A Tree Could Be—Gina Stevens Raises $9700 in 3 Weeks on Kickstarter

$9700 in 3 weeks on Kickstarter

Gina Stevens knew it would be difficult to crowdfund her book on Kickstarter during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she had already put in too much effort to ever consider quitting.

After 3 weeks, Gina raised $9700 in 3 weeks from 250 backers and totally crushed her original $6000 goal.

Find out how she did it in our interview below. 

What crowdfunding/marketing techniques do you think worked best for you?

9 things worked really well for me:

1—Running a shorter 3-week campaign

As everyone that runs a campaign knows, you have to be “on” 100% of the time that your campaign is running.

I am not a huge fan of social media in the first place but forced myself to be active prior to and while my campaign was running. Running it for 3 weeks was manageable compared to the usual 4-week campaign.

2—Getting the word out ahead of time

I told everyone that I was “illustrating a book” and that was exciting to my peers.

Some even came and visited my studio to see the progress.

I kept a buzz and people were always asking “how is your book coming along?”.

I really didn’t have a launch date until January or February which was just in time for the pandemic to take off.

People were itching for good news and something to make them excited.

It was a tough balance of not ignoring what was happing in the world and really being excited about my work.

3—Facebook was my best platform

I joined many groups that were related to my book “ nature groups, moms, etc.”

Once my campaign launched I went back and personally responded to EVERY SINGLE person that said they were interested in my book with my campaign link.

It ended up in me writing the same style message OVER and OVER but it seemed to really work.

I didn’t feel like I was bothering them if they already expressed interest.

4—Limiting messages to backers

I tried not to message my backers through Kickstarter too much during the campaign. Since they had already pledged, I know people get WAY to many e-mails as is.

They don’t care to see multiple emails about where my campaign is.

I might be excited, but they have their own lives and victories to be celebrating. I tried to be very modest when it came to communicating and not over-communicating.

(Lisa’s interpretation: Basically, try not to annoy your biggest supporters.)

 

5—Sharing my progress and behind-the-scenes work

I did post all of my progress work on my Facebook page during my campaign.

MOST of my backers were friends from Facebook or friends of friends of groups I was in so it gave me a spot to “dump” all of the creative work.

If people were interested, it was a landing place they could choose to look and not have it thrown in their face in an update e-mail.

As an artist, my favorite part of seeing artwork is the process and seeing how images evolve.

Because of that, I chose to use that as my basis of what I was sharing.

Admittedly, my book was successful not because of the storyline but because of the images.

I made sure to not share any of the “full” spreads on social media until I started posting my “artist updates”.

In way, it wasn’t old news for people.

The only people that saw the spreads were friends and family who lived close and came over to see them personally.

6—Planning all of my posts ahead of time

Planning all of my posts and updates ahead of time.

Lisa’s tracker was life saver (and it was only $27!!)!

I did alter and move some things around as things worked better on different days, I stuck pretty close to my initial plans.

I had to keep reminding myself that even it I was excited about wanting to post some more artwork sooner than planned, I had to remind myself of my plan and not get to ahead of myself in overposting.

tree could be expenses
Photo credit: Gina Stevens, Kickstarter page

7—Knowing my expenses

I’ve kept a really accurate list of my expenses and had a mental goal in mind as I reached my set goal of $6,000.

Once I saw that I was moving past my goal, I worked with my printer to increase my print quantity to accommodate the extra money (no, I didn’t just pocket the over).

This way my back stock of books will be covering following my campaign to set me up for future print runs or a a second book.

I made a point to not share my printer or specific costs with my backers because most of my backers are not familiar with self publishing so they don’t understand all of the extra costs associated.

Anyone who asked, I would tell them I will be lucky to break even. Honestly, with my method of increasing the quantity of books as I went, it was the truth. I needed to get the funds in my pocket before I could increase the quantity of the print run.

It was all about finding a balance of what that right number was to maximize the spend and quantity of books.

8—Expressing gratitude

I made sure to comment and thank EVERY single person that commented on my book.

9—Starting the printing process early

Because I hit my goal so early in my campaign (within a few days of launching), I was able to start the printing process early and my printer sent my proofs very quickly.

I was able to share that with my social media and it really got people excited.

Some people commented on the quality of the pages and others were just excited to see it as a whole.

It created a great buzz in the mid-campaign lull. I saw quite a bit of traffic as I shared that post.

What didn’t work as well as you had hoped?

a tree could be mockup
Photo credit: Gina Stevens

1—Printed business cards/promo cards

I made up business card sized “promotion” cards to hand out before my launch just telling people where they could follow my artwork (Instagram) as well as the dates of the campaign.

Obviously, this didn’t work as the cards arrived at my house right as the quarantine began so I wasn’t “out” in the community to hand them out.

Granted it only cost me around $20, but still, it didn’t work.

2—Instagram was a flop

I tried to create more of a following on Instagram the past 6 months prior to my campaign launch, but I don’t feel it drove much of ANY traffic.

First, Instagram (which I didn’t realize) doesn’t let you hyperlink your posts, so pushing people to your pre-launch page didn’t work well.

People don’t copy and paste a URL these days (it take too much work) so if a post isn’t clickable they won’t go to it.

3—Facebook ads also flopped

Though I am not a pro and was new to Facebook ads, I ran about $25 worth of ads over the three weeks.

Facebook said there were a certain amount of links and click-throughs but those days I didn’t see much traffic outside of my network at all.

Granted, even if I got one or two pledges from there it would cover my $25 cost but really wasn’t the best bang for the buck.

(Lisa’s note: you really need to experiment with Facebook ads before you launch so you can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to get it right the first time.)

4—Cross-promotion with other campaigns didn’t work

I had multiple people reach out during my campaign (some I was familiar, most I was not) that wanted to cross promote.

As I mentioned earlier, I was very cautious on spamming my current backers as I know how I would feel receiving those types of messages if I backed a campaign.

Because I reserved my communication with my backers, maybe selfish, but I wasn’t willing to push others campaigns on my backers.

I just didn’t feel it was appropriate. I posted one or two on my Instagram but even then it seems odd with my Instagram being all about my process then throwing in someone else’s pages.

I don’t know, it may work better if it was planned ahead of time to cross-collaborate, but I didn’t have time to entertain the idea after the fact.

5—Processing post-campaign orders

To be honest, I wasn’t planning on taking additional pre-orders after my Kickstarter ended.

I’ve had multiple people reach out post campaign asking where they can get my book since they missed the campaign.

I just now set up my website to take post-Kickstarter orders, but didn’t have a plan before I launched.

6—Backers surveys are a pain

I am a big planner and I don’t want to be tracking down shipping addressed 6-8 months from now.  Although, I don’t want to keep spamming my backers to more things.

Like I mentioned before, they were already generous enough to support my project and everyone is busy and I don’t want to overwhelm them with messages about their address.

I did leave that feedback for Kickstarter that maybe they collect addresses when they pledge.

Many of my backers were first time backers and Kickstarter sends A LOT of emails.

So many lessons learned, Gina, thank you!

What would you like to say in summary?

It really was a fun experience and to be 100% honest, it has gotten me though the quarantine so far.

Having something to look forward to and dive into was a really great distraction as we have been stuck as home.

Timing wise, it really was perfect as we have been stuck inside with not great weather.

Photo credit: Gina Stevens, Kickstarter page

Gina’s Bio

Something is always growing in Gina’s world. Plants in her sprawling garden. Her son. Her own design business, Nine18 Creative.

In the rare moments she gets to herself, you’ll find her barefoot probably trying to grow some exotic plant from a seed. Also, not running.

An artist to the core, she earned a degree in Fine Art – Graphic Design from Western Michigan University, then spent six years in corporate communications at Kellogg Company.

She and her husband share their log home in Michigan with their son, medium-sized dog and cat.

Buy her book on her website and follow Gina on social media.

Website: https://www.nine18creative.com/

Facebook

Instagram

Kickstarter campaign 

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Remember that $27 crowdfunding planner Gina said was a lifesaver? 

You can download it for yourself here: https://lisaferlandconsulting.vipmembervault.com/

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