Earlier this month, I launched my first Kickstarter project. Even though it ran for only two weeks, I spent roughly 10 weeks researching the community I wanted to engage with, coming up with an offering and detailing an action plan. The project was successfully funded in 8 days.
I have collected some useful insights along the way and would like to share them with people who are thinking about starting a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
Engage your community early. They will become your allies after you launch and their engagement will be critical to get your project funded.
Put yourself out there. Having a video won’t guarantee success, but it is a very effective method to connect with your audience. It is an opportunity to concisely show them how much you care about your project and why they should back it.
Spend time crafting your project page and showing a compelling story. You might get featured as a “Project We Love” on Kickstarter’s website and weekly newsletter. This will give a huge boost to your campaign and increase your outreach outside your network.
Be clear in your opening statement. Explain up front: what is it that you are making, who your target audience is, why they should back your project, and how you are planning to accomplish it if your funding goal is met.
Use lots of visuals. They let your audience understand what it is that you are making and communicate your idea better. Consider showing early prototypes or previous work samples for reference.
Create a reward system that will appeal to all potential backers–even if they are not part of the community your offering is targeting. Your friends will back your project because they want to you to succeed. Let them help you.
Don’t be shy about sharing your project. At the end, it all comes down to word of mouth. Really share it with everybody you can think of. Be sincere and show how much it means to you. You will be surprised how much support you will get from the people you least expect from.
The hardest job will be to keep the momentum going. Most of your friends and family will back your project on the first and second day after launching. After that, your pledge activity will dramatically slow down and is up to you to find new backers. This will be the most nerve-racking and excruciating moment of your campaign.
Encourage people to share your project even if they can’t afford to back it. The more people you talk to, the closer you will be to finding enthusiastic backers.
Remind your network that Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal. Some people don’t understand how the platform works. Be explicit about it on your social media posts.
Don’t assume or lose hope. Some people will forget to back your project because they were too busy to make a pledge when they saw your post. Be active on social media and follow up with people that has shown interest in your project earlier before launching.
Kickstarter is a very good platform to experiment and test your ideas out in the real world. Sharing your work in public is scary, but it is an essential step to build trust and credibility within your own network.
Running a crowdfunding campaign is scary because it can feel like asking your friends for money. I’ve realized that if you show them why you are doing it, people will see the act of making a pledge not as a financial transaction, but as a show of support for your cause.
Even after my campaign has ended, I am still receiving messages from people expressing how my project has resonated with them and offer they help.
I’ve often wondered how communities are created and what it means to be part of one. Last month, I wrote a blog post about creating an offering for a community I had identified. I learned that for people to join your community, they need to find value on it first.
Since then, I spent a lot of time and effort thinking what that value could be. With my Kickstarter project, I have created a community of backers and followers that shared my vision, and are interested in my cause. I am excited to know that I can reach out to this community in the future for support. It is my job to cultivate its growth and maintain those relationships by giving back.