MAKING THE CAMPAIGN A SUCCESS
To get a magazine funded on Kickstarter (and in general, really) you’ve got to give potential backers something to see–to know whether or not the magazine is something that would appeal to them. A Kickstarter campaign, when done effectively, is a pretty perfect platform.
Have good visuals, especially video, and take advantage of resources around you: Alec Dudson, who started Intern after several months of working unpaid internships, created an “Issue 0,” a 12-page promotional newspaper meant to run alongside his Kickstarter campaign. Dudson had already put six months of work into Intern–finding contributors, shaping content and aesthetic, creating Issue 0–before launching his Kickstarter campaign.
He said his motivation for using Kickstarter stemmed from seeing a Kickstarter exhibit during Design Week in Milan (where he was interning), and subsequently meeting Kickstarter’s art director. Dudson told us he spent about three months working on nothing but the Kickstarter campaign–from visuals to copy to determining the goal amount and rewards (Kickstarter’s rule is that each person who donates money must get something in return–rewards vary based on donation amount) to promotion. “If your rewards don’t really resonate with your target audience, that can make a big difference.”
He also used video–considered to be one of if not the most important feature of any Kickstarter campaign–to get across the story, message and aesthetic of Intern. He felt a lot of pressure to make it good and he succeeded–his is one of the strongest Kickstarter videos we’ve seen. “Especially for a magazine dealing with the creative industries, the video needed to be suitably slick,” he explained. He didn’t have “the ability or the means” to make one himself, but through his shared studio space he found talented folks who were willing to get on board and work out a deal once he explained his idea. “The challenge was making the video evoke a feeling about what the magazine was about without having much to work with,” since he was essentially asking people to “fund something that didn’t exist.”
However, Cherry Bombe didn’t include a video in their campaign at all because they couldn’t afford to produce one. They still wish they had, though. “We put a lot of time into [the Kickstarter], but could have and should have put more time into it,” Editorial Director Kerry Diamond told us. “For example, we should have made a video. Kickstarter seems to favor projects with videos, especially on its app. But we just didn’t have the time or the money or the brain space for a video. The prices we were quoted by filmmakers were crazy. They were the kind of prices I paid video teams when I was at Coach and Lancome. Plus, we deliberately set out to do a print vehicle without a web component. So video didn’t feel right at the time. But in retrospect, we should have done a video.”
Fashizblack had more to show, as it had already existed online for three years. Publisher/Managing Director Laura Songue used Kickstarter to extend the magazine to print. “We really believed that our concept needed a print version to complete our brand and to publish our high-end editorial content in a glossy,” she told us. The magazine’s pre-existing audience became participants in the campaign. “Given that we were born on the Web, and that from day one, our readers were very much involved in the process (by commenting, giving ideas, sharing content, etc), it felt very natural to have them participate in this fundraising.” Still, they did their research: “We really took time to read over everything on how to run a Kickstarter campaign, every piece of advice, the best tips, the guidelines, etc. For example, it was highly recommended to make a video, so we obliged. The more precise and well-defined the projects were, the better were their chances to make it. The best visuals, videos, the sharpest texts, and true consistency, made the very good projects stand out; so we knew we had to do the same.” Once the campaign launched, they reached out to industry colleagues as well as newsletter subscribers to get the word out.
Do a lot of research to determine a realistic and sufficient goal amount: Determining the goal amount and what that money will go towards can also be a challenge that requires quite a bit of research beforehand. Dudson had to determine what the size of the magazine would be so that its production resulted in as little waste as possible. All of this goes into determining the goal amount. With Intern specifically, an important part of Dudson’s goal was to pay every contributor. Since the message of the magazine is to support unpaid interns, it would be hypocritical not to.
The physical size of the magazine also factored into Cherry Bombe‘s goal amount. Diamond told us printing, shipping and storage were their biggest costs. “The first issue of Cherry Bombe weighs almost two pounds and the paper is really beautiful matte paper, so it’s a beast. In a good way!”
With Kickstarter, you also have to consider the fact that if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get anything. Dudson sees this as a positive in a way, at least for a magazine: “While that may seem a little daunting, it’s brilliant for a number of reasons. If we only got £3,000, that’s not enough money to do the print run, let alone to pay contributors, to buy packaging, so you’re in this horrible situation where you’ve got to deliver on these promises you’ve made people. You’d essentially get yourself in even more trouble.” The format can also encourage donations, posits Dudson. “Having that threat of, unless they get all [of their goal amount], I get nothing, is actually a great motivation for people to back.” Pressure=stress=here’s all my money!
But it also means you really don’t want to ask for too much… or too little. Dudson impulsively stuck and extra 500 pounds onto his goal amount the morning it went live. Luckily, it worked out.
You also have to determine the length of your campaign, which can go up to 60 days, but Dudson recommends only doing 30 because the pressure can get pretty intense.