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The Keys to Success

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One of the questions that is regularly asked of a blog that focuses on Kickstarter, apparently, is, “how do I make my project successful.” It comes in second actually, behind “can you please post an article about how awesome my project is?”

The answer to the second question is probably not. If I turn down paying opportunities to shill for projects I don’t believe in, then I am probably not going to tell my readers about projects I also happen not to care about for free (unless they happen to have an important positive or negative lesson about the process.)

The answer to the first question is slightly more complicated than that. Want to know how to make your project successful? Keep reading. 

Okay, so it isn’t that simple, but advice on this subject falls into two categories – the value proposition and finding your audience. I have covered the first part in detail on other posts, but advice in that vein boils down to produce something of value, and charge a fair price. The first will make you more likely to succeed, and the second bit less likely to fail.

But none of that matters if you can’t find an audience. Say you want to write a book; so does everyone else. The internet is full of self published books that aren’t worth the time it takes to read the back blurb. This is true on forums, amazon, and Kickstarter. Even if you’re book is outstanding, you are going have to compete with a thousand lookalikes that may or may not be.

So what do you do? Well, a nice cover might help, or a quote from someone famous saying how awesome you are, but generally speaking you are going to need three things to maximize your success. Lets visualize these areas as concentric, expanding circles with the most intensity at the center and the broadest reach at the outside.

3-conc-circles

  • In the inner ring are your family and close friends. They, along with perhaps a few friends of friends are the only people that really want you to succeed. Pestering these people every day will not be catastrophic, but it will not be particularly effective either. At the start of your campaign, and again at the end you need to contact these people with an individual personalized call to action. If you are trying to climb the charts on Amazon get them to write a review – if you are trying to succeed on Kickstarter, get them to toss in a few bucks. Sooner is better, and nothing adds to inertia like inertia.
  • Next comes social media; somewhere between political snarks and videos of kittens you must convince people to care. There is nothing worse than to use social media every single day to advertise your project. You become noise, or worse – you become wallpaper. If you are trying to get the word out on a Kickstarter campaign, then post about it no more than once a week. Alternating between the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) helps pace yourself. Make it a weekly ritual – be bold and loud but infrequent.
  • Last comes the ground game. This is something you should have started well ahead of your campaign. Make friends, start a blog, join forums where your audience lives. The key here is twofold; you want to find your audience, and you also want to seem less like an opportunist when you launch your project. You may not think that they will notice that your very first post on bookreviewer.com is telling everyone who will listen to buy your book, but they will, and they will mock you for it. Reddit is famous for this exact behavior.

The first ring may well seem the most powerful, but your friends can only do so much, and really – do you want to know that you were only successful because all your aunts and uncles chipped in? A point of pride for Chris and I on the Wardenclyffe Horror is that on the $10,000 raised, only about 10% came from people we knew personally. Knowing strangers want to read what you are writing is almost as good as getting the money at the end of the day.

One last thing: I stumbled across another valuable resource on twitter last week. This last tool is only useful for getting the word out if you already have a product to sell, but represents serious potential to get the word out when you get to that point. Pay with a tweet lets you do just what it sounds like. Rather than shelling out a few hard earned dollars to buy a potential unknown, you can pay with a tweet or facebook post. The buyer wins in that they get the product for free, and the seller wins in that they get a little publicity they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

This might sound like vaporware, or a pyramid scheme, but social sharing has real value – over $3.00 on average if this story can be believed. Now naturally this varies with the width and depth of each user’s social network, of course. I would have no problem giving away some copies of my own work someday to try this method out.

Fortunately since I don’t have any work to share Dean from over at DeanFortyThree has decided to give it a shot. He recently launched a book of scifi short stories and after selling it over on Amazon for a while has decided to check out how social media affects the download rate, so go ahead – pay with a tweet to pick up Dean’s book 3024AD today!

Dean goes out of his way to avoid comparing his work to other sci-fi sagas, but I would say that fans of Star Wars or Firefly could do worse than give his gritty tales of pirates and salvage a readthrough.

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

13 thoughts on “The Keys to Success

  1. Thanks for this article. It’s perfectly timed, in fact. I’m about to launch a KS project of my own, so I’m probably going to be looking this over again when I have more time. 9 days to launch!

  2. I think, depending on your following, you can get away with a few promo tweets per day, just because the lifespan of a tweet is so short, and if you tweet in the morning, the evening crowd won’t see it, etc. Hootsuite’s scheduled tweets are great for this. Obviously, you should be tweeting far more non-promo stuff than promo.

    The other HUGE thing is get OTHERS to talk about it- their promo will carry a lot more weight than your own, so ask that inner circle to talk/tweet/share/etc.

    And thanks for the plug! Hopefully I’ll get some good numbers for you to use in a follow up post.

  3. I’m well on the path, I believe for the inner ring. Got a good bit of friendly rep with reviewers and bookstores (via their blogs and stuffs), and still branching out with ideal readers (target audience).
    The down side, socially awkward is completely visible across social media platforms. Haha, who knew right. Anyway, I’m doing my best on that front.
    The sucky thing is my call to action among friends and family… Maybe I should have called louder or more frequently? I’ve had minimal luck in this area. Thank the powers that be for beta readers, I’ve gotten a stronger show of support from total strangers than friends and family.
    But I carry on. My launch closes in. I’ve got a terrific cover in the works and my brother is working some awesome illustrations. The current draft shines like the prettiest shiny thing. So I would have to say that it’s going well so far.

    Great post! 🙂

    • After a bit more thought on the topic…
      The writing is the easy part. Marketing is a tough job. If I were better at sales, I’d be a salesman. Haha. Seriously though, the marketing side of things is tough work. 🙂

      • Someday you’ll be able to afford an editor and a sales staff – for now you must be the one man band.

        Look on the bright side – so far, so good.

  4. I have been very slow to warm to the affections of social media and have never posted anything on a forum or blog until now. So please excuse the naivete in this question… how many forums would you recommend joining?

    • Find a couple, post intelligently on topics you find interesting for a week or two, and then see how that feels.

      Better to be a regular on one with some people that recognize you, then to burn out trying to keep up with a dozen.

  5. “It comes in second actually, behind “can you please post an article about how awesome my project is?””

    Send those my way, would ya? You’ll stop getting them real quick. 😉

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