I thought my husband was crazy when he first suggested that I campaign on Kickstarter to fund my new dream project. Isn’t that the site where guys throw their money away on ultra-thin wallets, and comic books that will never be produced? Then we looked together at the projects that were actually successful. We talked together about what made them great campaigns. What did the designer or artist do right? What made the others fail?
I “backed” a few campaigns (which means I gave them my credit card with the intent that once 100% of the goal was reached, they would charge me) which gave me a solid idea about the process. After about a month of watching campaigns come and go, I eventually warmed up to the idea that I could run my own campaign too. If I followed the lead of the successful people before me, I could make this happen.
This little bit of research led me boldly through not only one, but two successful Kickstarter campaigns. As I prepare for a third campaign, I look back at my personal notes from that time to guide me through.
Keys to a Successful Kickstarter Campaign
- Have a great idea and a great plan for making the idea a reality.
- Document everything. Make a calendar. Take pictures.
- Get a legitimate budget together, get solid quotes from vendors, remember to add in shipping costs.
- Talk to people every day.
- Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding for creative projects. That means that if you can’t make this work, you don’t get a penny. So make it work.
So those high-level notes are what kept me going, what got people excited and what got me funded. On to the nitty gritty about the beginning, middle and end of YOUR future Kickstarter
campaign. These are things no one told me. I learned on the job. Your offering has to be amazing. Whatever your idea is, it has to be something people will want, something that they
can’t get anywhere else.
Getting Your Campaign Going
Make sure you pour your heart into it. Talk to people about it first; ask their opinions. Preparing a Kickstarter campaign is work.
The back-end of Kickstarter requires you to complete a six section application in order to be considered. They ask you a lot of questions. About you, your project and your rewards. Rewards are the bait that hooks your supporters. Think creatively about what you can offer people, about tiny things for people who don’t have a big bugdet about ways to make exciting higher-priced rewards too. Think about customization, events, exclusive content, t-shirts. People are also investing in you too, so it’s important to make a video that tells a great story, is well organized and is fun to watch. Post pictures of you and your team working together, write about your project in your own words.
Then there’s the business side. There’s a bit of organization required here. If you don’t have a formal business yet or dedicated bank account this is the sobering portion of preparation. You also have to secure an Amazon payment account which takes up to a week to confirm. Kickstarter’s staff will take a few days to review your campaign before it can go live. A real live person looks through your project to make sure it’s solid, and that takes time. Run with the campaign.
Maintaining Your Campaign
Now that your campaign is live you need to maintain it. It’s not a passive moneymaking site, where you can set it and forget it. It’s something you have to work at every day. It’s your job to get people excited enough to give you their money. Talk to bloggers with big networks, talk to stores, talk to other people in your field. Set up a Facebook page and post regularly, create a FOMO. Report progress (or lack of progress) on your Kickstarter campaign update page. Most campaigns run for 30 days, during this time you may experience fear, joy, pure exuberance, even terror. If you’re Levar Burton, you’ll just feel exuberance, millions of dollars worth of it.
During your campaign, I highly recommend offering extras too. If you already have a product in production, give them the opportunity to add that on to their rewards package at a generous discount. Doing this in my second campaign took my numbers through the roof. You will get an email every time someone backs you. A dopamine rush every time your inbox chimes. Be sure to thank Backers, listen to their suggestions, and talk to them. They want you to succeed.
If things aren’t progressing, you must consider that you might fail. But it’s okay, you’ll learn something. My first campaign flatlined in the middle and I panicked. Then, out of the blue, a major homeschool blog posted about my campaign and my numbers skyrocketed.
When Your Campaign is Successful
Once that little chart reaches 100%, you can rest on your laurels. You should celebrate with your family, thank everyone who helped you, and post a picture of you raising up your arms.
This is standard procedure! When your campaign closes, you’ll need to wait at least a week for all the money to come through. This part is hard. It doesn’t just transfer into your bank account magically, it trickles in. This makes it difficult to get started. Kickstarter also keeps 5% too, which stinks.
Once you have all the money needed to start, move fast. Hopefully you’ve done your homework beforehand and you can produce your product in a timely manner. Don’t leave your Backers in the dark during this process. Everyone hopes that you deliver on time. But if it’s going to be late, tell everyone. Once you have the items in hand, you’re going to have to ship it to your Backers, this process takes longer than you think it will. Don’t collect addresses until you know you’re getting ready to ship things soon. People move. Trust me. If you don’t automate the process, order “fulfillment” will not be fulfilling for you. It’s going to be weeks of packing, labeling, trips to the post office. You’ll be buying pizza for your friends and family, you’ll be up late and working on weekends. Your kids will miss you. Your hands will also hurt from filling out customs forms for international orders. You will hate customs forms.
One day, you will have shipped your last package. The mail lady will applaud, your children will hug you, and your husband will high-five you. You’ll experience pure joy for completing this task. A conquest that you never imagined could happen while having small children at home. You’ll feel so proud. Exhausted, but proud.
Kickstarter was so much work, but so worth it for me. I highly recommend this process to anyone who loves a good challenge. You’ll come out the other side with so much more than you expected: a community of supporters, a business, a product, a crazy experience you can share with others.
You can totally do it. Go ahead and make it happen!
What about you? Are you ready to make Kickstarter work for your business? Tell us in the comments below!