$360K Kickstarter Success Story to Inspire Artists
Are you an artist thinking about launching a Kickstarter campaign for your art project? Whether it be a book, a card deck, a comic series, or a toy or game you designed – trust me – success can happen!
Here’s how I know. In 2021, I helped launch one of the most successful art related Kickstarter campaigns of the year. The campaign raised over $75,000 in the first two days, and over $360,000 in just one month. I hope this Kickstarter success story will inspire artists like you to go for it, too!
The Successful Kickstarter Campaign: La Divina Commedia
It was 2021, the Year of Dante – the 700th year anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri. Artist George Cochrane had just spent 7+ years hand-writing and hand-illustrating the entirety of Dante’s Divine Comedy in his own handwriting and illustrative style. George was going to do his book launch with the help of a luxury book publisher and book selling company called Facsimile Finder.
The goal was to offer the book in multiple special printed editions, including a VERY limited edition of 2 copies, completely hand-colored, that would go for $10K each. 1402 copies were to be printed and hand-bound in Italy.
I had come onto the project as a marketing specialist, communications manager, and PR marketer. The plan was for me to do everything from writing and editing the main Kickstarter page, the pre-launch landing page, Facebook ads, and pre-launch and post-launch emails. I was also going to assist with PR marketing and event planning.
What Made This Kickstarter Project a Success
There were quite a few things that made this Kickstarter project a huge success. Here’s the list:
- An artist obsessed with the quality of his work (in a good way).
- A team of people who believed in his art and the success of the project.
- A marketing budget of more than $3K for ads.
- A landing page to gather pre-launch emails.
- A robust email marketing campaign. These emails came BEFORE the campaign, during launch, during the campaign, and after the campaign ended.
- Facebook ads.
- PR marketing.
- Live Facebook events.
- Product quality control.
Another key factor in making this a Kickstarter success story: PLANNING AHEAD.
The team spent months planning the campaign. They timed it just right so that the campaign would launch the same year as Dante’s death. We spent countless hours on pre-launch marketing.
This meant building the landing pages, building the email list, getting the story and copywriting “right” on EVERY piece of marketing material. Overall, the project took over a year to plan. We spent about 3 months in pre-launch mode. In total, we sent 8 emails before launch day to an email list of over 800 people who indicated interest in the campaign ahead of time.
Why Storytelling is KEY To Becoming a Kickstarter Success Story
Building an email list is one thing. Almost any marketing agency out there could help you achieve this. You could even learn it yourself if you have the time and not much money. Marketing the campaign leading up to launch day is a whole other story. You have to be ready to tell a story that will hook readers and get them personally invested in your art.
What did I do to achieve this? Well, I simply started by sitting down with George and learning as much as I could about him and his project. I also listened to hours of him discussing his process. This took a few weeks of intense note taking and transcribing.
Then, I sat down and broke everything up into themes. These included:
- Who is George? What is HIS origin story?
- Why does George care about Dante?
- Why in hell would George spend 7 years on this project?
- What did the research process entail?
- What was involved in the art process? What made that special?
- What was the process like to create the book in collaboration with a publishing company?
- And more…
During this period, I also consumed a book that changed everything for me. It was called “Launch” by Jeff Walker. Jeff talks about how to sell virtually ANYTHING online, and how to build a successful launch. Besides this book, I also researched everything I possibly could about email marketing and email launch campaigns. And, I reached out to folks who had run successful campaigns in the past, to ask them how it was done (I got some really rude responses, but also some very friendly “yes” answers). It was from this research and reading phase that I learned how important storytelling is to the success of a launch.
After this, I sat down and wrote the 8 emails I mentioned above. Each one was “written” by George in a very personal manner. I wanted it to feel as if he was making friends with the readers, having a conversation that just became deeper and deeper over time.
Each email contained images of George working on his art, videos of him in his studio, and process videos of the book being made. To make things more interesting, I also highlighted the team and the behind-the-scenes work to print the book.
Building The Email List
During the email copywriting phase, we were also building the email list. We achieved this with a simple landing page that introduced George, the project, and in exchange for their name and email, they would get exclusive first access to pre-order a copy of the book on launch day for a major discount.
To get people on the list, we targeted folks who were obsessed with Dante or the Divine Comedy – and we did it all through Facebook ads.
We also retargeted folks engaged with our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and ran engagement campaigns for our promotional videos. I won’t get too much into the nitty gritty (you’d need a whole course for that unless you’re already familiar with Facebook ads), but I’ll just say it was the biggest reason we were able to build our list in such a short time.
We spent around $3K in ad spend for nearly 850 leads, overall spending between $3-4 per lead.
This was great, especially due to the campaign being such a niche interest. Clearly people were into it.
Kickstarter Pre-Launch Marketing – Everything Under The Sun
During the pre-launch phase, which was most intense in the 3 months leading up to launching the Kickstarter, we did everything. We created the landing page for leads, launched and tested Facebook ads, built the email list, filmed Youtube videos, wrote the pre-launch email sequence and Kickstarter page, got press releases ready in English AND Italian, created prototypes of the books, and so much more.
This was no small undertaking. It truly took a massive team effort. As part of the Facsimile Finder team, I was blessed to be working with so many amazing people who truly believed in seeing the project succeed.
Making Kickstarter Launch Day a Success
The first step to making launch day a success was FIRST having sent those 8 emails to our email list over the course of the month preceding the launch. This was KEY. We were priming our list to buy, and making sure they were incredibly excited for launch day.
The second step was creating a series of launch day emails that would go out over the course of the day. The first was sent out an hour before launch. The second when we went live. And then we had others that followed throughout the day highlighting the early-bird pricing.
With each email, we saw more sales trickle in. Within an hour of launch, we had brought in $15K. Within 2 days of launch, $75K. All from email marketing.
Having press releases go out also helped our cause, but the majority of our sales during the first week came from our email marketing efforts. And they didn’t stop there. We continued to email the list throughout the campaign with updates, words of thanks, more behind-the-scenes content, invitations to Facebook live events, and more.
We also did a giveaway in collaboration with a partner that brought in a handful of sales.
Once we reached over $75K, the team decided to invest in some serious marketing ad spend with a Kickstarter marketing company. Most of the advertising was taken off our hands at that point and the marketing agency drove sales up to $360K by the end of the month.
Without having blown way past our goal, though, this agency wouldn’t have even considered working with us. Because we proved we had a desirable product, by driving those initial sales and getting to the front page of Kickstarter within the first week, they were willing to take us on.
How To Run Your Own Successful Kickstarter Campaign
Here’s a short list of things you can do to run your own successful Kickstarter campaign:
- Learn basic email launch marketing and write a killer pre-launch email series that hooks potential backers. I recommend using something free like Mailchimp, or something more geared towards being visually appealing like Flodesk.
- Learn how to build your email list with a simple landing page and Facebook ads.
- Have professional photos and videos of your product/s and process.
- Make sure your Kickstarter page answers every single question about your product.
- Offer an early-bird special.
- Don’t stop marketing after the first week. KEEP GOING. And be willing to re-invest campaign funds to continue marketing the campaign.
- Don’t hesitate to hire a marketer to assist you if you don’t have time to learn the marketing side.
- Implement all of the above.
Need 1:1 Marketing Strategy & Support for a Kickstarter Campaign That’s in the Works?
Book a 1:1 intensive marketing strategy session with me, and also receive 1 month of email support. We’ll do a deep dive on what audience to target through Facebook ads, and outline what to focus on in your pre-launch email sequence. I’ll be available over email over the course of a month to review your sequence and provide recommendations for the best marketing tools and resources to use based on your unique needs.
Choosing the Right Email Marketing Platform for Your Email List & Pre-Launch Series
Choosing the right email marketing platform is going to be key here. You will want to use something that lets you track data easily AND allows you to showcase your art and products in a visually appealing way. For this purpose, I highly recommend using Flodesk.
Not only is Flodesk easy to use, it connects to your domain so that your email are less likely to be caught in spam. It is an awesome platform to use to make more sales, or launch a Kickstarter campaign. Flodesk also allows you to segment your email subscribers. This allows you to better target who you’re reaching with each email and see how they became a subscriber.
My favorite feature of Flodesk is their Workflows. You can easily offer a downloadable freebie or a coupon code, and lead people through a workflow of emails that are automatically sent at specific times. In terms of Kickstarter, this can save you SO much time. Imagine if you had your pre-launch series uploaded and ready to send over the course of a month, without having to manually send anything on specific days. The more automation the better, and you can edit these workflows any time!