What I Learned From My Indiegogo Campaign

Background: I recently ran an Indiegogo Campaign to help fund my debut novel, Grigory’s Gadget. Since I’ve decided to self-publish, the cost of professional editing, cover design, etc. is my burden, rather than a publisher’s. For the editors and designers I’ve decided to work with (Writership and Deranged Doctor Design) that burden summed up to about $2,570. As a young professional fresh out of graduate school, I don’t exactly have that money lying around. That’s why I ran my campaign.

How I Set Up My Campaign: Two of the main things you have to figure out before launching a crowdfunding campaign are:

  • What will your contributors receive (perks)?
  • What is your funding goal?

You’ll want to set incentives for people to contribute to your campaign. If you, like me, are trying to fund a book, a copy of that book is an obvious choice. My list of perks included a copy of the eBook and/or a signed copy of the paperback. I also listed a bookmark among the perks, since Deranged Doctor Design includes bookmark design in their packages, and they’re pretty easy to produce. Then I got a little more creative. I make candles as a hobby, so another perk I added was a Grigory’s Gadget candle. I also used the website Adagio Teas to create custom blends themed around places and characters in my novel. It’s completely free to create the blends, and they’re affordable to purchase. Finally, I designed a simple Steamship Pirate t-shirt through Staples. Who doesn’t like a t-shirt? Basically, you want to create a range of perks to appeal to a range of people with a range of budgets.

You may notice that most of these perks cost money to produce, and then to ship. This is very important when determining the goal for your campaign. If I wanted to cover my costs of $2,570, my goal needed to be higher than that. To figure out how much higher, I made a spreadsheet of all of my perks, how much they cost to produce, how much they cost to ship, and how much I wanted them to be worth. I calculated how much profit I would make off of each perk, after Indiegogo’s fees, to then calculate how much I would need to sell to make that profit of $2,570. It wound up averaging to about $4,000*.

*I just want to pause here to highlight an important aspect of crowdfunding. If you run a campaign through Indiegogo, you can choose to go with their “Flexible Funding” option. This means that you keep whatever money you make, regardless of whether or not you hit your goal. Conversely, if you go through a website like Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. With websites like that, you want to set your goal to something you’re fairly confident you can actually achieve. Since I had the Flexible Funding option, I went all-in with the total I would need to cover everything.

When all was said and done, and my campaign ended, I had raised $2,021: 51% of my goal. While that won’t cover all of my expenses related to my book, it’ll put a hell of a dent in them!

Lessons Learned:

  • Market your campaign before-hand: Let people know your campaign is coming, and when it will start. Start with friends, families, and anyone else you know who might want to contribute. This also gives those people a chance to spread the word to their own contacts.
  • Market your campaign consistently through its entire duration: A common mistake with crowdfunding campaigns is that people start the campaign and then let it sit there. Remind people about your campaign. Tweet, post on Facebook, use whatever other platforms you’re familiar with. If you don’t tell anyone about your campaign, and if you don’t remind people about your campaign, you won’t get very many (if any) contributions. People are busy, forgetful, waiting for a paycheck, etc. Don’t be a nag, but don’t ignore your campaign, either.
  • Get family and friends to reach out to their own contacts: Some people feel awkward about asking their friends and family for contributions. I completely understand that instinct, but it’s one you absolutely have to get over. The vast majority of my contributions came from friends and family members. The second-biggest group of contributions came from friends-of-friends and family-friends. Only two contributions came from complete strangers. Use any networks you have in place, and you’ll be much more successful. People that already know and like you are much more likely to support you.

Those are my lessons learned! Good luck with your own crowdfunding campaigns!

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