I successfully completed my first kickstarter campaign on February 28 and wanted to share what I learned from that crazy, fun experience (and from my journey into the writing world thus far):
The top 10 things I learned from my first kickstarter campaign:
10. Preparation is (almost) everything. Benjamin Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. I prepared for my kickstarter campaign like it was my full-time job for at least 2 months before I launched. I built up my website following by offering subscribers an early bird discount on my book(s). I had magnets made and gave them to everyone I knew. I drove around town, put up flyers and talked with numerous dentists about my book. In order to get my author facebook page going, I asked my amazingly supportive family to “like” and share my posts. I also had some friends really step up and become my “champions” during my campaign. I spent HOURS doing research: researching other successful kickstarter campaigns, talking to authors in the FB groups I’m a part of about marketing strategies and reading many articles online. I backed a bunch of other author kickstarter campaigns in order to become a part of that community and to support other authors. I planned a drawing contest and giveaway to do during my campaign with my talented illustrator, Rebecca Sinclair. On instagram, I built up my own following by following at least 20 teachers, dentists and mom bloggers every day. I also contacted local media and managed to get 2 newspapers to write about me, had a cable TV network come to my house and was featured on the local news.
9. “Old dogs” really can learn new tricks. I knew absolutely nothing about marketing when I started this journey into becoming a published author. NOTHING. In fact, I knew nothing about any part of the author world at all. The amount of things I have learned since last July amazes me.
8. There are a lot of helpful people out there. I mean, I always knew there were helpful people, but when I started reaching out to ask for advice from complete strangers (for everything from help setting up my website to help finding an illustrator to help creating magnets to market for my campaign), I was amazed and so grateful to find so many generous people out there who were eager to help a complete stranger!
7. Stepping out of your comfort zone is good for you. I am an old(er), tired, busy mother of 2 young children, who’s been a teacher for the last 17 years. I could easily have just kept teaching for the next 20 or so years and been happy doing so (there’s nothing wrong with that by the way. As any mother and/or teacher will tell you, every day is a new and crazy adventure- you’re pretty much forced out of your comfort zone way more often than you want to be). Instead of sticking with what I knew though, I decided to do something completely different. It’s been scary, hard, exhausting and nerve-wracking. But, it’s also been exciting, fun and exhilarating. I have learned so much, met so many amazing people and have had so many awesome experiences that I never would have had if I hadn’t had the courage to try something new! It’s so good to push yourself out of your comfort zone- I’ve never regretted the times I’ve done it.
6. I learned a bit about marketing. I am a teacher, mom and wife. I’m not a salesperson, never have been. I was uncomfortable with selling my book. Don’t get me wrong: I love my book. I think it’s a great book and I can’t wait to share it with you all, but it’s always been awkward for me to try to sell people things, even to talk positively about myself. It takes confidence, you really have to believe in yourself and put yourself out there- yes, you might get rejected (and I was, many times), but like one of my new author friends told me: no one else is going to sell your book- YOU have to sell it! So I did.
5. I learned that it’s okay (and necessary) to rely on others. I am a first born who was raised to be very independent. I don’t like to ask for help. I used to pride myself on not needing anyone. This whole process has taught me that I do need other people. There are a LOT of people who know more than I do, especially about writing and selling books! I learned to ask them for help. I also learned that it’s okay to ask my family and friends to help me and when I did ask, boy did they ever step up! I was amazed by how much generosity and kindness people have shown (and continue to show) me. Strong, successful people know to depend on people and ask for help.
4. You won’t get what you don’t ask for. Many times throughout my life, I have made the conscious choice to not take the initiative. Too often, I have watched opportunities pass me by, because it was easier than putting myself out there. Not during this campaign: I asked dentists to buy my book, I asked newspapers and TV news stations to interview me, I asked schools, friends and family (and yes, even strangers!) to support me…often times, I was turned down. But, I was also told yes! And, because of those yeses, I felt hopeful, encouraged and more confident in myself. You have to advocate for yourself.
3. You have to spend money to make money. Everyone who knows me, knows that I am (very) frugal. I don’t like to spend money (understatement). However, I knew that in order to make money during my campaign, I had to loosen the purse strings a little. With the help of my author friends, I put together a budget for marketing during my campaign. I paid for FB to boost some of my author posts. I spent a few days emailing and researching bloggers and paid for one of them to advertise for me. I backed other kickstarter campaigns.
2. I learned how to be a risk-taker. I am a realist. I am logical. I think things through. I am a planner. I like feeling safe and secure, knowing where I stand. I usually take the road more travelled. None of those are really the characteristics of someone who’s decide to go for a life-long dream. In the past 6 months, I’ve become a bit of a dreamer. I’ve taken risks that have made me (literally) sweat. I still think things through before acting (perhaps too much), but I like to think I’ve strengthened the right side of my brain just a little.
1. And the #1 thing I’ve learned from this journey so far: I really can do anything I set my mind to (well almost anything…I mean, let’s face it, I’m not going to be going for an Olympic gold medal any time soon or ever- there are some things this body just can’t do)…and so can you! Go for it! Live your dream! I’m doing it and it’s been an amazing ride!
Thank you again to all who have helped me on the road to becoming a published author. There really are too many people to list here (how awesome is that??)! Please reach out to me if you would like to hear more. I won’t claim to know a LOT, but I do know some and I would love to share what I know with you.
P.S. Another thing I learned is that when you’ve completed a successful kickstarter campaign, you can continue to collect orders via Indiegogo Indemand. If any of you missed the chance to order a book or if you want to order more copies of my book, you can find my campaign here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cami-kangaroo-has-too-many-sweets-book/x/18024799#/
P.P.S For those of you who are wondering…I have sold about 330 books so far- I will be autographing every single one of those preorders! Anyone who preorders also has the option of having my lovely daughter and main character of my book, Cami, sign their book! Let’s put her to work!!
*You can view my kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1325593273/cami-kangaroo-has-too-many-sweets/