House of Cards: Raising Half a Million Dollars with Kickstarter

We all know doing favors for family can be kind of a gamble. But when your family happens to be the incredibly talented illustrator Jackson Robinson, and the favor is shooting a Kickstarter video to raise money for his dream of creating a unique deck of playing cards based on currency, you tend to say yes. At least, you do if you’re Taylor, you’re a partner in a video production company, and the artist in question is your brother.

In our business, we think a lot about how people will respond to our work. Sometimes that involves metrics and spreadsheets and focus groups, but the measure of success you get from a Kickstarter campaign is refreshingly straightforward and accurate. You’re asking people not just to like your work, but to literally put money behind it. There’s no slick marketing, no real chance for cross-promotion, no salesperson to finish out the sale. The video and a few details are pretty much all there is.

This video was tricky because we had to show we were serious without being too commercial (or looking like a commercial). Jackson didn’t come up with this project on the fly — he really wanted to make it a career, not a hobby. That meant the video had to have some weight and be good quality. But at the same time, it couldn’t look over-produced, because Kickstarter funders have a low tolerance for anything that looks too marketed.

We got the balance we wanted by shooting Jackson at work so viewers could really see his talent and the artistry of his project. That gave us the seriousness. But we took the edge off the gravitas by including some “cutting room floor” footage that was just plain funny, and by keeping in some “mistakes.”

Did it work? Well, yeah, if you consider exceeding our goal by raising more than 18 times as much money as we needed a success. Or if you measure success in terms of awards, well, we just won a local Addy for the video. And if you’re looking for longevity? Well, we kicked some Kickstarter ass there too, already funding two more projects with another in the works right now. All told, Jackson’s raised over $500,000 for his decks, and he was able to quit his day job as an art director for a video game company and concentrate on doing what he loves.

This a story of brothers helping each other, sure, but it’s also a story of how the right video doesn’t have to be high budget — it just has to be right for the project. In the right hands (well, let’s just say it — in our hands), even a Skype chat (like the one in Jackson’s second Kickstarter campaign) can do just that.

Posted on March 10, 2014 in News

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