Some people know I am a rabid fan of Kickstarter, and I am an active participant in the community of funding awesomely cool projects. To date I think between myself and my company we have funded four projects in the last six months to the tune of six hundred dollars. We have seen projects fail, and we have seen projects succeed, and here is what I have observed are the differences.
Make your headline stand out – use a product name or person name if that is the most recognizable. Most project pages are the same, Kickstarter pretty much so templates your project to look like everyone else’s project so you have to differentiate between your project and everyone else’s by using some simple headline tricks to suck people in. Not just “help fund the most awesome comic book project ever” but more like a head line like “Super Heroes – May mayhem not be forgotten”. If you are a name or you have a product that has a name, and then use that. How do people find you, by what they know about you or your product. For example, I have found a lot of awesome products because I know the people behind those products, and wish to support them, when I find out they are on Kickstarter, I beeline over there and make my donation.
Have a video – put yourself in it, demonstrate the product if it is a product, do a walk through of exactly what you are going to do with the money if it is a book or a movie. Seriously, use the video time well, and go through everything. People want to make sure they won’t get ripped off, and seeing your face handling your product smiling and being enthusiastic about it means a lot. In all the projects we have seen on Kickstarter, the successful ones all have people in them, either an endorsement from others, or the author/director being excited about what they want to do, and a walk through of the project. Every project that has failed has missed one or more of these elements.
Have cool prizes and understand the donation levels – most donations are at the under fifty dollar level, and on all the projects I have seen, the 25 dollar donation is the sweet spot. You will get some very cool people to donate more, but the quick and dirty research shows that people are comfortable giving 25 dollars for a project. If you can send someone a copy of the product for the 25 dollar donation then you are set, people will see this like they are purchasing the product and life is good. You will get people who want to donate more, but they will want something special, signed editions, extra copies, special art, a t-shirt, so save those for your super donations at about 100 dollars. Remember that you need to pay for this entire plan, so plan accordingly with your budget. If the 25 dollar donation does not equate to a free product copy, then work out at what point you can give a free copy. For any donation, include the people in the thank you page of the product.
Set the donation levels – for a 10 dollar donation you get your name on the product thank you page, for 25 dollars you get your name on the thank you page and a copy of the book (remember postage), for 50 bucks you get X, for 100 dollars you get everything plus an exclusive something, for 200 dollars everything and something even more wildly awesome, limit the number of prizes above 200 dollars (unless you are doing a video game or something that will be expensive to begin with) to make it look like these are scarce. Artificial scarcity works on the human brain in such a way that they will want to be the only ones in the world with something. If you are having an amazing amount of success, you can always add more prizes while the contest is going, I have seen one amazingly overfunded project succeed by adding extra prizes to the donation pool weekly which generated more buzz and more people talking about the project.
About this project information – Introduce yourself, you are the pitchman, you have 5 seconds to convince me this is a cool project. Four sentences, starting off with Hello, I am…. Followed by what makes you and the project awesome. If you have written endorsements use them and say who gave the endorsement. Give some good background on the project, this is where you get into the what, why, and when of the project. This should have a goal, what the project will ultimately look like, down to page count for a book, or time length for a movie, or even a mockup of the product. Keep the reader focused on what they are getting.
The Project – what is the goal, fully stated here, what the dollar amount is, what the time length is, and what you are planning on doing with the money. How do you make yourself special, for example when I am funding a project that is a book project, I am looking for someone who is going to use the money in the local economy, I want them to use American printers. If it is a movie, I want them to use an American DVD stamping plant if any are left in the country.
At the bottom, thank people for taking the time to read your super long 2000 word expose on why your project is the greatest thing in the world and deserves to be funded because it will help American business and keep people off the street. That is a wonderful wrap up to what you are asking someone to do, a simple thank you for reading and believing in my project is simply awesome for focusing the person looking at your project. If you get international funders, think about the extra overhead for postage, you can ask outside the USA donations to give a little more to help pay for costs of shipping.
The social side of this one – how many fans do you have on Facebook? Do you have a product page on Facebook that someone can go visit? Link this project to Facebook, with both your fan page and your page. Do you have a twitter account and a G+ page for your product and person? Link them all, like your own project. Then start talking about this, get your friends to like the project because they will get likes from other people. The ripple effect of getting the word out is the most important part of what you are doing on Kickstarter. The more people talking about the project, the more likely it is going to be funded. Do you have a friend with a blog? Get them to write about it as well with links back to the Kickstarter site. Are you connected to industry blogs, can you get them to write about your project? The more people talking about what you are doing, the more likely it is that people will find your project and donate 25 dollars. You want to own the airwaves on this one, you need to talk a lot, often, and get people helping you with the media blitz that you need to start.
Updates – keep your project updated every week. Every week update the project; include a picture of where you are at in the project. One artist did so well in their campaign (400% funded) because they were saying hey you helped me get new pens, or a new table thank you very much for the extra money and time you gave to my project. Treat this project like it is your baby, proper care, feeding, and communication is key to keeping people’s attention focused on the goal, focused on the project, and talking about the project overall.
These are the things I have seen that successful Kickstarter projects have done. I have seen a lot of projects fail as well because they were missing one or more of these elements. People talking about your project can only go so far, you need to keep them engaged and talking about the cool things you are doing with the project. Make the project compelling, and in the longer run you will have a successful Kickstarter project.
If you want to add your experience to this, reply below.
- 1983, an LP by Chris King and a Kickstarter Project (geardiary.com)
- Oceanverse by Mike Schwartz funded in six days on Kickstarter (comicsforge.com)
- Other Worlds Trade Paperback: Maps and Legends (comicsforge.com)
- SLG Comics, Kickstarter, and the reality of being a comic book publisher (comicsforge.com)
- Fighting Yamako-chan a Kickstarter Project (comicsforge.com)
- Inflection point: Kickstarter has 3 $1M+ project in 2 weeks (venturebeat.com)
(Cross-posted @ Techwag)