Kickstarter: The Guide To Starting Your Next Project

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Crowdfunding on Kickstarter

Between my wife and I, we’ve created almost 30 projects on Kickstarter. We’ve found it’s one of the best places to test ideas and products. Millions of people around the world are eager to give feedback and even help fund your ideas. This article outlines some of the main cornerstones of building, launching and managing your own successful Kickstarter project.

Days to Launch Your Kickstarter Project

I always recommend starting a project at the beginning of the work week. Monday and Tuesday are best. The reason is, most people get on the computer during the week. After a relaxing weekend, it’s time to get online and see what’s been going on. This gives your project a few days to have people view and share it before they head off to the weekend.

Tip – Pay attention to any holidays that are going to be around your project launch. (ie. Don’t launch on Tuesday before Thanksgiving)

Times to Launch

I recommend launching around 10:30a CST. This means it’s coming up 8:30 (PST) on the west coast when people are just getting work. Plus it’s around 11:30a (EST) on the east coast, which means people are starting to break for lunch. By gaining even a little traction in the morning, this can really help build momentum for your critical first 24 hours. Tip – Try to get some of your Facebook friends or family to share the initial launch, it’s important to come out of the gates strong. You can typically tell if you’ve got a winner or loser, in the first 24 hours. Some even say as much as 50% of the funds that you can expect to receive will come in on that first day – so make it count.

Campaign Length

You really want to be between 25-35 days. If you have everything in place before you launch, this is plenty of time. Anything more and your project is bound to loose its momentum. The trick is to keep steady pledges coming in. When you start to fall off the first page (of whichever category you’re in) pledges will drop significantly. This is the same concept of being on the first page of Google (for whichever search term your targeting). The difference between number #10 and #11 on Google is massive.

Tip – It’s a myth: The longer the campaign the more money it collects. The fact is people see something that still has a few months until funding is up, so they’re absolutely no sense of urgency. They quickly forget about the project and it slowly (or quickly) fall off into the abyss of Kickstarter failures. Once you’ve stopped getting backers, it’s all but impossible to regain traction.

Kickstarter Funding Goals

It’s about how much you need, not how much you want. Most people I talk to about this want to swing for the fences. Who doesn’t want to raise 1M on their first Kickstarter project? I’ve reviewed countless projects pre-launch and typically find people asking for way more money than they would need. There’s really nothing fancy to figure out here. Add up your costs: (Design/Development + Production + Packaging + Shipping + Amazon fees + Kickstarter fees, etc) that should be about what you need to launch your project.

Tip – Bring the amount you’re asking for down until you physically can’t complete the project…then add a dollar – that’s your pledge goal. Not really, but it’s pretty close. You have to remember, for a lot of Kickstart projects, this is just the beginning. The real money is often made after the project is completed.

Gaining Exposure

Often a good place to start is by looking at who covered campaigns similar to yours. I would recommend doing this before you launch. Find projects or products within the same niche. Contact the website or blog that’s covering these projects and let them know what you’re doing. I usually offer a free prototype/sample (if possible) so they can check it out for themselves. You typically won’t hear back from most people, but the few you do hear back from can do great things for you. Once you get on one blog it’s much easier to get picked up elsewhere. These sources seem to trust each other much more than a person themselves.

Tip – It’s crucial at this point to have the eye-candy graphics/images that will make your product stand out. Don’t bother contacting anyone if you don’t have something to show. Hire someone to make this happen, if needed. It’s a must.

Special Delivery

Only around 25% of Kickstarter projects ship their product on time. If you’re going to try to roll your Kickstarter project into a business – this can’t happen. If you’re going to try to run other Kickstart project in the future – this can’t happen. It’s far better to be safe here, give yourself an extra month or so. Delivery dates typically don’t matter to backers, but once they pledge – they’ll hold you to it. Give yourself time for the unexpected – it’s part of the process.

Tip – Be sure to order all the packaging, materials, etc as soon as possible. Getting these items delivered can often be a logistics project in itself. Shipping – This one took us awhile to get our hands around. We used to spend days (literally) waiting in lines at the post office only to have them wonder why we were sending so much. After shipping 1,000’s of products one by one, we finally found another way. It’s called Endicia.com and it’s the best thing out there. You can print using any printer, all you’ll need is the labels.

Tip – You can get a custom stamp made (typically for around $10-20 on eBay) that will add a nice branded look to anything you end up shipping. This is a great way to add perceived value for almost nothing. 

Kickstarter Pledge Levels

This is another completely misunderstood piece of the puzzle. Too many people want to provide too many options. This leaves a potential backer in what’s known as “the paradox of choice”. They have too many options, so they choose to do nothing. Tip: Keep is very simple. If you have more than 5 levels, consider making a chart that explains the different options. Only include the details that are absolutely necessary inside the actual pledge box. You don’t want the backer to have to do too much reading. You can always place the details in the project description.

Make you options simple: $1 pledge: Don’t do a pledge level for $1.00 – Pledges are ranked by price (smallest to largest). You will have just taken the first (top) opportunity to ask your backer for something that really isn’t going to help you. Plus, you likely won’t be able to offer anything worth value at this price point. Another thing to note: people can always back a project for $1 (or anything else they please) without choosing a pledge level. If someone wants to give you a dollar, they will. You don’t have to ask for it.

$5 – 10 pledge: On occasion (depending upon the type of product) this can be offered. At this price point, you still want to be able to offer your backer something physical. Often when you think about the cost of producing and shipping something, this level starts to not make as much sense anymore. Still, it’s not bad to give someone an opportunity to back for a minimal cost. These little numbers can add up.

$20 – 25 pledge: This is the sweet spot. Most people that are interested in backing your project will come here. It’s enough to really build up your project without breaking your backers’ bank. $20, for most people, is a justifiable amount of money to give in trade for even brief joy. Take for instance a gift, decent meal or even a bottle of wine…all about $20.

$50 and up pledge: The rules up here aren’t as black and white, but usually these levels include a combination of items or even limited edition items. Although you won’t get as many backers up here, this can still account for a great deal of your projects success. For people who really want to make a contribution, this is where they’ll be. Just be sure whatever you’re offering makes sense. Would you back yourself at this level?

Keeping Momentum on Kickstarter

This is really the bloodline of your project. Before you launch, be sure you have a schedule setup for specific actions throughout your campaign. If you are going to have a lot of different pledge levels, I often recommend waiting until the project has some traction before introducing all of the options. For people that love what you’re doing, they’ve likely already backed the project, so later when you release the new color or size it’s a pleasant surprise. Be sure to send out meaningful updates that include this type of information.

Tip: Respond to your comments, questions, and messages. It’s important to assure your backers that there is someone listening. Running Ads – This probably isn’t for everyone, but I’ve had pretty good luck with it. I mostly use Twitter and Facebook because of their easy-to-implement setup.

Running Ads

This probably isn’t for everyone, but I’ve had pretty good luck with it. I mostly use Twitter and Facebook because of their easy-to-implement setup.

Tip: Test ads on Facebook. You can run very targeted ad campaigns and set very low budgets for testing. You can track who has backed your project from this source on your Kickstarter project dashboard. Generally, Facebook is scalable. So once you find something that works…turn up that budget and watch the magic.

Keep Track of Your Project

This is important, so you know where to focus your efforts during the project. You can see where each of your backers came from in the Kickstarter project dashboard. If you see that a blog pick up your project, you want to follow up with them and see if you can offer any additional information or images. If you see a lot of traffic coming from Twitter, follow up on Twitter and embrace the support.

Tip: Kicktraq.com is the best tools I’ve come across for tracking your projects progress. It has clear graphs that show you exactly what you need to know. The Kickstarter Dashboard isn’t bad either, just not as much info there.

Final Words

I hope that you’ve found this helpful. I’m always happy to hear other peoples’ strategies for their projects – so feel free to leave a comment and let me know what’s working for you. Here’s a bit more about how we raised over $150,000 on Kickstarter. READ MORE HERE