Are you considering doing a Kickstarter for your Tarot or Oracle deck? If so, I want to help you be successful. It is such a fantastic experience to work on a creative project and see it blossom in the world.
The techniques and strategies I used while launching my Oracle Deck will also work well with most categories of products on Kickstarter.
In March 2020 (the beginning of the Covid Pandemic), I started creating the HeroRise Masculine Archetype Deck. After completing the artwork, design, and guidebook, I put together a Kickstarter that raised $32,740 and exceeded my funding goal of $6,200 by 528%.
It was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting experiences of my life.
I had a lot of help from community members and wanted to give back by writing this ultimate guide to running a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Table of Contents
Why Crowdfund your deck?
Let’s start off with the basics of what Kickstarter is and why it could help you launch your deck/creation.
What is Kickstarter?
Crowdfunding platforms are an excellent way for entrepreneurs and creators to fund their big ideas. One of the most well-known and popular crowdfunding sites is Kickstarter, which advertises itself as “the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.”
Kickstarter lets you raise the money you need to produce your deck. It costs a LOT of money to create a deck. If you want a great box, good cardstock, gold edging, and a high-quality deck, you will need to buy 1000 or more decks, which cost anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000.
If you don’t have the funds, you can make a Kickstarter and raise the initial startup investment. If it doesn’t reach the goal you set in the campaign, you don’t get any money that was raised.
Why run a Kickstarter campaign?
The main reason people use Kickstarter is to raise money, but there are many other reasons why Kickstarter is a must for creators.
I think the most significant benefit is getting people excited and interested in your art project. It’s a lot easier to get people talking about, interested in, and ultimately buying your deck if they feel their money will make a difference. It helps people feel like they are a part of the artistic process.
There is also a HUGE community on Kickstarter that looks for great projects to support. Over 38% of the money raised, $12,511, was from people I don’t know that we’re pursuing on Kickstarter. On average, 35% of funds on any given project directly come from the Kickstarter community.
Benefits of running a Kickstarter campaign
- Takes away the financial risk of manufacturing your deck
- Helps you engage with the community
- You can raise an extra 35% from the Kickstarter community
- It’s one of the best ways to promote your deck
What if your Kickstarter fails?
One of the biggest reasons people don’t do a Kickstarter is the fear of failure.
I had that same fear.
Most people do.
These fears will actually help you be successful. I love the “Worst-case Scenario” activity to highlight how you can overcome your concerns and use them to your advantage.
I believe the worst thing you can do is to not try. Even if you fail, you will learn new techniques for your next project or iteration. I guarantee that if you keep trying, you will eventually succeed.
Making a Tarot and Oracle Deck
Making a deck is a fantastic experience and a hell of a lot of work. I learned a lot while making this deck and definitely learned what didn’t work. In this section, I will be sharing tips that will make it more likely that you will succeed, and save you A LOT of time.
Making a Unique Deck: Test your audience
A study by Crawford ( C. M. 1987 “New product failure rates: A reprise” ) discovered that 33% of all products fail. Research by Statista has shown that 61% of all Kickstarter projects fail.
There are two main reasons why they are unsuccessful.
- No one wanted what was being offered
- It was presented in the wrong way (confusing or unclear)
It doesn’t matter how good your Kickstarter page is if you have a terrible concept to start.
As an artist, you have a lot of creative potential and ideas. It’s a good idea to take a moment to do a reality check and make sure it’s a good concept before you start this massive project.
When I was hashing out the idea of my deck, I did a lot of research into the market. Initially, I was looking for a deck based on masculine archetypes. When I didn’t see it, I knew I was fulfilling a need. I also looked at Instagram to see how many men’s coaches and any other group of people might like my deck. I knew there was ample opportunity, so I had more confidence while I spent 600 hours making the deck.
List of things to check your idea:
- Share the concept of the deck on social media and ask for feedback.
- Do a search online to see if there are similar decks.
- If there are similar decks, figure out what makes yours unique.
- Look on Instagram for a relevant hashtag.
- Ex. If it’s cat tarot, look up #cat. If it’s rat tarot, look up #rat. Ask yourself if there are enough fans of the particular niche.
I am not sharing this concessionary tale, so you freeze up and stop making your deck. I don’t also think you need to spend 2 weeks doing a market analysis. Just take a moment and do a little snooping around and be REALLY honest with yourself. This can help you skip the 60% of your ideas that will fail and pick the 30% that will.
This soul searching will also give you the confidence to go all in. Just remember, at the end of the day, it’s always a risk. That is what makes you courageous. Take the plunge, the world needs more creativity!
Keep the end goal in mind: work with the manufacturer.
You’ve got a good idea and are ready to start planning out your deck.
At this point, I would highly suggest reaching out to manufacturers. You might be wondering, “don’t I do that at the end?”
The manufacturer could help you with decisions that will save you time and money. You might be choosing between 47 cards and 68. In talking to a factory, you might find that printing 47 cards at 3.5″ x 5.75″ would be more expensive than printing 68 at 2.45″ x 3.95.” And maybe going down from 68 to 64 cards could save you thousands of dollars.
There are lots of little design choices that can massively change how much your deck would cost and how you would design it.
Come up with a plan on how many cards, the box you want, and the general design. Then talk to a manufacturer about what you should keep in mind with your design.
This will save you COUNTLESS hours. Trust me. It seems like the cart before the horse, but it’s more like going to the grocery store without a basket, filling your hands, and then having to walk around dropping things until you get a basket. Just get it from the start.
Start Making Art: CMYK and Templates
There are a lot of ways to make the artwork for your deck. Some people do digital collage, draw it by hand, and a wide range between.
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind with the art.
- If you use software, set it to CMYK from the beginning. This will save you a headache. Thank you Kimcreator of Way of the Panda Tarot 🐼 for this tip. Glad I found your video.
- Get a template from your manufacturer. Even the slightest change in the margins, bleed, or card size can make a big headache later on—another reason to work with a manufacturer from the beginning.
- Pick a color pallet. Pick the primary colors you would like to use in your deck and stick to them. It will make the artwork look cohesive instead of all over the place. I suggest https://coolors.co/ or http://colormind.io/.
Start building your audience, yesterday
It’s a big mistake to think you should start promoting your deck when you’ve launched your Kickstarter campaign. You should start building an audience at the very beginning.
People love to feel included and watching something grow.
Start posting on social media as fast as you can. Share your lessons, struggles, and artwork. This will help you build a following that will be cheering you on and eventually supporting your project.
- Post on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram
- Submit articles to sites like Medium
- Build an email list
The most important thing is that you are consistent with posting so people can see what’s new from you, much like a blog. This way, they won’t forget about you when it comes time for them to back your project! The best way to do this is by posting at least once per day and more if you can.
Build Buzz with a Pre-Launch
After you get the artwork and guidebook written, it’s time to start sharing the magick.
Don’t skip ahead to posting a link to your kickstarting and hoping your friends will support it. You are way more likely to succeed if you take a few months building interest.
Build an email list and fan base
You can start building your list by adding a link to your website with a newsletter signup form. If people subscribe by giving their email address, make sure you follow up with them! Send them an email thanking them for signing up, and keep that contact going with more emails about your project.
You can use services like Mailchimp or Aweber for this, and they both have free plans.
This is a great way to build momentum before you launch because people are excited to see what’s coming next from the time they signed up!
Paying to build my email list
During my own crowdfunding campaign, I started paying for marketing to build my list. I was newer to the world of Tarot, spirituality, men’s work, and oracle decks, so I needed to create a list from scratch.
What helped me the most was making the What Masculine Archetype Are You Quiz and paying for Facebook ads. It built my email list oto 1,500 subscribers in 2 months.
For the next few weeks after that I sent automated emails to get subscribers excited about the Kickstarter Launch.
I paid for many ads during the campaign and wish I would have spent most of my ad spend at the beginning to building my email list.
Continue posting on Social Media.
At this point, you should be networking on social media and posting at least 1-2 times a day. Start doing live video readings with your tarot deck, share insights around the artwork in your oracle deck, and connect with other readers/deck creators.
You want to have a following that is ready to pounce on day one (more on that later).
Build a list of influences
The most effective way of marketing your deck is having someone that others trust talks about it. You are more likely to buy something after a friend, colleague, or someone you trust recommends it.
Start searching the web for influencers. I found Instagram to be the number one social media for Tarot and Oracle readers and spent a lot of time connecting with people there. I also knew that my HeroRise Masculine Archetype Deck would be of interest to life coaches and men’s groups, so I added them to a list.
Make a list in Google Sheets of all the thought leaders, podcasts, blogs, and Instagram influencers.
This list will become handy throughout your Kickstarter campaign.
Pre-Launch Print Run: Small Run Of Your Deck
You are going to need a sample of your deck. It’s what you’re going to use for videos and images in your Kickstarter campaign.
But, if you are going to print one, why not print a few?
One of the smartest moves I did was to do a print run of 100 decks. I learned so much in that process about the card stock I wanted, the design of the guidebook, and how I was going to ship them to people.
It can be costly to do such a small run. Here are some examples of prices as of 2020:
Drivethru Cards was the best price I could find. They are perfect for small runs like this. Once you get larger runs, I don’t think they are the best, but for a prototype, they are perfect. I also printed a guidebook with Mixam. The print quality is “ok” but it was perfect as a prototype / pre-launch edition.
Getting those first decks in hand was a fantastic experience. It made all the work worth it.
Once I had the decks, the real magick started.
To engage my building fan base, I sold a select 50 decks. In just one day, I sold out. The other 50 I sent to my list of influencers. This led to some great press, like a post by The Hermit’s Cave, Sacred Sons Podcast, the Rising Man podcast by Jeddy Azuma, and the Hermit’s Mirror.
If I were to do it again, I would have sent out another 50.
I shipped the first batch myself and started using shippo. They helped bring down the price and make it a lot easier to set up shipping.
Within a few weeks I started seeing review videos, Instagram posts, and personal emails.
Messages like this:
The word was finally getting out, and the momentum was building.
Setting up your Kickstarter Campaign Page
At this point you’ve got the deck completed, your building an audience, and you are ready to plan your Kickstarter. In this section, I will be sharing some high-level tips on creating an effective Kickstarter campaign.
Cost Calculator – Key to a Successful Kickstarter
A Kickstarter is to raise money. If you don’t have a 100% clear budget and the idea of where the money is going, you might succeed, but you could end up losing money after manufacturing and shipping out the Kickstarter rewards.
What helped me was a Kickstarter Calculator I used. It was from an older Kickstarter project I did 5 years ago with some updates to include marketing, product costs, and other information. It helped me realize what the pricing for my rewards should be and helped me stay on target with my stretch goals.
Before you make your Kickstarter page, you will want to precisely know what you will charge for the rewards and your funding goal. Spend a lot of time researching and developing a strategy for how the money is being spent and the final pricing of your deck.
Making a rockstar Project Page for Kickstarter
If you have an amazing deck, but a bad Kickstarter page, then your project will still flop. There are four elements that make up a good project page.
- The video
- The writeup
- The Rewards
Consider what it’s like to go on a Kickstarter page. The first thing you do is watch the first minute of the video. You might skip around the video a bit and then scroll down to the writeup.
If there are engaging images and you like the idea, you will check out the price of the project.
The Video: Your Bread and Butter
The first thing this tells you is how important the video is. Janelle of Funded today said, “Without a Kickstarter video, your campaign will be 85% more likely to fail.”
It is your first chance to grab someone’s attention. If you lose it there, your project will probably fail. Spend more time on your video than anything else on your Kickstarter page.
The ideal video length is 2-2:30 minutes long. I collected data from over 200 Kickstarter projects and found that the most successful campaigns had videos of around 2-3 minutes.
Tips for a good video:
- 2-3 minutes long
- Show the product within the first minute
- Keep the tone friendly and upbeat
- Show yourself talking on screen
Write a good copy for your project.
Your landing page needs to be inviting and engaging. It is an opportunity for you to show off the deck/product and share your story. I suggest you write the copy in google docs, share it with people for feedback, get an editor, and then format it on Kickstarter.
Here are tips for a good landing page:
- Use Headline/sections: Break up your landing page with clear sections.
- Copy: Keep the copy to the point. Less is more.
- Format the Text: Use bold text, bullet points, and italics to make the text more readable.
- Images and video: Use lots and lots of pictures. You can also embed videos of people using the deck or flip through the cards.
- Call-to-action: There should be many calls to action. An example would be saying, “Get your copy of the deck to lock in the discounted price for Kickstarter.”
For your other rewards, have at least one reward under $10. One around $20 and a few from $30-$50, It’s also a great idea to have a few high-cost reward tiers knowing you will sell only a few, if any.
Word to the wise, don’t add too many tiers. I have seen many successful projects that have had 5-8 tiers for the backer rewards.
Launching the Campaign
You’ve got the page set up and approved at this phase, and you are ready to launch. In this section, I will be sharing a few strategies to help your project take off.
The first 24 hours are essential.
If you want to have your campaign blast off with 300%, 500%, or 700% funded, then your first 24 hours are crucial.
The first 24 hours is what builds the momentum for the rest of the campaign.
A tool that helped me realize this is the backerkit extension for google chrome. When you look at a campaign on Kickstarter, it will show you how much they have raised, what day, and where they project it will go.
Over and over, I saw that the first three days determined where the project would end up.
One of the reasons why is if you surpass your funding in the first 24-48 hours, Kickstarter is much more likely to favorite your project or maybe even share it in their newsletter. The Kickstarter Algorithm loves to promote projects that are already a success story.
So, how do you get to make sure you surpass your funding goal in the first 24 hours?
- Make sure the goal is the bare minimum to get the project off the ground. You can add all those features you want with the stretch goals.
- Get your social media audience, and email subscribers hyped about the release. How often?
- 3 weeks out
- 2 weeks out
- Week of
- Multiple times before launch
- Twice the day of the launch
- Ask influencers you have been connecting with to help promote and share your project on the day of the launch.
- Make a Facebook event a month out and share it with people. You can also do an online live event where people can chat with you the day of the launch, comment when they backed, and make it a celebration people can join in.
- When you set the launch date, Kickstarter makes a link you can use to invite people. It lets people sign up for a reminder email the day of. Once you get this link, add it to your social media accounts and every post you make.
A fantastic resource for me was the book Launch by Jeff Walker. It gave me a clear game plan for announcing my project to my email list. The book is specifically about online info-products, but the theories still apply to a kickstarter campaign.
Early Bird Discount
Another strategy that helped me was doing an early bird discount. I brought down the price by 12% and included a free tarot travel pouch. I used this to incentivize my followers to be the first 100 people to join the campaign.
I heard of people refreshing the page before the event went live to be the first ones. It really helped me boost those first few hours, which in tale got me on Kickstarter’s front page, which got me even more sales.
Running Your Kickstarter Campaign: Keeping the Momentum
If you spent a few months promoting and networking, you should start seeing backers as soon as you launch your campaign.
This part is a ROLLERCOASTER. You will get FAQ questions, messages, emails, and sweet texts from friends celebrating with you. But you got to get ready for the dreaded “Kickstarter slump.”
You will see the numbers climb for the first few days, but then all of a sudden plateau. Or even worse, go down.
The reason this happens is that you already tapped your friends and family. You can’t keep telling people over and over to check out the page. It will start annoying everyone.
What you have to do is plan ahead and have “News” to share.
What helped me was making a calendar of announcements. I set up podcast interviews beforehand I could talk about and updates on new art improvements and giveaways. I made sure that I had a brand new announcement every day.
This will help you build during the slump in the middle. It’s best to plan ahead for this part of the campaign.
A Word On Paid Marketing
Before my campaign, I emailed over 30 Kickstarter creators that released a tarot or oracle deck. One of my big questions was if they had success with paid marketing.
Out of the 30 people I asked, 23 didn’t pay for ads. 5 of the creators told me they did, and it was a fail. Out of all 30 people, only 2 people told me they had success.
I was stunned.
I thought, “I know how to do it better.“
I was wrong and lost a lot of money.
I hired someone to help set up the ads for me. We did tests beforehand with $1,000 and put even more in during the campaign. All said and done, I spent $5,446.00 on marketing.
When I break down the numbers, it comes out to me losing a few hundred dollars. Many of that ad spend built up my email list and did gain me a lot of backers. If 20 of those backers share the deck with a friend and I make another sale, then it was all worth it. In the long term, it might have been a significant investment. In the short term, it was a loss (not to mention the stress).
You might have better luck than men (I got flagged because masculinity is a “social issue.”). With most tarot creators I talked to, some of them raising over $100,000, I think it’s safe to say it’s tough to make paid ads worth it for Kickstarter projects and at the very least not required.
Finishing up a successful Campaign
If you read this article and have a successful Kickstarter, I am really excited to celebrate with you! Message me / comment below on this post.
But you are not done yet. Even at the end of the campaign, there are tasks to undertake.
The Kickstarter community LOVES stretch goals. It makes them feel appreciated and engaged.
I talked to many Kickstarter creators and heard from handful that they thought they missed out on an opportunity with Stretch Goals. One of the main reasons why you will lose backers is if you don’t keep them engaged with stretch goals.
People don’t realize this, but backers can back out at any moment (see what I did there). There was one day during my campaign that I actually lost money. It was just one tiny blip in the middle, but it was a good reminder.
Backers aren’t charged until the end, so they can cancel their pledge at any time. You will inevitably lose some people, but you will lose more if you don’t make them feel like your campaign is growing in scope and support.
Also, stretch goals are a fun way to interact with your newfound fans.
It gives your backers something to look forward to. If you are just a few hundred dollars away from adding a cool feature, one of your backers might buy an extra deck. It’s a great way to incentivize people to invite friends to the campaign.
For the HeroRise Masculine Archetype deck, I constantly improved the box, design, adding gold ink, and other features.
Send regular updates to your backers during and after the campaign to help them feel like you care.
Some of the old-school Kickstarter fans, called super-backers on the site, might not support your project unless you have updates. It shows that you know how to communicate and keep their needs in mind.
Try to shoot for an update every 3-6 days during the campaign and every 2 weeks after.
Last Day of The Campaign
The Last day is just as big as the first day. It’s your opportunity to go out with a bang.
During your campaign, people could follow your campaign with the “Remind me” button on your project page. What this means is during the last 48 hours, Kickstarter will send them an email. This usually leads to 10% of whatever that number is in sales.
So in my case, I had over 400 followers and made an extra 60 sales. That is a nice bump during those last days.
Throwing another Facebook event or live stream can also engage your audience and get a slight bump in sales.
The last tip is to change the project page during the last few minutes. Once the campaign is over, you can never edit the page again. I added links to follow me on Instagram and my website. That way, I can capture future interest and traffic and convert them to sales.
Congrats, you did it!
Creating your own product, like a Tarot or Oracle Deck, is quite the undertaking. I spent over 600 hours creating the deck and another 200 hours with the Kickstarter campaign, production, and marketing.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
It was one of the best times of my life.
If you have a dream, take the courageous steps, and it could become a reality.
Here is the list of advice I would have for anyone starting a Kickstarter Campaign:
- Before you start, think deeply about how much interest people will have in your project
- Connect with a manufacturer as quick as you can for advice
- Build buzz for your project as soon as you can by building new social media networks.
- Spend a lot of time pricing things out and making a clear budget
- Make a Pre-Launch edition to give away to as many influencers as you can
- Use your email list to build excitement for the day of the launch
- Push people to back in the first 24 hours with an early bird special
- Set up a calendar of the podcast, interviews, and announcements before your project goes live
- Pay for marketing at your own risk
- Stretch goals and Updates will keep your backers happy (so plan ahead)
- The biggest failure is never starting – get to it