Congratulations to Reba Hasko, an extraordinary performer (singer/songwriter could describe her but, hey, she’s more than that) who just succeeded at funding her campaign on kickstarter.com. Reba and her fans raised $9333 in 30 days to finance the recording and pressing of her third album with Devin Greenwood at The Honey Jar studios in Brooklyn, NY.
I met Reba here in ABQ after she blew me away with her performance style and artistic excellence. We chatted quite a bit about ArtSpark and the promise of micro/crowdfunding sites like kickstarter and indiegogo for artists. Fast forward two years and I start getting emails and texts from Reba that she’s keen on launching a kickstarter campaign. She then made it happen and created a stellar campaign full of great offers and a fantastic video (video embedded at the end of this post – watch! it’s great!).
ArtSpark did what we could to support Reba’s campaign, including quite a bit of co-nail biting when there were three days left and a few thousand dollars left to raise. But Reba got the word out like crazy during those last 72 hours and many people came out to cheer her on and to raise the money she needed to succeed (fundraising via kickstarter.com is all or nothing…).
Despite the sweetness of an accomplished finish line, kickstarter campaigns are S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L. Lucky for all of you, Reba wrote about the campaign once it was over and now shares her lessons and words of wisdom.
10 Tips for Surviving Your Kickstarter Adventure (by Reba Hasko)
Ah, Kickstarter. The things you’ve taught me. From how to write a press release to how to bury my neurosis long enough to make a first-video-update to how to swallow my fear and say… “So, I’m up to something… something… neat…”
Who could have predicted the magic that would come hand in hand with such fear? It’s true what they say: The magic of Kickstarter is real. But for those non-magical moments, here are a few tips to help you navigate.
#1 Start early. Preparation is key. I read an interview with Amanda Palmer where she claimed that she had requested from fans their level of commitment *before* they ever launched the project. Brilliant! Find out how many of each of the ‘rewards’ people may want in advance. Then the goal setting will be even more poised for success. You can always make more than the goal, but not less… more on this later… Also, have your press list ready to go before you launch. You’ll want to send a press release to any interested outlets. And your list will grow as you start sending them.
#2 Don’t stop practicing your art. There will be days when you may get one or two (or zero) pledges. It can induce thoughts like: “Is this even going to happen? Do I really deserve this? What if that was the last pledge…?” But if you can brush a few strokes, sing a few bars or move your body just a bit every day, you will remember who you are, and that your project, your art, belongs out in the world- you’ve worked hard, and now is your time to bring your project to fruition.
#3 Maintain your health. Exercise. It keeps confidence high and stress down. I am 100% convinced that had I kept up biking to work or running 3 x a week, I wouldn’t have ended up with the flu the very last week of the campaign. Keep your immune system boosted and protect yourself with adequate rest. (Well, try.)
#4 Don’t get nervous or disheartened if people suggest you find a “way out.” I had a few very well-meaning friends start sending me links about ¾ of the way in, to handle the imminent failure to come, as he/she saw it. Meaning, I was given links to other fundraising sites to try my luck elsewhere. Online crowdfunding is a fairly new concept. Not everyone knows exactly what it’s about or how it works. Those last 72 hours are potent and a project like this is indeed, a faith tester. (Yet, I renamed KS “Blissstarter” after week one…) Work hard, ask for help, never give up. Focus on those who are whole-heartedly supporting, never on those who aren’t (yet). (And there is a back-up plan already in place (see #7), so be sure to keep your eyes on the prize.)
#5 Prepare for a million miracles and for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. What can I say? I could have imagined the cd buyers of the past looking forward to the new album, but I could not have predicted old flames & starving artists, people with newborns on the way, once-frenemies, or the unemployed to throw down. Seriously. Prepare to have your heart enlarged.
#6 Have affairs in order before you hit that Submit button. I was so excited to just get it out there, that I didn’t realize that I would get so wrapped up in the project, that I would forget to request off (from my day job) those last crucial few days of my project– and I wasn’t able to to finagle it! Pay those monthly bills in advance, send out the birthday cards, and tell your family and bff’s that they are your precious KS Team, and you will be counting on them for support and sanity. Try to scale back the work schedule, and don’t be afraid to try your hand at delegating.
#7 You’ve worked your fingers to the bone, you’re $500 away from your goal with 15 minutes left. Ethical dilemma? Maybe. Let’s just say, after those 29 days, and so many wonderful wishes and excitement, the project becomes bigger than you, and your art. It becomes about the people voting to see you succeed– with not only their dollars, but also their time and energy and tweets and encouragement etc… This was suggested to me by more than one KS veteran: If you can have a friend or relative loan you the remainder to earn you that opportunity you’ve been busting your ass towards, have it as part of a backup plan. Chances are, if you are prepared, do your research, and are excited about your project, you won’t even need to cross that bridge.
#8 Hurray! QR codes! The nifty little smart phone scannable b/w squares that link you to websites? How fun is this: Try making your posters, postcards, or business cards with your QR code right to your Kickstarter page to generate traffic. QR codes are free and easy to make. Type, print, paste, distribute.
#9 Make sure your technology is in tip top shape. After the first week of the campaign, my computer decided that it didn’t feel like connecting to the internet for more than a few minutes at a time. It overheated, it whirred and it made me wait. One way ticket to madness, I tell you. I ended up spending a few nights computing overnight at work where I could use an abandoned office room to secretly Kickstart away. There were also a few moments of “I can’t believe I’m doing this without a smart phone…” It’s a techy-project. If you have the means to get suited up, by all means do it.
#10 Your project is more than just this album, invention, series, etc. It’s a fantastic way to find out who your true audience is, how to form a relationship with them, and frankly how to let them in. I am the type person who in the past, assumed mystery was my greatest asset. “As long as they don’t know exactly how I write my songs, they can never truly find fault…” Yikes! Talk about transformation. After a few pledges came in, I started feeling irrepressibly energized. I could see it coming to life. The album, yes, but also, the next album… the tour to follow… And slowly, I started sharing more. My blogs became a little heftier and towards the end, a bit more frequent. My posts a bit more candid. I started stopping my coworkers who I’d shared only a few mere words with, and handing them the link on a little art card. I could NOT believe my eyes when I saw that this brought in results… “Hey, I liked your music…” And the fire was fueled again…
#11 Don’t go it alone. ArtSpark It. I was extremely fortunate to have been mentored by ArtSpark’s very own founder and CEO Kristine Maltrud. Kristine not only provided me with my first bits of knowledge about online fundraising, but she encouraged me to ask for more when I couldn’t fathom doing so and was there every step of the way. She even helped me draft a courageous letter of support to Ms. Yoko Ono. Talk about creating opportunity outside of my normal scope of reality! I owe Kristine a million dollars. Investigate her invaluable expertise and the work of community building and creative support by ArtSpark: An incredible resource for succeeding at art making in the modern world.
If you are already a fearless and outgoing human, this should be an easy and exciting success for you. But either way, you are going to grow. And if you ask me, that is worth just as much as wherever your goal is set.