8 August 2017
I was a little lucky in the various jobs I had before I built Stonemaier Games on the back of Kickstarter, as they each helped me practice being a crowdfunder before I actually was one:
- I learned customer service by working as a waiter for two summers in college.
- I learned project management at a medical book publishing company for a few years after college.
- I learned fundraising and marketing while working at a campus facility.
Like Daniel-san in the Karate Kid, I was developing muscle memory for certain challenges that would arise during the Kickstarter process. So today I thought I would present a few easy ways to build the skills you’ll need as a crowdfunder. Keep in mind that this is different than researching or preparing for your specific project–this is all about skill-building.
- Start a fight with a stranger and lose. You can do this on social media or in person. The skills you’re learning are how to empathize with someone else’s point of view, how to turn a negative conversation into a positive one, and how to publicly change your mind. (credit to Tyler Durden)
- Spend a day saying no to everything without using the word “no”. The skill you’re learning is how to reject other peoples’ ideas and requests without making them feel rejected.
- Host a pot-luck dinner party where you select and pay for (but don’t make) most of the dishes. Your budget is $50. This builds two skills: project management and budgeting.
- Deliver bad news to someone. There are no perfect Kickstarter projects–at some point you’re going to have to deliver bad news to backers. There are effective and ineffective ways to do this, and you’ll quickly learn the difference if you try.
- Share something you made that you’re proud of and ask people to tell you what they don’t like about it. Look around your house or your computer–you’ll find something to share. The skill you’re learning by asking for negative feedback is to be able to receive that type of input and not get defensive.
- Write a post that summarizes the top 3 highlights of your life from last week in a way that is interesting to other people. The skill here is to learn to distill information into a story other people will want to read (i.e., a project update).
- Sell something you own. Pick something in your house and sell it on eBay, Craigslist, etc. The skills you’ll learn are how to ask for money for something and how to effectively pitch a product.
- Print a random e-mail you wrote 5 years ago and proofread it. Why not proofread something written by someone else? Because you need to learn how to catch your own mistakes, as they’re the easiest to overlook. When you’re done, print out a second copy and have someone else proofread it to see what you missed.
- Convince a stranger to tell you a secret. This is all about the skill of earning and repaying trust, which you’re going to need in spades if you’re to be successful on Kickstarter.
- Spend a day answering every question online about a product before anyone else. Don’t pick a product you make. For example, if you play board games, pick a game you know well, subscribe to that game on BoardGameGeek, and spend a day answering every question about that game. This is all about customer service–not just how to be fast, but also how to effectively answer questions from people with a wide range of social skills.
If you try any of these skill-building techniques, I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!
Update: Ed Baraf did an awesome video that goes over these ideas and adds to them. I’ll embed it below.