Kickstarter campaigns may look pretty after hearing about the Reading Rainbow project, which has raised 3.5 million to date! However, a lot of research, planning, and gathering of feedback goes into launching a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Unfortunately, many campaigns have trouble or fail to reach their funding goals the first time around because of unprofessional, confusing, or boring presentations. Taking the time to make adjustments mid-campaign is often necessary, but here are 5 pre-launch tips to keep in mind that hopefully might help save some costly errors during the fundraising process.
The first thing I usually do when checking out a new Kickstarter project is watch the video (and I’m sure many others would agree). Having a poor quality video – or no video at all – usually makes a project look rushed and unprofessional. You want to attract your audience’s interest within the first few seconds, and keep it short (around 5 minutes, tops) unless you have a good reason to do otherwise.
Even if you are camera shy, it’s important that you be in your video! You need to tell the story as to how the project came to be and why it matters. If your project is raising funds to manufacture and distribute a product, demonstrate the prototype! If your project is more conceptual, then prove why your team has the skills to pull it off. Explain why you need Kickstarter’s help and what your funds will be going towards. For more information on things to avoid and how to make a great Kickstarter video check out this CrowdCrux article.
I have seen interviews with many people who have had successful Kickstarter projects who largely chose Kickstarter due to its sense of community and because they had backed several projects themselves. I interviewed Mark Stein, who raised over $28k on Kickstarter for his project Modern Mediums: The Movie. His response to being asked why he chose Kickstarter was:
“I’ve been a frequent backer and lover of Kickstarter since its inception. I’ve backed over 30 projects. I love the approach, the vibe and the content Kickstarter helps bring to the marketplace.”
The human aspect of crowdfunding is important; people want to feel a connection with you. They hope to find you interesting, trustworthy, and capable of delivering on your promises should you reach your goal.
Choosing the right funding goal for a Kickstarter project can be tricky. Setting a goal that is too low can force you to lose profit, sacrifice quality, or make you unable to pay for manufacturing, rewards, and distribution post-project. Likewise, setting a goal that is too high might seem unrealistic to backers. It is important to explain where the funds are needed, especially since the average user will probably be less familiar with the process than you are.
The goal should be enough that it will cover the costs of seeing the project through (shipping out the rewards) + a 10% margin of safety. At best, this might turn into your profits. At the worst, it will serve as a cushion in case anything goes wrong.
Rewards are an important factor when it comes to attracting backers, and careful thought should be put into what your audience wants and what you are reasonable capable of giving to them. Reward categories should be clear and simple – another area where gathering input before launching can save a lot of time and effort.
“[I]n any good Kickstarter campaign, a project creator needs to listen and respond to the ideas generated by backers during the campaign. That’s where the 10% comes in. But the other 90%? Figure it out before the campaign. When you think you have it all figured it out, go back and research 20 more Kickstarter campaigns and talk to your printer and have more people look at your project preview page. Because honestly, I thought I had it all figured out before the campaign after extensive research, and I only knew about 40% of what we could offer and how to price it. It will always be a work in progress, but the more you can design your campaign before the campaign, the better experience it’s going to be for everyone.”
Rewards can include a wide variety of things, ranging from: a product you are raising money to produce, merchandise (t-shirts, posters, etc.), exclusive or collectible items (a movie script or prop, for example), or design and input rewards (such as meeting the team, having your character inserted into a video game or web series, etc.). The possibilities are endless, but be sure you can follow through of all you offer, even if demand becomes higher than you originally expected. For more on calculating reward fulfillment see this article.
Campaign Page Content
Overall consistency in layout (color, font, image size) and information is important when creating a Kickstarter page that attracts people’s attention. Cluttered pages with confusing, poorly presented, or too much information can discourage individuals who come across a Kickstarter page from wanting to keep reading further.
Consistent and frequent communication with backers in the form of updates and responding to questions and comments is also key for maintaining backer interest, support, and trust. Open communication can also reduce backlash should problems occur after funding is reached.
The body of your Kickstarter page should go into more detail about your project, show any progress made so far (or examples of previous work), any story you have to tell, what it would do to benefit the backer, who you are, why you need help to make your dream a reality, and any other fun and interesting things that might apply. Including press coverage you have received on your page is also a good way to showcase your project’s popularity and encourage media contact.
Be sure to leave a comment below letting me know if you have any questions, additional tips, or thoughts!
About the author
Krystine Therriault is the community manager for CrowdCrux and has helped creators with their crowdfunding projects on KickstarterForum.org. She loves learning about new trending projects and dissecting them to bring new tips and information to creators. You can find her on LinkedIn here.