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Secrets to Art Sales on Kickstarter: Artist Echo Chernik Shares her Knowledge Part 2 of 2


Echo Chernik's Swan. Nude woman with wings, surrounded by swansThe image above titled "Swan" is work by Echo Chernik that is only available by Kickstarter.


Do you want to know the secrets to art sales on Kickstarter? Artist Echo Chernik has been kind enough to tell us how she has managed to make it work for her in a recent interview. You may want to take notes as Echo shares the secrets of art sales on Kickstarter - there is some amazing insight here. Most of the Kickstarter campaign's for Echo's art have earned well over $10,000.00 whether it was a campaign for a book, triptych, artwork or calender. With over 7 successful campaigns, I believe this artists has unlocked a powerful tool in this crowdsourcing platform. If you have no idea about what a Kickstarter campaign is you can always read this first: Kickstarter for Artists Part 1 of 2.

 

What are some of the mistakes that you see people making when they set out to create a Kickstarter Campaign or were there some mistakes you made and learned from? 

 

The biggest mistake we've seen are people who think Kickstarter is an audience of backers waiting to throw money at them. Well over 90% of our funds came from existing collectors and fans that we've been cultivating for years. We've been touring the country doing art shows and collecting the email addresses and promoting the Facebook page telling them about Kickstarter and to watch for our unique offers and exclusive opportunities to collect through it. It never hampers our show sales – and usually enhances it. Collectors LOVE the idea of being able to get in on the ground floor on things and able to receive originals and drawings and other items that they can only get if they are among the IN crowd who know about our Kickstarter. Echo even gave away one of her broken pens as a reward and the collector LOVED it. Rewards are they key. Yes, Kickstarter is a fund-raising platform, but the vast majority of backers think of it as shopping.

 

How important is your list of contacts for a campaign like this and what are a few ways that you have grown your contact list?

 

The contact list is EVERYTHING. We've toured art shows around the country for years and collected a large email list. Every sale by credit card collects their email address – but we always ask if they want to be signed up for the list in person. This is both a courtesy and a seamless way to advertise. Echo is also on sites like Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, Behance, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. that allow me to share my art and publicize. Besides the usual posting of comments and art, some allow us to actually advertise on our page and through a published journal/blog. We used to have a traditional blog – but it became difficult to maintain and most people preferred Facebook, anyway because it gets updated more frequently (more than daily) and is more personal. Echo has have both a personal FB Profile and a FB Page.  The Facebook Fan Page is a nice, clean site where we post updates, new work, links to other artists and relevant sites as well as what she is working on.  Her personal page is more for family and friends, and she will post about work, but also about family. Echo prefers, even on her personal page, to keep away from subjects like politics and religion.  As a public figure, these subjects can affect your fanbase - and unless she feels strongly about something, stays away from it - as there is crossover between the profile and page sites. Lazarus uses FB advertising in measured ways. It is easy to blow a budget if you're not careful, and our Ad success is minimal. Paid posts work much better – but again only for existing collectors. NEVER PAY FOR LIKES. It's been proven to be not effective and even accidentally detrimental to your reach.


Here's a peak at the Kickstarter page for one of Echo's campaign's, click on image to be redirected to the campaign.


Screen capture of Echo Chernik's Kickstarter website


For the "Winged Woman 1" campaign there were 17 pledge options - have you found that having this many options is a big benefit to the success of the campaign and why do you think that is?

 

You never know what Collectors are going to want with each campaign. We started with fewer, but kept getting requests for other options. It is a difficult choice sometimes. On the one hand, it seems like fewer choices would be easier to understand and then just ask people to declare options, but the reality is that Kickstarter can be complicated. First, almost no one read the entire page. They'll watch the video and look at the pictures but then want to know "What can I get?" As stated before, almost everyone already knows who I am and why I'm trustworthy and why my art is important to them, so I only need to write those parts of the Kickstarter page for the rare person who stumbles upon me by ad or accident. Once they ignore the rest of the page, there isn't much to read, and when they scroll through the Rewards, they usually have a budget in mind and don't read to much about what is too far below there budget (they always like to know what MORE they could get). 

Second, Kickstarter allows us to send an email to the backers when the time expires asking them for more information. So if they choose a $40 reward with a choice between a black or red bookmark, I can ask them in that form which they want. However, we've repeatedly found that if we offer a choice in the Reward listing we will get countless emails lamenting (or even insulting) that Kickstarter wouldn't let them choose Red vs Black when they entered in their pledge. They may try to tell usKickstarter is broken or something else, but it always ends up involving a long email thread back and forth to tell them how it works (every time) in order to convince them to make their pledge. It turns out to be simpler for everyone to just have a $40 reward for a Black bookmark and another $40 reward for a Red bookmark. 

We've started offering "Upgrades" for Kickstarter backers, so after the campaign closes, if they realized that they wanted the $90 option instead of the $80 option, then we're flexible and bill the outside of Kickstarter. We never ever entice people to pledge a tiny amount in order to bill them more outside of it. The reason is practical on several levels.Kickstarter would be very angry about it and may not let us do any more but also there is never a guarantee that the backer will pay up after the fact. If the Kickstarter is still running and they want something more than what is currently offered, we make a new Reward level just for them (and anyone else we can afford to reward).

 

Your recent Raven campaign was successful in 14 hours - that's incredible - were you shocked at all by how quickly you met your goal? What do you attribute this success to - do you think the video played a role in this?

 

The video was put together by a friend – and I'm sorry to say that while he did a great job and it was beautiful, we don't think it really contributed. The success of Raven was because it was the second in the series and I promoted Raven the entire time the first one, Swan, was running. Most backers of Swan jumped in on Raven the first few hours and all but one or two backed Raven by the time it ended. The only reason Swan appears to have sold better than Raven is because one backer funded enough to receive the Swan original ($10,000). Additionally, the extra time between Kickstarters allowed more collectors and fans to learn about what they missed and they wanted to get in on this one immediately. Lastly, Raven was always going to be popular (probably the MOST popular), which is why Echo did it second. We honestly were concerned that if she did Raven first, all the lovers of ravens (goths, punks, etc.) would jump on it and when she tried to do Swan, her Kickstarter would be a disappointment. We're in that space right now, actually. Echo is working on Raven now, but already thinking about the next one. It's hard to decide on the next theme because we can't think any theme would surpass Raven in popularity as a concept. So, Echo is going to choose the one that interests her the most and hope the collectors agree, but prepare for it to do less well. She has three or four more lined up, but we want to space the kickstarters out nice and evenly.


If you'd like to stay up to date with the studio of echo and lazarus chernik:

-> follow echo on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/echoxartist
-> visit echo’s portfolio at: http://www.echo-x.com
-> visit echo's art gallery at: http://www.echochernik.com
-> visit echo's store at: http://www.echo-gallery.com
-> learn about echo's books at: http://www.echo-nouveau.com

 

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About the author

Artist in residence Rebecca Chaperon

Rebecca Chaperon is our Artist-in-Residence

With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, her paintings often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventures through a surreal landscape.

She's had the pleasure of teaching at Langara College and given community workshops on painting techniques with an emphasis on watercolour, oil and acrylic. She is a board member at the Grunt gallery.

View her online portfolio
Website: thechaperon.ca

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