Since being founded in 2009, Kickstarter has become a household name, helping to get over one hundred thousand projects off the ground.
From mega-games like Star Citizen to tiny custom skateboard businesses, Kickstarter is an incredible funding resource for any size of project.
Because of its success, Kickstarter now has a huge user base.
Projects have to compete for funds, making it tough to develop a distinctive profile.
Any mistake in the Kickstarter process can set your project back to square one, denting your reputation and costing money.
All of these pitfalls can be avoided. If you are thinking about launching a crowdfunding campaign, this guide will lead you through how to create a successful Kickstarter campaign, every time.
Know Your Audience Before You Begin
Before you start, think about whether crowdfunding is for you. Duh.
Do you already have a solid customer base and do they know about Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites?
Are they likely to follow your brand onto those sites and start pledging their support?
Can you bring others on board who have never heard of you, but would support a Kickstarter campaign?
If not, other fundraising options might be more appropriate.
If you do decide to take the plunge, you’ll need to research your target market.
Run filters on Twitter and Facebook to isolate the kind of people who might support you.
For example, you can use Facebook’s analytical tools to search for people with an interest in Kickstarter.
Couple this with your area of business, and you should find a potentially rich vein of support.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Plan Your Campaign
Starting a Kickstarter campaign is exciting.
You’ve come up with a great product and you can’t wait to share your ideas with the world.
It’s all-too-tempting to dive straight in and start soliciting pledges within a few days of registering, but that would be a big mistake.
The most successful Kickstarter campaigns might look simple, but they are meticulously planned.
They always work out sensible funding goals that are linked to clear performance targets. When they make promises about milestones, rewards and product features, they keep them, because they have planned them in advance.
You can do the same. You will do the same when you want to win.
Come up with an appropriate set of goals and milestones, and be realistic.
The worst mistake a Kickstarter project can make is a failure to deliver on its core promises.
Get Your Project Page Just Right Before the Launch
Your project page is the nerve center of any effective Kickstarter campaign.
It’s where potential backers will find out about who you are and what you intend to achieve (and what they can get in return for backing you).
Your project page is essentially a sophisticated sales pitch, so the normal rules of selling apply.
- Highlight the nature of the product.
- Stress how it differs from the competition.
- Describe how it can solve problems experienced by customers.
- Explain how you and your team can deliver the project on schedule.
When you have come up with a prototype project page, have it checked by independent experts before you launch.
Run it by at least three people, asking for their advice about layout, language and your goals.
Check out the competition as well. There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from campaigns that work.
Before you launch, it’s also worth thinking about early-bird discounts:
These are discounts that apply to the first wave of backers, and they can be a great way to build interest from a low base.
However, if you offer a generous early-bird discount, later backers may feel short-changed, something that you really need to avoid.
Be smart, set your backers tiers in a way that creates urgency and manages expectations to avoid leaving some with a sense of being ‘short-changed’.
Create the Ideal Kickstarter Video to Wow Potential Backers
Every Kickstarter project needs to be accompanied by a video, and this is your chance to shine, so take it.
Your video is where you seal the deal. It’s the final piece of persuasion, after your title, launch page and promotional content, making it absolutely crucial.
Good Kickstarter videos are very clear and tell a story about what problem their product is seeking to solve.
They show how the product would work in practice (and showcase any proof of concept material that has already been produced).
They also humanize the project by talking a little about the team, and why people should back them.
There’s no need to invest vast amounts of money in producing a Hollywood-grade film.
Production quality isn’t vital here, unless you are trying to raise money to produce camera equipment or for a film because your video, in these cases, should show your competency.
In fact, most experts stress that your Kickstarter video should have a casual, authentic vibe.
It doesn’t help to come across as a slick corporation. Backers tend to respond much more passionately to ordinary people.
But always remember to establish trust in your technical and business abilities.
Create Dynamic Images and Titles as Well
Video isn’t everything.
Before people even reach your project page, they will probably encounter a static image related to your project and the project title.
These elements are featured on Kickstarter’s search listings, so they really can make a difference.
Take some time to choose a clear, appealing image that sums up your project.
Try to add a dynamic, fun element as well, whether it’s a mobile game in the middle of a level or a team member using your advanced gardening tools.
When you can make your image tell a story at a glance, you are closer to winning.
After that, choose a title that grabs the attention of casual browsers. It doesn’t have to be packed with information. Just choose something direct and clear that is linked to the image.
Build Trust and Credibility as Your Launch Approaches
Once you’ve created your video, written and tested your project page and chosen your image and title, it’s still not quite time to launch.
Before you start the Kickstarter process, there are some more steps to take to ensure that it goes well.
First of all, try to interest relevant experts in your project.
Gaining the support of an influencer with a promotional quote, will help to establish trust in your credentials from the outset (and you can tap into their social networks too).
Locate influencers and supply them a generous reward for their time; be prepared to send plenty of emails before finding the right influencer.
Creating a portfolio of your previous achievements can also be a good idea.
You can host this on your own website, social media accounts or in a simplified form on your Kickstarter project page.
Include short resumes of your team members as well – it all helps to build trust, earn the confidence of potential backers and, ultimately, effect the bottom line with more support coming in.
It’s also vital to develop a proof of concept for your project.
If you can’t provide evidence to backers that you have the skills to deliver, they probably–most likely, certainly, almost guaranteed–won’t be interested and won’t give money.
However, a proof of concept showing momentum towards completion goes a long way towards attracting backers.
You can also contact Kickstarter directly and ask them to consider your project for inclusion in the “Projects we love” section, which can be a great source of exposure and bring a ton of traffic to your project.
In your email, focus on the project itself, not your biography or your team’s expertise.
Kickstarter want to showcase innovative ideas, not the people behind them.
Launch Your Kickstarter Project Into the Stratosphere
When everything has come together, it’s time to launch…
Never launch a project without a plan for how you will manage your fundraising efforts on a day-by-day basis.
Every day should be filled with tasks designed to build interest, from hosting Reddit AMAs and Twitter Q&As to writing guest blogs for relevant online publications, writing your own original blog content and creating YouTube videos.
It’s vital to have a strong social media game.
Send regular tweets on the days after launch, appealing to potential backers.
Don’t continue for more than a couple of days. Your followers will have got the message. But it’s fine to send a refresher half way through your campaign to target recent followers.
Comment on other people’s shares, like their comments and respond when people back your project.
It all helps to make your Kickstarter as visible on social media as possible.
Use your social media channels to announce project milestones as well.
Some people always hold back from participating until they can see that a project is moving forward, so let them know that your campaign is succeeding.
It also helps to demonstrate how your product development is progressing.
Many people start out sceptical about Kickstarter projects. When they can see that you are serious about your product, they can soon be won over.
Kickstart Your Way to Business Success
In recent years, crowdfunding has become, well, more crowded.
This has made it harder for individual projects to stand out from the crowd, but it also means that there is a larger pool of backers to finance your project.
By following the above tips, you can create a project that meets all of your funding milestones, no matter how congested your market.