Kickstarter lab for writers: updating backers

laboratory blog

I know a guy who’s two years late with his Kickstarter delivery. Actually, that’s not entirely uncommon in successful projects, but all his backers are still perfectly happy—all because he keeps them regularly updated about the process.

When people invest in a Kickstarter project, they are hoping to get more than just an item. They want in on the process, which grants them bragging-rights to say “I helped make that happen” or “I knew about this before anyone else.” A big part of feeling involved is receiving the updates from a project creator about how it’s going and what’s happening.

Not only are these updates a good thing for the backers, they can also be a powerful platform for the creators. You have direct, personal access with all the people who are most interested in who you are and what you’re up to. Don’t be afraid of telling them how it’s going or where they can find more info. You can entice them into shifting to higher backer levels or encouraging them to boost your signal, or even direct them to other planks in your platform, such as your blog, Twitter, Facebook page, or email list.


Get personal, not spam-y

One go-to topic is your story: tell us how it’s going with the Kickstarter campaign, the writing process, or anything else about your life. Keep it short, though: make it as succinct as possible (but no more succinct than that).

Whatever you do, DON’T treat project updates like blatant commercials. Keep it focused on some new, nifty aspect of your book, give them sneak peeks, or tempt them with bonus content. As long as you have a message other than “buy my book,” you should be fine. For an example of how to do this, look no farther than i09, xkcd, or your favorite website. If all they had were ads, you wouldn’t go there. Instead, they give you some content and put the ads on the outskirts of the page.


How much and how often?

There are different schools of thought about how often you should send out updates, but I only send when I have something to say (even though I can usually find an excuse). I aim for at least once a week during the project. After the campaign, I recommend absolutely no less than once a month.

When it comes to length, shorter is better. More sentences means fewer people will read the whole email. There’s nothing wrong with a 2 sentence message! Sometimes people just want to hear your voice.

Pro tip: send a thank you email to each and every backer. Okay, this doesn’t exactly count as a backer update because it’s one person at a time, but it has HUGE advantages. Not only does it keep people from changing their minds and cancelling their pledges for whatever reason, it’s also just a nice thing to do!

About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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