I get many emails daily from people who are about to launch Kickstarter projects and it’s absolutely thrilling to help out fellow passionate makers, to be there for them at the ground floor. However, it saddens and frustrates me when people write in after they’ve launched their project and are scrambling to reach their goal. When I get a cry for help like that, 90% of the time this means the project will not meet its goal. This is often the case because crowdfunding projects are all about the planning hustle. If you launch a poorly built rocket ship, it’s not going to go very far.
Here’s what we’ve learned after two blockbuster Kickstarter projects reaching over $1.3 million pledges:
1. You need at least two months to plan beforehand.
This may come as a surprise but creating a great project takes a lot of time. Not everybody gets lucky by putting up a picture of potato salad. Note that this is the time you must take outside of building your prototyp. Dedicate these two months for setting up the project. The first month should be used to find journalists and bloggers so you can spread the good word. A great way to get promised press is to give an exclusive. This means you have to give an exclusive to that media source when you launch, so make sure you select one with the right audience reach and exposure for you.
In the first month you’ll also build out your page, figure out your rewards, and write the script for the video. The video will take the second month to make; one week to film and two weeks to edit. The final week before your project, you should have every picture, video, and piece of copy confirmed and your press all lined up.
2. Get people to commit to your project before you launch it.
Have you ever made a prototype or sold something to someone before this crowdfunding campaign? Well in sales they say that the easiest sale to make is to a customer you already have. You’ve already established trust with this customer by demonstrating that you can deliver the goods. That’s a huge concern with crowdfunding projects. We did an email poll and committed the majority of our first customers from when we did DIY Sous Vide Kits as Lower East Kitchen for our first Kickstarter project. The second time around, we already had people committed to buy who were backers of our first project. This loyal following base propelled us to make 200K our first day live.
3. Crowdfunding is a full time job.
Once your project is live you’ll need to actively monitor it and immediately respond to backer feedback, encourage sharing, and continuously share updates as your campaign progresses. For example, announce the smallest milestones, i.e. “Thanks for helping us reach 1K.” You must continuously update the groups and influencers who have a megaphone and an entire audience of supporters to their disposal. These are the people that create the news and will help spread the word about your campaign, and ultimately generate traffic and convert new backers to your project. If you’re not reaching out to influencers, then you risk leaving valuable opportunities on the table. People who fund you want to help you reach your goal, help them help you by allowing them to do simple social media actions that get the word out.
4. Momentum is everything.
When you first launch you have to get a lot of eyeballs on your page so that the crowdfunding site takes notice and features you as a popular project. I love Kickstarter, but one thing it doesn’t do is let you really browse projects. A project gets love if it’s well funded and shared, and your responsibility is to make that happen. You can do this by creating a media storm with an exclusive from a news outlet or you can have your true believers do a massive share and pledge the moment you launch your crowdfunding campaign. That will take some priming to orchestrate but like I mentioned above, you need at least two months!
Good luck guys! Happy to answer any of your Kickstarter or crowdfunding in the comments below!
Lisa Q. Fetterman is the CEO and cofounder of Nomiku, a food and tech startup based in San Francisco.