Kickstarter: What I could have done better

Suchitra Vijayan is a writer, photographer and a political analyst. She is currently working on “The Borderlands”, a project that documents stories along India’s borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Burma.

She plans to revisit locations in the North East, travel north towards Ladakh region bordering China, and to Rajasthan and Gujarat bordering Pakistan.

Suchitra chose Kickstarter as the platform to raise money to cover fieldwork, research and shooting cost for a three-member team that includes herself, a videographer and a fixer. Her goal was to raise $48,000. After 45 days, she raised only $8,000 from 96 backers.

In Kickstarter projects, the amount of money an artist gets is “all-or-nothing.” You need to meet your monetary goal in order to receive any pledged funds. If your goal is $1,000 and only $500 is pledged by your supporters, you don’t get any of it. Kickstarter claims that 44% of artists meet their goals through this specific crowdfunder.

In this post she shares what she learned during her crowdfunding campaign, and tells CV how to avoid mistakes.

1. Build your audience before you begin. “Don’t wait until you start the campaign to promote your project. Reach out to as many people you can. I met the majority of people after I had launched the Kickstarter.”

2. Arrange one-on-one meetings “Make sure you have a couple of public events where you can talk to people one on one. I did much of this later and I should have done it up front.”

3. Be very critical and show only your best work. “Don’t give them a lot; give them the best. If you have 10 photographs and you’re not sure about three of them, just put up seven.” 

4. Be realistic in setting your fundraising goal.  “Make an honest assessment of who you are and your capacity for raising money. I made an estimation of how much this project would cost me, but didn’t have a very articulate sense of how large my audience is.”

5. Fundraise in more than one place. “I should not have looked at Kickstarter as the only venue to raise money for my project. I should have only aimed to raise half, or one third, of the money that I need to fund my project. People should apply for grants and fellowships, and always have a backup plan.”

6. Reach out to influencers. “One of the best advices that I was ever given, is to reach out to influencers: people who then help you get others to support your project.”

 7. It’s not just about raising money.  “Meet people, make connections, tell them about what you do and don’t ask for anything back in return. You’ll see the results once people appreciate you and your work.”

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