new line of hand-printed linen and leather bags into production, and into your hands! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/708280262/jen-hewett-studios-linen-and-leather-bags-collecti

So, thank you again. Really. I’m *this* much closer to making this project a reality and you guys have had a huge part in this.

Learning to sew.

My parents gave me a sewing machine for my thirteenth birthday. I didn’t really want to learn how to sew; I wanted to go to formal dances (yeah, I know). There was a girl in my class who went to a weekly, formal cotillion, and she sewed all her own dresses, patterning them after the dresses she saw in “Seventeen” magazine. I didn’t go to a formal until I was 16, I didn’t learn to sew, and my sewing machine sat largely untouched for more than 21 years. I actually learned how to sew properly around the same time I learned how to silkscreen.

These days, I’m grateful I know how to sew. I can sew my own stuff, come up with sample sizes, develop new products.  And, this weekend, I tried out a new size – a zippered bag that can be tossed into my purse, or folded over into a casual clutch. I figured out, through trial and error, that I can’t use a heavy lining in this bag or it won’t fold over easily. I’ve been carrying them around (and getting compliments).

I so want to put these into production! If I exceed my Kickstarter goal, I’ll have these made. And if you want to help me exceed my goal, you can back my project here.

And if you ever meet thirteen-year-old me, tell her that being able to sew these beats going to some stupid formal dance any day.