Lisa de St. Croix’s new Tarot de St. Croix is a luscious, cross-cultural Southwest deck that she created over four and a half years following the synchronistic urges of the deck itself. I met her in Santa Fe before she began the deck, and have enjoyed watching it’s magical emergence. Lisa and I are good friends, and she was one of the featured artists in the documentary film MK Barr made about my metamorphosis in New Mexico, called Painted in the Desert. Lisa glowed in the film, radiating her sunny optimism, grounded in the wisdom gained as a life-long spiritual seeker, which is the hallmark of her beautiful deck. Recently Lisa and I had a delightful time discussing her own foray into the crowdfunding world, and the finesse of marketing your work. And you can get your own deck right now here.
Before we began our conversation, I pulled one of her cards with the intention of showing us what the essence of our discussion would be. The intention also implied a connection to both of our deck publishing ventures, and the 2 of Pentacles revealed itself. In the little color book that accompanies Lisa’s deck, the description says “A woman stands grounded on the earth while reaching for the sun. The lemniscate of stars whirls through her core.” When I mentioned the card to Lisa, she said the 2 of Pentacles is about making wishes into reality. One reaches for the sun, while grounded to the earth, bringing down wisdom from above to manifest it to the earth plane. She thought it was a very auspicious draw for both our projects, and it also ties into the fact that both of our Major Arcana birth cards from the Tarot are The Sun, The Wheel of Fortune, and The Magician. These are the major issues from the Tarot’s perspective that we are each grappling with in this lifetime. It also happens to be both of our individual Wheel of Fortune years in 2014, and we are each weaving between the earth and the stars manifesting our destinies.
Our exchange began with why she decided to do crowdfunding. She had been working diligently to create the deck, and now needed the printing costs to take it into the larger world. Self-publishing is an investment, and raising the capital to produce your work is an issue for small, independent creators. She had been part of a few other campaigns, and had seen that they worked, so she decided to give it a try. She chose Indiegogo because of flexible funding, the ability to receive any funds raised, other than the all or nothing option which requires reaching your goal, or you do not receive any pledges. She felt the all or nothing option was like gambling, and so she went with Indiegogo. She also looked at GoFundMe, but it seemed less developed than the two leaders Kickstarter and Indiegogo. She also appreciated Indiegogo’s support resources including videos and articles, and the site seemed well put together.
Unique Campaign Strategies
She had some unique strategies for her campaign, including the use of magical numbers for her overall campaign goal of $4444, and the prices of her perks, including the most chosen perk of the deck at $44. She was also really clear about the amount she was asking for, her goal was to fund half of the costs, and she would cover the other half. Investing in your own project is a very gracious, and grounded way to go. I believe it gives the project credibility, showing that you are really committed to it, and that you trust its potential to succeed.
She also came at the entire process with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement, not really knowing what would transpire (none of us really do, crowdfunding is a constantly evolving field of creation). Lisa’s campaign is an excellent example of using the power of intention and delight to draw people in. She did not do months of direct crowdfunding research, yet through her passionate dedication to her project, her consistent posting of her work on the internet over time, and her own sunny nature she organically reached over 143% of her original goal. Many, many people stepped forward to market the campaign, myself included, making it a successful run. I love this aspect of her story because I personally can get really intense about projects I commit to, and I need to learn how to balance effort with receiving. Thank you Lisa for showing all of us that a clear objective, and heartfelt dedication can pay off with our projects being supported with ease and grace.
Sharing Your Evolving Quest
Another part of her success can be attributed to the ongoing posting of her work as it progressed. Crowdfunding is ultimately about building community, and Lisa was well on her way to crowdsourcing success with this aspect of sharing her project since its inception. Over the four and a half years that she painted the deck, she would periodically post the latest card on her blog and Facebook, with the story behind the synchronicities of creating it. She also chose which card was next for the project by drawing from a Tarot deck of her mothers. This non-linear approach to the process made for an interesting, and evolving divinatory quest, a reflection of Lisa’s own life as a woman and creator. She was able to translate this magic into her blog posts, inviting others into the journey, and she now has over 16,000 hits to her blog. Interesting projects and stories are magnetic, and Lisa shows that people really do want to be involved in artists unique, and mysterious processes. Part of the beauty of crowdfunding campaigns is they remain accessible on the internet even after they have completed, so you can continue to update your loyal tribe for years to come through the mailing list there. This is another avenue Lisa can now pursue to share her latest projects to an interested group.
Campaign Commitments While Live
While the campaign was live, she kept up on things by posting regularly to Facebook on her own personal page and the deck’s page, as well as other Tarot groups including Tarot Professionals, Tarot Marketplace, and Tarot Deck Creators; she filmed a second warm and welcoming video pitch in her studio midway through; she thanked everyone who donated personally; and she sent a couple of emails to her list during the run.
She raised her initial goal of $4,444 in about three weeks, and then exceeded the goal by receiving 143% of her aim in the remaining time of her six and a half week campaign. She sold 126 decks during the run, and then in the time between when the campaign ended late last fall, and when she received the actual decks about three months later she has sold almost a quarter* of the edition of 1000. I think this is really great for a single artists without a whole marketing team behind her to accomplish.
*An Update on these numbers. Lisa just went to Readers Studio last weekend in NYC. She had a fabulous time, and sold 46 decks! So she is headed towards selling one-third of her run in only two months after they have been available. So Great.
The publisher Lisa chose for her deck, Devera, out of Portland, Oregon, is an assisted publishing house (they no longer offer this service, but they do host the wonderful Northwest Tarot Symposium March of each year in Portland, OR). That means they offer support in all aspects of production, but you put up your own money to print your products. Lisa says they have been wonderful to work with, and take a reasonable percentage of the profits for the benefits they offer. Comparatively, classic publishing houses may, or may not, offer the creator an advance, and then the author receives a very small percentage of the profits after costs are covered. They also usually retain exclusive rights to your creation while you are under contract with them, sometimes for many years.
With self-publishing, and assisted self-publishing, you invest more in the beginning, but the returns are much higher. You will not have the larger distribution channels classic publishers have, but you also have a lot more control over your products and retain all the rights to your creation. Also, printing decks and books is a lot more expensive than books alone, and publisher tend to be conservative in the deck projects they take on. For some unique projects, self-publishing may be the only way they can get out into the larger market. Early on I sent a proposal for my Oracle of Initiation to the biggest deck publishers and they all declined. Some things are just too edgy or visionary to be brought forth by the classic systems. This is where crowdsourcing comes in, letting the people choose what products they want to see available.
Some of the benefits Lisa saw to working with Devera as her publisher was when her 126 decks needed to be shipped out for her Indiegogo campaign, they took care of that; they have an online website featuring their catalog of products and her deck is listed there; they store the excess inventory of your product until you request another batch; they have distribution connections with many brick and mortar stores; and they are planning a Tarot conference in Portland, Oregon, in March, 2015 called The Northwest Tarot Symposium to market their catalog of metaphysical products.
Remember Your Costs
A classic thing that you will read over, and over again in preparing for the campaign is to do your research about the costs of creating and shipping your perks. Lisa is very satisfied with the way her campaign turned out, and she would not change the amounts she chose with her magic numbers, and that said, shipping took a much larger chunk than she anticipated of the funds she ultimately received. Part of this was she had many more international orders than she would have thought, which have a much higher shipping rate. Note: from the previous Anatomy of a Crowfunding Campaign interview with Robert Place and his Burning Serpent Oracle Indiegogo offering, he and co-creator Rachel Pollack made two different perk levels with US and international shipping rates on any of their items so this was covered. A brilliant move.
Team de St. Croix
Lisa’s team consisted of her boyfriend Tony Buchen, with technology help, and some early support from friend and professional independent deck publisher Arnell Ando. Arnell is a valuable contributor to the field of information about self-publishing decks, and here is a link to her article that is a thorough examination of making your own oracles. Thanks Arnell for gathering and sharing so much valuable information.
Sharing vs. Spamming
Toward the end of our conversation, we got into the delicate balance of graciously sharing your work with your community, while not overwhelming folks. Overall, Lisa tends to be conservative about using email to reach out, but is fine regularly posting to Facebook because it’s very nature caters to people who are open to receiving a lot coming in. She also sends newsletters when something new comes up that she wishes to share.
Both Lisa and I have grappled with fears of feeling pushy, and too sales-like, while still being responsible to offering our creations to people who may really want and need them for their own journeys. I believe part of this issue is that people who are very creative, also tend to be deeply emotional and intuitive. This is an essential gift for tapping into the Muses inspirations, and can also be a challenge in navigating the complex world we are currently in where many people feel constricted around making their own dreams come true. We have a society that says only a very few special, and lucky people are able to live the life of their dreams, and the rest of us have to put up with trading our life force to pay the rent. It is revolutionary, but I actually believe ALL of us could be living more sustainable, satisfying, vibrant lives doing the work we love if we heal the isolation and poverty mentalities woven into our imbalanced resource system. Artists are leading the way to redefining how resources are viewed, valued, and allocated, with crowdfunding as a potent instrument to anchoring in this new paradigm. As Lisa puts it, crowdfunding is a wonderful way for people to manifest their dreams, getting away from the corporate control of resources, and letting the ‘little people’ do it for themselves. No banks and institutions, just friends helping friends.
The success of Lisa’s Indiegogo campaign was the inspiration for my own forthcoming campaign beginning on May 20th, 2014 to print a Tarot-sized edition of 1000 of my Oracle of Initiation, and I am so grateful she led the way in the crowdfunding arena. Thanks for all this great information my friend. Blessings and success to your beautiful creations into the future. Love yah!
My Oracle of Initiation Tarot-sized edition at $44 Indiegogo campaign is now live! May 20th, 2104 to June 21st, 2014. Its an $11 savings off the retail price with shipping ager the campaign.
Nuts and Bolts of the Campaign
Tarot de St. Croix
The campaign ran from October 14th, 2013 to November 27th, 2013 on Indiegogo.
Lisa’s initial goal was $4444 to raise half the printing costs of a run of 1000 decks, and pledges overall came in at $6359-143% of the original target.
140 (I see a 4 there-magic numbers-and it adds up to a 5-see below) people funded the campaign, with the largest perk point being $44 for the deck itself, receiving 126 pledges. She also offered a $10 spot with a thank you note, a couple of postcards and a magnet from the deck that received 3 pledges. Her half an hour Tarot reading with the deck at $55 got 5 takers (magic numbers), and 3 people chose a Fine Art print at $77. An added perk midway through was an $888 pledge for an original oil painting of the Empress, and no one jumped on that one-of-a-kind, regal option.
The Next Interview:
The next interview for this series will be with the charming Pamela Steele of the Steele Wizard Tarot, and her forthcoming Indiegogo campaign for her Wizard’s Pets Tarot deck. She is an amazing networker, and supporter for other deck creators, and her vision is to make divination as socially acceptable as reading your daily horoscope.