How to Win at Crowdfunding

How to Run a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter is the Internet’s biggest crowdsourcing site.

It seems like everyone’s getting in on the action, from bands to inventors to major actors pushing their independent works.  

Kickstarter can be a great way to fund your next album, idea, or project, but you have to know what you’re doing before you jump in head first.

Remember that Kickstarter campaigns are only funded if they reach their goal: If you can’t get to that figure, you receive nothing but embarrassment.

Be Realistic

If you’re a new band that has only played a few shows, or an inventor with a product that only caters to a small group of people, don’t ask for $10,000.

If you’re convinced your mom will be your biggest donor, don’t ask for $10,000.  When you don’t need $10,000 to fulfill rewards and complete your project, don’t ask for $10,000.

How much do you actually need to complete your project?

People are not stupid and they won’t donate if they don’t think the money is going to what you say it is.

Look at the size of your audience and their income level.  What can your fans, friends, and family afford?  

How much to Ask For

Remember, if interest for your project is high, people can always donate above what you’ve specified as a goal.

When you can’t reach your goal, however, you get nothing.

Related Read: How to Successfully Launch Your Product on Kickstarter in 5 Steps

Have a Plan for Production

So many inventors have a great idea for a product, throw up a Kickstarter campaign, and then are disappointed when no one donates because they don’t believe the project will be fulfilled.

  • Know who your manufacturer is before launching.
  • Be as transparent as possible with your methods, costs, and plans for the future.

The Kickstarter crowd appreciates honesty, and will lose faith in you quickly if you are not up front about what your project–and the campaign–entails.

Similarly, make reasonable estimations on delivery times.  No one wants to donate $50 to a campaign only to realize that the band they are supporting hasn’t even gone into the studio to record their album yet.

If it’s going to take you six months to complete the project you’re funding, let them know.  

It’s better to surprise them with an early reward than disappoint them when you can’t fulfill your promise.

You also need to factor in the cost for delivering rewards.

Budget your ENTIRE project, including fulfilling rewards, before you decide how much you need to request.

Use a shipping calculator from a postal company that specializes in reward fulfillment before quoting shipping fees to your backers–one mistake there and you could destroy your profit margin.

Have Varied Reward Levels

You need to have donation levels for all incomes.

Don’t forget the folks out there who don’t have a huge bank account, but still want to support you.

Have a small reward such as a “thank you” in the credits or a special download for a $5 donation.

Sometimes people still want to contribute, but just don’t have the means to give very much.  Plus, those little donations add up!

On the other hand, don’t assume that all of your friends are broke.

Shooting too low can mean you’re missing out on big opportunities.  Always have a few high-level reward packages.

Your fans might surprise you!

Have Exclusive Rewards

Don’t use generic rewards.  Bands tend to be the worst at this.

So many of them, bands, have three donation levels:

  • a download,
  • a physical album,
  • and a t-shirt

This is boring!

They can pick these items up at a show later on down the line.

You have to personalize your rewards and make sure that your fans and friends feel compelled to donate the second they see your Kickstarter page.

Come up with unique and exclusive items or services that are only available from the campaign.

Tiered Reward Levels

Your donations can soar.

Set Your Campaign Length Short

Many Kickstarter users make the mistake of running their campaigns for too long.

It might seem like you’ll get more donations if your campaign runs for a longer period of time, but it really doesn’t make much of a positive impact.

Plus, it detracts from the urgency of the campaign promotion if there’s no end in sight.

There are statistics proving that Kickstarter campaigns typically make the most money in the first week and the last week.

A lull during the middle of the campaign is normal and nothing to become too concerned over, but extending the campaign will typically only extend this lull.

Network and Network Some More

Posting your campaign on Kickstarter is not enough.

Posting about your Kickstarter campaign once or twice on Facebook or Twitter is still not enough.

You have to aggressively get the word out there about your project and your funding efforts or you will not even come close to success.  

  • Tell friends in person about the campaign.
  • Have a shortcut to it on your smartphone, ready to go when anyone asks about it.
  • Print off a QR code that links to your Kickstarter page and have it on display whenever you are presenting something related to your project.

You may want to save all your press efforts for the album, film, or product release, but now is a time where you can really build support and extend your fan base.

If you make fans who are willing to contribute to your campaign, those folks will stick around for future developments and releases!

Host a Kickstarter Campaign Launch Party

One of the best ways to get the word out about the launch of your campaign is having a party to celebrate it.

It may seem like a strange thing to celebrate:

“We can’t afford to pay for our project, so you should help us out!”  

However, if you approach it with the proper mentality, you can make both the party and the launch successful.

Below is a video from a Kickstarter Launch Party in New York City for the New York Beer Project:

Offer limited-time rewards for people who there at the time of launch.  Do a raffle for a unique item related to your project where anyone who donates in the first 24 hours is eligible to win.

You have to get people talking about your campaign, and this is how you do it from the very beginning.

Even better, make the party VIP–invite only–and add to the desire for your potential supporters to attend the event.

Have a Backup Plan

The easiest way to ensure success is to plan for failure.

  • What happens when you have 24 hours left and haven’t met your funding goal?
  • Are you going to lose out on $945 in donations because no one is willing to give you the last $55?

Have at least 20% of your funding goal set aside from your personal money to dump into the campaign if it looks like it won’t succeed on its own.

Support Your Campaign and Your Campaign Will Be Supported

Kickstarter can be a great tool to fund your projects, but you have to be realistic about your expectations and put as much effort as possible into getting the word out about it.

Plan for success, plan for failure, and plan on fulfilling your obligations once the campaign is over.