How Seth Godin Succeeded and You Can Too

Manoush Zomorodi

Just in case you haven’t heard, best-selling author Seth Godin met his funding goal on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter in a mere three hours.

Thousands of dollars poured into his project and backers had until July 17th to get in on the rewards Seth offered on Kickstarter, like advance copies of his new book, The Icarus Deception.

If you are a writer (or a producer of any “content”), maybe you are wondering if Kickstarter could be the way to fund your next project and build your personal brand? According to Kickstarter, over 1,800 publishing projects have been successfully funded so far but over 4,000 have failed. We aren’t all Seth Godin. (Editors note: See our successful TSMM Kickstarter from March, 2012)

I’m relieved to report that I recently succeeded on Kickstarter with my Camera Ready project, raising the funds to help market my new self-published multimedia eBook and spread my cause: quality video for everyone.

When Kickstarter was first suggested to me, I scratched my head. How could Kickstarter help me? I’d already created my eBook. Luckily, a friend (the social media genius, Seamus Condron) convinced me Kickstarter was the perfect way to find my “Tribe” and get my eBook out there.

Here’s what I learned from my Kickstarter project and from watching Seth Godin succeed with his:

Write BEFORE You Kickstart

Crowdfunding is not for starting projects. As Seth told Dan Schawbel in his Forbes interview, “Kickstarter is the LAST step, not the first one.”

I had already written and filmed Camera Ready when we went on Kickstarter. Being able to show backers my eBook proved I wasn’t all hot air and that I actually had the expertise to write a handbook on making good video.

Invest in Your Kickstarter Project

Succeeding on Kickstarter requires a serious time commitment. You’ll need to come up with different tiers of rewards for backers, send out updates during the campaign, and keep the momentum going (especially midway through). But most importantly, you’ll need to make a video for your project’s page that introduces you and your idea to potential backers.

According to Kickstarter, projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without (50% vs. 30%) and, as they put it, “We know that making a video can be intimidating. Not many of us like being in front of a camera. We also know that making a video is a challenge worth taking on. It says you care enough about what you’re doing to put yourself out there.”

Try to Concentrate on The Crowd, Not the Funding

“Kickstarter isn’t a profit center, it’s an organizer and an instigator,” Seth says. Via Kickstarter, Seth is rallying his fans and proving to publishers that people will buy his book.

If you’ve already got a huge following, Kickstarter could be a snap for you. For lesser-known authors (like me), Kickstarter serves a different purpose: creating a core community of backers who literally are invested in my success. If someone is willing to put their name on your project AND give you money?! That deserves serious gratitude. I certainly have that for my 131 backers.

One of my backers happens to be Ishita Gupta, who founded Fear.less magazine, and works with Seth Godin. I asked her to put Kickstarter in perspective:

MZ: “What can authors learn from Seth’s Kickstarter project and why they shouldn’t be intimidated by crowdsourcing?”
IG: “People who invest in, or launch, or build Kickstarters are the right people. They’re invested in stuff that matters, they care enough to donate, they care enough to create. They want to support the fledgling, the newbie, the one with heart and a seriousness, a passion, a commitment. They are buying the farm, the entire experience, not just the end product.”
MZ: “Why did you invest in my Camera Ready project?”
IG: “Because I believe in you and your work and know it will succeed because of your grit and drive. And heart.”

I’ll be re-reading that last sentence whenever I feel like giving up on my personal project and taking an easier road! What are YOUR Kickstarter words of wisdom?

Manoush Zomorodi is the author of Camera Ready: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online. Her on-camera expertise comes from years of producing and reporting for BBC News, Reuters Television, and other media outlets. She moderates conferences on digital technology and hosts live video events, in addition to doing media coaching.

For more information please visit, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.