I pray all is well. Here are seven tips for launching a Kickstarter campaign based on my experiences launching my first one in December. Of course nothing (aside from a really generous backer, lol) can guarantee you’ll get funded; but I think these tips will prove helpful in increasing your chances.
For those who may not be familiar with Kickstarter, it is a crowdfunding platform that allows people who are trying to raise money for a creative project to launch a time-sensitive fundraising campaign (30 days or less is recommended) to meet their funding goals. My funding goal was $1500, but by the grace of God I was able to raise almost $2500. Hopefully the success I’ve had and the things I’ve learned can help those who may be considering launching their own campaign at some point, or someone you may know. If there’s anything I didn’t include that you think is useful, post it in the comments section.
#1: Research what works. There are some good articles out there that break down the purpose and structure of Kickstarter, and provide useful statistics and tips regarding what makes for successful campaigns and what doesn’t. I found a couple of good ones on Comixtribe. In addition, I reached out to three fellow creators who I knew ran successful campaigns and sought out their advice. Their feedback was invaluable.
#2: Make your page as potent and efficient as possible. Your page is what people are going to use to determine whether or not they’ll support you (unless they are from your base, which I’ll explain shortly). So you want your page to immediately get their attention, and I highly recommend your page contains a combination of a (1) video (those with videos succeed 30-50% more than those without), (2) text (explaining your project, why you’re raising money, and what it’s for), and (3) artwork (concept art, character sketches, pages in progress, etc.). I recommend a short video (around a minute or two). Your page should have everything a potential backer needs to make an informed decision, and it should easy to navigate. The last thing you want is for a potential backer to get bored or disinterested looking at your page because it’s not well put-together, the video’s too long, and/or the text does not get at the heart of your project and why it’s important to you.
#3: Think carefully and strategically about your reward structure. Giving people choices is a great thing, and Kickstarter makes doing so extremely easy and empowering. Whether they contribute $5 or $500, you want people to feel like they are truly part of the project or process in some way, whether it’s via special thank you’s, combinations of preview and completed material, exclusive and autographed content, direct access to you (e.g., phone or Skype meeting), a say in the creative side of things, etc. I think this is one of the most important components of Kickstarter, as a good reward structure can encourage backers from a wide spectrum (e.g., in terms of money to contribute, interest in the project, etc.) to support. And if you don’t think you have much to offer in terms of rewards, continue to brainstorm and ask people for ideas. You’d be surprised at what you can offer people who choose to support you.
#4: Get honest feedback on your campaign before launching. This builds off of the first tip, but I highly recommend having at least one person with Kickstarter success look over your campaign and give you feedback before launching. Kickstarter allows you to send a link of a draft to people for feedback, which is awesome! Before launching, I sent a draft to one of the creators I mentioned above. He gave me some good feedback on my video and after taking his advice and changing it, it came out much better. You can’t go wrong with seeking wise counsel.
#5: Identify your base and “street team,” and reach out to them ahead of time. One of the things I learned when researching successful campaigns is that for most people, most of the funding comes from friends and family (i.e., your base). So before you launch, I recommend you identify who those individuals are who are down to support you for sure, and give them a heads up. In addition, I suggest identifying a “street team” of sorts, a group of individuals who are (also) willing to help you get the word about your campaign once it launches. I was told that the first and last weeks typically yield the most funding, so solidifying people who will help you get off to a good start and continue that moment will be a huge help.
#6: Develop a strategy for getting the word out and follow through. As awesome as Kickstarter is, the onus is on you to get the word out to as many people as possible, and to keep your campaign on people’s radar long enough to increase your chances they will support. Don’t be bothersome or over the top with it (or do your best not to be), but at the same time you should be diligent about using Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, and other social networks to let people know about the campaign, and provide updates as support starts coming in. I recommend creating a Facebook event page once you launch your campaign. This will allow you to get a sense of who’s interested in supporting. You can also use it to post updates and reminders. Kickstarter allows you to do all of this as well, but I think a Facebook even page is a good supplement, especially for those who are on the fence and/or need to be reminded closer to the end of the campaign. For Twitter, you may want to let some of your contacts know as soon as you launch your campaign, and remind them during the last week. And of course tweet updates and reminders in between.
Another way to get the word out is to reach out to blogs and websites to see if they can post about your campaign, interview you, post previews, review previous work, etc…
#7: Build and reinforce your community of supporters. One of the things Kickstarter does well is it encourages creators to build a community of supporters. That’s the essence of crowdfunding: people coming together for the same goal. I know the main focus when launching a campaign is meeting your funding goal, but I urge you not to neglect the community aspect in the process. Keep your actual and potential backers in the loop, and reinforce the idea that by supporting (e.g., via getting the word out, contributing money, or both), they are partaking in something special.
I hope these tips were helpful, and if you have any further questions about launching your campaign, don’t hesitate to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org).