I’m reading “Go Bold” – which you should totally read – and it’s getting me excited about launching my Kickstarter campaign to buy a castle and use as the world’s best writer’s retreat and coworking space.
It’s easier to do something huge and exciting than something medium sized. There is less competition.
But raising a million dollars on Kickstarter or IndieGogo won’t be easy.
It will take a long term, well planned strategy.
In case it’s useful, here are the things I’m doing that will make my campaign successful.
1. A Dream
It should be a big dream. A movement. A mission. It should appeal to people not only for being outlandish, bold and awesome, but also hit belief-centers. People support projects that represent what they believe in or want to believe in.
Personally, I’m sick of indie authors being represented as marginal, unsuccessful, poor and unprofessional.
I want to get a community together of powerful, impactful, successful indie authors that are making a whole bunch of money through writing and publishing books and doing amazing things (like buying a castle together, to live like kings and support each other in writing and publishing even more books).
2. A Website
You need your own website, that gets traffic.
This is why I don’t suggest using a landing page at first. People are less likely to link to a landing page, or sales page, and more likely to link to something that’s just really cool. You also need a LOT of content, and great articles, that get shared and liked and favorited, to earn Google’s trust.
And it takes time to build up. You need all that traffic, so you can start building an email list – that email list will come in really handy. I’d like to grow my email list to 100,000 people before I launch my Kickstarter campaign. For that to happen (and quickly) I need to start getting a LOT of traffic (50,000 a month?) to my website.
How to get more traffic – a hack for quick growth
If you want to get a lot of traffic quickly, you need to write posts that are appealing but also include other websites and businesses, who will probably share your link because you mentioned them.
Here’s a list of the stuff I’m writing for CreativCastle.com.
I need to start ranking for “Writer’s Retreats” and “Coworking spaces” because those are the things my future supporters may be looking for.
- 10 best castle hotels in England/ France / Ireland / Spain (etc… I can do one for many countries in Europe – if I search for “castle hostels in X” I’ll find them). I can include some pictures of each castle, prices, a short review, and website – and link to their actual website if possible (I want them to know I’m writing about them).
- 10 castles you can buy right now (you’ll find similar posts like this on Buzzfeed – and actually we can post some on Buzzfeed too). I could also make these country specific, 10 French castles/German castles, etc.
- 10 best writing retreats you won’t believe are real (focus on writing retreats, in different countries/areas). I can promote other people’s writing retreats or link to them.
- 10 best dream locations to hold a writing retreat (just think of what would be awesome or cool/fun).
- 10 best coworking spaces in (country,…)
- 10 amazing coworking spaces that will take your breath away (etc… same thing, nice pictures, links to the business)
- For property websites, if you search for “buy castles” or “castles for sale” you’ll start to find them.
- Link to their websites as well; same with the people doing writing retreats.
You need a group of people to put together a successful campaign. You need to find people who will support your campaign and find a way to make it about them. How will participating be good for them, their career, their projects and interests? And don’t just look for people to fund you.
I may be looking for bestselling authors who have an extra $50K and want to live in a castle for a few years… and I’ll probably send those people a fancy, extravagant, custom printed invitation to come live in the castle with me – but I won’t ask them to become backers. Instead I’ll just invite them and ask them to share the project and the invitation I sent with their networks.
Hopefully they’ll Tweet, post on Facebook, make a video or email their list.
I could just send these invitations to strangers, but instead I should research 100 famous people I want involved and try to get an introduction by leveraging my own contacts and network. I’d love to have Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey come, and dozens of other bestselling authors I admire; that will be easier to do if I first have the support of a few dozen other authors who are better known and have more personal contact. So before I shoot for those big names, I’ll be aiming at more medium sized authors – maybe authors with huge blog or social networks and lots of followers and a good reputation, who don’t have as big sales numbers.
I’ll try to meet up with these people in person at events and conferences, and I’ll give them a beautiful ornate skeleton key and tell them they’re welcome to come stay in my castle for a few weeks if we get funded.
It will be a physical reminder and show them I’m serious about this project. I won’t be asking for much of anything; I’ll be giving them a dream vacation and a change to be part of something amazing – and also have something really cool and fun they can share with their followers.
The tentative plan is to have all this ready for the World Domination Summit this summer; because then I can actually hand out keys to a lot of people and get them to wear them on red ribbons around their necks, which will catch the attention of everyone not invited. I may also dress up in a full medieval costume. I will probably also make and send a personal video invitation to everybody on my list of invitees – in my costume, with my castle behind me – telling them they’ve been chosen and symbolically dubbing them into my new royal family.
(That will totally depend if I can pick out and choose a castle in the next few weeks).
For those I already have a relationship with, I may ask for their public support later; posting videos, putting their pictures or names on the sales page or website or Kickstarter campaign. But in the beginning I don’t want to ask for favors, I just want to get them excited about the idea and get them to give me a chance to explain how it will all work.
I need them to sell it and believe in it, and trust that I’m a person who is capable and responsible enough to pull this off. I also need to do everything in a fully committed way, to make it real (hence the costume, the keys, finding the right castle and talking with real estate agents).
During the (month?) of the campaign – I’ll probably set it to 4 weeks, it’s important to get a lot of money in, quickly. This will be tricky – for a million dollar campaign, you want to get a couple hundred thousand dollars in their really fast – in the first day or two. That will let other media and bloggers share your project. If there’s no money, nobody will share it because it seems like a dream.
Once you get $200,000, people will think, ‘Damn, this could actually happen.’
So you’ll need to find some supporters who are ready to put in some real money.
You need 20 people to put in $10,000.
There’s a few ways I could pull this off.
I could give my professional contacts a special rate of offer – like if they can presell 4 slots at $5000, they can come for a month, or offer some other big incentives. That way they would not only promote, they would also presell, collect the money, so they could buy a $20,000 slot.
Maybe I’ll open it up to everybody, so however wants to come can just help me presell a few slots and come for free.
Otherwise, I may just try to find 20 really big players and convince them to invest $10,000 in CreativCastle – I have to make sure they know how awesome it’s going to be, and that being part of the movement will more than be worth the initial investment.
Not to mention, of course, that living in a castle usually costs a few hundred dollars a night. $5000 a month to live in a castle is actually reasonable. So I could offer 3 months at $10,000, or even 6 months at $10,000, just to get those early investors signed on. (I’m still working on pricing and rewards. Would you rather stay for just a week? Would you rather buy your own room as co-owner and get a refund if/when we sell the property?)
During the campaign, I’ll probably schedule video interviews with all the supporters and followers and partners I’ve developed, so we can chat about how awesome it will be to live in the castle, and get people excited. I’ll interview one or two people a day; they can share the videos on their platforms, and I’ll do so on mine as well.
I’ll also (probably) publish a book called “How to buy a castle with no money down” talking about all this stuff.
I’ll run some special contests and have awards. Maybe I’ll offer a chance to live in the castle if people take “royal” selfies in medieval or renaissance costumes and use the hashtag “#creativcastle”. Maybe I’ll offer two weeks as a prize for a writing contest. Maybe I’ll have a drawing or illustration contest to represent the idea writing retreat/coworking space. Probably I’ll do all of these, and more.
I need to get people INVOLVED. Let them participate for FREE and help you promote the campaign in exchange for free rewards.
Get everybody talking about your project. Make it blow up, it should be everywhere.
I’ll probably try to get my project listed on as many “coworking space” websites and podcasts as possible.
I’ll also want to get listed on as many “writing” sites for writers and authors as possible.
It won’t be easy, but with a group effort and a team of clever online marketers, we this stuff, I think it will be possible to do it right.
Because really, I’m offering a chance to come live in a castle with a bunch of cool people and produce bestselling books and build your author platform. That shouldn’t be a tough sell.
I’d love to hear your initial reactions or doubts you have. What would stop you from supporting the project? What would you want to receive in exchange for backing it?
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.
I totally agree with the wisdom to head straight for what you most want, to go for the big dream. Go for the real vision, big, medium, small. For some people, it works to move up gradually, to grow the platform and all that. And some people who take that route will find that they are content doing that work which was maybe supposed to have led to their initial bigger goal. Real contentment is good.
When someone has a real vision for a big project, there isn’t always good reason to work up to it. Actually I think that apparently good-intentioned advice like ‘starting small’ can be really unhelpful. Make sure that the vision is real and deep and then go for it, living it each step of the way.
A suggestion. You mentioned people who have an extra 50k laying around. Many people who have access to a lot of cash are looking to invest it. They’re looking to move money from one investment to the other. In which case you’d want an incentive for it to be a profit-share, shared ownership, even. In which case a business plan would be an asset.
And certainly many people who would want to pitch in financially would do so because they believe in the cause. Other people who would be able to lend a significant financial hand would do so because they love, admire, respect the visionary personally, are happy to help that person out, and the cause is secondary except that it seems like a good fit.
Just a few ideas.
Thanks for your comment; I have been thinking about this. I’m wondering if I can add a co-ownership option, so they pay $50K for their own private room and get their money back if/when we sell the castle in the future (or some of it… I’ll be paying maintenance and taxes the whole time). But if they can invest as a business and earn a return, it would be much easier.
Yeah, for a project that big, and specifically for that project, or, well actually for any real estate venture, uh, it gets complicated. But having different entry points seems to be a good plan since there will be people from a variety of backgrounds and income levels who will want to be a part of it. Some to share in it as a business, some to have a piece of it, and some just to see the project succeed.