This is a guest post by Amanda Green.
So you’re a content creator, right? You’re a blogger, an internet marketer, a writer and trendsetter and brand expert.
Tell me about your Kickstarter.
Yes, like it or not, Kickstarter has become the new must-have brand accessory. Although it’s very difficult to make a profit from a Kickstarter (for reasons to be explained below), it’s also now difficult to be taken seriously as a content creator unless you’ve passed through the crucible of crowdfunding. And, because of market dominance and name recognition, Kickstarter is the only way to successfully get crowdfunded; other crowdfunding sites, like IndieGoGo or Quirky, are seen as sites for people who can’t hack it on Kickstarter.
With that in mind: when are you going to launch yours? Here’s what you need to know to get started:
You need a compelling project OR compelled fans
There are two ways to be successful at Kickstarter. First, create something that a lot of people want, like the Pebble Watch. Pebble–after designing and Kickstarting a watch that syncs with your smartphone to show text messages and emails on your wrist–is now a hugely successful company.
However, most bloggers and internet marketers are unlikely to have a Pebble-sized idea in their back pocket. Instead, you’re going to be Kickstarting a content-based project: a book of marketing techniques, a business course for new bloggers or a series of interviews with the best brand creators in the country. For this, you need fans. You need regular interaction with blog commenters and Twitter followers so you have a group of people who will mobilize and fund your project.
Perhaps ironically, the point of a content-based Kickstarter isn’t to make money (you won’t, and we’ll get to why). Nor is it necessarily to sell a brilliant product – that book of marketing techniques is likely to be culled from old blog posts, after all. It’s to announce your ascendance to the next level.
Having a successful Kickstarter shows the world that you have enough authority that people are willing to pay for your content.
This is a key step for content creators and internet marketers. Once you have that Kickstarter badge on your website, everyone will know that you’ve been accepted and supported by “the crowd.” You’ll be able to leverage this into further opportunities, including interviews, guest blog posts and – the ultimate goal – book deals.
You aren’t going to make money
Here’s the bad news. You aren’t going to make any money on your Kickstarter. Not even if you pad your budget with contingency funds or go 100% over your project goal.
This is why: In addition to your Kickstarter’s primary goal (“my new book, Everything I Know About Internet Marketing“), you also need to create tiered rewards. Every person who donates is entitled to a project reward commensurate to the level of the donation. This means you’re going to need to create, produce and ship multiple types of rewards.
Even if some of the rewards are low- or no-cost (like a PDF of MelvinBlog’s Blog Marketing Guide), you’re still going to need to create tangible products for high-level donors. Even a modest product like a “page-a-day marketing idea calendar” is going to cost you far more than you anticipate: in addition to writing 365 individual marketing ideas, you need to design the calendar layout, have the calendars printed, and pay to ship them across the country and overseas.
And that’s just the basic requirements for production and shipping. Smart marketers are going to add extra touches, like branded custom printed shipping boxes. They’re going to create stretch goals (so they can say “My Kickstarter funded at 100% over goal and then hit two additional stretch goals”) which require even more product design, development and shipping.
All of these expenses are on top of the cut that Kickstarter takes, the cut that Amazon Payments takes and the cut that goes to the tax man. (Yes, you have to pay taxes on Kickstarter funds.)
In short: don’t go into your Kickstarter expecting to make money. In fact, most content creators report paying out of pocket to create and ship their Kickstarter rewards.
If it’s a lot of work and you aren’t going to make any money, why bother with crowdfunding? At this point, it’s the equivalent of hosting a YouTube channel or creating your first ebook. If you don’t have one, people are going to wonder why. To maintain authority in the information economy, you need proof that your ideas are supported by large numbers of people. The way to do that, at least for the next year or so, is to Kickstart a project.
So: when are you going to launch your Kickstarter?