I’ve analyzed a lot of crowdfunding projects over the years and there are a TON of mistakes that indie authors can easily avoid.
In this article, I’ll explain the mistake, how I can tell someone is making a mistake, and how to fix it.
Mistake #1: Zero marketing strategy
Many indie authors think that backers will come flocking after they put up their campaign page. They have a cute video, good graphics, and nice rewards but absolutely no strategy for marketing the campaign to potential backers (readers).
How I can tell you have zero marketing strategy
Most indie authors without a solid marketing strategy happening behind the scenes will not reach more than 100 backers. I look at the number of backers a campaign has every day (thanks to Kicktraq) and if you have a few days in a row with 0 backers/day, I can tell that there either is no strategy or the strategy isn’t working.
It’s really tough to create a solid marketing strategy mid-stream but all is not lost if you act quickly. Try to reach at least 30% within the first 5 days of your campaign or prepare to fold up camp and relaunch after you’ve built up your audience a bit.
You can start reaching out to big bloggers, journalists, and influencers who might be interested in your book, add a new reward that you KNOW will entice more backers, and do a full-out media blitz everywhere you think your readers might be lurking.
That said, with a short campaign timeline, you really don’t have time to develop a new strategy on the fly and your time, effort, and energy might be spent better on a relaunch a few months later.
Mistake #2: The rewards are all wrong
Many indie authors actually price their rewards too low. Remember, we are crowdfunding which means that backers are willing to pay a bit more than retail to help you create your project. That means you need to price your rewards higher than you would if you were selling them on the street.
If your goal is $15k, then you’re going to need a lot of people to buy your $20 reward…
How I can tell your rewards are bleh
Usually, I can see right away if your rewards are reasonable based on if I’d be willing to take out my wallet and enter in my credit card information based on what you have.
Are your rewards structured in a way that makes it enticing for me to “level up?”
Are you offering an early bird discount or special reward to spur action on my part?
No? Big mistake.
What else does your audience want besides your book that is of value? What else can you offer? Bundle that together and slap a $50 price tag on it and get people to level-up to that reward.
Mistake #3: Video is too long and rambles on and on and on…
Your video does not need to be professionally created, although that does help, but it needs to be relatively short. Remember, you are trying to get people’s attention very quickly so jump straight to the point with a call to action.
How do I know your video is boring?
Because I’m bored and want to click away but I won’t because I’m analyzing your page.
What do you want someone watching your video to do? You want them to back your book so you can do X for Y.
So say that.
Say, “Back our project to introduce classical music back into the classrooms of 4th and 5th graders in New Jersey,” or whatever your awesome book brings to readers.
Say your call to action loud and clearly within the first 30 seconds of your video.
Mistake #4: Your goal is too high
I wish we could all raise $30k on Kickstarter by simply creating a campaign and posting the link to our Facebook pages a few times but that’s not how it works.
Behind the scenes of every crowdfunding campaign is a tremendous amount of emailing, outreach, article creation, videos, podcasts, and other activity on the Internet.
If your goal doesn’t match your audience size (remember, the average backer will spend $45-$50) then you’re not going to be successful.
How I know your campaign goal is too high
I look to see if someone has created a campaign in the past, I evaluate the activity on their social media pages, and I do a bit of market research on other crowdfunding campaigns on similar topics in the past.
Unfortunately, your goal is locked in once you launch your campaign.
IndieGoGo allows you to extend your fixed campaign one time if you need it, but you can only extend it one time.
You cannot, I repeat, cannot have a $30k goal without knowing how you’re going to secure at least 600 backers.
Factoring in a 2% conversion rate, you need to reach at least 30,000 people.
You can always relaunch with a more reasonable goal.
Mistake #5: No interactions or updates on the campaign page itself
A stranger wanders onto your crowdfunding campaign page and is looking for more information…more personality…an update or two to find out how the campaign is going.
Many indie authors don’t post any updates on their campaign’s page and this is a lost opportunity to get more backers.
How I can tell you aren’t utilizing updates to their biggest potential
It’s all quiet on your page and I’m wondering what’s up? How are things going? What else can you tell me about your project? Are you grateful for all of the support so far?
Use the public updates on your page as a way to showcase your personality and share insights into the project that weren’t already covered in your campaign’s description.
Can you share something from your illustrator? Have you decided to add a new reward? Have you been featured in the Washington Post, Forbes, or some other fancy website that people would think is cool?
Share your social proof that others are on board and link back to your campaign.
Why include a link to your campaign that’s in an update about your campaign?
Both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo email backers all public updates but Kickstarter (annoyingly) doesn’t automatically link the reader back to your campaign.
That means that if someone wants to forward the email they received from Kickstarter about your campaign to a friend, they can but then the person just gets a body of text—no link—and you’ve lost a potential backer.
Make it super easy for people to find your campaign by always including a link back to it.