Why I will start recommending 17-day Kickstarter campaigns (with swipeable email calendar)

I love launch emails. Launch emails are when all the time you spend on your mailing list becomes worth it.

If you stick with me to the bottom of this post, I’m going to give you my 17-day Kickstarter email strategy, but first I need to take a hard right tangent. If you just want the content calendar, then just scroll to the bottom. Otherwise, let me take you back and talk about why I think a 17-day campaign is the perfect length for most purposes, at least in the publishing space.

In January, I ran a 10-day Kickstarter for my Godsverse Chronicles universe which raised $9,935 from 264 backers.

The Godsverse is easily my most popular series, with both the Katrina Hates the Dead and Pixie Dust graphic novels making me over $100,000 in combined revenue by themselves since their launches. The Godsverse Chronicles Kickstarter was to expand the universe into novels and add 10 additional stories.

In the first week (Tuesday-Saturday) of that campaign, we raised $6,977 from 173 backers. In the last week (Sunday-Thursday), we raised $2958 from 91 backers. Raising nearly $10,000 in 10-days in an incredible feat, but I had a nagging suspicion that I was leaving money on the table.

In June of 2020, we finished a 17-day campaign for a slate of four standalone novels, which have ZERO brand recognition, which means they should be doing CONSIDERABLY worse than the Godsverse, which had HUGE brand recognition among my fans.

That campaign raised $5,797 in the first week, over $1,000 less than the Godsverse campaign. We only had 165 backers, eight less than the Godsverse campaign. So…yeah, it was doing worse in its first week, but remember, this campaign has SEVEN additional days, which means it has a week to catch up, and that’s just what it did.

In the last week of my summer slate, we raised $2352 from just 66 backers, which was twenty-five less than the last week of the Godsverse Chronicles campaign. Combined with the deficit from the first week of the campaign, we had 33 fewer backers in the first and last week of the campaign than we did during the Godsverse Chronicles campaign.

However, we gained 47 backers during the additional week in the middle of the campaign, which meant we finished the campaign raising $9571 from 278 backers, 14 more than my Godsverse campaign. We ended up raising $364 less, but from more people than pledged to my super popular universe. I thought that if it did the same number of backers as the Godsverse campaign it would be a huge win. Remember, these books had ZERO brand recognition.

Yet, it got even MORE backers, and the only thing I can attribute it to was the additional week of the campaign. Going into the last week we were tracking slightly ahead of the Godsverse Chronicles by about 10 backers, which means we pretty much maintained that gap through the end of the campaign. The additional week did not impact the final week negatively at all, which is why I will start to recommend a 17-day campaign as the ideal timeframe for most books from now on.

So, why 17-days and not 24 or 31 days?

I already have a lot of data on a 24-day campaign and a 31-day campaign. I run 24-day campaigns for my most popular anthology series, Cthulhu is Hard to Spell, and I do 31-day campaigns for my most popular comic book series, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter.

And based on that data, I would not run either unless I had a KILLER marketing plan and a big, well-known series that I thought would get more traction over time, like Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter or Cthulhu is Hard to Spell.

I have to invest significantly more time into those longer campaigns to make sure I have new perks launching throughout the campaign. I have to find lots more marketing opportunities for those campaigns, and if you don’t have a lot of open marketing avenues, then having the extra days is dead weight.

A long campaign would also have to be in a category with a vibrant community that I thought I could find a lot of collaborators through, which is true of comics but not in publishing.

I love the backers in the publishing category, but the novel writers I try to network with are having none of it.

Meanwhile, the comics category is all about networking and doing backer update swaps, so I have more options to keep showing myself to new people in the comics than the publishing category.

The main reason that I am hesitant about doing a 10-day campaign again is that the shortness of the campaign prevents me from using one of my most powerful assets; backer updates.

One thing I wasn’t able to do on my 10-day campaign was to send a second backer update to my previous campaigns because the beginning and end were too close together, which probably left a LOT of money on the table.

I send updates to every campaign when I launch. Since I have 12 campaigns I send to 4 each day over 3 days and I try to make sure not to include campaigns close to each other to avoid hitting the same backers multiple times a day.

With longer campaigns, I also send an update in the last five days of the campaign, starting on Sunday and continuing for three days and ending on Tuesday, two days before the end of the campaign.

Those end of campaign updates are like gold, and only having a 10-day campaign hurt my ability to do that, which means I left a lot of money on the table.

Now, I promised that I had would give you my email calendar for a 17-day Kickstarter campaign, and here it is.

This is my basic email schedule for this kind of campaign when it comes to my mailing list. I think it utilizes the most successful pieces I’ve done with longer and shorter campaigns without burning people out on hearing from me.

I start EVERY campaign on a Tuesday and end on a Thursday, and all my perks go end on Saturdays and start on Sundays, except for flash perks, which I will add when things get slow. I’m not saying you should do that too, but having done it the same way twelve times means I’ve developed my own process.

Swipeable Perfect Kickstarter Launch Plan

Day 1 (Tuesday) 3 emails –  I send a “we launched” email in the morning with a graphic of my early bird perks. Then, I send a mid-morning bonus perk email assuming we do well enough to qualify for it. Often, this perk is tied to backing on the first day ONLY. Then, I send a final email at night saying the first-day “bonus” perk is going away.

Day 2 (Wednesday) 1 email – The first day is for hitting people that already know and love the book. The second day is about introducing people to the book a second time, sending the blurb and going into depth about the book.

Day 3 (Thursday) 1 email – This email is to tell people there are only two days left for early bird perks. I use this email to talk about early bird perks. I recommend having 4-5 early bird perks available for backers

Day 4 (Friday) 1 email – This one is to say there is only 1 day left for early bird perks.

Day 5 (Saturday) – 2 emails – I send a “last day for early bird perks” in the morning. Then, a “last chance for early bird perks” at night. I have tested this all sorts of different ways, and sending the second email is very effective.

Day 6 (Sunday) – 0 emails – break.

Day 7 (Monday) – 1 email – This is an email talking about week 2 perks. I recommend 4-5 week two perks. This also sets up that you’ll be spending the second week going deep on different aspects of the book.

Day 8 (Tuesday) – 1 email –  Dive deeper into the main character or the story idea (though you probably covered the story in the previous week’s emails.

Day 9 (Wednesday) – 1 email – Dive deeper into the setting, or the art, or another part of the book.

Day 10 (Thursday) 1 email – Dive deeper into the reason you made the book. This is your WHY email, and critically important to get people who’ve heard all about the book and just need one little push to go over the edge.

Day 11 (Friday) – 1 email – 1 day left for week 2 perks. This is the same as the previous week.

Day 12 (Saturday) 2 emails – Last day for week 2 perks in the morning. Then, last chance for week 2 perks at night. These emails are exactly like the first week’s emails.

Day 13 (Sunday) – 0 emails – break.

Day 14 (Monday) – 1 email – Introducing final week perks. You don’t have to go as hard this week. You can just have 2-3 perks for this, since you’ll get a lot of traction out of the campaign ending.

Day 15 (Tuesday) 1 email – I send a “2 days left” email in the morning, knowing that Kickstarter sends a “48 hours left” email to people watching the campaign in the afternoon.

Day 16 (Wednesday) – 2 emails – 1 day left in the morning. 24 hours left in the afternoon, or whenever there are only 24 left in the campaign.

Day 17 (Thursday) – 4 emails – 12 hours left, 8 hours left, 4 hours left, 2 hours left.

That’s 23 emails, and I often decide to send ANOTHER email each Sunday, making it 25 emails, which sounds like a lot, but every time I do I make hundreds of dollars for my campaign.

Of course, I have 25,000+ people on my mailing list, too. I probably wouldn’t send 25 emails to a list of 30 people, or maybe I would. I don’t know. I suppose it would depend on how many of them already backed the campaign.

The key is that every day I’m trying to find a new way to talk about the project which will get people excited.

I assume that my last email convinced everybody it was going to convince, and I need to tweak my pitch to find new people, but there is ALWAYS a way to tweak a pitch to make it relevant, and if you do different perks every week then there is ALWAYS something opening and closing and giving you reasons to hit your list.

I follow that same strategy in my social media as well, usually copying my emails into my social media accounts and tweaking them for the platform, but definitely augmenting that email with something on social media for people that aren’t on my email list.

I’m conscious to never talk about the same thing twice in my emails. Every time I reach out to people, I have a NEW reason. The calendar I’ve lined up above comes from 12 campaigns and over $180,000 raised on Kickstarter since 2014.

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