Five Lessons Learned from Kickstarter, $12,213 Later | Pointe of View

Every Monday, I feature an image and backstory from my Pointe of View series.

Yesterday, the Kickstarter campaign to fund the Pointe of View book came to a close. The final sum: twelve thousand, two hundred, and thirteen dollars. Unbelievable.

I have already sent out a great big thank you and some special sneak peeks to my backers, (though I can’t really say it enough, so again, Thank You!) but I wanted to take a moment here to reflect on the journey and some lessons learned so far.

(First, a nice little moment from our Taipei shoot!)

A Taipei Moment

Ballet dancer: Kendra Flemming
Assistant: Deborah Flemming
Location: Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Five lessons learned from my Kickstarter project:

  1. My friends are my biggest backers. I don’t mean this in the nice cheerleader sense. I mean it literally– the vast majority of my backers are people I know in real life. They are my friends and acquaintances. This seems obvious now, but in the beginning, I had imagined a bunch of strangers– ballet connoisseurs and photography buffs– to be the target audience. I probably did reach some of that audience as well, but the majority of the $12k raised was from people supporting me and my project, moreso than people who just really wanted a ballerina book.
  2. Social media works. Facebook works. I posted this project a lot across all my social media platforms in the first two days, and I am sorry for being so obnoxious, but it worked. Every time I sent a targeted email blast or posted and tagged people on Facebook, I would see an influx of new backers. More than 63% of all of my funding came from either Facebook links or direct traffic– which also goes back to #1, it was my friends who were clicking and funding the project.
  3. Pricing matters. I wanted to make sure the books were priced at $50 or under, because that’s how much I would pay for a fine art book myself. But before I did anything, I made a spreadsheet of my reward tiers, the costs, and the margins. It’s important to account for all the costs, the Kickstarter fees, Amazon Payment fees, and shipping fees, rather than accidentally taking a loss on the project. Also, I kept my reward tiers very simple. $25, $50 (the book), $125, $500, and $1200. Not surprisingly, no one went for the $1200, but surprisingly, three of my friends did go for the $500 tier. I see too many other Kickstarters with ten or more tiers, and it’s just too confusing. As with all basic pricing principles, people will tend toward the middle. My goal was to get a batch of books published, so I intentionally made $50 the most appealing tier, and sure enough, 63% of the backers went with the $50 reward.
  4. Do it for the right reasons. Though this project raised more than $12k, it is not all profit. As mentioned before, I wasn’t pricing it for crazy profits. In the end, I’ll walk away with about $2,000. When you consider the amount of work I’ve put into this project,$2k is a pretty small amount. Luckily for me, I have known since the beginning that this was my passion project, that I wasn’t doing it for the money, and that my goal was to produce a book I’m proud of and can share with others. Keep your motivations in line. It will help keep you going in the right direction. It’s not that your goal can’t be to tons of money– it’s just that it will change the way you price and sell your project.
  5. Be pragmatic. Be willing to adjust expectations. I mean this in the best possible way. When I launched this project, I was worried that I might not make my $5000 goal. Of course, when I saw on the end of day one that we were about to reach 50%, my expectations were rapidly adjusted. I set the bar higher, and mentally benchmarked $10k as my goal for the end of the project. And of course, at the final tally  we more than doubled the initial goal. It’s a bit silly, but I set myself up to succeed beyond my wildest expectations, while still I try to approach the project pragmatically at every step.

Anyway, I would be more than happy to elaborate or support fellow Kickstarter fundraisers if you have more questions for me, but I don’t want to bore you, so for now, I will just say it again. THANK YOU ALL! $12,213. Incredible. Stay tuned to watch the book become a reality!

 

Pointe of View is a ballerina series by Anna Wu Photography. Anna is a wedding & portrait photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a soft spot for traveling the world. View more of her work at annawu.com or follow her on facebook.

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