Recently my wife Jenni and I launched our first Kickstarter in an effort to raise funds to produce a cookbook based on our food blog, The Urban Poser. Going into it, I really didn’t know much about Kickstarter and I was completely clueless about how to run a successful one, so I dug in and spent a few solid weeks reading blogs and talking to people who have had success with their campaigns.
What I found was a just whole bunch of the same information, restated in various ways, most of which was helpful but not very life changing. Make a video, know your audience, communicate your story…..all good advice, but I was looking for something more.
The following are a few of the tips that I gleaned from a number of various sources (and a few that I stumbled upon myself) that proved to have a direct and positive effect on our Kickstarter’s success. I’ll include some conventional wisdom in here, but there’s an endless sea of that to be found so I’d suggest looking into those things as well. Oh….and in case you were wondering, our project was a huge success (163% funded!)
You can view it Here.
Make It Personal – People love to hear a great story, so make everything you do tell the story of why you’re doing this, and why they should get involved. Folks are much more likely to back your project when they have something to personally identify with and that won’t happen unless you draw them into your world a bit.
Get to the Point– 24/7 the internet is calling, and the whole world is just one click away. You’ve got to get to the point quickly or people will simply move on. Choose a project title that clearly identifies your project, use a thesis statement at the beginning of your project description, make a short video that draws them in but doesn’t belabor things too much, and keep your incentive descriptions concise. Tell them what they’ll get for backing you first, then go on to describe the details of each level.
Invest In a Great Video – If a picture is worth a thousand words then a great video is an invaluable resource for communication. The simple truth of business is that you have to spend money to make money, so go ahead and invest in a great looking video. And take your time planning it, it will be well worth it.
Use Bitly Links – If you’re not familiar, bitly is a website that provides shortened links that you can track analytic data from. You simply paste the sharing link that Kickstarter gives you into bitly, and then use the link that bitly spits back out to share your project with the world. This allows you go back and see where you are getting traffic from, who’s clicking, what times are best and a bunch of other data. For our project, I created different bitly links for each main avenue that we promoted on. Social media, email lists, friends and other bloggers. I was amazed to find that over half of our support in the first three days came from an older email list that I almost didn’t use. After seeing that success, I sent another email out to the same group two days later and saw a similar spike in support. I was also able to tell which type of social media posts were working for people, and which weren’t. (more on that in a sec)
Use Facebook Ads – Bottom line, they work. It’s hard to see money going out each day, but I during our project I ran three different ads, each for a period of 4 days. Without fail, when there was an ad running, we got donations every hour, and on the day gap between them….nothing. If people don’t see your project, they can’t support it. We spent around $250 on Facebook ads and it was worth every penny.
Talk about Your Project, Not Your Kickstarter – For you, this project is your whole world for the 15 to 30 days that it’s running. For everyone else, it’s just another thing. Initially it’s great to talk about your Kickstarter to get it out there, but people quickly lose interest because your project is not a big part of their life like it is for you. I noticed that the response to our project cooled quickly after its initial surge of interest (based on the click data from bitly) and it occurred to me that people weren’t that interested in hearing more about our Kickstarter. But I knew that they were interested in what it was going to produce, so we immediately stopped talking about the Kickstarter and started talking about the book itself. We started sharing the bitly link using pictures, teaser recipes, and potential quotes from the book and the giving immediately shot back up.
Make Your Product Your Main Incentive – This is basic, but our project was to produce a book. Our two best selling incentives? A copy of the book for $50, and a copy of the book plus some instructional videos and an Ebook for $70. It’s basically pre-selling your product but as a bonus, it gives you some great insight into your target market’s level of interest.
Leverage Your Friendships – There’s probably a handful of friends and family who you know are planning on donating to your project. Go ahead and ask them to do so up front. People like to back successful projects so getting as much initial support as possible from your network just makes others all the more inclined to join the party later.
Ask Key People to Share – Some people are more valuable to you as a connection than they are as a backer. Not that you don’t want them to back you, but it’s a lot easier to approach people you kinda know who have significant influence and larger, wealthier social circles if you’re simply asking them if they would be willing to share your project with their friends, instead of asking for their donations. And often times, if they like your project enough to share it, they’ll back it as well.
Approach Bloggers About Sharing Your Project – If there are blogs or online magazines that share a similar interest with your project, send them a personal email with information on why they might be interested in sharing your project with their audience. Many bloggers are constantly on the search for interesting content to promote. If even one of them shares your project, that can be hundreds, if not thousands of new people seeing what you’re doing.
Don’t Lose Heart When Donations Slow – There are two types of backers: those who know they will donate and do so immediately, and those who plan to back you but procrastinate about doing so till the last minute. Understand that your donations will ebb and flow and don’t get discouraged if you have a slow day. Just keep thinking of interesting new ways to get your project in front of people.
Have you run a successful Kickstarter? What other things do you attribute its success to?