The Ultimate Guide To Launching A Project On Kickstarter
Kickstarter is the number one platform for fundraising projects online. It was launched in April 2009 and over $2 Billion has been pledged by over 10 million people for creative projects. The types of projects vary from art to technology. It is a great place to launch a business.
People that like your project will make a financial pledge but Kickstarter will not charge anyone for their pledges until the overall fundraising goal is met. These people are known as “Backers” and they are essential for your project.
You Need To Offer Rewards To Your Backers
You will offer rewards to the backers for making their pledges. These tend to be something that is not offered (or going to be offered) to the general public such as a special edition product or an exclusive membership. The rewards that you offer are very important.
The process for creating a project is pretty straightforward. You will create a project description and it is highly recommended that you include a video. You decide on the rewards that you will offer for different pledge levels from backers.
Will Your Kickstarter Project Will Be Reviewed?
Kickstarter has now introduced a ‘Launch Now’ feature that uses an algorithm to determine whether or not your submission meets their criteria. Think of it a little like Google page quality scoring system in Adwords. If your page meets the requirements then you’ll be able to launch immediately without any review. If you page does not meet the criteria then the Kickstarter staff will review your project and they will provide feedback to you about it.
Once they have reviewed your project and accepted it you will be able to launch. It will then be up to you to promote the project which will be covered later in this post.
You may be wondering “how long does a Kickstarter review take?” There is no fixed time for this. You are likely to receive feedback about your submission in around 7 days and it will take 2-3 weeks to get your project launched depending on this feedback.
It Is Goal Orientated and All Or Nothing
Kickstarter works on a project basis with a definitive start and end. It is goal orientated and you will need to specify your funding goal for each project. The most important thing to know is that if your financial goal is not reached then you will not receive any money for your campaign.
Understanding how the goals work on Kickstarter is very important. When you launch your campaign you will be required to set a fundraising goal and this should be the minimum amount that you require to make your project happen.
If your project hits its funding target before the project time duration expires then you will be awarded the money pledged by the backers (less Kickstarter and payment processor fees). If you miss the target then you get nothing.
If you hit your funding target before the project duration time is up then you can use stretch goals to try and increase the funding amount that you receive. How do Kickstarter stretch goals work? These are basically additional incentives to the backers to continue to spread the word.
For example if you are offering a new software product then a stretch goal could be to offer a programming portal or a version of the software to be used with Android or iPhones. These would be additional incentives to justify the increased funding amount. Or you might be a drone developer like in the image above, your stretch goals could be extra batteries, better propellers etc.
If the stretch goals are reached, the additional incentives will be unlocked for the backers. You may want to offer these incentives to all backers or those that specifically backed your stretch goal. You need to think about what you can offer that will excite backers to pledge more and spread the word.
Now that you know what Kickstarter is, you need to know why you should use it.
Why You Should Use Kickstarter
Well the first good thing about Kickstarter is that it’s free. You only pay if you achieve your funding goals. Kickstarter charges an aggregate fee of 5% to funds collected and then there is a 3-5% payment processing fee on top.
The Most Successful Crowd Funding Platform
It is the most successful crowd funding platform and 36% of project creators are able to achieve full funding. The staff at Kickstarter are also very helpful, and will provide you with positive feedback to improve your pitch before publishing.
Kickstarter has its own global community and these are people there that you may never have reached with other forms of marketing. Some of these people will become your backers and future customers for new products and services that you launch.
Easy To Use
The interface is intuitive and visually appealing. The navigation is easy and the site provides a lot of good tools for users and members. There are some very good tutorials and the site produces statistics on just about everything.
Posting a project on Kickstarter enables you to connect with your audience. This can be the audience that you have built up throughout your campaign or an existing audience. You will be able to interact with them and ask for support, make friends, exchange ideas and most importantly do business.
Once you have established a following on Kickstarter you can use this to launch further successful projects. A large following will give a new project a real head start and should make achieving funding goals faster.
Cut Out The People In The Middle
There are no requirements for agents or other people in the middle. If you are in the entertainment business then you can promote your next project by connecting directly with the fans of your work. This applies to any business where agents are the norm.
With Kickstarter the creator and the backers will all gain value from the transaction. The creator will see the funding which will enable the project to be implemented and the backers will all receive rewards. It is a win-win for both sides.
All of your backers are giving you their permission to discuss your project with them and also talk about ideas for future projects. This can be a great way of conducting user research and building out personas for future campaigns
You Are Always In Control
With a Kickstarter campaign you are always in control. Nobody else will be able to claim the ownership rights to your work and you will be free to do whatever you want with the finished product once you have secured your funding.
How to Use Kickstarter Successfully
In order for your Kickstarter project to be a success you will need to do some research as you want to find out what the cost will be to execute your project and produce the rewards that you will need to gain backers for the project.
Who Is Your Audience?
It is also very important that you understand who your audience is going to be. No audience means no funding. You do not want to launch your campaign and then start looking for your audience. If you already have an audience then you will need to use them.
If you don’t have a readymade audience then think about the different groups that would have an interest in what you will offer. You need to be specific here and determine the subset of people that will really be interested.
Think about the niches that will have interest in your campaign. The more that you can uncover the better. It may be that your product appeals to a wide range of niches and this will be helpful for your campaign. If you don’t identify your target audience then you will be unlikely to achieve your goal.
Make It Clear and Simple
Your campaign needs to be as clear and simple as possible. If you don’t do this then many people will be confused about what you are offering and will not back you. Avoid large projects with multiple aspects to them as funding will be a lot more difficult.
What is your specific outcome? If your project is too general then it is unlikely to get approval from the Kickstarter review team. Backers will want to fully understand what your project is all about and if there is any confusion they will not spend their money on your project.
Tell A Good Story
Make your project fun and tell a good story. The way that you talk about your project is very important and the story needs to make sense. People will always be moved by a good story and it is vitally important that you connect with them through this. I’ll show you a good example of a video and story a bit further down in the article.
Spend a lot of time thinking about the rewards you are going to offer your backers. This is where you provide real value to your backers and it will be vital to your success. Will you offer physical or digital rewards? Physical rewards have been more successful in the past.
You need to know the costs of the rewards so that you can factor this into your funding requirements. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you reach the funding target for your project but will then have to spend half of this on creating and shipping rewards.
Create A Good Project Title
The name of your project is also important and you want to come up with a name that looks good on the site. You want your project to be shared on social media so think about how your title will look in a shared link. Will it make sense? Will it get the click?
The more creative and compelling your title, the more attention that it will receive from potential backers. You can make your title a little mysterious so that it piques interest and people click through to your campaign to find out more.
When I looked at some of the most popular projects running at the moment I noticed some common themes in their title structure:
- Mentioning the innovation of the project with phrases such as ‘World First/Best‘ and ‘Next Generation‘
- Highlighting the quality of the product such as ‘Made In USA‘ or ‘Hand Made‘.
How Long Will Your Campaign Run?
You now need to think about how long you will run your campaign for, the amount of funding that you require and how you will price your rewards. These are all tough questions but you need to answer all of them.
The data is a bit outdated but Kickstarter did publish some stats back in 2011 about project length and success rates. It looks like the longer the project the lower the success rates.
Once you start the clock running on your campaign you can’t stop it or change the duration time so the length of your campaign needs careful thought. The clock counting down can be a benefit to you though as it will force backers to decide and it gets the word out quickly.
The maximum project duration on Kickstarter is 60 days but you may not want your campaign to run that long. You want to sustain momentum, and if you run it for too long you can lose this. Think about any production deadlines and other issues here.
Choose A Sensible Funding Amount
When thinking about your funding amount don’t overdo it. Going for too much could mean that you lose it all. The projects with the highest success rate on Kickstarter raised less than $10,000. If you are seeking $100,000 or more you are looking at very small numbers of successful projects.
Price Your Rewards Properly
This requires a little homework. My advice is to do some research on similar projects that have been released on Kickstarter. Take a look at the individual campaign pages and see what are the most popular reward levels being bought. Kickstarter allows you to see how many backers there are for each reward level.
With some quick adding up you can see what has generated the most revenue for a project, giving you some accurate data to base your rewards level off.
There are various case studies on the net too. Take this case study which discovered that the highest grossing rewards levels for their book were $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500. The most common reward pledge is $25 and the average is $70 for this project. Obviously it’s going to come down to the individual projects you would expect a book to have an average reward of sub $100.
Present A Good Pitch
You need to treat your Kickstarter project as you would any other marketing pitch. You are trying to sell an idea to people and the better the pitch the more likely it is that you will reach your goal. When people visit Kickstarter they are expecting to be pitched, so bear this in mind.
You can use text, images and videos in your Kickstarter pitch. It is highly recommended that you use video. By doing this you will be able to communicate your idea very clearly and people will be able to really connect to it.
A video can answer a lot of the questions that people may have and this will significantly improve your chances of getting backers. All of the most successful Kickstarter projects used videos in their pitch and you must do the same.
How long should your Kickstarter video be? VideoBrewery suggests that your video should be between 2.30 and 5.00 minutes. If you edge towards the 5 minute mark you could lose your viewer’s attention so the recommended video length is 3 minutes.
Please whatever you do, DO NOT cheap out on your video. For most pitches this is the first thing people will see. Either hire a film crew for a day (usually about $500 per day) or rent the equipment yourself and shoot over a weekend. For a very basic setup (that will yield EXCELLENT results) download my video checklist that I use for my video pitches below.
GET INSTANT ACCESS
to my Kickstarter Video Checklist Now!
Here is my tried and tested video setup that you can use for your next Kickstarter video shoot.
Or join our private Facebook group to gain access to the checklist.
Use Passion In Your Pitch
The ideal Kickstarter pitch will explain your personal story and demonstrate your passion for the project and also explain why you want to do it. You can really get people excited by this narrative so make it as emotional as you can.
Looking for a great example of a pitch? Well there are many but here’s one of my favourite from a recent Kickstarter project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/321294669/pedal-forward-bamboo-bicycles-for-all
Are You Credible?
You will also have to state why you are the right person to create this project. Tell people about your previous experience and if you have samples or previous work then show them this too. The more credible that you are the more likely it will be that you will achieve your goal.
If you get featured in any publications or blog be sure to share this on Kickstarter. It can really help boost the trust of the project with the viewer
Simplicity and Clarity
Simplicity and clarity have already been mentioned in this post but this is really important when it comes to your Kickstarter pitch. The clearer that you can make the purpose of your project the more likely it is that you will get funded.
Answer Their Questions
Think about the questions that people that view your Kickstarter project will have in their minds. The first thing that will want to know is who you are. Tell them your name and anything else that adds credibility such as your previous experience and achievements.
Then you have to answer what you are trying to achieve with your project. They will want to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Talk about the outcomes of your project and the history that is behind it.
Why Is Your Project Important?
Next you need to tell them why your project is important. You need to show that you are really passionate about the project. If you don’t do this effectively then nobody else will be passionate about it. Use passion here.
Remember don’t just describe your product, describe how you will solve a problem the viewer has.
What Is The Money For?
And finally they will want to know what you want the money for. You can choose to be specific or general in your answer to this but make sure that you provide an answer as it is not a good idea to avoid this question.
You can answer all of these questions with a good story. Inspiration for your story can come from how you came up with the idea for the project and why you are passionate about the idea. Don’t make it too complicated and tell your story naturally.
Model Successful Campaigns
One of the best ways to ensure a successful Kickstarter project is to model one that has already been successful. The Mizzen-Main Kickstarter project launched at 8am and by 1pm it was already successfully funded.
How did they do this?
- Well one of the first things that they did was work from a solid brand. They spent a lot of time and effort before their Kickstarter campaign on a high quality logo and website and they had been very active on social media.
- They also built a strong customer base prior to their campaign. You may be thinking that Kickstarter will do this for you but if you have a strong base to start with you can use Kickstarter as a good marketing tool for new products.
- The company built relationships and then momentum. This momentum was very important as it convinced backers to fund the project. They used existing contacts and customers to commit pledges and build confidence with the project. Nobody wants to be first.
- A realistic funding goal was set. They did not try to raise $500,000 as this was too ambitious. If your goal is over $10,000 then your chances of achieving it are reduced and over $20,000 they are significantly reduced. They knew this and pitched accordingly.
- They used the press to their advantage and got press coverage early. They made their campaign interesting so that journalists would be happy to write about it. Using press releases and any contacts you have in the press world will really help your campaign.
- The video that they produced for the Kickstarter campaign was expensive and of high quality. They tested their videos on several people before choosing the final version. It was unique, original and fully engaging.
- Their product was great and this really helped with their campaign. It is vital that your product is great too otherwise your campaign is not likely to be successful. Their product solved a problem so you need to ensure that yours does too.
How To Get Kickstarter Backers By Promoting Your Campaign Prior To Launch
Get Started Early
There are many ways that you can advertise your Kickstarter project and it is highly recommend that you start this before you even think about launching your campaign. Start 3-4 months prior to the launch or longer if you can.
You need to be clear on who your ideal backer is and you can create personas that are based on customer demographics and online behavior, what motivates them and the kind of problems that they have that your product will solve.
Create A Blog
A good start to the promotional campaign is to create a blog. Don’t use a free service such as Blogger or Wix here. Invest in a domain name and some hosting and install WordPress. Start writing about who you are and what problems that you can solve for people.
Write useful posts on your blog that address the kind of problems that your target audience faces. Use all of your posts as an entry into your email list by providing calls to action in them.
Use Email Marketing
On your blog make sure that you have a method to capture the email addresses of your visitors. You can offer them an incentive to leave their email address such as a free report or similar. Just ensure that it is valuable and related to your upcoming project.
Building this email list will be a great asset later down the road when you get closer to launching on Kickstarter.
Join Relevant Communities
Find online communities that serve your target audience. There are likely to be forums and other community groups available on sites such as Facebook, Reddit, Google + and Linked In.
You need to join all of these communities and participate actively in them. It is not recommended that you start pitching your project straight away. Other members will not appreciate this. Show that you know what you are talking about first. Become a member of the community and help people out.
Reddit is probably my favourite community website and there are thousands of subreddits with many active users. All you need to do is head over to Reddit and search for your keyword or target market. In the search results page Reddit will suggest relevant subreddits and also relevant posts that users have made. You can also find more subreddits by looking at where these users are posting.
Infographics are a great way to get your point across to your readers and you can use these on your blog and distribute them to relevant sites for maximum exposure. Pinterest is a good site to use for images and well designed infographic will likely bring in a nice chunk of referral traffic.
Wondering where you can get an infographic designed? I recommend taking a look at either Envato Studio, there are a number of designers on there with some great portfolios. Expect to pay $300-500 for something decent.
You can submit blog posts to highly trafficked blogs in your niche. This is known as guest blogging. The post that you write needs to be of the highest quality and very informative to be accepted on the top tier sites. Guest blogging has many benefits;
- Generate traffic as you’ll usually be allowed a link back to your site.
- Get your product in the eyes of a larger audience.
- Get backlinks which all help with search engine rankings.
- Start relationships with the blogs so you can as for their help in the future (perhaps when your project is live).
Create A Soft Launch
It is a great idea to do a “soft launch” of your project on your website and social media before you go for it on Kickstarter. This should be done at least a month before your Kickstarter project as you want to get the word out and gain interest beforehand.
You will want to give people some firm dates for your Kickstarter launch so be sure to mention this in your soft launch campaign. Tell them about the rewards that you are going to give to backers. Create a special page on your website or blog for the project.
During this soft launch you can post information about it in the communities that you are now a member of. Make sure that you include the appropriate links to your page and that when your project is live on Kickstarter you send them to this.
Use Social Media
It is all about getting your pre-launch content out there. Use your social media channels to the full here and also contact other bloggers in your niche and ask them for assistance with spreading the word. You want to spend much time on the marketing of your content than you do writing it. Use Buzzsumo to find relevant influencers on social media, it’s free features will be more than enough to help you find people to connect with.
How To Market Your Kickstarter Project When It Is Live
You need to track your Kickstarter project once it is live and you can use the Kicktraq service to do this. It is considered to be equivalent to Google Analytics but for Kickstarter. It will not only assist in the tracking of your project but it will also offer the opportunity to be introduced to thousands of other users who use Kickstarter every day.
They have a blog for their users that receives a lot of traffic and it is recommended that you expose your project there too.
You can also use CrowdFundBeat for your project promotion. This site features press releases and articles about a number of crowd funding projects so use it wisely as it can give your project an excellent promotional boost.
KillerStartups is another good site to use for the promotion of your Kickstarter campaign. They really celebrate internet entrepreneurship and have over 500,000 monthly visitors to their website. Extraordinary projects tend to do well here.
Continue With Blogging
After launch you need to continue with your blogging efforts and link to your Kickstarter campaign directly this time.
You should have built up an email list by this stage so tell them that you have launched and remind them again frequently. You will now be a member of several communities so tell them that you have launched as well.
Use press releases again and offer to be interviewed about your crowd funding pitch on Kickstarter. You can also invite other bloggers in your niche to interview you as well. This is great content for their sites and is likely to generate a lot of traffic to your campaign.
Keep Them Informed
Keep all of your users informed about the progress of your campaign. Send emails and write posts when you have reached funding milestones. Create press releases about milestone achievements. Encourage people to share to increase visitors and backers.
Highlight Large Backers
If you have some large backers then reward them further by naming them publicly on your blog and through social media. Make sure that these are the biggest backers that receive this praise. This will encourage other backers to increase their pledges.
Track Where Your Traffic Is Coming From
Throughout your launch keep a close eye on where most of your referrals are coming from. Facebook ads work well for some projects and premium services from Twitter and Pinterest can work well too. Do more of what works for maximum exposure.
Are There Alternatives To Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is regarded as the king of the crowd funding platforms in the tech community but it is certainly not the only game in town. There are other crowd funding site such as Indiegogo.com, Rockethub, Tubestart and Pozible.
Of these sites, Indiegogo deserves a special mention. They receive a huge amount of traffic and have a big following like Kickstarter. They are a lot more open to the kind of projects that they will accept than Kickstarter and this could be worth considering if your project does not meet Kickstarter’s guidelines.
The other important thing about Indiegogo is that they do not operate the same “all or nothing” policy that Kickstarter do. If any pledges are made on an Indiegogo campaign the money will be received by the creator of the project even if the funding target is not met.
Having said that, you should be aware that Indiegogo only has an overall success rate of just 9% of projects that reach their funding goals. If accepting a part funding amount is important to you then they are worthy of consideration.