Hard Lesson 19: 12 Things I learned from running four kickstarter campaigns this year

September 27, 2016

I just wrapped up my fourth Kickstarter campaign in 12 months. Katrina Hates the Dead ran from September until October 2015. Then My Father Didn’t Kill Himself ran from February to March 2016. Then I Can’t Stop Tooting: A Love Story ran from April to May 2016. Finally, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs ran from August 2016 to September 2016.

Along the way, we also launched Gherkin Boy and the Dollar of Destiny Activity book without Kickstarter, but for the most part all our launches this year have involved a Kickstarter. We tried to run a Kindle Scout campaign for Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, but that was a disaster. You can check out my thoughts on that by clicking here.

I thought about talking about Spaceship Broken solely on this episode, but I would be remiss not to discuss what I learned from all the campaigns we’ve run this year. I thought I was an expert on Kickstarter after Katrina. Ha! That is just one category, we dove into the publishing category this year and it was like a whole different ballgame.

So what lessons did I take away from four Kickstarter in one year?

1. You better be damn well sure you have an audience who likes you and will buy your stuff before you plan a Kickstarter every quarter.

There’s a big difference between putting together one book a year on Kickstarter and doing multiple books a year. When you are doing one book, you can get a lot more money raised because this is your only book. However, if you are doing a bunch of books, people will just wait for the next one. You segment and fragment your audience because everybody knows the next one is coming along soon. So instead of raising $10,000 from one book, you may find yourself raising the same $10,000 but on a bunch of books.

If you want to do a bunch of campaigns, you must build an audience consistently that works their way down you funnel so that you can raise money consistently on each campaign.

2. Just because somebody likes your comics doesn’t mean they’ll like anything else you do.

This goes for anything, whether you are a fine artist or a novelist. When you move into a new genre of format, most people won’t follow you. We opened up into novels and kid’s books this year, and saw our total backers drop considerably from 294 with Katrina down to 155 with My Father Didn’t Kill Himself and finally down to 65 at our lowest, before rebounding back up to 75 with Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs.

With our comics, we could count on 200–300 backers, but by expanding into other genres and formats, those numbers went down considerably because people that knew me from comics didn’t trust me to make a quality novel.

3. A higher backer count does not mean more money.

Our Katrina campaign raised $8780 from 294 backers. Between the other 3 campaigns we ran this year we raised $7459 from 295 backers. Logically, you would assume we would raise almost the same amount from the same amount of backer, but we came up with a $1321 loss from roughly the same backers.

This also goes back to our previous discussion about splitting your audience. In 2016, we raised less than we raised in the entirety of 2015, from almost the exact same number of backers, but we raised it on three projects (MFDKH, SBNR, and ICST) instead of one (KHTD). This is a perfect example of how you can segment your audience into three projects but not make more at the end of the day.

4. You need to give your audience enough time to read your work.

It takes about 6–9 months for somebody to read a book they bought. I have people who’ve had my books for over a year and haven’t read them. If you want people to back your new work, you need to give them time to fall in love with your last work. One of the main failings of the Spaceship Broken campaign was that we didn’t give people enough time to enjoy My Father Didn’t Kill Himself.

This goes in tandem with allowing people to build a fervor for your books by dripping out information over time, giving people samples, and generally talking about your projects for enough time that interest is built. You can’t just drop a book, even to your existing audience, and expect them to froth at the mouth for it immediately.

5. You better be really good at marketing your books.

When you start doing multiple projects, you will be hitting your audience a lot. For the month leading up to the campaign you will be building hype, for the month of the campaign you will be slamming them with information, and for the month after you’ll be doing wrap-ups. That’s a three-month cycle for every campaign. If you launch 4 books a year, that means you are continuously in a launch cycle.

So you have to get really good at providing value to people, building your hype without it coming across as begging. You need to know your audience down pat.

6. You can’t assume everybody will buy from you.

When you launch one product a year, you can assume more people will back your project, even if they aren’t jazzed by it.

When you are launching multiple books a year, though, you have to become okay with people backing what interests them, and not everything you do. This is a huge mindset shift for most people because they are used to a massive swell of people backing their only Kickstarter for that year.

7. Not everything will be a rousing success just because you made it.

Just because you made it, doesn’t mean it will resonate with your audience. Maybe you made something that is a super niche, like Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs. Or maybe you wanted to test out a new market and it didn’t work, like I Can’t Stop Tooting. Or maybe you were trying to break into a new medium, like My Father Didn’t Kill Himself.

No matter what it is, you can’t assume that it’s going to be a breakout hit just because you made it. It’s the same with all mediums. Jared Leto isn’t going to get the same reaction to Suicide Squad as he does to his indie movies. Your products won’t be any different. Some will surprise you. Some will disappoint you.

And some will completely change the landscape of what you do.

8. Kickstarter is just one way to launch a product

I launch products on Kickstarter, but I also launch products at shows. I have launched products right to Amazon. Kickstarter is good for certain products, but it is certainly not the only way to launch a product. However, the principles of Kickstarter hold true on every campaign, from pricing to videos to sales letters, Kickstarter is a microcosm of how to launch any product. What you learn there can be expanded into everything you do.

9. Kickstarter can hamper your live show sales.

When you have multiple products, Kickstarter can stop people from buying books that already exist on your convention table. You are basically exchanging immediate sales for the potential that a product will launch successfully in the future. That’s a high-risk gamble.

When you have several products already, those become the focus at live shows. You have tangible products that can be sold, which becomes the focus of your table. Kickstarter works against you in that scenario, because you forego sales of your existing properties to make money for your launch.

That is just swapping operational money for launch money. All your money goes into the same pool at the end of the day. If you are exchanging convention sales for Kickstarter sales, it doesn’t net you any more money at the end of the day.

10. Kickstarter fatigue is a very real thing.

Even though you can launch products all the time if you want, there is fatigue that sets in with both you and your audience. With Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, I was already aware of this fatigue. I wanted to avoid yet another burnout from my audience, but the failure of my Kindle Scout campaign made launching my third Kickstarter of 2016 a certainty.

If you launch multiple products in a year, it’s best to vary your launches and do some on Amazon, some on Kickstarter, and still other straight from your site. The less you can rely on one platform the less burnout you will receive from your audience.

11. A campaign that didn’t raise much money might still work on your table.

None of my campaigns from 2016 have burned up the charts, but My Father Didn’t Kill Himself and I Can’t Stop Tooting: A Love Story both found audiences when I put them online and on the con table. Just because your campaign doesn’t do gangbusters doesn’t mean you can’t sell your books.

12. Kickstarter has to integrate with the other aspects of your business.

Kickstarter is a great way to build and maintain and audience, but it’s only a piece of your marketing and business strategy. It has to integrate with your con strategy and your Amazon strategy too. You can’t focus all your energy on Kickstarter to the detriment of the rest of your business, nor vice versa. You need to find a balance.

While Kickstarter still has a big place in my business, it’s becoming a smaller and smaller piece of it. As retail, Amazon, and my con table takes but a huge slice of my revenue, Kickstarter has become a way for me to amplify important projects and reach people who don’t live near me. It provides me with a base of funds for projects and allows me to get pre-orders to fulfill my print minimums.

Kickstarter is an essential piece of my business. However, it is now only a piece instead of the whole thing. Together, we’ve done almost $40,000 in revenue this year. $7,459 is a massive piece of that, but it’s only 25%. In years past it was 90% or more. I’m very proud of that.

00:0000:00

Live @ LBCC: How to Crush it On Kickstarter Workshop

September 26, 2016

This weekend at LBCC, I finally got my ish together and recorded all my panels. I moderated one, I was one of two guests on another, and the third was a workshop. I’m going to release them all because most of you weren’t in these panels and I want to make sure you can extract as much value as possible from them.

The first one I’m releasing is my Crush it on Kickstarter workshop. This was just me and a few devotees. I believe there was seven or eight people in total, so we were really able to dig deep. Instead of my previous workshops, I abandoned the slide show and improvised. I never thought I could have gone off script earlier this year. However, in expanding my mission into all business, and having this podcast, I was able to explain how to use Kickstarter to launch your career and use it as Business 101 for creatives.

I learned business through Kickstarter. It gave me the knowledge to understand marketing. Then, I grew from it. I still use Kickstarter as a piece of my business, but it’s not my whole business. That’s what we talk about in this panel. I use Kickstarter to cite how business really works. We get into some amazing mindset stuff in this panel along with practical advice on when to launch, how to launch, and how to use Kickstarter as a building block into creating an amazing business in the arts.

I hope you enjoy this panel. Let me know what you think. If you like it, subscribe on itunes, stitcher, google play, or anywhere else you get podcasts. We have some amazing stuff coming up that you don’t want to miss out. While you are there, leave us a review so we can help more people.

00:0000:00

31 Tips to help you crush it on Kickstarter

September 23, 2016

With our campaign over, I thought it would be nice to have a round-up of all our Kickstarter tip episodes while I worked on a retrospective of our latest campaign. I’m sure you’ve missed one in the past thirty-one days, and even if you caught them all it’s a great way to download the information into your brain noodle one last time and have a bookmark to return in the future as you plan your own campaign.

Below are all thirty-one Kickstarter tips we gave out during our mini-season. However, if you really want to hear some extra content, I highly recommend downloading the episode too.

Tip #1: Start early.

You should be building your audience for at least three months before you launch a campaign. You can’t be successful in crowdfunding without a crowd.

That means showing off your project, starting a Facebook group, beefing up your social media presence, making press contacts, and building a newsletter.

The more time you have to build your network and prep them for a Kickstarter project that’s coming, the more likely they will be to back your campaign when it’s time.

Tip #2: Send individual thank you notes to backers.

When somebody gives you their hard earned money it is only polite to say thank you. It’s easy for us to treat our backers as money, but they are humans and adding the human touch will improve your connection.

On top of being the right thing to do, it will also stem the loss of backers toward the middle of your campaign because you are making a connection.

Tip #3: Stretch goals should always make your core product better.

Most people have terrible trouble with stretch goals. Once a project funds the backers fall off because there’s nothing more to keep their interest.

You can change that by making sure your stretch goals always improve the quality of your project. For instance, if you have a book that is a 100-page soft cover comic, you can add extra pages at the end as a stretch goal, you can add an extra story, you can make your soft cover a hardcover, you could make your book a bigger size.

Meanwhile, the original backer is still paying the same amount for their pledge, and they are getting a better product. Nobody cares about the bookmarks and prints. They just want the coolest project they can get.

Tip #4: Keep your rewards simple.

There is no need to add multiple options for similar items. Each reward should be targeting a specific buyer, and have enough space in between to clearly delineate the right buyer for that product.

I recommend you start with a $1, $10, $25, $50, and $250 for a standard book. Certain products will not fall into this range, but for a publishing product like a book or CD these five categories should be your base. You can always add more later.

Tip #5: make deposits into the good will bank.

Good will is a finite resource, and you will use it up when you run a campaign. In order to make running a Kickstarter palatable to your audience, you need to add value to people’s lives for months and months before you ask them to pledge to your campaign.

This could be from a webcomic, or free pages from your book, or a podcast helping them fix their biggest problems, or anything you can do to help add value to your audience’s lives. The more value you add, the more trust you will have with your audience and the fuller your good will bank will become.

You can’t be a take with Kickstarter, you have to give 10x more than you ask. You should be delivering 10x value to your audience so they will gladly give you money. In fact, they will consider it the least they can do after all the help you have given them. 

Tip #6: Don’t overextend yourself on merchandise.

Especially once a project is funded, creators generally go crazy offering all sorts of merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, and other very high priced items. The problem is that they are eating into their own profit margins and eventually end up in the red.

Merchandise is unnecessary in almost all instances until you have a well-known product. Just focus on making a great single product (unless your product is incredibly high priced like many tech products are). If you must make merchandise, don’t make anything with multiple sizes. Also note that if you offer merchandise you can no longer ship your product media mail.

Tip #7: Keep your video under three minutes.

Your video is a commercial, and nobody can stand a commercial for more than a couple minutes, no matter how amazing the commercial. You can say everything you need to say in under three minutes.

Yes, you will have to edit yourself down. There are plenty of free programs like iMovie which can take out all the ums and ah. You need to make your case clearly and succinctly so people don’t tune out.

Tip #8: Add lots of images.

The average successful Kickstarter has 11 images in it. Even if you have something with a novel, there are plenty of images you can add besides your cover. You can add a photo of yourself. You can add some quotes from your book overlaid on top of a royalty free image. You can add silly memes. You can have somebody draw some illustrations of your book.

In whatever the case, your book needs images. Humans are visual creatures and picture help improve the quality of your page and make your project look more professional.

Tip #9: Keep your text concise.

People on Kickstarter love to use huge blocks of text, but that is ugly to the eye. They also love to muddle their paragraphs. Remember in school where we learned how to write a paragraph?

You have a main sentence, 2–3 sentences that support the main sentence, and finally a concluding sentence that ties together everything you said. The same thing is true with paragraphs. You have a thesis paragraph with your main point, then 3–5 supporting paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.

You don’t need much in order to get somebody to back, but it does have to make a compelling, clear, and concise case.

Tip #10: Send updates often.

Throughout the campaign you need to update your backers at least once every 3 days. The average successful projects have given more than 10 updates. These can be raffle giveaways, or stretch goal announcements, or just a great day that you had. I like to offer weekly challenges on my campaigns, so every week I upload a new video for backers.

The point is that the backers need to be involved in your campaign throughout.

Tip #11: You don’t have to do your dream project first.

If you’ve never raised money on Kickstarter before, then don’t expect to raise several thousand dollars, especially if you have no network. You are much better served doing a project you can complete and fund, even if it’s only $500 or less. Then you will have a baseline of your audience and be able to build from there.

Your goal is to get your feet wet and learn the ropes. It’s not to stress yourself out chasing an impossible goal. You have an entire career to build up to your dream project.

Tip #12: Pledge to other projects.

Kickstarter is a community, and people want to see that you are an active backer before you launch a project. Additionally, if you do back a lot of projects you can then email them during your campaign and ask them to introduce you to their audience. It might not work, but you are almost buying their time to consider your offer.

Tip #13: Consider your category carefully.

Some categories have a much more active community than others. Tech, design, and comics have very active communities. Publishing does not. You want to make sure you get a sense of the community

Tip #14: Start on a Tuesday. End on a Thursday.

Studies show that Tuesday is the best day to begin a campaign. However, Wednesday and Thursday are very close to Thursday. So much so to be within the study’s margin of error. However, Thursday is far and away the best day to end a campaign. Thursday blew all other days of the week away by a statistically significant margin.

Tip #15: Post more to social than you think necessary by a factor of 10.

Only about 3% of people see your Facebook posts. Twitter has a shelf life of 15 minutes. So the people you think you are going to annoy probably haven’t even seen your post. You need to post all the time in order to get word out about your project.

Post when people back your campaign. Post when you’ve hit a milestone. Post everything, but make sure to keep changing your imagery so it doesn’t get stale. It’s the same reason McDonald’s has 1,000 different billboards. The same image drowns into the background. People need new stimuli in order to keep engaged.

Tip #16: You need to raise 30% of your funding in the first 48 hours.

If you think you can raise $1,000, that means at least $300 needs to be raises in the first 48 in order to guarantee success. If you raise under 20% then your project will have a tough uphill battle. If you raise more than 50% it means your target was too low. 30% means you hit the nail on the head.

Tip #17: Convey the why.

Most campaigns are pretty good about describe what their product it. Some can even clearly discuss how they are going to bring it to market. Almost none convey why people should back their project or why they are uniquely qualified to bring the product to market.

The why is what makes people back, though. People are much more likely to back an unfinished product with a compelling why than a finished product that has none. The why is different for every product, but if there is no why you will suffer much fewer backers and risk your campaign not funding.

Tip #18: Bring the passion.

If you can’t show passion for your product, then nobody else will show passion either. You need to show extreme passion for your product to motivate others to get passionate about the product as well. Your passion is contagious, as is your lack of it. It needs to come through in your word, your social strategy, and definitely in your video.

Tip #19: Make sure to calculate shipping carefully.

Almost 10% of successfully funded products fail to deliver. The number one culprit in that failure is shipping. Sometimes rates go up, but sometimes it’s because stretch goals change the weight and size of the box. Still other times it’s because a product that was once media mail can no longer be shipped that way because certain incentives prevent it from being shipped in that way. Other times it can be because they didn’t properly check shipping rates to all countries, and international shipping ate into all their costs.

You need to be very careful with shipping. It can add an undue burden on the unprepared creator. However, with some planning you can make sure it doesn’t destroy your campaign and send you into debt fulfilling rewards.

Tip #20: Kickstarter takes 10% off the top.

Kickstarter takes 5% for their fees and 3–5% for all processing fees through their credit card vendor. Take this into account. Add a 10% buffer to your campaign to prevent failing to raise enough money.

Tip #21: Transparency is key.

If something is going wrong, or right, tell your backers. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t hide anything. People are very forgiving if you are honest.

Tip #22: Schedule posts before your campaign begins.

Buffer, Hootsuite, meet Edgar, Tweet Jukebox, and many others allow you to schedule a base line of social media posts before your campaign begins. You will have other things to post as well, but you want to make sure you get the bulk of your updates out of the way early so that you aren’t fretting about them when your campaign is live.

Tip #23: Double check your rewards.

You can’t change your rewards when your campaign is live. If you accidentally charge the wrong shipping price, or you need to change the tiers in any way once even one person backs, you can’t. This often leads creators to creating new tiers to try to fix what they screwed up. An ounce of preparation is priceless.

Tip #24: Give an early bird perk to your first-day backers.

The first 48 hours is critical to the success of the campaign, so reward those people who back early. It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe the first day backers get a free wallpaper, or maybe they get the digital rewards before anybody else. It doesn’t have to be much, but that little gesture will help push people over the edge to back early.

Tip #25: Make your Kickstarter campaign a spectacle.

Kickstarter is the closest thing to an online comic-con that I’ve ever seen. You should be treating it as such by offering super cool, exclusive perks, doing live chats, engaging with your fans, and giving people something they can’t get anywhere else. You could offer daily giveaways through raffles, or weekly videos.

You can do a google hangout or an AMA, but the simple fact is that Kickstarter is an event and the more you can treat it as such the more success you will have.

Tip #26: Set up a launch and close event for your campaign.

You can do this at your house, at a local comic book store, at a park, or a restaurant. The key is not to spend a bunch of money on the event, it’s to get people excited about your project. If you are an artist, you can hold a show at a local gallery.

If you are a filmmaker you can hold a trailer screening at a local theater. You should hold these events the first and last day of your campaign to help drum up the most fervent enthusiasm possible during the most crucial times of your campaign.

Tip #27: Build press relationships early.

Emailing press contacts the day your campaign launches is too late. The press may have up to a six-month lead time on getting articles into their pipeline. However, if you aren’t building your contacts well before then the press won’t even write a story about you.

You need to be fostering these contacts for months or years before you launch. Offer to do articles for them, meet them at cons, find them on social media, and treat them like humans just like you would for anybody else. The real question you need to ask is “how can I provide value in their lives?” When it’s time to email about your project, then you need to make it easy for them to publish.

Tip #28: Your backers will be mostly people you know.

No matter how many emails you send to the press or how many cold contacts you make during your campaign, most people that back your project will be people you know for months or years before the campaign launches. That means you need the biggest network of energetic friends and fans before you ever hit the launch button. Remember, you can’t be successfully on crowdfunding without a crowd.

Tip #29: Pledge levels should include rewards from all previous tiers.

You don’t want people hesitating about backing a higher tier because they don’t want to miss out on something they really wanted from a previous tier. You want it to be very easy for them to increase their pledge level.

Increasing existing pledges is a crucial part of the middle campaign lull, and any hesitation will prevent you from getting that extra pledge money.

Tip #30: Model success.

Hundreds of other campaigns have done Kickstarter better than you in the past. They’ve succeeded and failed thousands of times. Use that to your advantage. Look through them all and find the points of commonality between them. Make sure to take note of the words they use, the imagery, and the reward levels that are consistent among the highest performers. Then, you can model that in your own campaign for the highest chance of success.

Tip #31: The right title is critical for success.

With hundreds of projects to choose from, you only have a second to catch a backer’s eye. With the way that Kickstarter is set up, you basically get an image and a title to make a backer click on your link.

So you want to make sure your title is catchy AND that is uses all 60 characters to fully explain the reason somebody should click on your project. Almost all hyper successful projects use a colon after the name of their project to state what the project is about. Make sure to utilize all 60 characters in order to give yourself the best chance for success.

That’s it for our mini-season. If you liked this, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts, whether it’s Itunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or any of the other wonderful podcast aggregators out there.

It’s the best way for us to find new people to help and to make sure you don’t miss any future episodes. We have some crazy stuff coming up that you won’t want to miss, so subscribe now.

Even though the campaign is over, you can follow the link of www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com to find great information about the book’s release and where you can order or other books online.

And head on over the www.thebusinessofart.us in order to join our mailing list and get our handy guide to help you build an audience from scratch.

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #31: The right title is critical for success

September 22, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that the right title is critical for success. With hundreds of projects to choose from, you only have a second to catch a backer’s eye. With the way that Kickstarter is set up, you basically get an image and a title to make a backer click on your link.

So you want to make sure your title is catchy AND that is uses all 60 characters to fully explain the reason somebody should click on your project. Almost all hyper-successful projects use a colon after the name of their project to state what the project is about. Make sure to utilize all 60 characters in order to give yourself the best chance for success.

That’s it for our mini-season. This is the last day to back our campaign, so please head over and check it out Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs today at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #30: Model success

September 21, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to model success there are hundreds of successful campaigns in your category. Look through them all and find the points of commonality between them. Make sure to take note of the words they use, the imagery, and the reward levels that are consistent among the highest performers. Then, you can model that in your own campaign for the highest chance of success.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #29: Pledge levels should include rewards from all previous tiers

September 20, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that pledge levels should include rewards from all previous tiers. You don’t want people hesitating about backing a higher tier because they don’t want to miss out on something they really wanted from a previous tier. You want it to be very easy for them to increase their pledge level.

Increasing existing pledges is a crucial part of the middle campaign lull, and any hesitation will prevent you from getting that extra pledge money.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #28: Your backers will be mostly people you know

September 19, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that your backers will be mostly people you know. No matter how many emails you send to the press or how many cold contacts you make during your campaign, most people that back your project will be people you know for months or years before the campaign launches. That means you need the biggest network of energetic friends and fans before you ever hit the launch button. Remember, you can’t be successfully on crowdfunding without a crowd.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #27: Build press relationships early

September 18, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to build press relationships early. Emailing press contacts the day your campaign launches is too late. The press may have up to a six-month lead time on getting articles into their pipeline. However, if you aren’t building your contacts well before then the press won’t even write a story about you.

You need to be fostering these contacts for months or years before you launch. Offer to do articles for them, meet them at cons, find them on social media, and treat them like humans just like you would for anybody else. The real question you need to ask is “how can I provide value in their lives?” When it’s time to email about your project, then you need to make it easy for them to publish.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #26: Set up launch and close events for your campaign

September 17, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to set up launch and close events for your campaign. You can do this at your house, at a local comic book store, at a park, or a restaurant. The key is not to spend a bunch of money on the event, it’s to get people excited about your project. If you are an artist, you can hold a show at a local gallery.

If you are a filmmaker you can hold a trailer screening at a local theatre. You should hold these events the first and last day of your campaign to help drum up the most fervent enthusiasm possible during the most crucial times of your campaign.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #25: Make your Kickstarter campaign a spectacle

September 16, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to make your Kickstarter campaign a spectacle. Kickstarter is the closest thing to an online comic-con that I’ve ever seen. You should be treating it as such by offering super cool, exclusive perks, doing live chats, engaging with your fans, and giving people something they can’t get anywhere else. You could offer daily giveaways through raffles, or weekly videos.

You can do a google hangout or an AMA, but the simple fact is that Kickstarter is an event and the more you can treat it as such the more success you will have.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #24: Give an early bird perk to your first day backers

September 15, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to give an early bird perk to your first-day backers. The first 48 hours is critical to the success of the campaign, so reward those people who back early. It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe the first-day backers get a free wallpaper, or maybe they get the digital rewards before anybody else. It doesn’t have to be much, but that little gesture will help push people over the edge to back early.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #23: Double check your rewards

September 14, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to double check your rewards. You can’t change your rewards when your campaign is live. If you accidentally charge the wrong shipping price, or you need to change the tiers in any way once even one person backs, you can’t. This often leads creators into making additional tiers to try and fix what they screwed up. An ounce of preparation is priceless. 

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #22: Schedule posts before your campaign begins

September 13, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to schedule posts before your campaign begins. Buffer, Hootsuite, meet Edgar, Tweet Jukebox, and many others allow you to schedule a baseline of social media posts before your campaign begins. You will have other things to post as well, but you want to make sure you get the bulk of your updates out of the way early so that you aren’t fretting about them when your campaign is live.   

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #21: Transparency is key

September 12, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that transparency is key. If something is going wrong, or right, tell your backers. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t hide anything. People are very forgiving if you are honest.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #20: Kickstarter takes 10% off the top

September 11, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that Kickstarter takes 10% off the top. They take 5% for their fees and 3-5% for all processing fees through their credit card vendor. Take this into account. Add 10% more of a buffer to your campaign to prevent failing to raise enough money. 

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #19: Make sure to calculate shipping carefully

September 10, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is make sure to calculate shipping carefully. Almost 10% of successfully funded products fail to deliver. The number one culprit in that failure is shipping. Sometimes rates go up, but sometimes it’s because stretch goals change the weight and size of the box. Still other times it’s because a product that was once media mail can no longer be shipped that way because certain incentives prevent it from being shipped in that way. Other times it can be because they didn’t properly check shipping rates to all countries, and international shipping ate into all their costs.

You need to be very careful with shipping. It can add an undue burden on the unprepared creator. However, with some planning you can make sure it doesn’t destroy your campaign and send you into debt fulfilling rewards.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

  

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #18: Bring the passion

September 9, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to bring the passion. If you can’t show passion for your product, then nobody else will show passion either. You need to show extreme passion for your product to motivate others to get passionate about the product as well. Your passion is contagious, as is your lack of it. It needs to come through in your word, your social strategy, and definitely in your video.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #17: Convey the why

September 8, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to convey the why. Most campaigns are pretty good about describe what their product it. Some can even clearly discuss how they are going to bring it to market. Almost none convey why people should back their project or why they are uniquely qualified to bring the product to market.

The why is what makes people back, though. People are much more likely to back an unfinished product with a compelling why than a finished product that has none. The why is different for every product, but if there is no why you will suffer much fewer backers and risk your campaign not funding.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

It’s my birthday and I’ll have a 100th episode rant if I want to, rant if I want to, rant if I want to. You would rant too if it happened to you.

September 8, 2016

 Today is an extra special day. Not only it is my birthday, but this is also our 100th episode! Yay! As I hit both milestones simultaneously, I thought it might be nice to do another ranterlude talking about all the shit I’ve done in the past year.

If you like this episode, please subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere great podcasts are aggregated. You want to subscribe now because our RSS feed is only 20 episodes long and lots of people miss episodes when they don’t subscribe. We push out a lot of episodes and you don’t’ want to miss this content.

I’m going to warn you, this episode is basically just a list of my accomplishments and fails from this past year. There’s not a specific lesson involved.

If hearing specifics about a creator’s life isn’t for you. That’s okay. Maybe just skip to the next one. However, I will try to tie all my accomplishments into actionable lessons and takeaways you can use in your own life.

I’m very proud of last year because for the first time in my entire life I felt like I moved the needle forward in a significant way. Most years I get to my birthday and the think “What the fuck did I do with this year?”

Not this year. This year I thought “Holy shit. I did that much this year?”

My takeaway lesson: It takes time to build a head of steam. However, once that head of steam is built, things can happen faaaaast.

It’s all really happened for me since 2015 when I launched my first slate of books. Before then, I had a couple of publishing credits with Viper, Oaklight, and a limited print run with Allegory. However, it wasn’t until I launched Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, Paradise, Gumshoes: The Case of Madison’s Father, and The Little Bird and The Little Worm in February of 2015 that things really started coming together.

This was all happening before I left my last job. From 2006 to 2014 I built up a massive back catalog of awesome work. I pulled the rubber band back tight, and in January of 2015 it was ready to snap back and take somebody’s eye out.

The first half of 2015 saw a little bit happen, but nothing too mindblowing. It wasn’t until June when I left my job that I was able to devote myself full time to Wannabe Press. Honestly,I left my job so suddenly and unexpectedly that it took several months for me to get everything in order. Even through my first exhibiting experience at SDCC and the rest of the summer I struggled to right the ship. I was making good money at my last job, and having it all crashing down was hard.

It really wasn’t until even after my birthday where things started turning around for me. While I did a lot in the first half of 2015, it wasn’t until the end of 2015 and into 2016 where I felt like the ship righted itself and we hit calm waters.

My takeaway lesson: No matter how successful you are at your job, starting a business is a whole different ball game. You have to learn all the ins and outs of how your business functions and every business functions differently. It took me really about 9 months from launching my company to get a foothold on expenses. If you can’t weather that storm you will be in trouble.

This time last year, I launched my second Kickstarter campaign for Katrina Hates the Dead. I knew people loved this book, and I hoped they loved it enough to fund the print run…and they did! We were able to raise $8,400 to make this book happen and spent the rest of the year fulfilling rewards.

In fact, the end of 2015 was filled with new starts. We also started Kickstarter University, a training academy and membership site devoted to showing people how to run Kickstarters. I dropped $4,000 on building everything, only to watch it crash and burn in the first quarter of 2016. This was my first major disappointed of 2016. I had never put out so much money and watched it blow up in my face before. Even thinking about it now makes me bristle. But it wasn’t all bad. Out of its ashes came The Business of Art podcast and the Crush It on Kickstarter Teachable course. You can pick that up today for just $7 by clicking here and help me recoup some of that miserable loss.

Even though Kickstarter University was an abject failure, it led to two of the most worthwhile pursuits in my life, this podcast and creating courses.

My takeaway lesson: Just because something is a failure, doesn’t mean you failed. In fact, you might learn more in your failures than in your successes. I know that I learned more about online marketing and business principles trying to make Kickstarter University work than I had in the past 33 years combined. I would have spent much more on a business coach and not had the products at the end to be able to sell.

Additionally, I didn’t have a good sense of my strengths in 2015. I wanted to try all types of business, and by working through my failures on Kickstarter University, I learned that I am really great at making products. I love making something once and being able to sell it forever, which has become my slogan.

After our successful Kickstarter campaign for Katrina Hates the Dead, we followed it up with another one for My Father Didn’t Kill Himself, my second novel. I didn’t know what to expect from this campaign. After all, I was known for doing comics about monsters and this was a very intimate book about a girl struggling with the loss of her father. We set it as a $1 goal and prayed. To our surprise, we ended up with $3,400 from 150+ backers.

I was so proud and honored by that launch. It was probably the proudest I’ve been at a launch because that’s me laid bare on the page. There was no art to prop me up. It was all me and an editor. It was in doing that launch that made me discover what made my company different from every other company in the world.

Before I could lay my hat on making monster books, but with a novel I had to rediscover why people liked my books, and what type of person would like all my work. I found my ideal customer profile and built my messaging around it. We made a mascot and changed the wording of our website to target a specific kind of person. It was during that time that Wannabe Press really took off.

My takeaway lesson: You need a couple of products, or at least planned products, to figure out who your customer will be. You need to put things into the marketplace and see who responds to them. I needed three. I needed to put out Ichabod to see who bought that book. Then I needed Katrina to see who would buy both. Then I needed My Father Didn’t Kill Himself to make the connective thread between all three of those books and really determine my ideal customer.

Most people build their brand first, and I think that is a mistake. You are best to put out some product and see who gravitates toward it. Then, once you have some product you can much better define your messaging and build something that will last forever. If you spend time branding early, you might be sorely disappointed that you guessed wrong.

At the end of 2015, I sat through my finances and figured out where my company was strong and weak. I found out that we made almost all our money on Kickstarter and through shows. So in 2016, I vowed to do as many shows as possible, as often as I could. I did a lot of shows in the past year. It felt like every weekend I was at a show, and I became exceedingly good at it. I learned my messaging. I learned by brand. I learned how to speak to people the right way, and the wrong way. I helped other artists and found their biggest areas of strength. I was able to develop a strong community going to so many shows, and it helped us grow the brand exponentially.

Before heading to shows, I was spending tons of money on advertising and it went nowhere. When I started going to shows I actually got people onto my mailing list AND made money. It was a complete 180 from where I was in 2015.

My takeaway lesson: You need strategic planning. I took the month of December 2015 off from doing anything except figuring out what was wrong with my business. I made plans and assumptions for 2016. I found where we were weak and where we were strong. Then, I focused on our strengths. Some of those strengths bore out with excellent results. Some of them didn’t. However, going to lots of shows skyrocketed our brand recognition and helped us explode in popularity.

The final piece of my 2016 explosion was this podcast, the Business of Art. I went into 2016 wanting to make 20 episodes of this podcast, and we’ve made 100. Along the way we’ve been able to talk with artists of all types, sizes, and experience levels. We’ve been able to help people make their business stronger. I didn’t know if I would even like podcasting, but I’ve found that it’s saved my life, really. I was massively depressed earlier this year and I work at home, alone. Having this podcast has allowed me to reach out to other people in ways I’ve never imagined. It gave me a sense of community. It helped me cope with my life. I’m so grateful for it.

To wrap this all up, I can’t believe how wonderful the last year has been to me. Yes, I still struggle most days. No, our revenue isn’t where we want it to be, but I am doing what I love and we grow stronger every day. I can see the point in the distance where this all comes together. I don’t know how far it is from where I am now. I don’t know how many steps it will take to get there, but for the first time I can almost touch it in my hands. There is hope in that. There is hope that next year I will be able to say I reached that point in the distance I’ve been dreaming of for so long.

If you like this episode, please subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere great podcasts are aggregated. You want to subscribe now because our RSS feed is only 20 episodes long and lots of people miss episodes when they don’t subscribe. We push out a lot of episodes and you don’t’ want to miss this content.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #16: You need to raise 30% of your funding in the first 48 hours

September 7, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that you need to raise 30% of your funding in the first 48 hours. If you think you can raise $1,000, that means at least $300 needs to be raised in the first 48 in order to guarantee success. If you raise under 20% then your project will have a tough uphill battle. If you raise more than 50% it means your target was too low. 30% means you hit the nail on the head.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #15: Post more to social than you think necessary by a factor of 10

September 6, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to post more on social media than you think necessary by a factor of ten. Only about 3% of people see your Facebook posts. Twitter has a shelf life of 15 minutes. So the people you think you are going to annoy probably haven’t even seen your post. You need to post all the time in order to get word out about your project.

Post when people back your campaign. Post when you’ve hit a milestone. Post everything, but make sure to keep changing your imagery so it doesn’t get stale. It’s the same reason McDonald’s has 1,000 different billboards. The same image drowns into the background. People need new stimuli in order to keep engaged.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #14: Start on a Tuesday. End on a Thursday

September 5, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to start on a Tuesday and end on a Thursday. Studies show that Tuesday is the best day to begin a campaign. However, Wednesday and Thursday are very close to Thursday. So much so to be within the study’s margin of error. However, Thursday is far and away the best day to end a campaign. Thursday blew all other days of the week away by a statistically significant margin.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #13: Consider your category carefully

September 4, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to consider your category carefully. Some categories have a much more active community than others. Tech, design, and comics have very active communities. Publishing does not. You want to make sure you get a sense of the community before you choose the category and subcategory of your project.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #12: Pledge to other projects

September 3, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to pledge to other projects before and during your campaign. Kickstarter is a community, and people want to see that you are an active backer before you launch a project. Additionally, if you do back a lot of projects you can then email them during your campaign and ask them to introduce you to their audience. It might not work, but you are almost buying their time to consider your offer.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #11: You don’t have to do your dream project first

September 2, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that you don’t have to do your dream project first. If you’ve never raised money on Kickstarter before, then don’t expect to raise several thousand dollars, especially if you have no network. You are much better served funding a project you can complete and fund, even if it’s only $500 or less. Then you will have a baseline of your audience and be able to build from there.

Your goal is to get your feet wet and learn the ropes. It’s not to stress yourself out chasing an impossible goal. You have an entire career to build up to your dream project.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #10: Send updates often

September 1, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to send updates often. Throughout the campaign, you need to update your backers at least once every 3 days. The average successful projects have given more than 10 updates. These can be raffle giveaways, or stretch goal announcements, or just a great day that you had. I like to offer weekly challenges on my campaigns, so every week I upload a new video for backers.

The point is that the backers need to be involved in your campaign throughout.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Woohoo! We Funded! Now what?

September 1, 2016

It took us 9 days, but we are now over 100% funded. Get in on the fun @ www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe on iTunes, stitcher, google play, or anywhere you get your podcasts. We have tons of episodes coming up soon and we only have an RSS feed of 20 episodes, so you will miss content if you don’t subscribe.

It took 45 backers to get us over the hump, and I want to thank, thank, thank them so much. Phase one of any launch is people that have backed you before, and of 45 backers, 43 backed from a previous campaign.

That’s what you need to survive people. You need returning fans. You need people who will back your play across multiple genres and formats. You need people who believe in you, and I’m so lucky to have people that believe in me.

Now the question is, where do we go from here? Most people get stagnant after they fund, and this is certainly something that has happened to me before. What are we going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen to us?

For one thing, we are going to start an affiliate program, wherein anybody that refers a backer will get 10% of that backer’s pledge. I use a service called Kickbooster for this. When somebody signs up for Kicksbooster they are given an affiliate link. If anybody that backs my project using that affiliate link, the affiliate receives 10% of the funds raised.

This is something that I use every week for my mailing list. I go to Kickbooster’s marketplace and find 2-3 awesome projects for me to add to my newsletter. However, I only use links from people who are funded. Why? Because space on my mailing list is precious and I don’t want to waste it on a project that’s not going to fund.

Since I always believe that you are your best client, I believe that is how most people feel, so I didn’t want to set up this affiliate program until I knew we would fund. Now, it’s a no-brainer for people who like the project to help us. Even if they don’t back themselves, they can make money by referring a cool project to their audience.

Additionally, we can now think about ad spend. Until we funded I wasn’t willing to consider ad spend, because it might have gone into a black hole. Now that we are funded and I know we will make some money, I can consider a small ad campaign. That ad campaign can be targeted to people that love sci-fi or psychology, and I can be sure that I will not waste more money than I can afford to lose.

Again, now that we are funded people are more likely to come on board because everybody wants to back a winner.

The third thing we can do is go to press sites and offer them an affiliate link if they help us promote the book. Blog sites live on affiliate links and the ability for us to show that our project is funded, so they are backing a winner, and they can make money is very appealing to most blog sites.

Aside from that, it’s just more of the same. We have to keep showing value to our existing audience so they will back and additionally show our success to people outside our audience so they will back too.

It feels great to fund, but our goal is $5,000 and we are a far way away from that number. If you want to help us, head on over to www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com and pledge today.

And if you like this podcast, please subscribe on iTunes, stitcher, google play, or anywhere you get your podcasts. We have tons of episodes coming up soon and we only have an RSS feed of 20 episodes, so you will miss content if you don’t subscribe.

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #9: Keep your text concise

August 31, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip to keep your text concise. People on Kickstarter love to use huge blocks of text, but that is ugly to the eye. They also love to muddle their paragraphs. Remember in school where we learned how to write a paragraph?

You have one main sentence, 2-3 sentences that support the main sentence, and a concluding sentence that ties together everything you said. The same thing is true with paragraphs. You have a thesis paragraph with your main point, then 3-5 supporting paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.

You don’t need much in order to get somebody to back, but it does have to make a compelling, clear, and concise case.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #8: Add lots of images

August 30, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to add lots of images. The average successful Kickstarter has 11 images in it. Even if you have something with a novel, there are plenty of images you can add besides your cover. You can add a photo of yourself. You can add some quotes from your book overlaid on top of a royalty free image. You can add silly memes. You can have somebody draw some illustrations of your book.

In whatever the case, your book needs images. Humans are visual creatures and picture help improve the quality of your page and make your project look more professional.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #7: Keep your video under three minutes

August 29, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to keep your video under three minutes. Your video is a commercial, and nobody can stand a commercial for more than a couple minutes, no matter how amazing the commercial. You can say everything you need to say in under three minutes.

Yes, you will have to edit yourself down. There are plenty of free programs like imovie which can take out all the ums and ah. You need to make your case clearly and succinctly so people don’t tune out.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #6: Don’t overextend yourself on merchandise

August 28, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to not overstretch yourself on merchandise. Especially once a project is funded, creators generally go crazy offering all sorts of merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, and other very high priced items. The problem is that they are eating into their own profit margins and eventually end up in the red.

Merchandise is unnecessary in almost all instances until you have a well-known product. Just focus on making a great single product (unless your product is incredibly high priced like many tech products are). If you must make merchandise, don’t make anything with multiple sizes. Also, note that if you offer merchandise you can no longer ship your product media mail. 

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #5: Make deposits into the good will bank

August 27, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips, we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to make deposits into the good will bank before you make a withdrawal. Good will is a finite resource, and you will use it up when you run a campaign. In order to make running a Kickstarter palatable to your audience, you need to add value to people’s lives for months and months before you ask them to pledge to your campaign.

This could be from a webcomic, or free pages from your book, or a podcast helping them fix their biggest problems, or anything you can do to help add value to your audience’s lives. The more value you add, the more trust you will have with your audience and the fuller your good will bank will become.

You can’t be a take with Kickstarter, you have to give 10x more than you ask. You should be delivering 10x value to your audience so they will gladly give you money. In fact, they will consider it the least they can do after all the help you have given them.    

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #4: Keep your rewards simple

August 26, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to keep your reward simple. There is no need to add multiple options for similar items. Each reward should be targeting a specific buyer, and have enough space in between to clearly delineate the right buyer for that product.

I recommend you start with a $1, $10, $25, $50, and $250 for a standard book. Obviously, certain products will not fall into this range, but for a publishing product these five categories should be your base. You can always add more later.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

00:0000:00

Episode 34: The Secret to Getting Ahead in Comics with Jim Zub

August 25, 2016

Today on the show we have Jim Zub (www.jimzub.com).

If you like this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you listen to podcasts, whether it’s iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or any other aggregator.

Jim is an icon in indie comics for the candid way he talks about the ups and downs of making stuff. If you don’t know him, here is his bio from www.jimzub.com.

Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past fifteen years, he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Marvel, DC Comics, Capcom, Hasbro, Cartoon Network, and Bandai-Namco.

He juggles his time between being a freelance comic writer and Program Coordinator for Seneca College‘s award-winning Animation program.

His current comic projects include Dungeons & Dragons, a new series celebrating 40 years of the classic tabletop RPG, Thunderbolts, the return of Marvel’s villainous superhero team, and Wayward, a modern supernatural story about teens fighting Japanese mythological monsters.

So the reason I brought Jim on the show wasn’t because of Skullkickers, or his work on Thunderbolts, or even Wayward. It was because of an article he wrote about the economics of his book Skullkickers, and how much money he made on it over time. It was a fantastic breakdown of how even a book that is deemed successful might be losing money at the beginning as it builds an audience. I thought it was such a fantastic and candid look at the industry that I’ve been a fan ever since.

The weird thing is that we barely touched on that article. We did talk about it for a couple of minutes, but the thing we talked about most of all was treating people like human beings. Whether it’s your artists, or editors, or the press, or publishers, it seems more and more that people get forward by having a little empathy.

I’m dealing with this right now as I record my 31 tips in 31 days for the launch of my next campaign. A lot of my advice is on how to build an audience, press contacts, and connections. However, I have to make sure I include in every one of those tips that it doesn’t help if you are a douche.

If you are the guy that’s trying to game the system and find the most important person at a party or using the tactics I show just to make a good impression. If you are doing favors just so you can ask for a favor, it’s not going to work.

Because the key to this whole thing is you have to treat other people like human beings because you want to do so, not because they can do something for you. That’s the way that most of these creators get ahead. Yes, they are talented. Yes, they did the right things. But more importantly, they were genuinely nice people because they wanted to be.

We talked about Charles Soule on the show. I met Charles when Renzo was penciling Ichabod and 27: Second set at the same time. We struck up a conversation and I just remember how nice he was. He had no reason to be nice. He didn’t know me. I was just some kid with a floppy, but he was nice. He even bought my book. It was so cool. I still remember it to this day.

Jim is the same way. He gives value all the time. He does it because he wants to help. He wants a better industry and gives without asking. In return, he has an enormous amount of people that like and trust him. Those people want him to succeed and are more likely to buy his book just because they like him.

There was a post on my Facebook feed about ways to get rich, and I had to comment about being “rich” is a byproduct of providing value. It’s amazing how much more you can get back if you give value first. If your position is one of value, you build empathy and people want to buy from you. In return, you’ll make money.

However, the key is you have to provide value for the sake of value, not in order to get ahead. The byproduct is that you get ahead and make more money. I don’t even know if Jim thought about the psychology behind it before. He was just giving back because he wants to help.  

In this world, people say you have to be two of the following: nice, on time, talented. I think that’s horseshit. I think you should strive to be all three.

Look, you can’t just be supremely talented. That happens over time. You have no real control of being amazing. You can always control being on time and nice. Those are things you can control today, and should control today. Then, if you become talented, guess what…you’ll have all three and be in the driver’s seat.

Jim learned that long ago. He spent years making mistakes, but always being on time and polite. People knew he would get books in on budget and on time. He just kept hanging around doing the right thing, and opportunities presented themselves. Of course, Jim is also supremely talented.

But that supreme talent doesn’t come overnight. He wasn’t always able to write for Marvel. He grew into that role. But he was always on time and polite. It’s so important to control what you can control and work on those things you can’t.

If there is one wonderful example of that, it’s Jim Zub.

If you like this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you listen to podcasts, whether it’s iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or any other aggregator.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #3: Stretch goals should always make your core product better

August 25, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that your stretch goals should always improve the quality of your product. Most people have terrible trouble with stretch goals. Once a project funds the backers fall off because there’s nothing more to keep their interest.

You can change that by making sure your stretch goals always improve the quality of your project. For instance, if you have a book that is a 100-page soft cover comic, you can add extra pages at the end as a stretch goal, you can add an extra story, you can make your soft cover into a hard cover book, you could make your book a bigger size.

Meanwhile, the original backer is still paying the same amount for their pledge, and they are getting a better product. Nobody cares about the bookmarks and prints. They just want the coolest project they can get.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #2: Send individual thank you notes to backers

August 24, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to send individual thank you notes to the people who back you. When somebody gives you their hard earned money, it is only polite to say thank you. It’s easy for us to treat our backers as money, but they are humans and adding the human touch will improve your connection.

On top of being the right thing to do, it will also stem the loss of backers toward the middle of your campaign because you are making a connection.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

00:0000:00

Kickstarter Tip #1: Start Early

August 23, 2016

Welcome back, Wannabes and Creators. This is the first episode in our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips, we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to start early. You should be building your audience for at least three months before you launch a campaign. You can’t be successful in crowdfunding without a crowd.

That means showing off your project, starting a Facebook group, beefing up your social media presence, making press contacts, and building a newsletter.

The more time you have to build your network and prep them for a Kickstarter project that’s coming, the more likely they will be to back your campaign when it’s time.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

00:0000:00

7 Steps to Crush it On Kickstarter

August 22, 2016

This is a reprint of a podcast episode blog you can find at www.thebusinessofart.us.

With my next Kickstarter starting tomorrow, I thought it would be a great time to revisit our free Kickstarter Course. This is a seven episode course to help you create, launch, fund, and distribute your Kickstarter campaign.

Originally launched as a series, I thought it would be nice to combine them all together in one massive episode and post so you didn’t have to keep searching through the archives for them.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you download podcasts. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content.

Lesson 1: Validating an idea

Let’s get down to it. Our first lesson is validating an idea, the initial step in any campaign. 
 
 Validating an idea is an essential component of any Kickstarter campaign, as it will tell you exactly how big your market is, and whether there is rabid interest, mild interest, or no interest in your product. 
 
 I always start my validation tests at Google, by typing in several keywords into the search engine and seeing how many results pop up. Google will tell you the amount of terms related to your search. The higher, the better. 
 
 You can also run this search by going to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, and typing in your search terms to get an idea of how active and popular your search terms are with people around the world. 
 
 Then I head over to Amazon and check the rankings of products. Again, I type in some similar search terms to what I’m trying to create. Then, I click on the most popular products and see their popularity index on Amazon as a whole. 
 
 After that, I’ll know exactly how popular the product is, how likely I am to find an audience, and roughly how much I can expect to raise from on Kickstarter. 
 
 Finally, I will run similar searches on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to see what hot topics there are in my category.

By doing this very quick search at the beginning, I will see if somebody has already created my idea. If so, I would abandon it in most cases.
 None of the above are guarantees, though. Just because there are no searches on Amazon or Google that return what you are trying to create, it’s not necessarily a bust. It just means you’ll have a longer row to hoe.

Lesson 2: Finding your target audience

Finding your target market, and growing it, is the best predictor of how much you are going to raise. Most people think they are going to click the launch button and magic is going to happen, but that’s just not the case. It’s a lot of hard work finding, building, and nurturing your audience. 
 
 However, if you find your target market they will tell you exactly what they need and how to build a product that suits them. They are going to be your best beta testers and your best brand ambassadors. 
 
 They are not hard to find either.
 
 I start finding an audience before I ever leave the house my joining Reddit forums and Facebook groups. I join early and provide relevant comments and links to the members. I engage with them and find out what they are about. I truly care about what’s going on, not just as a marketing gimmick. 
 
 Then, I leave my house by finding Meetup groups in my area.While there may not be an audience for the exact product I’m trying to build near me, there is usually a group in the broad range of product class (i.e. if I’m trying to build a motorcycle motor, there is a motorcycle club even though it doesn’t specialize in repair).
 
 I join these groups a LONG time before I finish my product, provide updates, find friends, and talk shop. Then, when my product launches I KNOW people want it because I have a community of hundreds of people that told me they want the product.
 
 I hope that helps. Next, we talk about the best time to launch a Kickstarter product. 
 
 Lesson 3: The Best Time of Year to Launch

Finding the best time to launch is one of the biggest challenges with Kickstarter. There are several factors to consider, which all starts with picking the right time of year. 
 
 Here’s the truth: launching a Kickstarter after Thanksgiving or when school isn’t in session is usually a bad idea.
 
 Why?
 
 Well during the summer people tend to be on vacation, so they are less present online. 
 
 During the holidays, people are thinking about spending disposal income on gifts for people…NOT a product they won’t be getting until 4–6 months down the line. 
 
 Also, during the holidays you are competing with rock bottom pricing from Amazon and other retailers. 
 
 Another traditionally bad time to launch would be right around tax time because everybody has a tax bill due so the last thing they are thinking about is purchasing new stuff.
 
 On the flip side, right after tax season when people are flush with cash is a great time to launch a product because most people have disposable income at that point. 
 
 But that’s just one factor that goes into picking the right time. Another factor is buyer mentality. You want to hit a buyer with a product when it’s hot in their mind.
 
 We have a free ebook that talks all about this. You can download it here. All you have to do is register for an account.
 
 The Coolest Cooler was one of the biggest Kickstarter ever, and the creator launched his product in June (which goes against what I just said and proves there are no rules in business) when people were thinking about summertime activities. 
 
 However, did you know that he also tried launching the SAME product the previous December to disastrous results? 
 
 There are many contributing factors to that, but most experts attribute this to the idea that nobody was thinking about, or cared about coolers, in December, so nobody bought it. 
 
 Another factor is your convention season. Every industry has conventions, and it’s generally not the best idea to launch a Kickstarter during the biggest conventions because every big company is making announcements during CES and other shows. 
 
 While I do love having conventions as part of your launch strategy, I recommend smaller conventions where big companies aren’t launching competing products.
 
 There’s just no way to compete with Samsung and Apple. They will destroy you. 
 
 The last factor I consider is to backer psychology. People buy more when they are depressed. People are the most depressed during early months of the year, less so during the summer and around holidays, then there is another uptick around Labor Day until Halloween. 
 
 If I had to pin the best time down, I would say right after the New Year until March, and September-October as long as you can delivery by Christmas, are great times to launch.
 
 However, it may be different in your industry and it’s important to check for yourself using the factors we discussed.

Lesson 4: The Most Important Part of Any Kickstarter

The 99% of successful Kickstarter backer and pledge curves are the same. They are parabolas, with the beginning and end accounting for most of the backers and money raised.
 
 You can see this by checking out campaigns on Kicktraq
 
 As you’ll see, there will ALWAYS be a lull in the middle of a campaign where you only have a couple of people backing a day.
 
 I’ve only seen one campaign that was able to maintain momentum the entire campaign. This one. 
 
 If we accept that as fact, then the most important part of the Kickstarter is building for a HUGE release on the first day. 
 
 Seriously.
 
 You need to raise 33% of your backing on the first day. If you can do that, you’re nearly guaranteed to succeed. If you can’t, your path will be much harder. If you fall below 20% on your first day, you’re in for a very long expensive haul to get your project funded. We have a free ebook that talks more about this. You can check it out here.
 
 Having a fantastic first day means so much.
 
 It means that your backers are going to be spreading the word about your campaign all throughout your campaign. That’s a lot of free publicity. 
 
 Additionally, it means you will show up higher on Kickstarter, you have a better chance of people seeing your campaign, and when they see your campaign they see it as a success.
 
 People love to back a winner. If you can hit that 33% mark on the first day, people will want to back your campaign b/c success breeds more success. 
 
 Additionally, the higher your backers are at the beginning, the more people will back during the middle of your campaign. The higher your first day, the higher the minimum pledges will be in future days. 
 
 So finding those backers on day one, and telling people about the campaign, and getting as many people to back as possible is critical and you need to start early to do it. The bigger your network, the bigger your reach, and the more people you can hit on that first day. 
 
 Lesson 5: Creating Your Campaign

Creating a campaign comes down to three sections: the video, the copy, and the rewards. 
 
 First and foremost, you MUST have a video. No exceptions. Almost 70% of Kickstarters without campaigns fail. That means if you don’t have a campaign video, you only have a 30% chance of succeeding. 
 
 Additionally, people want to see you in the video, because they are buying you as much as your product. On Kickstarter, you and your product are intrinsically linked. 
 
 There’s a really simple strategy for making a video. It’s three steps. An Introduction of no more than 15 seconds, then a product demo where you show the coolness of the product for no more than 1:15, and finally you coming back on camera and making a plea for no more than another minute where you talk about the history of the product and why you need backing. Keep it positive!
 
 Total run time should be no more than 2:30! That’s two minutes and thirty seconds, not two hours. Keep it short. 
 
 Second is the campaign copy. You have to break up sections into easily digestible tidbits and assume people are going to fall off throughout reading it. Therefore, coolest thing at the top accompanied by an awesome image, then break up sections throughout the campaign to show off your product. 
 
 Remember, this is a marketing piece, not a short story. Nobody wants to reach big paragraphs. They also don’t want to wonder what you are talking about. If it doesn’t keep them interested, they will click off. 
 
 Finally, the rewards. Rewards need to be simple, concise, and explain what people get for their pledge. They do not need fancy names, just clear concise information. Each of your rewards has a purpose and should be targeted at a specific buyer profile.
 
 The key to a successful campaign is to make is simple, concise, and make sure you are clear about your goals.

Lesson 6: Distributing Your Campaign

Now you know how to validate an idea, find a target market, when to launch your campaign, what the most important part is of any Kickstarter, and how to create your Kickstarter campaign! 
 
 Now, we have to talk about getting your campaign into backer hands.This is where the rubber meets the road. 
 
 This is where most Kickstarters go bankrupt or at least end up massively in the red. That’s exactly why budgeting appropriately is so important.
 
 Getting a high-quality project into backer’s hands is the only way you can possibly hope to build an audience for the future, and that’s the goal of Kickstarter.
 
 If you think it’s about getting your project funded, you are WRONG.
 
 Funding the project is a part of Kickstarter, but it’s only a part. Your goal should be building an audience so you can keep doing Kickstarters forever. 
 
 In order to do that, you need to precisely know how much it will cost to get your project into backer hands, who is going to produce your project, how you are going to distribute it, how you are going to ship it and build in contingencies. This needs to happen before you hit the launch button
 
 You need quotes from your fulfillment, distribution, and shipping companies before you launch, and at different levels depending on how many people back. 
 
 Additionally, you have to keep your audience updated on everything, both good and bad. Here’s the thing. In order to build an audience, you have to communicate with your audience, be honest with them, and get them their project in a timely manner.

Lesson 7: Building Toward the Future

When you’re talking about building to the future, you have to deliver that Kickstarter first. Not just that, but you have to over deliver.

You have to add everything in your power to make people say WOW. Once they are wowed by your professionalism and quality, they are very likely to back again. 
 
 Now, once you finish your Kickstarter the first thing you need to do is find an email program like Mailchimp or Aweber and start communication with your backers on at least a monthly basis. Do not wait until your next project to keep people informed. They will forget about you
 
 Then, you need to start planning your next project. You are no longer a hobbyist. Once you finish your campaign and start to launch your next, you are a business. However, you can’t really go full force until after backers get their rewards.

That’s it for our free Kickstarter course. I hope you learned a lot that can help you crush your next campaign. If you want even more help, I have set up a fantastic course to help you crush it on Kickstarter. Usually $197, you can get a great deal right now by heading to www.thebusinessofart.us/kickstartercourse.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you download podcasts. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content.

00:0000:00

Episode 33: Succeeding on Kickstarter with Madeleine Holly-Rosing

August 18, 2016

This week on the show we have Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Madeleine is the writer and creator of Boston Metaphysical Society and a Kickstarter expert.

If you like this podcast, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review it.

Madeleine solidified her status as a crowdfunding authority with the book Kickstarter for the Independent Creator. Here is a bio from www.bostomemetaphysicalsociety.com:

A TV, feature film and comic book writer, Madeleine is the winner of the Sloan Fellowship for screenwriting, and the Gold Aurora and Bronze Telly for a PSA produced by Women In Film.

She also won numerous awards while completing the UCLA MFA Program in Screenwriting. In addition, Madeleine teaches a Kickstarter class for independent creators at Pulp Fiction Books in Culver City and has published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.

BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY webcomic is the recipient of an HONORABLE MENTION at the 2013 GEEKIE AWARDS and was nominated for BEST COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL at the 2014 GEEKIE AWARDS.

The comic has also been nominated for a 2012 Airship Award as well as a 2013, 2014 and a 2015 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award. Her novella, Steampunk Rat, was also nominated for a 2013 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award.

She currently has novelettes, novellas and an anthology (print as well as eBook) based on the BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY universe available at all major online retailers. Her goal is to eventually develop a series of novels based in this world.

Formerly a nationally ranked epee fencer, she has competed nationally and internationally. She is an avid reader of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy and historical military fiction. Madeleine lives with her rocket scientist husband, David, and two rescue dogs: Ripley and Bishop.

Madeleine is a big get for me even though you might not know her name. Ever since I started seriously going to cons about three years ago she has been a staple of all my favorite shows. Back before I exhibited myself and the bright shininess and mystic wore off, Madeleine was a bit of a mythical figure to me. Even back then she was building buzz around her book and people were talking about her.

There are two major ways to build a brand. Well, there are actually three. The third one is You are the brand. In the beginning, you and the brand are always synonymous, so I usually discount that as a given. There are two branches from you being the brand: your product can be the brand or your company can be the brand. For me, the company is the brand. Not one title defines Wannabe Press. Wannabe Press defines the titles we carry. However, you can also flip that and it’s equally strong if not better.

Madeleine has chosen the second path with Boston Metaphysical Society. She has chosen a singular product and built her brand around that brand. Because of that, she is as synonymous with Boston Metaphysical as I am with Wannabe Press. And she’s built the brand well. She’s nurtured it, grown it, and even grown beyond it as an expert in the field of crowdfunding.

But she wasn’t always an expert, and I love that before Madeleine had a strong brand, she started by doing reviews for our good friends Fanbase Press. Fanbase Press allowed her to learn more about comics, make friends with creators, meet influencers, and have her name linked to comic books well before she had a successful comic book of her own.

This is a great strategy and textbook for people that don’t have a strong brand themselves. If you are developing a product, you need to link yourself with other brands that deal with that product. Reviewing products is one of the easiest ways to start building a name in that space. You don’t have to have a finished product and you can already have bylines linking you to the major players. There are dozens of review sites that are looking for reviewers. I can’t recommend this strategy highly enough.

Once Madeleine had enough content, she launched a Kickstarter to produce the entire graphic novel version of her book. However, that book failed because she was looking for $25,000. She ended up raising a respectable $7,000, but with Kickstarter it’s all or nothing.

So she went back to the drawing board, took a look at her assets, and decided instead of trying for 6 issues she could just go back to Kickstarter for print funds just for issue #3 which she already had in the can. She did, and ended up raising $8,000! That was enough to print issue #4 too!

This is a perfect example of rapidly failing, regrouping, taking stock of your assets and then relaunching with the knowledge you learned. Madeleine talked about how the landscape of Kickstarter changed in 2013. It went from people throwing money at Kickstarter in almost ungodly sums to a more careful platform once people got burned one too many times with not receiving their goods.

She realized this, pivoted, and ended up having a massively successful campaign. We can all learn a thing of two from this, especially the idea that one doesn’t have to launch their dream project first. If you don’t have a big enough fan base to warrant a $25,000 campaign, figure out what you can support and make that. You shouldn’t be doing your dream project first anyway b/c it will never come out as well as you hope.

Madeleine proved her mettle dropping tons of knowledge bombs about Kickstarter, building and audience through cons and social media, and developing a successful brand. You could literally write a case study on how Madeleine built her brand. It’s textbook business strategy for somebody that wants to become a consultant. It was a delight to have her on and I hope you guys love it too.

If you like this episode, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review the show. And don’t forget, you can receive our entire Crush it on Kickstarter course, usually $197, for just $7.00 by clicking here!

00:0000:00

Hard Lesson 18: 5 Reasons Why Kindle Scout Blows Chunks for Authors

August 16, 2016

If you like this podcast, click here to rate, review and subscribe to it today. 

Last month I tried Kindle Scout for my new novel Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs. Kindle Scout gives you thirty days to launch a book on their platform as drive as many nominations as possible for your book. If you are chosen for publication you get a $1,500 advance and Kindle Press receives exclusive rights to both ebook and audiobook rights for five years.

My eBooks sell like crap and I’ve never done an audio book, so it seemed like a good idea to give it a go. Though even from the moment I started I did it hesitantly and with massive reservations.

I spent an entire month promoting the book on Kindle Scout, driving people to the site, and hoping that in the end it was chosen by Kindle Press for publication.

It wasn’t.

But before you think this is going to be a post about a bitter failure who is just crying over somebody rejecting him, I don’t really need Kindle to get my books out into the world.

I have a publishing company called Wannabe Press. There was absolutely no need for me to use Kindle Scout. I have distribution through Ingram and a loyal fan base that grows every time I release a book. I attend dozens of shows a year where we connect with people of all types. I can launch a book without Kindle Scout. In fact, I have many times before.

So why did I do it then?

Honestly? I wanted to try Kindle Scout out of sheer curiosity. I happened to have a book that didn’t fit into my normal release window. I was planning on releasing it on Kindle anyway in June and I thought Kindle Scout would be a good way to test the merits of this relatively new platform.

Additionally, I wanted to reward my loyal fans with a free book. If you nominate a book on Kindle Scout and it’s chosen, everybody who nominated the book gets a free eBook. I thought that would be a nice way to give back to fans who have supported me for so many years.

On top of that, the $1,500 advance didn’t hurt either. It would have put me in the green on the book without doing any of the heavy lifting involved when it came to marketing or distribution.

I already edited the book, commissioned a book cover, and laid out the book. Whether I released the book myself or through Kindle the initial profit would have been relatively the same, and I would have gotten the famous Kindle bump.

I really wanted that bump; the bump Kindle gives to their own books above other books. Kindle Press books always seem to get optioned quickly and rocket up the sales charts, much like how Netflix’s own shows are always rated 4.5 stars or above even if they are terrible.

I figured that if my book was chosen all my other books would receive a bump as well, helping boost the lagging eBook sales of my other titles.

More than all of that, though, I wanted to tell other people about my experience on the platform. If it was good I would have loved adding another launch platform for authors to use. If I had a bad experience, I could use it to tell others what didn’t work.

I would like to think that whether I was chosen or not my reaction would have been the same. After all, I didn’t really have high hopes at the beginning. My fears were only amplified during the campaign. The rejection was only the cherry on top of a very annoying month.

Before I get into the five reasons Kindle Scout is a mess, I will give it props for one thing. Kindle makes the nomination process seamless. Anybody with an existing Kindle account can nominate a book in less than 30 seconds. Additionally, setting up a book was as easy as creating a new book on Kindle Direct Publishing.

That is where my praise ends. Kindle Scout is one of the worst back-ends I’ve ever used to launch a product.

Here are the five biggest reasons why Kindle Scout blows chunks.

1. Authors have no idea how many people nominate their books

Kindle Scout provides only one statistic authors can use to judge the success of their campaign. It’s the only stat given when you log into your dashboard. That statistic is total views, which is an objectively worthless statistic.

Any online marketing person will tell you that total views mean nothing without the ability to track conversions and remarket to those people who didn’t convert.

My total views were 941.

If I have a 3% conversion ratio on those views, I would have 28 nominations by the end of the month. If somebody else with 450 views has a 7% conversion percentage, they have 31 nominations by the end of the month. On the outside, it looks like I did twice as well on my campaign, but all that mattered was the total amount of nominations, then I did almost 10% worse.

But all of this is speculation because absolutely nobody knows how well they did until Kindle sends them an email after their campaign is over announcing whether they’ve been accepted for publication or not.

So you are left in a very peculiar predicament where you don’t know how many nominations you actually have, or what amount would be considered “good”. With Kickstarter, you know what is considered good because they have metrics for everything, and you have your own metrics because you know exactly how much you need to raise. There are benchmarks to strive for which are non-existent on Kindle Scout.

2. Readers don’t know about the Kindle Scout platform

You would think that having a company as enormous as Kindle backing your brand would mean more people would know your product exists. Yet, almost nobody knows anything about Kindle Scout. It’s almost as if they don’t exist.

I had to tell people constantly about Kindle Scout, how the nomination process worked, and how easy it was to nominate somebody.

In truth, it’s way easier and cheaper to nominate somebody on Kindle Scout than backing them on Kickstarter. After all, if you nominate a book that goes through to publication then you get the book for free.

Yet I feel like Kickstarter has more brand recognition than Kindle Scout, which has Kindle right in the name.

3. You have no control over the mailing list when people do nominate your book.

Let’s say 50 people nominate your book. Hooray! Kindle just got 50 more people on their mailing list and learned more about their interests. Great for Kindle.

You, on the other hand, received nothing.

That’s right, you weren’t able to track your analytics, serve ads to those people, or even get their email addresses to market your work back to them in the future.

You are left with nothing after a month of work except for the potential that Kindle Scout will bless you with a check for $1,500.

That doesn’t work for me. I would way rather have the emails. That is how you build repeat customers and grow a brand. Without those emails, you are starting from scratch every campaign.

4. The nomination process doesn’t matter at all because only Kindle decides your fate.

What pissed me off the most when it came to Kindle Scout is that by most accounts nominations don’t matter. There are stories of people with 142 views being chosen by Kindle and people with thousands being left out in the cold.

I will caveat this point by acknowledging that without knowing the actual nomination numbers it’s possible that the person with 142 views actually had more nominations than the person with thousands.

For example, somebody with 142 views and a 10% conversion percentage would have 14 nominations while a person with 1300 views and a 1% conversion percentage would only have 13. So there is a chance of that, but it’s not likely conversion percentages swing that wildly. I will acknowledge it is possible, though.

Without statistics, there is just no way to know anything about the process. All you get is a cold email announcing your fate 14 days after the campaign ends. So it feels like it’s all at the whims of magical Kindle fairies with the fate of your writing career in their hands.

I much prefer a platform like Kickstarter where everything is transparent from the beginning and all that matters is if you hit your goal.

5. If you’re not selected by Kindle, you are left with nothing.

If you’ve spent all month marketing your book and you aren’t chosen, you get nothing except a waste of a month. There are no notes about what to do to improve your selection for next time. There are no emails. There is no community. You are just kicked to the curb.

If you want to learn more about how to improve a failed Kickstarter, there are millions of articles and hard lessons people learned in the trenches. You can absolutely learn how to make your project better for your next campaign.

Not so with Kindle Scout. The entire platform just feels…like a waste.

At least that’s how I felt like I wasted a month of my life. If I was selected for publication I would have felt relief for sure. A check for $1,500 would have been welcomed.

But that feeling of relief would have been mixed with more questions than answers.

Why was I selected? What criteria did I meet? How do I show other people how to be successful using this platform?

Kindle Scout just feels pointless and like I learned nothing.

In the end, I could have made more money launching the product myself through Kickstarter or online through my own store.

I felt ridiculous now because I’ve failed with this campaign. Now, I have to launch it AGAIN to the same people and ask them to pay for a product I couldn’t give away for free. Who will buy that product?

I feel like I destroyed this book launch because I went with Kindle Scout, and it will be less successful because I already told people I was giving it away for free. I’ve now valued it as free. How do you put a price on something that you’ve already acknowledged wasn’t worth anything?

I don’t know the answer to this. Only time will tell.

We’ll have another Kickstarter starting next week @ www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com and see if we can answer that question. But for now, I can’t recommend Kindle Scout lowly enough. I give it 0 out of 10 stars. May God have mercy on its soul.

If you like this podcast, click here to rate, review and subscribe to it today. 

And starting next week we will be doing daily Kickstarter tips to coincide with our new campaign! Come back every day to get the best tips I've learned in 5 campaigns and consulting on dozens more. 

00:0000:00

Episode 32: Being the Big Dog at Big Dog Ink with Tom Hutchison

August 11, 2016

Today on the show we have Tom Hutchison from Big Dog Ink. Big Dog Ink merged with Aspen Comics a year ago to create a mega company of awesome.

If you like this podcast, please click here to rate, review, and subscribe.

For the past year they have been doing reprints of their old books, but not it’s time to light the fires and get some new projects cracking again through their new Kickstarter for Lights, Camera, Jungle which launches August 6th. Here is a bio straight from www.bigdogink.com:

Founded in 2009, Big Dog Ink is an independent publisher of diverse comic book properties such as PENNY FOR YOUR SOUL, URSA MINOR, CRITTER, KNIGHTINGAIL, and REX: ZOMBIE KILLER. Since its inception, Big Dog Ink has quickly become a top publisher in the industry with its hit series, THE LEGEND OF OZ: THE WICKED WEST, which has consistently charted in the “Diamond Top 300” list. BDI has gained a loyal fan following due to our high quality art, stories, and dedication to elevating the art of small press and creator owned publishing.

I’ll be honest, even though I knew of Big Dog Ink, I haven’t read a lot of their titles. However, their company always stuck with me because when I was getting into comics again in 2010, Penny For Your Soul was one of the first books I picked up.

I definitely didn’t know Tom before this interview, like I know most of my guests, but I’ve been friends with Frank who runs Aspen Comics for a long time. He was actually one of my first general meetings I took when I came to Los Angeles. Sometimes I still think about turning Shrugged into a movie and where that meeting could have taken me.

But it didn’t. I stopped working in TV/Film soon after and focused on publishing, and Frank went on to build an amazing company full of great stories and wonderful art. After meeting Tom, I understand why Aspen and BDI merged because both their founders are amazing.

Tom came on to talk about his new Kickstarter for Lights, Camera, Jungle, but he gave wisdom about everything from how he started his company to how they launched their first title, to how the grew their title over time.

What I dug about Tom was that he is a con vet. He started by taking his comics on the road all around the country. Within the first year of his company’s formation he’d been to Baltimore, Florida, Chicago, Seattle, and many others. He is the classical touring musician of comics. Somebody that built a company one fan at a time by being in the trenches.

But Tom didn’t want to be a publisher at first. He wanted to be an artist, and then fell into writing. He went to one of my all-time favorite sights, Digital Webbing, to start his company just like I did. Once he got his book, he realized it was impossible to get into comics without having a company formed to sell them. So he founded DBI and set out to sell comics all over the country.

BDI was a means to an end for Tom, and I totally understand that feeling. He was an outsider, and nobody wanted his work, so he set out to build a brand from scratch. So many creators could take a lesson from him, and he drops value bombs galore about how he got started.

I loved when Tom talked about how he deals with submissions. Basically, even though he’s heard hundreds only three have ever made it to publication. The commonalities were these: He knew all the people involved and they already had finished product.

If I could give any two pieces of advice for getting published, it’s to know the publishers personally and have finished product. Aside from that, you are just hoping against hope, and it probably won’t work for you.

He also talked a lot about Kickstarter, and why he’s going to it with his new book, Lights, Camera, Jungle. I was interested to see why he’s using Kickstarter now after so many years, and Tom laid it out for me.

For the past year. Aspen has been doing reprints of their old material, and its time for them to get some new product out. However, LCJ is very different from their usual books. Instead of action and adventure, it’s a slice of life book which tells the story of a girl who becomes a star by being cast as Jungle Girl. The story is the casting couches, and the crappy craft services, and all the things that happen to her.

Instead of going to series first, Tom needed to validate the concept to make sure people want it. I use Kickstarter in the same way. He also wanted to expose new audiences to his work. A lot of Kickstarter people have never heard of Big Dog Ink, and this allows them to get a wider brand and a stronger audience.

That’s very smart, and one of the ideal uses for Kickstarter. Kickstarter, as Tom says, has almost become their own distribution platform for comics. They are currently the #2 publisher (if you consider them a publisher) in terms of gross revenue, in comics today. You can check out Lights, Camera, Jungle on Kickstarter starting August 6th. They will be at Dragon Con and Kansas City Con to promote the Kickstarter, so check them out!

If you want to find out more about BDI, check them out on Facebook, @tjhbigdogink on Twitter, @crittersdaddy on Instagram, or at www.bigdogink.com. He also said he’ll friend you up if you find him on Facebook personally.

Enjoy the show. If you liked this episode, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review us today. It’s the best way for us to help more people.

And if you are ready to take your business to the next level, make sure to sign up for a free 30-minute call with us today by clicking here.

00:0000:00

Hard Lesson 17: How to Send Query Letters without Sounding like a Crazy Person

August 9, 2016

Query letters seem like they should be easy, right? After writing a script of several thousand to a hundred thousand words, writing a one-page email should be cake.

If you like this podcast, please click here to subscribe rate and review it. 

So why do so many people have problems with it?

It’s because they don’t really understand the purpose of a query letter. A query letter is not designed to tout your greatness, it’s to interest other people in joining your project.

Most query letters are junk because nobody ever takes the receiver’s needs into account, but that is the purpose of emailing somebody right? To get them interested in your project? And the only way to get them interested is to show how your project can help them in concise, tangible terms.

So today I’m going to show you some of the keys behind a good query letter, and then I’ll show you a template I use to query people effectively.

This process can be used for querying artists, writers, editors or publishers. First, let’s talk about some of the keys to a good query letter.

1. It’s all about what you can do for the them

Any artist that is good enough to help sell your project with their art has several other ways they can make money without working with you.

They might be contracted to work on a project already. If they don’t any work at the time they can make money selling commissions and prints. Or they can make creator owned work, build their own product line, and increase their residual income streams.

If you are looking to hire an artist, you have to convince them that your project is better than all of the other projects they could focus their time. What makes your project great? What makes it stand out above the rest? Why is their sensibility uniquely qualified to work on your project? What value to do you bring to the table above just giving them a check?

Most creators think they are doing a favor for an artist by hiring them. In reality, it is a symbiotic relationship. You have a vision for your project that you cannot carry out by yourself. Which means that if an artist does not agree to work with you, your project cannot be completed. They are essential to the process of creating a sellable project.

When I contact artists I speak about my convention schedule, my distribution chain, my payment history with artists, and my ability to finish projects and release them successfully. I give references if they don’t know me and make sure people know I am pleasant to work with and that I can help further their career.

I didn’t always have a track record of success. in the early years, I just showed passion and enthusiasm. I was willing to pay a large deposit upfront (though that’s not always recommended) and kept encouraging them as a partner during the production cycle so they wanted to keep working with me.

My goal has always been that when an artist looks back at their career, they name our project as their favorite work.

2. You are the business owner.

If you are querying an artist, you are a business owner looking to hire a freelance consultant for work. If you are querying a publisher you are looking for an investor in your IP. Either way, you are the business owner.

This is why when a writer who is trying to hire an artist says “I think we both need to get paid”, I cringe.

Yes, it is important that eventually you are both paid. However, business owners are not paid in the same way as employees. Business owners do not collect salaries. They make money on the long term success of the product over time, not on the immediate paycheck for completing work.

It is also essential to think about this when querying publishers. Why would that company be a good fit for investment in your business? Why would your relationship be mutually beneficial? Remember, if you make a bad mistake with your partner you could be left with nothing except a hefty bill from your artist.

3. Construct your emails professionally.

Emails need to be professional at all times. They need to be spellchecked thoroughly for grammar and spelling. There is a free program called Grammarly that can help you spell check all your emails.

They also need to be polite and energetic.

You need to keep the query email short. There is no need for a novella. You can get the same information conveyed in 500 words as you can in 5,000. A longer email is going to turn busy people off from working on your project. A one sentence email is just as bad. Be like Goldilocks; not too long and not too short.

Remember, this first email is a simple introduction. You wouldn’t give your life story at a cocktail party to somebody you just met. Don’t give it inside a query letter, either.

Also, make sure your paragraphs themselves are readable and relevant. Most query letters smash together multiple thoughts into one paragraph.

I hate that.

Make sure every paragraph has a main point, the next sentences support that main point, and the concluding sentence validates that main point, just like we all learned in school.

4. Read websites thoroughly before emailing your query.

There is nothing more grating than receiving an email asking for my submission guidelines. They are on my site. When I receive such an email I automatically know that person is lazy. I never want to work with a lazy person.

Most artists and publishers have some sort of submission guideline on their site. Look for them thoroughly before you submit.

5. Make sure they are a good fit before emailing.

Most artists have a favorite genre or type of project. Some only want to work for hire on anthologies. Others are only open for pin-ups. You must know what the artist specializes in before emailing them, and let them know why you think your project would be a good fit for them.

That’s not to say if an artist specializes in fantasy project you shouldn’t email them your horror script. They might be looking for a project like yours. However, you will only intrigue them if you can make a compelling case why they are a good fit for your project.

6. Unless asked, don’t send any attachments in the first email.

An attachment is a commitment. It’s like asking somebody to marry you on the first date. Sure, you can do it, and sure it might work one in a million times, but everybody else is going to be turned off by it.

7. If an artist or publisher doesn’t respond right away, don’t flood them with emails.

Just because somebody doesn’t get back to you right away doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Maybe their nose is down on a deadline. Maybe they are on vacation. Maybe they only answer emails once a week. Give people time to get back to you. If you are querying an artist give at least two weeks. For a publisher give it at least a month.

You should always end your emails with an expectation to follow up. Here is an easy one that isn’t pushy. “Please respond so I know this didn’t go into spam. If you don’t, I will email you next week just to make sure you got it. I don’t want to be a pest. I am just really excited to work with you.”

Alright, so now we’re talked about some of the finer points to a good query letter. Now let me show you a good template to use.

1. Introduce yourself. Give your name, company, and a link to your past work so people know you are legit. This is not an excuse to send them to your script. It’s just so they can get a taste of who you are and what you do.

2. Say something nice about their work. This isn’t kissing ass. It’s an honest appreciation of work. If you want to work with this artist or publisher tell them why you were drawn to their work in a quick sentence. You also want to include a quick bit about why this project is a great fit for them. Not too much yet, just a taste.

3. Introduce the project with a logline. This is just a quick one sentence about the project, the length, and the format.

4. Give a one paragraph introduction of the synopsis. Make it short and sweet. One paragraph does not mean 50 sentences. Five sentences max.

5. Talk about why this project is a great fit. Now you can get into a very short reason why this is a good fit. You can’t say “I feel this is a good fit”. You need to provide research behind your data. For instance, “I see you do genre books but don’t have many fantasy books. I think this book would fit your aesthetic because of x reason.”

6. Talk about the scope of the project in slightly more detail. Include time frame (if you have one), budget, and your plan for marketing. If you’ve finished an ashcan let the publisher know the time frame for finished production. This is where you can get into some detail because it will help the publisher or artist know if your project fits into their timeline. For artists, it will also help them price their work. If you have a tight deadline and require all their attention, they will charge more.

7. Sign off with a follow-up expectation. Tell them how much you look forward to hearing from them, set an expectation to follow up, and say goodbye.

With this, you should be able to interest artists and publishers with a lot more ease and they will thank you for your brevity and professionalism.

If you like this podcast, please click here to subscribe rate and review it. 

00:0000:00

Hard Lesson 16: Point of View is More Important than Talent

August 5, 2016

Point of view is more important than raw talent

I was at the Broad Museum this week. It’s a gallery in downtown that displays modern art, which apparently isn’t very modern at all.

If you like this podcast, please like and subscribe to it on itunes, stitcher, or google play

Did you know that modern art includes works created from the 1890s to 1970s, while contemporary art includes art created from the 1970s to now?

Isn’t that weird?

Modern art isn’t actually modern at all and contemporary art eventually won’t be contemporary. That’s crazy to me.

I waited two hours in the heat to get into this gallery and honestly, it was one of the most worthwhile lines of my life. I was blown away with the quality of the work.

There were mixed media pieces hung in the gallery. There were enormous chairs. There was one painting that was just a flat green. There were metallic balloon animals twenty feet tall.

The thing is, the work wasn’t necessarily good. I mean none of it measured up technically to Frank Miller or even Frank Cho. They are technically gifted artists making incredibly proficient art. The artists at the Broad couldn’t hold a candle to them in raw talent alone.

I felt something at each piece in that gallery, but it wasn’t about the technical proficiency of the work. What I saw had a point of view. Everything was meant to evoke an emotion or comment on the human condition. Every bio of every artist talked about the themes in their work and the commentary they were making on the world.

The Broad artists reminded me of zine heads. I love zines. Even though they aren’t as technically proficient as most mainstream comic artists, they mean more to me because they are so much more personal.

There was only one painter in that gallery with technical skill that could rival the masters.

He did a painting of a face that looked like it could have been a photograph…and it was hidden in the back corner of the gallery at the end of a long hallway. If you know anything about gallery hangings, that is not an important spot.

Meanwhile, the artist who just painted green on a canvas was hung at eye level when you entered one of the main gallery rooms. A painting hung at eye level across from a doorway is considered an important spot.

So while one artist was more technically talented, a painting of flat green background was hung in a more prominent spot in this very prestigious gallery.

Why?

Point of view. That green background painting talked to minimalism, calming your mind, and cutting out distractions.

The other painting was nice to look at, but there was no point outside of its own beauty.

That got me thinking about our own careers and why some very technically proficient artists can’t get work while some others have no problem rising through the ranks.

Then it dawned on me. It comes back to point of view.

It’s hard to have a point of view when you are starting out, but that’s what gets people over the top. Readers want to feel something. People are emotional beings.

The artists who chase fans fade. Some of the most talented artists I know can’t sell a single painting because they have no point of view.

The ones with a point of view stick around, even if they aren’t as technically talented as others. Look at Frank Cho, love him or hate him that man he has a point in his work.

There is a point to Frank Miller’s work. Alan Moore’s stuff means something. Jhonen Vasquez was trying to say something with his work. Skottie Young has a point of view, as do Neal Adams and Darwyn Cooke.

You can see it all over their work and that’s why they stand out from the rest. So don’t be scared to say something with your art, because it’s in saying something that you evoke a reaction. It’s in evoking a reaction that leads people to be drawn to your work.

When people say “You aren’t anybody until you have haters,” it’s not because haters are good. It’s because hate is an emotion. If you can evoke that emotion, it means you evoke others like love from people as well.

So I ask you, what is your point of view?

If you like this episode, please like and subscribe to it on itunes, stitcher, or google play. It’s the best way for us to help new people. If you are just reading this without listening to the podcast, stop it. The audio is way better.

00:0000:00

Episode 31: Getting Your Personal Brand Right with Joie Brown

August 4, 2016

Today on the show we have Joie Brown (pronounced Joey, not Joy as I’ve been saying for the past several years. Sorry Joie). She is an artist for books like Clucked and Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi, along with working as a colorist for both Lumberjanes and Adventure Time graphic novels among many more.

If you like our podcast, please click here to rate, review, and subscribe to it today.

Here is a bio of Joie straight from her website, www.heyjoiecomics.com:

I scribble cuteness, sketch quirks, paint attitude, and herd cats. Okay. Technically I don’t herd cats, but keeping-up with Photoshop layers is pretty much the exact same thing, right? I graduated with an MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, and I currently do illustration full time. I live in Los Angeles with my pretends-to-be-a-dinosaur fiancé Joel and my jolly, stump-legged corgi Rylee.

Joie is an ideal person to come on the show because she makes her living as an artist AND believes in all the business principles necessary to run a successful business. She has been working on personal branding recently, and we started off our conversation talking about that.

It’s really hard to build a personal brand without enough data points, and it’s something I see people do again and again and again. They constantly try to build a brand before they even know who they are as a creator. I think that is a big mistake, which is why building a brand is the third part in my coaching.

We talked about a really great book at the beginning of the show called The Pumpkin Plan. It takes about this exact phenomenon of building and honing in what you are good at after you have enough date points to understand your business. Click here to check it out.

That was the next part of our conversation because Joie spends a lot of time working in her business and has recently worked toward strategic planning in order to cut away the far from her business. As you know I love strategic planning. I took all of December off last year minus a couple shows just to figure out how my business worked and it’s led to the most successful year in our history.

The brilliance of strategic planning is that it gives you time to see what DOESN’T work in your business. To go back to the book we talked about, if you don’t cut away the bad pumpkins you can never have the kind of garden which will lead to amazingly huge ones.

There are really two parts in strategic planning. The first is to cut out all the things you are doing that aren’t working. The second is to double down on the ones that do work. We talked about social media as an example. Social media is a low ROI proposition, which is why I automate a lot of it. I know the importance of building an audience and the importance of bringing value, but I can’t spend 20 hours a week on social media when it returns very little to my company’s bottom line. So I spend about $50/mo on all of my automation, and in return I get back hundreds if not thousands of followers to my account. If I were to place Twitter ads those would run me around $1 per followers.

If you want to know what I use: Tweetjukebox, Tweetbuzz, and Buffer. They combine to cut dozens of hours a month, maybe hundreds of hours of time spent on low initial return activities. Now, those activities will eventually pay off, but only if I focus on high margin activities like creating products. I know that the more products I can create the more revenue I will generate. So I need to focus my time on their creation. At $50/hour (which is the low end of what my time is worth) I only have to give up one hour pay in exchange for 20 hours a month of my time back to spend on high margin activities. To me, that is no brainer worth it.

Another thing we talked about for artists is making something once and repurposing. For Joie, that was videotaping her Patreon drawings so she can use them as speed draws on Youtube. This is a fantastic way to build more social buzz AND test out another stream of income without much extra investment. If people ask to buy her prints, she knows there is an industry in devoting time to unique sketches. That is a wonderful way to do something once and repurpose it multiple times.

Another one would be to write a blog post and repurpose it as a youtube video and a podcast and an e-book, and a course. These are all ways to leverage your time by doing something once and selling it (or using it for marketing) multiple times.

This episode was packed with information just like that and more. It’s hard to find a person we’ve spoken to which was so open about the business side of art. We got down and dirty for over an hour and it’s all gold.

We ended by talking about her awesome webcomic Clucked, about the last chicken in the galaxy who has to find allies to save its planet and her other great comics. What I dig about Joie the most is that she makes awesome stuff, she can sell awesome stuff, and she branded herself in a way that her brand speaks for her. It’s everything we talk about on The Business of Art, in one package.

If you want to find Joie, and I definitely recommend you do, she is most active on Twitter @JoieArtand on her website www.heyjoiecomics.com. However, she has a presence on all of the social media channels from Instagram and Facebook down on the line.

If you liked this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review us on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s the best way for us to serve new people.

00:0000:00

Hard Lesson 15: 8 Ways to Stop Suffering Miserably Low Con Sales

August 2, 2016

“I’m going to stop doing shows.”

It’s a statement a lot of artists have thought, but more and more people I know are committed to stopping shelling out big money on shows when they aren’t even making table fees back.

If you like this podcast, click here to rate, review and subscribe to it today. 

I used to hear rumblings about it once and a while, but I’ve heard it a couple dozen times in the past few months, and at least 10 times in the past week alone.

Artists say they are sick of going to shows, getting people to browse the table, and not making a purchase. The funny thing is, none of them want to change what they are doing. Sure, they’ll do some new prints, but they are stuck in a dying mindset. The old way of selling at shows is dead.

You see, there is a fundamental shift in the way business works today.

There is a glut of product on the market. Unlike ten years ago when buying prints at shows was the only way to find cool stuff, people have social media now where they can check out cool stuff easier than ever before. Additionally, there are just more shows than ever. Those shows fracture the already thin audience for prints at shows.

Additionally, there is parity like never before. There is great art everywhere. In order to win over fans, artists need more than something cool. They need to provide an experience.

Studies show that 99% of people’s buying decisions are based on experience. Whether it’s a hotel, a book, a restaurant, or a piece of art, there is so much great stuff that the best doesn’t rise to the top.

Or more accurately, there is so much stuff at the top that buyers need another reason to buy your art than just it being great. The only way to separate yourself is by the experience you give to your customers.

Remember what we always talk about? That having great content puts you in the game?

This is true now with art more than ever. Just having great art used to move you ahead of the game, but now there is so much great art the only way you can stand out is through experience. If you can give somebody an experience they connect with, then they will want to buy from you; maybe not today, but eventually and for a long time to come.

However, I still see most artists drawing with their head down. Even when they engage with people they look like they are being bothered. Even “nice artists” don’t bother to smile at people.

So bitching about miserable con sales is great, but how do we fix it? How do we sell more at shows? How do we make more money?

1. If you have to draw at your table, make it a spectacle.

Shows are for meeting new fans. It’s not for doing art. We get it, you are a great artist, but a show is for engaging with new people. If you absolutely must draw, schedule that into your con time and make it a spectacle. Advertise on your table that there will be a live drawing from 1–3.

Then ask people what they want to see and crowdsource the drawing. Have people vote on what they want to see drawn, and then they can come back to watch, or twitch/live stream it, or find it on Youtube by following your channel. Then if they aren’t at the show they can connect with you even from thousands of miles away.

This will keep your audience engaged and make you stand out. If 30 people watch you draw a Joker, and keep telling you the colors they want and poses, do you think those people are going to be more interested in buying that print afterward? Of course, because now they have an experience they will always treasure.

2. It’s not enough to just say hello.

I’m sorry, but saying hello isn’t enough to engage people. You have to ask open ended questions. You have to ask a lot of them. Saying hello, even for me, garners ZERO sales. The only sales I make is when I connect with the audience and more than hello.

You don’t have to ask them to buy, you can say “What’s your favorite part of the convention?” or “Do you have a room that you’re looking to fill today?” or “Who are you buying for?” If you ask open-ended questions you are interested in them and they are more likely to buy b/c your recommendation will be thoughtful.

3. Ask people what your next print should be.

Here is another great way to involve people. If they come by and ask for a print you don’t have, tell them you are trying to find the next print. Instruct them to put their name, email address, and print suggestion on a sheet of paper and stuff it in a jar.

Then afterward, you can draw a live stream when you get home of the print and crowdsource it on social media, so you can get all the engagement from the con at home and get more people to buy your stuff. In addition, you have their email addresses to continue marketing to them.

4. Frame your prints and give suggestions for where your customer could hang it.

People buy based on emotion. They want to envision where they can hang what they purchase when it comes to art. So to make a sale, you should show them how your piece would look in a frame. Super Emo Friends does a great job of this. They have their best pieces framed so customers can see how they would look through the glass of a frame.

Additionally, you want to ask people where they would hang their prints, what they are looking for, the color scheme of the room. Maybe you could make a sale if you changed the colors of the image to match their palette. Again, by asking questions you’ll narrow down and have the best chance of making a sale.

Even if they don’t buy, ask what they are looking for in order to make your table better for next time. Maybe they want something bigger. Maybe they want a gift. Maybe they love your style but they really love Donatello and not Raphael.

In fact, maybe you have what they are looking for, but it’s buried in a crate and they don’t have time to look for it.

You have no idea if you don’t ask.

5. Target your work to the right buyer

Most artists want any buyer to buy their work. That’s why they spray the world with prints and hope something sticks. But by going for everybody they end up attracting nobody.

Businesses are more successful when they niche. What is your ideal buyer?

Are you looking to be hung on dorm rooms? In art studios? In living rooms? Is your main clientele women, boys, or teens?

Each of these is people likes a different aesthetic, and if you can narrow your focus to just one of those then you will be able to get the right work in front of the right people and they will buy more at your table. They will also be likely to make additional purchases in the future.

Look at the greatest artists working today, they are all directing their art to one type of person, and by doing that they are able to resonate and sell more work for more money.

6. Set up your table to guide the eye.

Most artists set up their table to look pretty, but we all know some artwork sells better than others. We all know some pieces are meant to catch the eye and lead the customer to your better selling items.

Knowing that, set up our table so the bestselling items are front and center with the eye-catching items so people have the best chance to make a purchasing decision. If you don’t know what these items are, then you need to find out quick.

7. Ask for the sale.

You lose 100% of the sales you don’t ask for in the end. By just saying “What do you think?” or “Would you like to get one?” You will increase your sales massively. Even just saying the price of the piece will get people to think about buying it. Remember, it’s about triggering their buying instinct. People want to buy.

8. Don’t think of it as a loss if they don’t buy.

Just because somebody doesn’t buy, all is not lost. There is a funnel that happens in sales. First somebody has to know you. Then they have to like you. Then they have to trust you. Then and only then will they buy from you.

It’s great to get people to buy at a show, but it’s equally important to get people as far down the funnel as possible as quickly as possible. Just by being at a show you are meeting and connecting with your right kind of buyer. So make sure you get all their information so you can market them cool stuff later, so those people will buy next time. If you keep building your base of buyers, then your sales will increase with every show instead of decrease.

At the end of the day, a con is about the experience. People want to be entertained. I know that as artists we want our work to speak for itself, but it just doesn’t.

Your work isn’t enough anymore. Nothing speaks for itself. You have to stand out from the crowd by offering something specific to the right person and making sure to get the contact information of everybody you can so you can grow your business.

You can mope about it. You can fret about it. You can deny it, but it’s the truth. If you want to sell more you have to get over that hurdle. That’s the only way to rebound because all businesses are having a paradigm shift. Not just art, but everything from fast food to diamond rings.

The quicker you can adapt the quicker you can thrive.

If you like this podcast, click here to rate, review and subscribe to it today. 

00:0000:00

Hard Lesson 14: Inside the Wannabe Press Revenue Numbers from San Diego Comic-Con

July 29, 2016

Let us end these Comic-Con special episodes with a complete look at our financials for this year. I will state for the record that I only have rough numbers for 2015, as I didn’t start keeping detailed financials until this year. However, I can tell you that in total we sold 350 units last year and made a total of $5250 in revenue.

If you like this episode, please click here to subscribe today. 

That roughly broke down to 153 copies of Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, 75 copies of Convenience Store Diet, and an assortment of Paradise, Gumshoes, and The Little Bird and The Little Worm which equaled the other 122 units.

I want to go into a detailed analysis, but before we go further let’s look at the side by side comparison for both years.

Total books sold

2015 = 350

2016 =247

Difference = -103

Total revenue

2015 = $5250

2016 = $3473

Difference = -$1777

These are the two numbers that I want to look at closely throughout the rest of this article because selling over 100 fewer books and making almost $1800 less revenue seems bad. It seems really, really bad.

And it is bad, but it’s not all bad. So let’s explore some of the reasons behind these two phenomena.

Why total books sold were down this year

1. We didn’t have a $5 product

Last year we had Paradise #1, which was the first issue of Paradise and it was only $5. We had 81 copies of those last year, so just those alone accounted for almost all of our item losses. This year the lowest price point we had was $10. However, Paradise cost $2.50 make, so this is a very low margin item which is why we did away with selling it at shows.

2. We didn’t bundle as much or make our bundles as low

Last year we bundled up to three books for $20. We would give Paradise, Ichabod, and possibly a children’s book for only $20, whereas the cheapest books were this year were 2 for $30. That means a lot fewer products sold, but far more profit on those books. Since Paradise and our kid’s book cost $2.50 each and Ichabod cost $6, we were only making $9 total on that sale, which is a very low margin for a con. By doing away with those bundles, we sold less but made more on each sale.

3. We moved from an exhibitor table to small press

The traffic from last year to this year was less than half. At the exhibitor table we were at last year we had a corner table next to the main aisleway. This year we were in small press and there was often no traffic at all through our row. I think Long Beach had more traffic than SDCC at some points, and Long Beach has a fraction of the attendees. If you believe, like I do, that sales are simply a product of a funnel, then fewer people going into the funnel means fewer sales.

4. We didn’t have any original art

Last year I made 60 pieces of original art and sold it for anywhere from $5-$20. A lot of our bundles also included a piece of original art. Having the original art really helped get people to the table and make sales. This year we had none of that.

5. We didn’t discount our books nearly as much

Last year we discounted Ichabod down to $10 during some hours of the con, which really helped them fly off the table. This year, we didn’t do any of that. We kept the price point $20, or 2 for $30, which meant that the lowest we sold the books for was $15, almost 50% more than our lowest cost last year. However, if we sell a book for $15 instead of $10 we can sell 50% less and still make the same amount of money.

The reduction in book sales, came down to several factors; we increased the price of the items at our table, didn’t bundle or cut rates of our books as much, moved to a less trafficked location, and didn’t have original art. None of this would have been so bad except that total revenue was down drastically from last year.

If we able to keep revenue up and increase prices, this would have been a fabulous year. However, we weren’t. So let’s visit the reasons total revenue was down this year.

Why Total revenue was down this year

1. My artist only ordered 100 books instead of 200.

The artist I brought with me to the cons ordered 200 copies of his books last year. This year he only bought 100, which means that right off the bad we were going to have $800 less revenue than last year.

2. Our booth costs were less than last year, so I received less revenue from that.

Last year our book costs were $250 more. Since I split costs, that meant I received $125 less in revenue. So far, just this alone accounts for $925 in less revenue. Which means that only $852 is unaccounted. Where did that other $852 go?

3. Location

As I mentioned, the location could have accounted for fewer sales because there was vastly less traffic than last year. This means there are fewer people at the top of my funnel and could lead to fewer book sales.

4. Fewer people buying our big books

At the end of the day, 42 fewer people bought our large titles than last year. In 2015, 153 people bought Ichabod. This year 111 people bought Ichabod and Katrina combined. That 42 fewer people is exactly $852 in lost revenue. I think the reason fewer people bought those books was the choice of multiple books at my table. I love having a lot of books on my table, but it meant decision paralysis for a lot of buyers.

5. We weren’t offering a good enough deal

People are Comic-Con are looking for a deal. Last year we had great deals. If people bought our books then they paid less for them or got exclusive stuff. This year, we were very stingy with our deals which helped profit margin but didn’t help overall sales.

Had we taken the 42 main books we sell and bundled it with the 61 books we were short this year (for a total of 103 books), we could have potentially made up that revenue, but at the expense of profit margin.

Why it’s not so bad

In the end, if you just take into account the overall figures above, things would look miserable for us. However, that’s not actually the case. In truth, last year was a horrible show for us financially. We got barely 50 people on our mailing list and lost $1,000 when all was said and done. Yes, we made more money, but it was a horrible marketing effort.

This year, in contrast, we had a 500% increase in making list sign-ups and made money. That’s right, we were in the BLACK for SDCC for the first time. I don’t have exact numbers yet, but we spend about $2,000 on expense, which means that we made a profit or right around $1500, or a change of $2,5000 in one year.

Why? Because we worried more about profits and margins than selling every book we could. Last year our margins were so razor thin that we had to sell thousands of books just to break even.

Remember, every book costs money to print, so if I bundle three books I have to factor in all those costs to my final profit and loss statements. This year, we had healthy margins and turned a profit at the show.

Still, it would be nice to increase revenue AND profit, right?

How do we fix this going forward? Clearly, we need to rethink the deals that we offer if we want to increase revenue. The more you can pile on to a deal, the better chance you have of closing it. We don’t want to increase revenue at the expense of profits, though. So we have to find a high margin item to throw into a deal.

So what did I think on the whole? Overall, this was a vastly better experience than last year. Our mailing list numbers were up AND our profits were up. Even though revenue and sales were down, I am pleased with the results.

If you like this episode, please click here to subscribe today. If you are ready to supercharge your own business, click here to schedule a call today. 

00:0000:00

Episode 30: Ditching the Corporate Gig and Starting an Art Studio with Ben Lee

July 27, 2016

Hello Wannabes and Creators. Today on the show we have Ben Lee, president of Big Head Productions.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate and review it by clicking here.

Ben is an old friend. He went into business for himself almost a year ago, and I wanted to show you how somebody that is just getting started operates their business. Here is the intro letter from Ben’s site.

Greetings Interwebber,

First, thanks for visiting our site! We’re still a very young company, so while we’re still building, I thought a letter to you would be a nice way to introduce you to Big Head Productions.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what Big Head Productions is? Well, at its core, it’s a publishing company. Our goal? Well, simply, to give you great stories, and hopefully give aspiring talent a stepping-stone to enter the industry.

See, years of going to conventions like the San Diego Comic-Con, and attending panels about breaking into the industry, there has always been one constant message…

…you don’t need anyone’s permission to make comics.

So with that, Big Head Productions was formed.

Starting this venture is not only to give myself a resource to publish stories rattling around in my brain, but any comic professional and/or aspiring creator will tell you, breaking into this industry is extremely difficult. And even with programs like DC’s Talent Development Workshop, they ask for previous publishing experience. And even then, getting a foot in the door to independent publishers is no easy task.

So like I mentioned earlier, in addition to publishing stories in my head, I do hope this venture will grow to where we can provide mentorship and an opportunity to publish to aspiring creators to get experience to competitive at a major publisher level.

So welcome to Big Head Productions: a place for great stories, creativity, and opportunity. I hope you like what you see with us, we got a lot of great things coming!

Sincerely Yours,

— Ben Lee
Storyteller & President of Big Head Productions, Inc.

Ben Used to work as an art director for a marketing and ad agency and had for years before he quit to form his own company last September. I’ve been following his story through my own social media accounts and wanted to show you guys how somebody just launching their business operates. It’s not polished. It doesn’t have a clear direction, but it’s raw and honest.

We talked a lot about his art. He’s trying to take on fewer clients now so he can focus on products. Products make the world go around in the long run. In the short run, they eat a lot of time and energy. Luckily, Ben talked about the extensive plan he had when he quit his job.

I love his strategy about writing a resignation letter and seeing how it makes you feel. You don’t have to send it. But see if that letter fills you with regret or joy and take it from there.

He also talked about looking up articles about when to quit your job. If looking up articles like that isn’t a good sign that you need to quit, then I don’t know what is one. However, he found one about the amount of time it takes to leave your job, and what you need to make sure you have to be prepared. It turned out Ben fit all those requirements, so he took the leap.

One thing I dug about Ben was his Indiegogo campaign strategy for his first comic book. He didn’t have the book done, so he had to make empathy with his audience by making them like him. How did he do that? By making the campaign focus on baby photos of him, talking about how he always wanted to make a comic. One thing people don’t do enough is to make people empathize with the creator of the book. They are very good at showing the book, but not why this book is important.

If you don’t like the creator of a piece of art, you probably won’t like the art itself. You can’t only rely on that empathy, but it’s a great place to mine especially if you don’t have a project finished.

Another thing I love is that ben isn’t shy to hang his work anywhere. He had a show in a furniture gallery for goodness sakes. One thing I admire about people like Ben and previous guest Angela Fullard (whose episode you can listen to by clicking here), is that they hang their art anywhere. While a gallery might not need or want you, there are plenty of businesses that would love great art. And then you can talk to the owners and build your business with corporate clients. I know nobody wants corporate clients, but they pay like 10-100x better than art world clients and they always need work.

In the end, this episode is great because it shows an artist trying to find his business. We talked a lot about stress and how to deal with the stress of a business, and how to make your business work. I saw a lot of myself in Ben. He wanted to figure it all out. Unfortunately, it always takes time. You have to learn what you know and learn the levers to pull in your business to make it function.

Ben has a lot of questions in this episode and when I prod him about certain things like a mailing list of marketing plan he’s definitely unsure about himself at times. But I think it shows a great portrait of a new business. I think it shows how hopeful we can all be when we start something.

Ben had a great plan and I really hope it all works out. I plan on coming back to this again in the future to show how Big Head has progressed, whether their plan works out or they have to pivot. For me, it’s all about pivoting. How fast can you fail, how often can you pivot, and how much can you do to succeed.

I love one thing Ben said above everything else. I'm paraphrasing, but it was basically "I'm 38 and single. If not now, when." I couldn't agree more. 

You can find Ben online at www.yellowrant.com and www.bigheadprod.com.

Enjoy the episode.

If you want to find out more about starting your own company, click here to book a free 30-minute strategy call now.

If you liked this episode, please click here to rate, review, and subscribe.

 

 

00:0000:00

Live Episode: How to Stand Out At Big Shows with Mary Bellamy, Ted Washington, Doug Dlin, Thom Zahler, Val Hochberg, Nick Doan, Jim Hillin, Josh Howard, and Mike Purcell

July 27, 2016

Being accepted into San Diego Comic-Con as an exhibitor is a huge thrill. Especially in the curated area of small press, acceptance is truly a form of validation. It means that you are worthy of representing Comic-Con and that your work was one of the best from a worldwide pool of applicants.

It’s a real thrill that lasts about ten seconds.

That thrill is immediately replaced by one horrible thought: “Oh my god that’s a lot of money!” Between buying enough merchandise, getting your banners ready, booking flights, shipping, reserving a hotel room, and spending money on food at the show you are looking at thousands of dollars in spending just to get through the show!

The average attendee spends $2000+ just to get to the convention. You can imagine that exhibitors pay way more.

It’s a daunting amount of money and nobody wants to piss it away. But how do you ensure you can make back your costs at a show with thousands of other booths, most of which have way more money than you, and a constant stream of distractions to prevent people from ever finding you?

I interviewed nine indie creators to find out how they stand out at a show as big as San Diego, and how you can too. All of their advice is pure gold. Here are their answers, edited for clarity.

“At San Diego you really gotta have a unique flare to your work. Since I don’t do princess stuff the first thing I blurt out is ‘hey, do you like books for girls that aren’t about princesses?’ That makes everyone stop. When you’ve got a funny tagline about your books it stops people and gets them to laugh, then they come over and look at your table.”

It also helps to have a giant display of what you are doing. If you have plush dolls you have to get them out there so everyone can see them. The more you interact with people the more likely they will buy your stuff.”

Mary Bellamy from www.marybellamy.com, @zorilita on Twitter

“I stand out about being simplistic. My work looks very simple. It’s mostly black and white. When you go a large shows it’s all color, color, color everywhere. When you get to my stuff it’s like whoa, no color. It’s amazing how that pops.”

Ted Washington from Puna Press, @tedwa on Twitter

“The best you can do sometimes is to communicate directly with people as they pass by in ways that they don’t expect, preferably nonoffensive ways, but that get them laughing and interested. If they are hit by the unexpected that gets their attention.”

Doug Dlin from Antarctic Press, @antarcticpress on Twitter

“I’m very tall so that helps. Really I just try to compete. I try to look as professional as I can with as cheap a setup as I can because my margins are so tight. But a lot of it is kind of like dating. You just make eye contact and smile. You don’t creep on people. That goes a long way. Have your pitch ready. Be professional. The setup is not as important as presenting yourself professionally. Don’t be reading your phone all the time. Engage with your audience while they are around because that’s why you are here.”

Thom Zahler from www.thomz.com, @thomzahler on Twitter

“I try to display as much cuteness as possible so you can see all of it. I try to have a lot of price points for whatever people can afford.”

Val Hochberg from kick-girl.com, @kickgirl on Twitter

“Don’t sit down. Be active. Engage the people. You’ll do better just by looking somebody in the eye and saying hello than sitting back and doodling.

Nick Doan from Monster Elementary, @monsterelem on Twitter

“We have these great big white fluffy bunnies at the booth. People stop and look at that and say what the hell? Stuff like that.”

Jim Hillin from Wireheads, @wireheads on Twitter

“I make sure I have a strong booth presence, something eye-catching like a banner and a good table display. At bigger cons, I have a bigger table so that helps, but I mostly rely on my fans and my table to catch people’s eye.”

Josh Howard from Dead @ 17, @joshuahoward on Twitter

“Make yourself stand out. Interact with the fans. You see a lot of people sitting back behind the table not interacting. They will just sit there and let people go by. You have to get their attention.”

Mike Purcell from Bare Bones Studios, Bare Bones Studios on Facebook

As a person who cons all the time, this advice is gold. Each of these interviewees had a unique booth presence that caught my eye. They also interacted with fans. The simple act of engaging with fans will set you apart from the pack.

That’s so important for indies. We have to be out engaging with people. When nobody knows who you are it’s critical to press the flesh with as many people as possible.

People at cons are looking for cool stuff, but more importantly they are looking for cool people. If you can stand out from the crowd with a good booth presence, an engaging personality, and a cool book, you will go far to building your fan base.

Let me end with my piece of advice to stand out at big cons: Sign people up for your mailing list.

This may not help you at the con you are currently at, but it will help you at every con you attend in the future.

If you don’t have a mailing list, you can’t reach out the next time you are in town. When you have a mailing list, you will be able to tell people about your booth every year, and every year your traffic will grow.

You will stand out because you will be in the hearts and minds of your ideal fan. Every con-goer has their list of must-buys for a con, and if you haven’t made it onto that list the first year, you might by year three…but only if you keep in contact with the people that dig your work.

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He runs the publishing company Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com) and hosts the twice-weekly podcast The Business of Art (www.thebusinessofart.us). If you are ready to take your career to the next level, book a free 30-minute strategy call today!

00:0000:00

Hard Lesson 13: How to Market Yourself at a Con as an Attendee

July 22, 2016

We talked earlier this week about how to market yourself as an exhibitor, but there’s a big pool of people who go to cons as attendees that are trying to market themselves as well. That’s how most of us start. I don’t know many people who start going to cons as exhibitors right off the bat. Why would you? That’s a big investment without any product. Almost everybody I’ve ever met started by going to cons, then went to more cons, then started exhibiting. When you are at the beginning of your career, there is nothing better than going to cons to get access to your favorite creators and authors.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe to us on iTunes, stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app. We really appreciate your support.

However, there is etiquette behind marketing yourself as an attendee just like there is in marketing yourself as an exhibitor. Almost everybody at a con is willing to take a couple of minutes to talk with you, but if you want to get the most from your favorite creators, here are a couple tips to maximize your experience.

1. Buy something from their table.

Some creators make 50% or more of their income from a few shows a year. In order for them to maximize their revenue, they need to sell books. If you are sitting by their table, people will be less likely to stop by their booth. So every minute you take of their time costs money. Which is fine. We all expect questions to be asked, but if you like the creators, buy something from their table. I always tell people that $20 buys five minutes of my undivided attention. When I was attending cons I made sure to bring $200 to buy time from people I respected. I wanted to make a good impression, and it stuck.

2. Ask intelligent questions about their work.

I know it’s a silly thing, but us creators will bend over backward for our fans. If you’ve read our work, let us know before you ask us questions. If you do that, you will get much more out of the creators than if you just start pelting them with questions. But more importantly, don’t just say you like their work, ask them a question about why they did something. Everybody says “I like your work” if you can say “I really liked when you did X, what was the reason behind that?” It’s going to make you stand out from the crowd.

3. Have something to give us, but understand we probably won’t be able to look at it until after the con.

I love getting hand-outs and books from people. I really read everything that people give me. However, it’s hard for me to read it at that moment. Here’s why. We are tired. We are fried. We are in sales mode. It’s noisy. It’s crowded. It’s hard to think. Giving notes is a part of my brain that just doesn’t function at shows. However, if I tell you to email me later, I mean it. But just make sure that your leave behind is the best representation of your work possible.

4. Ask to get in touch after the con, and then do it!

I tell everybody that comes to my table that I really want them to email me after shows. I tell them all the time that I’ll answer questions and comments. Do you know how many people take me up on that offer? Nobody. I’ve maybe received 10 emails this year out of the thousand people I’ve given that offer. If you are a creator and somebody tells you to get in touch with them…do it! Get their contact information, tuck it away, then wait a couple of weeks, and then email your questions. I can only devote a couple minutes to somebody at a show, but after a show I can give much more. Plus, I can really think about the answers to your questions. If you actually take the initiative and email these people back, they will notice. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them.

5. If you have a project and you want to pitch somebody, make sure you have a budget and plan in place when you talk to them.

Cons are great places to meet people who can move your career along. Many people will try to find artists and writers at cons to work on their project. Just remember we are very busy and tired. We can’t keep straight everything about your project, so it’s up to you to be succinct, have a budget in mind, and do the leg work.

6. If you want to talk with a person more, scope out the hip after hour spots.

Every con has a bar where people go after the event to get a drink. If you can figure out the spot you can scope it out and talk to the artists and authors when they are comfortable, instead of in the hustle and bustle of a con. Just remember to be considerate if they are in the middle of a conversation.

7. Follow them on social media before the con and start engaging with them.

This is a big one. The most points of contact you can have with somebody before an event, the most likely they are to remember you. So start early. Favorite things they say on social media. Tweet at them. Be engaged.

8. The more times you see a person at cons, the more serious they will take you.

You can see this in your own life. The more often you see a person the more you like them. If I see you at cons for a couple years and then I see you tabling your own stuff, guess what? I’m going to take you more seriously than the first time I saw you. So just remember that these things build over time. The more often you can see somebody and show improvement, the more you respect you will get with that person.

If you follow these few tips, you are going to have a much better time meeting up with your favorite creators and making an impression.

I hope you learned something. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to us on iTunes, stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app. We really appreciate your support.

And if you want to move from an attendee to an exhibitor, make sure to book your free strategy call today by clicking here.

00:0000:00

Episode 29: The Prospect of Small Press Publishing with Colleen Dunn Bates

July 20, 2016

Today on the show we have Colleen Dunn Bates, publisher, founder, and editor of Prospect Park books (the Pasadena company, not the NYC one). Here’s a bio from www.prospectparkbooks.com

If you like this podcast, please rate, subscribe, and review us on iTunes by clicking here.

Publisher, founder, and editor Colleen Dunn Bates started her career by studying journalism at USC. She’s worked as a writer and editor in radio, newspapers, magazines, and books. It’s the book business that stuck. She started Prospect Park Books in 2006 with the publication of the first edition of Hometown Pasadena. A sixth-generation Southern Californian (yes, that means she surfs), Colleen takes great offense when New Yorkers mock Angelenos as airheads who don’t read. The mother of two adult daughters and the wife of the editor/producer of the TV comediesThe Comeback and 2 Broke Girls, the longtime Pasadena resident is an emeritus board member of PubWest and the LA restaurant critic forWestways magazine. Here she is on LinkedIn, here’s an amusing profile of her in Booklist, here’s a Q&A with her on novelist Caroline Leavitt’s blog, and here’s a Black Hill Press podcast interview in which she rambles on about publishing.

Colleen is celebrating her 10 year anniversary of Prospect Park this year, and in that time they’ve published over 50 books, and grown a small press into a viable business. I love the voice that comes through on Prospect Park’s website. Here’s a really awesome passage on why they do what they do:

HERE’S WHY WE DO THIS:

— We love creating great books and finding them the audience they deserve. It’s just plain fun.
— We also love being businesspeople, so we take the business part seriously. We’re showing that book publishing can be a strong, successful business.
— Our writers, designers, booksellers, sales reps, and marketing folks are just plain good people. Smart, funny, generous, and a joy to work with.
— We get to deduct the cost of buying books from our income taxes.

Do you see that? Even though this can be a stuffy section, Colleen added depth, humor, and a unique voice to her park. When you read these words you really hear their unique voice.

I really dug talking to Colleen. This is the kind of ideal interview that merges creativity and business perfectly. My favorite part of this interview was when we talked about how she promotes all her books. It’s around 30 minutes in and its pure gold. She lays out everything from advance galley copies all the way through second and third galleys, getting blurbs, and building an audience.

What I really love about Colleen is how she broke everything down to its smallest bits. We talked about why it’s important for an author to have an audience, how authors can be more appealing to publishers, and why book covers are so important.

This is one of the biggest problems with books from self and small publishers. They have no attention to what makes the book unique, and why anybody should buy it. At its core, the cover of a book should speak to the audience that will buy the book. If your book is a cozy mystery, it should feel like a cozy mystery. If your book is a literary masterpiece the cover should feel like that. The judge a book by its cover cliché is so true because what you see on the cover is what you should expect inside the book. The cover should speak to the intended audience for a book.

More importantly, when you see a good book cover, it shows that the author cares about the quality of what they are presenting and gives a good indication that the book inside will be quality. Maybe it’s crap, but there is no other visual way to decide if you like a book on the spot.

Does a good book cover guarantee sales? No. But if you have a bad book cover you have to fight so much in order to make sales. You want people to easily buy your book. It’s hard enough to get somebody to part with their money. If you have a bad cover design, or poor editing, or no social media presence, you have to fight uphill so hard in order to make the sale.

And social media and marketing is something we touched on a lot with Colleen. While having no social doesn’t mean you won’t get a publisher, having one definitely helps. Here’s the thing. You have to fight against my existing publishing slate, plus all the books I want to publish, plus all the books I’m determined to publish just to get onto my stack. That’s a lot of fighting. When you come to me, or Colleen, you need to have everything in a nice little bow. Colleen doesn’t know you. All she can see if the merits of the book.

It’s hard enough to make a good book. If you’ve made a great book you are now in the game. In fact, the great book is the baseline for everything. So if you have a great book, then we can talk about publishing. However, I need to know a lot more before I make that commitment. We need to know how you’ll sell it and whether it can sell…because this is a business to us.

Just remember as you fight through this wild world of publishing, make it once and you can sell it forever.

If you liked this episode, please rate, subscribe, and review us on iTunes by clicking here.

And if you would like your free 30-minute consultation, click here to schedule one.

00:0000:00