Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

How We Successfully Crowdfunded Our Very First Comic Book

When we met our fundraising goal of $6500 on December 1st for our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for our very first comic anthology book, Furr, I was still at my desk at my day job. Out of my desperation to contain my excitement I went into the bathroom, and shadowboxed in the stall for the next 5 minutes.

So we recently did a Kickstarter campaign, and we succeeded in funding it into completion. As it was my first crowdfunding campaign, it was absolutely nerve-wracking. Particularly because it’s so public, and that’s something people warned me about. Failure on a crowdfunding campaign wasn’t just a failure. It was a very visible failure, since it’s just all there to see.

Ergo, I did everything I could to prevent that scenario. I spent a lot of time before the crowdfunding campaign in order to prepare for any contingencies during the campaign, and bring our readiness level to the highest point. I’ve been advised that the first crowdfunding campaign is always a very rough ride. So I armed ourselves to the teeth to get through that ride.

Of course, nothing could’ve really prepared me for what came next, which was a brutal month of constant hustling and emailing and general hyper-activity all around.

However, in the end we did make it. Actually, we even got around 5% above our goal, which was a nice little boost. So I wanted to recap on the things that actually helped us to get to this point. Here it is.

STUDY CROWDFUNDING AND THE PLATFORMS (EG. KICKSTARTER, INDIEGOGO, ETC.)

The first thing I did before launching a Kickstarter was researching everything I could about Kickstarter and crowdfunding. Fortunately, Tyler James from ComixLaunch was holding webinars about Kickstarter at the time, so that really helped me to get started.

Then, I looked at multiple successful Kickstarters, as well as failed Kickstarters. Took pointers on both, and compared what worked for the successful ones, and what didn’t work for the failed ones. Often such factors are specific to each Kickstarter project, but in general I was able to get some insights into what I’d need to do.

I also read the Kickstarter Creator Handbook through and through. Kickstarter’s blog also offers a lot of useful resources through their tips section in the blog. There’s also this excellent guide you can buy from Iron Circus Comics. If you’re looking to Kickstarter a comic book that guide will help you out a lot.

By the way, last time I checked, Tyler wasn’t holding more webinars but ComixLaunch is also a place I highly recommend for studying up on crowdfunding, particularly for Comics projects.

LEVERAGE THE NETWORK YOU HAVE

This is the easiest part people can do. Everyone has a built in network, whether that is family, friends, your neighbors, your work colleagues, or whoever it is.

I was squeamish at first about asking my friends and family for help on the campaign. It almost felt like holding my hand out and getting them to pity me. But then I realized, I’m proud of this project. I love this project. And if people like me, and I pitch this project with confidence, they are going to listen to me. And that’s what happened with a lot of my friends and family. I assume that was what also happened with many of the artists on board with the Kickstarter campaign who then shared it with their friends and family.

Nearly half of our pledges came from direct referrals, meaning someone shared the link directly with the person, who then backed it. So the strength of your immediate network, and that of any collaborators that you have on the project, is very powerful. Use that to your advantage. Make sure to let everyone know.

PUT OUT AS MUCH CONTENT UP FRONT AS POSSIBLE

What I made sure to do before we went into the Kickstarter campaign was to have a good portion of the overall comic anthology ready and produced. This meant that we had to keep on holding off on our launch date in order to have as much material as possible when we launched. I gave all the artists a deposit beforehand in order have as much of the anthology already produced.

This gave us a very rich campaign page going in, and enabled to show off a lot of art, giving people a peek into what they’d be getting if they backed the project. This, I think was particularly important, because just under a quarter of the backers were internal backers. Meaning they were just people browsing through Kickstarter, had come upon the project, took a look at it, and was convinced into backing it.

That type of internal backing has more chance of happening if you have more content displayed out on the campaign. The more people are able to see, the more people are convinced, and the more likely they will back for a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA THE HELL OUT OF YOUR CAMPAIGN

I’m nowhere near a social media expert, and Tabulit’s social media following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram is not that significant.

However, I made sure to blast our campaign out pretty much everywhere we could. Everyday I made posts about our anthology. I’d slide in an image from the anthology, and then I’d tag the artist who drew it.

And it was effective. Around 22% of our pledges came from Facebook, and about 5% from Twitter, as well as 2 pledges that came from Instagram. Overall, that amounted to around almost 30% of the entire campaign. That mattered a lot.

BE A SALESMAN. REACH OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

I know. A lot of people starting crowdfunding are not good at sales, let alone even want to do it. Going in, I knew nothing about sales. I’m not a salesman, nor do I have any intention to be. But I knew that I’d have to sell. Why? Because not only were we selling a book, we were selling a concept of a book. We were selling the idea, that if they paid us to get this book produced, we’d give the promise that this book would be shipped to them. It’s the ultimate uncertainty. And no matter how prepared and ready we are, the perspective of risk from the other side, the backers, is still tantamount.

So that is why I reached out. I tried to sell the concept of the book as much as possible. When, already past the first week into the campaign, I came upon the idea that we could have retailer packages. Then I began to reach out to every single comic book store I could find in North America on Google. I sent out hundreds of emails, and despite it only resulting in 5 comic book stores grabbing the package, that meant over 500 dollars in pledges.

It was a mad hustle for 30 days. Though in the end, we made it and it was definitely worth it. It wasn’t without its pitfalls and mistakes. We actually made a LOT of mistakes. But I think because of what we did above, the book was able to meet its goal and then some more.

Anyways, hopefully that gives people some insights into what goes into a successful crowdfunding. We’re certainly not done with crowdfunding and we’ll be learning a lot of new lessons as we go along, so we’re definitely share those as well when the time comes.

Can’t wait to get this thing published!

Alex

Check out other lessons we got from our crowdfunding journey at the Tabulit Comics Blog!