Jessica Feinberg, author, illustrator, and creator of 13 successfully funded Kickstarter projects (and one Indiegogo project), joins us to share her approach to getting the word out about a new project. Her latest Kickstarter campaign, Metal Dragons & Clockwork Creatures, met its funding goal on its first day and is now over 300% funded.

The old saying is “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, but in the age of social media this saying really doesn’t hold true. If your public relations come across in the wrong way people will simply unfollow you, block you, and in severe cases they may even boycott your project.

This means you need to let people know about your crowdfunding project in an interesting way that doesn’t come across as spam.

Know Your Target Market

Everyone’s project is different. The market for a book or card game will be very different from that for a theater performance or a new brewery. Knowing who you are trying to reach is key because it will let you make more effective use of your time by narrowing your focus to just your target market.

For example: my main customer base consists of fantasy fans in their 30’s, young families, and tabletop gamers. I also have a small percentage of customers who are more serious playing card, book, and art collectors. I know this from meeting fans at in-person events (conventions, signings, etc.), Facebook demographics, and my product category itself (fantasy-themed field guides, playing cards, etc.).

How Does Your Target Market Communicate?

Once you have identified your market, the next step is to figure out how they communicate. Many potential fans gather online in Facebook groups or on topic-specific forums, but some groups are better reached in-person. If you aren’t sure the best way to reach your customers ask around. Really. Simply asking around for advice on how to reach say, tabletop gamers or fly fishermen can give you ideas you would not have thought of on your own. Maybe there’s a mailing list or blog that they all read or a popular podcast everyone follows. If your target audience gathers on a site that you’re unfamiliar with or communicates using a medium that you have never used before, be sure to put the time in to learn the ropes prior to starting promotions.

On my projects, I’ve found that most of my fanbase is on Facebook so I communicate with them via posts to my Facebook page, themed Facebook groups (e.g. “People for the Ethical Treatment of Dragons”) and so forth. Some of my fans don’t use social media at all and they complained that they kept missing my projects. I started an email list that my backers can ask to join on their project surveys. I also use a lot of word of mouth promotion in person at comic conventions and other live events. I hand out business cards because those don’t go out of date or get stale. They list my Website and that links to my current Kickstarter campaign.

Please keep in mind that what works for one creator and customer base may not work for another so be sure to do research and try out a number of different things. You can also use Google to find articles with more promotion ideas.

Pre-Launch Public Relations

Now you know who you want to reach and you have a whole list of ways to reach them.  The next step is to do your PR planning before you open your project for funding. You want to get people excited about the project and looking forward to it before it starts. For example, if there are some well known bloggers or podcasts that fit the theme of your project contact them early. Editors and podcasters need time to produce content and they have their own calendars. Pitch them with your project details and the launch date and ask them what they would need from you to feature the project.

Posting previews on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and in the forums to let people know that your project is coming will also helps. After I had run a few smaller projects and started to build a following, I found that if I let people know that a new project is coming and remind them on a regular basis, they get excited about the project and they also plan ahead to budget money for it. This strategy combined with use of “early bird rewards” can get you a lot of pledges when your project kicks off.

Deliver Content, Not Spam

Both in early PR and in any communication you do during your project you don’t want to come across as spam. One common mistake is posting the same thing over and over again. Keep it interesting. If you can, share unique pictures of your project, especially work-in-progress pictures, this will work well. I usually show work-in-progress photos of art from my projects, sometimes samples from the writing, and then include the Kickstarter link or the date that the campaign will start if it hasn’t launched yet. This increases the chances that people will share something because you are presenting a variety of different things. Also, ask for feedback when you post. People that interact with you will give you good ideas to work on and are more likely to care about the project and back it.

Crowdfunding can get you a lot more than just money. It can get you market research that will tell you what’s working with your audience. As both author and artist it is hard for me to be objective about my own work. My favorites may not match up with what my fans like. My books include 50 to 100 original art pieces each so I cannot offer prints of everything. I use social media and backer feedback as well as data on the pledge rewards that backers choose to help me select which prints to invest in for conventions and online sales.

Live-Project Public Relations

Much of the work during the live project phase will be executing on the PR plan you put together before starting the campaign. When you have a live project, you will start getting additional promotion opportunities such as interview requests. Take advantage of the ones that make sense and pass on the ones that don’t, but don’t forget about your PR plan.

Post regular updates across a variety of online outlets showing the project and be honest about how excited you are to be doing it. This makes a difference!

Provide your backers with materials that they can use to promote the project too–backer badges, cover images or even flyers that they can print out (depending on who you are trying to reach) can all help.  If you are funding a local event or business, you may also want to hold a local event to promote your project.

In conclusion: Do research. Plan ahead. Be honest, positive, specific and unique with your PR and you will get results.