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The Second Time Around — Comparing My Failed and Successful Kickstarter Campaigns

By now I’m sure you know I’ve had two Kickstarter campaigns – the first failed and the second exceeded the goal. I learned a lot from both and changed my strategy for the second.

Author, Alicia Kennedy and her son with her timeless, diverse classic children's book, I'll Be Here

Here are my takeaways after comparing the two:

My first Kickstarter goal was massive. What I’m most passionate about is diversifying all books, especially textbooks and workbooks within curricula. To produce those materials (that are ready to print), I needed $30k. I still need $30k. That’s what it takes to get those materials ready to use, and I wasn’t going to lowball my Kickstarter campaign by promising people things and not being able to deliver. So, I went for it.

At the time, I thought having more products would be beneficial because I thought more products would allow for more people to pledge and we would be more likely to hit that $30,000 goal. More options meant something for everyone. The reality is it was overwhelming. It was way too much to communicate, digest, and share in the mission.

Author, Alicia Kennedy and her formatter, Chynna Denny, reviewing the cover for I'll Be Here, a diverse picture book

Another major hurdle in trying to raise $30,000 in 30 days was that people thought their ten- and twenty-dollar pledges weren’t helpful. It was all they had to give, but they felt like their donations were not significant enough to get us close to our goal. This one was a two-part learning experience — one, our goal was lofty (not to say it’s unattainable) and our communication of “every little bit helps” fell short.

To top it off, most of my audience was not familiar with Kickstarter or crowdfunding in general for that matter. So, I had to take more time to explain it. I needed more time ahead of Kickstarter to help my audience understand what we were doing and why.

In February, my team was fresh. We had just added new team members and we hadn’t had time to find our brand voice and learn how to work well together. We were still in the beginning stages of figuring out who is Inspirus, what we are doing, and how we would do it — and doing it all remotely. The foundation of our brand wasn’t nearly as developed with our first Kickstarter as it was by the time we got to the second campaign.

Our second and successful Kickstarter campaign was for one book. It was clear and concise with a smaller goal. The smaller goal made people feel like their $30 preorder of the book actually made a difference. We had smaller reward tiers to encourage them to give even if it wasn’t a large amount. Our messaging was so much better. Our team had been working together for eight months and meshing well together. We had a message and were able to accurately deliver it.

Going into the second campaign, we also had a larger audience. The first campaign tremendously helped us grow our audience on social media and those people stuck around, engaged, and helped us achieve success this time.

A young girl with curly hair reading I'll Be Here by Alicia Kennedy. A diverse picture book for all families.

Influencer partnerships, an ad strategy, and hiring a Kickstarter strategist were extremely helpful. We didn’t do any of this the first time, and those items were key to our success. Kickstarter itself is also a huge help. A lot of our backers came directly from Kickstarter and then followed our social media accounts. People are on Kickstarter daily looking for a new dream to support.

This successful campaign gave me so much confidence in the choice to use Kickstarter for our preorders. Now that we understand the process and communication better, I’m excited to keep utilizing the platform for all of our books.


If you missed out on our Kickstarter campaign, you can still preorder your copy of I'll Be Here through December 31st here!


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