crowdfunding

How long should my Kickstarter campaign last? by Simeon Smith

This morning I got sucked into a Twitter thread that I should have ignored, around the question of how long a crowd-funding campaign should last. I love Twitter, but for complicated questions like this, it sucks because people often give an answer, but don't say why or give any evidence. 

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The person starting the thread was attempting to avoid the mid-campaign slump simply by... having a shorter campaign! A perhaps simple idea to a problem few have been able to solve. 

You see, regardless of how much funding a campaign receives, it almost inevitably will get most of it's funding in the first couple of days (people backing the campaign as soon as they see it), and then another huge surge at the end (people who are undecided about the campaign and back it out of urgency). Now this blog post isn't about the psychology of urgency in sales, or managing campaigns, but I simply wanted to provide some questions people should consider when deciding how long their campaign should be. 

Hopefully if you can answer these few questions, you'll have some good insight into how long a particular campaign should run for. 

- What does the data say? Most platforms will have an FAQ where this is answered, giving you the best time/profit ratio and it varies slightly from one platform to another. The general consensus seems to be that it's around a month. More important though is the day you want it to start and end; different social media platforms will have different days that have better engagement or more traffic than others, make sure that your campaign doesn't end on a Saturday night if no one is going to be around to impulse-back your project. 

- What's wrong with a mid-campaign slump? Apart from delaying the project an extra couple of weeks, most of the down-sides to having your backer numbers stall for a couple of weeks can be managed. Campaign Fatigue? Low morale? Public perception? All these things can be managed. Sorry to say that if you haven't raised the bulk of your cash in 48hrs, chances are you've already failed, so the biggest fear of the first-time crowd-funder can be that their campaign will fail in the first couple of days and they'll be left looking at a failing campaign for a month. Sure this sucks, but only really for their ego. There's a lot of things you can do to avoid your campaign failing (most outside the remit of this article) but the length of your campaign will rarely be a deciding factor, so take the emotional hit on the mid campaign slump, and tell your ego to suck it up. 

- Who is your target audience? If you expect most of your backers to be people already on a mailing list or following you on social media, then running a shorter campaign might make sense. If you're hoping to gather a larger audience, getting picked up by relevant blogs and news sites will be one of the biggest contributing factors that will widen your backer pool. The thing with these sites is that they take a while to pick stories up, so a week-long campaign will probably have ended by the time they pick it up.

- How many backers do you want or need? Campaigns with cheap rewards and hundreds of backers are "impulse buys" for most people. "Oh look, Joe Blogs is releasing an album, and I can get a digital copy for 8 quid" In this situation the few backers you may or may not pick up during the mid-campaign slump aren't going to make or break the campaign. However, if you're hoping to find a dozen people that will back a limited edition product for a couple of hundred quid each, the psychology of the purchase changes. Trying to find fewer backers doesn't necessarily mean a shorter campaign. 

- Why do you want a shorter campaign? You can probably already tell if your reason is a bit shitty, but here are some good reasons: Completing a project in a manageable timescale due to other commitments. Creating a splash because you're looking to promote your product, not necessarily fund it. Using a perceived lack of time as differentiation for the campaign. 

Simeon's book Every Shot Matters was fully funded in just 4hrs. The first run of his synth module, The Jackalope, sold out in 90 minutes.

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Every Shot Matters: Workbook - FREE DOWNLOAD by Simeon Smith

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Hey, everyone? 

Remember that book you all helped me crowd-fund earlier this year that reached it funding target in, like, 4 hours and went on to be 400% funded? Yeah? 

Well as part of that I said I'd upload a free workbook for anyone not wanting to write in their print copies of the book, or for anyone to use and share with their photographic friends. 

I had some grand plans for the workbook, but had some trouble sorting it all out and had other projects to work on and got busy and... didn't release the workbook. I'm sorry. That was pretty shitty of me. 

Well today Jason (off of https://www.jasonbrewerphotography.com), got in touch and was like "Hey, what happened to that free workbook you were releasing?" and I made a lame excuse. So he was like "Just release it already! Upload a PDF, people don't care about the fanfare you had planned!" (paraphrasing, he didn't know about the fanfare I had planned, but...)

Anyway, thanks to Jason, you too can now download, print and hold the Every Shot Matters Workbook in your very own hands. 

Thanks again to everyone for your support. Please share this workbook far and wide! 

 

Videre: Build Review by Simeon Smith

EDIT: I'VE HAD A COUPLE OF ISSUES WITH THE KIT, SO HAVE EMAILED KELLY TO FIND HOW SHE'S LOOKING TO RESOLVE THINGS. I'LL PROVIDE AN UPDATE AS SOON AS I HAVE ONE.

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I’ve taken a few photos already on the camera, but have yet to develop any, so this is a quick review of the building process and materials. I’ll post a second part of the review when I’ve actually got photos from the thing. 

Videre is flat-pack, cardboard, pinhole camera. It comes as a kind of press-out and build kit with a few extra parts.

I started typing “the only bits that aren’t cardboard are…” and then realised there are actually quite a few bits that are metal (clips and the pinhole itself), or plastic (pretty much all the functioning parts of the camera). 

So this is a cardboard camera body.

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But that isn’t a bad thing. Kelly Angood has been making cardboard cameras for a while now, and this is a middle-ground she’s struck between all-cardboard glory, and actual real-world functionality. 

I found the build to be pretty simple, much simpler than the Wintercroft kits I’ve built before. The kit comes with glue dots and stickers that are easy to use to assemble the camera, and the parts fit together well. It’s a surprisingly tight and sturdy kit when complete, something I’m sure isn’t easy to design with cardboard. 

That said, it still is cardboard. It kind of bulges at the sides, regardless of how many times you crease the folds, and a lot of the pieces just slot together without glue or stickers, so I’d hesitate before throwing this into a bag with other gear. 

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The good: 

  • It’s a lot of fun to build, and is totally reusable. I’m sure it’ll last a good few trips. 
  • It’s beautiful. It’s as much a card sculpture as it is a camera.
  • It’s locally printed and sourced in a way that a lot of manufacturers just don’t care about. 

The bad: 

  • Other than the novelty and fun of building a card camera, I’m not sure why you’d choose this camera over other pinhole cameras, or a pinhole “lens” for a camera system.
  • A lot of the parts are annoyingly just cosmetic. It’d be nice if “hood” of the TLR-style body had a small square cut out of the middle to help compose shots. It’d be nice if the rings around the pinhole were functional as an exposure guide. Instead these parts are just there to look cool.

I loved making this kit, and have enjoyed using it so far. As someone who’s never had the patience for pinhole photography, the fun of building the camera was encouragement enough to actually go out and make some images with it.

We’ll see how they turn out. 

The Right Size for a Project by Simeon Smith

So, capitalism, eh? 

Totally broken. So fucked up. Look at the growing inequality between the richest and poorest in the developed world and you’ll see that capitalism has flaws as vast as those of communism, or any other system for that matter. I don’t have the answers, I’m not here to preach, but recently in my work I’ve had questions. Questions about the right size for projects, for businesses, for life. 

Only a few decades ago businesses weren’t just about making money. They were as much about making things, serving needs. Look at big supermarkets. They’re not grocers anymore. They’re not shops. They’re doing whatever makes them cash. Where I buy baked beans also sells car insurance and credit cards, there’s an opticians in there and a pharmacy, and a photography studio to boot. It’s crazy. 

But if you look at smaller, successful companies, they’re often focussed on the product, not the bottom line. I love Huit Jean’s ethos of “do one thing well”. For years Monome made machines in tiny runs, and always sold out during pre-orders. Both these companies have great customer service, and neither are paying me to tell you this. 

So this year I’ve published a book, released a synth module, and now my new album is coming out on Friday. 

One of the hardest things to decide for each of these projects is how big they should. 

With the Eurorack module I totally undershot. I made 10 thinking they might sell over the next 3 months or so. They sold out in 90 minutes. My bad. That project was too small. I could have made double the number of modules for little extra work. I could have reduced the end price, or increased my profit margin. Could’ve, should’ve. 

With the book, I had it a bit easier. I crowdfunded the thing. I set a reasonable goal. That goal was literally how much it’d cost me to do the minimum print run. I met the funding goal in 4hrs, but then went on to fund the project over 4 times over. This was a great way for me to know how many books to print, how much effort to put into the post-crowdfunding campaign, and a way of grabbing people’s attention. 

Now I face another question, about my new album. Few people are making money from music these days, luckily digital distribution is cheap as chips. I’ve decided not to do a physical run of CDs, cassettes or vinyl. If people really want my music in a physical format they can buy a one-off dub plate. As for marketing, a lot of it is either free, or just takes my time. Sending my music places for review / airtime, social media, video content. But other things, things I won’t be doing this time around, cost serious cash. Will not investing as much in the marketing for this album be a mistake? Have I undershot on my goals for the album? Should I be taking these projects more seriously, putting more effort into fewer projects? 

I’ve no idea. 

I guess my current ethos is to try winning the lottery by buying lots of tickets. Figuratively, obvs. 

Scroobius Pip said, “Throw enough shit at the wall, and some of it’ll stick…

… but make no mistake, your wall’s still covered in shit.” 

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It Is Finished. by Simeon Smith

I've just been to the post office to send (almost) all of the rewards from my Kickstarter! 

If you're a backer and are: 

  • In the UK, please allow until the end of the week to receive your book and prints. 
  • Outside of the UK, it'll probably be more like 10 working days. 
  • If you're a friend that's backed this project and I see you on a regular basis, I've got a parcel with your name on it and will either hand deliver it, or hold onto it until we see each other. 

There are a couple of backers that still haven't given me their addresses. If that's you, you'll have had an email yesterday asking you for your address. 

When you receive your parcel, I'd love if you'd tweet / instagrim / facebook about it. Please tag me in (@_simeonsmith) and use the hashtag #everyshotmatters 

Thanks again to all my backers. 

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