Sharita Manickam and Jen Bruno want young girls to envision their futures as anything—CEOs, astronauts, artists—absolutely any dream at all.
The photo book shows real girls modeling future professions and it caught fire on Kickstarter raising over $21k with 616 backers.
Turns out, stoking the fires of a revolution is popular business.
Sharita was kind enough to share some insights and experiences of her campaign.
With 139 backers on launch day, you must’ve done a ton of behind the scenes work to prepare everyone for your campaign’s launch.
What types of “behind-the-scenes” work did you do that contributed most to that huge first day?
Before launching, we held a Thunderclap campaign (Thunderclap is a service that has since been discontinued).
Basically, it was a way of getting your early supporters (family, friends, social media contacts) to sign up to help spread the word about your Kickstarter launch.
We asked our contacts to support us by signing up by linking their social media accounts to our Thunderclap campaign. Then on the day of our KS launch, Thunderclap posted a one time, free message to all of those supporter’s social media feeds telling their friends/followers about our launch! Thunderclap was likened to a “social media flash mob”.
In the weeks leading up to the launch, we made social media posts and graphics explaining how Kickstarter worked as we learned many of our friends and family members were unfamiliar with crowdfunding and pre-orders.
We also sent out a market survey and received 700 responses and about 200 people signed up for our newsletter.
We also had some early bird specials for the first 48 hours that we promoted heavily. We sent out an email blast the morning of our launch to friends and family.
“It’s a lot of work, relationship building, and strategy, but one of the main things we would like to express is that you can’t be afraid to sell yourself and ask for help.”—Sharita Manickam
How long did you engage your audience and potential backers before launching?
We began our social media campaign about a month before we “intended” to launch, but ended up having to push back about a month.
We used social media to increase enthusiasm about empowerment, count down to our impending launch, and collaborate with other accounts with like-minded missions.
How large was your audience before you launched?
We had about 900 followers on each platform, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and about 700 email addresses (500 friends and family and 200 survey respondents) collected.
The ever-changing, always elusive social media algorithms of FB and IG make marketing a product so much more difficult than ever before.
Since we didn’t have the budget to pay to boost our posts, we created “boost groups” of our biggest supporters and each time we posted something on FB and IG, we send a link to our “boost group” so they can go like or comment that post. It increased our exposure quite a bit.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your Kickstarter campaign?
We were blown away by the immediate support—the link sharing, the enthusiastic posting, etc. We didn’t expect that to happen right away, and then when we were selected as a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter within a few hours of launch, we were really surprised.
We’d been advised by several Kickstarter veterans that sales were likely to stall once we hit our goal, so that didn’t come as a huge shock, but had we not been prepared for it by others, I think that would have been a really difficult pill to swallow.
Your video is brilliant. Where did you find all of your sweet young models to participate? Did you do the video yourself or hire an expert?
Thank you! Since the photo illustrator, Jen and I have young children, we were lucky to have a fairly large pool of children to reach out to who are friends of our kids.
We ended up with 72 models in total and found many through word of mouth. Our video model is a friend of my daughter and her older sister did the voice over. Jen’s son is also in the video, as is another book model and her mom and brother.
Our video was filmed with an iPhone and I put it together using apps.
How was your experience with IndieGoGo InDemand after your Kickstarter ended?
We just haven’t had time to build our own website yet so IndieGoGo InDemand seemed like a good way to continue taking pre-orders.
I don’t think we received much new exposure from IndieGoGo, but we ended up raising about $2500 through inDemand from people who either missed our Kickstarter or were just learning about the book through social media.
With so many backers, has fulfillment been an issue? What solution would you recommend for authors who find themselves overwhelmed with logistics? Did you go with BackerKit?
Our shipment of books from China was held up for weeks at the Port of New York, so we were about a month behind schedule on fulfillment. Once we received the books, we sent them all out within days.
We did use BackerKit.
It took a lot of time to setup but in the long run it simplified our fulfillment.
I hesitated about the cost at first, but it more than paid for itself from add-on items our backers purchased through Backerkit. I would recommend Backerkit, especially for those with more than a few hundred backers.
Also a label printer is a must for quick shipping!
What advice would you give a fellow author who is looking to crowdfund their book?
Sales don’t happen automatically.
Kickstarter doesn’t sell anything for you.
It’s a lot of work, relationship building, and strategy, but one of the main things we would like to express is that you can’t be afraid to sell yourself and ask for help.
We reached out to many other successful Kickstarter brands along the way to gather advice and to partner and cross promote.
We also asked our friends and family to help be an extension of our sales team by using their social media and word of mouth channels to spread the word.
We couldn’t have done this alone, and we advise anyone considering a crowdfunding campaign to rally their troops before they launch.
What are you working on at the moment and do you have plans for more books?
At the moment we are working on driving traffic to our Amazon listing through influencer marketing and ads.
We keep a running list of occupations for a sequel and have ideas for other books, but at the moment we are just focusing on this one!
Sharita Manickam grew up in Maryland. After graduating from the University of Maryland, she moved to New York City, where she worked in marketing until her first daughter was born. During the next couple of years, Sharita discovered a passion for writing and co-wrote a television drama script for a major network. Her love of writing, coupled with her love of reading to her daughters, sparked the idea for a children’s book. Sharita lives in Forest Hills, NY, with her husband, Maurice and their two RAD girls. RAD Girl Revolution is her first book.
Jennifer Elliott Bruno grew up and attended college in Kansas before relocating to Tallahassee, FL to pursue a career in property management. She met her husband, George, in Tallahassee, and the couple moved to New York City where they soon became parents to a little boy named Henry. Shortly after his birth, Jennifer pursued her passion by opening a photography business. She currently resides with her family and miniature dachshund in Forest Hills.