The best way to conduct a Kickstarter campaign.

A case study

For Kickstarter, 2015 has been the year of international launches. Given I just finalised my own Kickstarter campaign and was on the lookout for new clients, the timing seemed perfect and I was fortunate to take Kickstarter on as a client to help them spread the word about the launch in Germany. (On another note, always do the projects you’re excited about because they’ll eventually lead to new opportunities.)

While my favourite part of the assignment was to help creative teams, such as TIO care, BuddyGuard, The Future Chronicles and Mellow Boards, create great campaigns and run them successfully, I’ve also given several talks on how to best do a Kickstarter campaign.

To me, the greatest strength of Kickstarter is the creative diversity that you’ll discover every time you visit the platform. People have mind-blowing ideas and many share incredible videos to communicate what their project is about. I really think Kickstarter videos are much more fun to watch than anything else you’ll find on the internet. Just check out Butterup, the Coolest Cooler or Makey Makey.

Based on my experience from running a project to fund This Year Will Be Different: The insightful guide to becoming a freelancer, when crafting the content of your campaign, generosity is the way to go. Explain what you want to create for the people who will support you and how they will benefit from your work. I would even say that you should first think about the rewards, even before you start writing the copy or making a video. When deciding on what you want to give away as rewards, always think about whether you would be willing to pay that amount for that reward yourself. Then, think if you would get genuinely excited about receiving such reward. On other terms, do you really need another T-shirt in your closet? Exactly!

Kickstarter is a place where you can open up about your creative process to people who are interested in participating. If you’re making a movie, why not collect photos from your backers and photoshop them into the newspapers you show on the screen, or if that’s too much effort, why not mention your backers' names in the credits? If you’re making garments, then why not embroider the backers' names on the inside of the clothes?

There are endless possibilities to make people become part of your work and that is why people come to support projects on Kickstarter in the first place.

Before I forget this, when calculating the costs of your rewards, please don’t forget to wrap the objects, go to the post office and make sure you know how much the shipping costs will be to different countries. This is probably the most important advice!

Of course, the video is pretty much the key to the success of a project. If the project is good enough, a simple video, such as the one I recorded to promote This Year Will Be Different, can also make the cut. Nevertheless, if you have the time and the resources, don’t be afraid to play. People love videos that are fun and unexpected. Independently of how big your team is, make sure that your video explains the features of your project; that it showcases how the user will benefit from using your product and in what situation your product will be relevant to them or why it matters that they get involved. The Coolest Cooler is a great example to learn from. What I really like about the Coolest Cooler video is that Ryan managed to explain why he was the right person to realise such a project, something that’s crucial given you’re asking people to support you financially.

When writing copy, use images to break up the long text. Visuals always win! If you already have photos of your rewards, don’t hesitate to show them too.

Once you’ve launched your project, it’s important to start spreading the word. In the beginning, you’ll need the support of your friends and relatives. If none of the people who know you personally trust your abilities to finalise and deliver the outcome of your project, strangers won’t trust you either. On Kickstarter, about 17% of all unsuccessful projects haven’t received a single pledge, which clearly shows that spreading the word among people who know you is crucial.

The majority of projects on Kickstarter raise between 1K and 10K, but if you’re planning to start a bigger project, you’ll need to take more time to prepare for your launch on Kickstarter. First, when launching a project, think about who might be interested in the outcome of your endeavour. These are the people to reach out to immediately after your Kickstarter project page becomes public. Sometimes, you might need the support of the press to reach more people. There are several ways to go about this. First, I’d always recommend to think about who you know who might know someone and who they can introduce you to. If your project is for your community, then don’t hesitate and reach out to your local newspapers. Let them know about your project. This is usually easier in smaller cities. If you don’t know any journalists or weren’t any successful with the local media houses, it’s time to do a little research. A simple hack is to go on the Google News search and find relevant keywords. When you find articles that are related to your project’s theme, reach out to the journalists who wrote them and let them know about your project. If they’re interested in your field, they might be kind enough to feature your campaign.

Once your page is up and running, you’ll have about 30 or 40 days to reach your goal. Trust me, you don’t want to shout across all your social media channels that you’re doing a Kickstarter campaign. Instead, this is a wonderful opportunity to tell people more about your work. Take the time and write regular project updates to invite people to check out your Kickstarter page. Don’t do the sales talk. Instead, talk about your progress and how your project’s evolving. Give people something to talk about; show them photos of your work space, or the material that you won’t show in the final piece. In the end, backers on Kickstarter want to be part of the creative process, so the best thing you can do is to share your work with them. It will be easier to regularly post on your other social media channels about your campaign without constantly asking people for their support. You’ll see that posting project updates will be valuable even after you’ve successfully funded your project. As I like to say, if you’ve done one campaign well, it will be easier to make the second campaign even better.

If you’re planning to setup a Kickstarter campaign and are based in Germany, Austria or the Netherlands, please get in touch with me so I can help you get up and running.