How to Create a Kick-ass Kickstarter in Five Easy Steps

Do you have a great idea for a project? Maybe you’re looking to publish a book, make a movie or record your band’s very first album? If so, you might just consider launching your very own Kickstarter. If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter before, essentially it’s a way to fund a project through crowdsourcing. You create the project, offer rewards and backers front the dough. Recent Kickstarter success stories include the Veronica Mars movie (which successfully raised over $2 million dollars in less than 24 hours) or the independent video game Torment: Tides of Numenera, which broke a Kickstarter record in raising nearly $4.2 million dollars.

kickstarter-logo-www.mentorless.com_

Of course, actually getting a Kickstarter campaign going can seem daunting at first. But not to worry, it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems. In fact, you can actually get your very own Kickstarter off the ground using Corel products! With that in mind, I give you….

HOW TO CREATE A KICK-ASS KICKSTARTER IN FIVE EASY STEPS

Step 1: Come up with a plan

It’s easy to think that almost anyone can hit the internet running and get millions of dollars heaped on them to launch their dream project. But before you even think about launching your Kickstarter, it helps to take a step back and ask yourself three basic questions:

  • What am I doing?
  • When is the deadline?
  • How much do I need?

For the first question, think about exactly what it is you want to do. If your goal is to get discovered and launch your career as the world’s first country jazz tuba tap dancer palates instructor, you might want to rethink Kickstarter. But if you’re hoping to scrape together enough dough to record and launch your first album, then Kickstarter is the perfect solution.

Which brings us to the second question: figuring out a deadline. The catch with Kickstarter is that each project runs anywhere from one to 60 days. If you don’t hit your goal by then, you get a big fat nothing. It’s hard to predict how much time you’ll need, but your best bet is probably to shoot for 30 days or less, since they tend to have the highest success rate.

Which leads to the third and most important question: How much? It helps to be realistic with just how much money you’re looking for. No one is going to fund your $87 billion dollar plan to build your own orbital space station, but they may just kick in enough to help you write and illustrate your own children’s book “Bozo the Drunken Clown.”

Think about your Kickstarter as though it were something you might pitch to a wealthy investor or if you were applying for a bank loan. Be realistic. Kickstarter isn’t a charity where you simply slap together a project and wait for the money to roll in. You should spend time figuring out all the details before you get started. Don’t just rush head-first into things. Research your project, find out if there are other similar Kickstarters out there and whether they succeeded or failed. Crunch the numbers and cover all your bases before you hit the ground running.

Step 2: Create your rewards

Rewards are the lifeblood of any Kickstarter campaign. They’re what backers receive in exchange for forking over cash for your project. Remember that Kickstarter isn’t a charity. Backers want something in return for their investment, and it’s your job to make sure that reward is worth it.

There are essentially four common reward types:

  • Items: Be it a DVD, a CD of your album, a sticker, or a finished printed book, items are physical objects which your backers can hold in their sweaty little mitts. A good rule of thumb is to price these items at the same amount they would cost in a retail environment. You can make a whole slew of swag – including DVD cases, stickers, t-shirts and other printed items – using CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.
  • Collaborations: This is essentially a way of bringing a backer into your project. Maybe you name a character in your novel after a backer, or a backer gets to play the cowbell on your album. Backers essentially become a part of your project.
  • Experiences: Backers get a unique experience. Maybe they get to visit the set of your movie, attend a private concert with your band, or get you to show up at their work dressed in a giant panda bear costume. Think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your backers.
  • Mementos: These are keepsakes that are related to your project. Maybe you send a backer some original sketches from you upcoming graphic novel, Super Sushi Robot Commandos, or offer them a thanks in the credits of your movie. Mementos are a meaningful way to get backers to contribute and get a piece of the finished project.

Once you’ve decided what kind of rewards to offer, deciding how to price them is key. Statistically, the most popular amount to pledge is $25, with the average Kickstarter pledge hovering around the $70 mark. According to Kickstarter, projects without a reward of $20 or less succeed 28% of the time, while projects with a reward of $20 or more succeed 45% of the time.

When pricing your rewards, remember to take into account shipping, which can eat into costs (after all, you have to find some way for your swag to get to your backers). Also, don’t forget about hidden costs (i.e. envelopes and packing bubbles), plus factor in your own time (the countless hours in which you’ll have to stuff and seal envelopes). Check around for the best prices in terms of shipping and delivering.

Once you have your rewards in place, don’t worry about gathering your backers’ personal info until after the project is funded. Kickstarter has a handy survey tool that will gather info from your backers (including details such as their mailing address). Backers will be automatically sent an email from Kickstarter when you’re ready to send out the survey, and their responses will be entered into a Backer Report for you (which you can even convert into a spreadsheet).

The key with rewards is really to offer something that’s genuinely valuable and of interest to potential buyers. If it’s crap, you’ll probably get crappy results. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Would I pay for it?

Step 3: Create a video

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But when it comes to Kickstarter, a video is worth a million words. In fact, videos have become key to any good Kickstarter campaign, and while you don’t necessarily need to have one, projects with videos are 50% more likely to succeed.

But before you start shooting and editing your video, it helps to take a step back and plan out exactly what it is you’re going to say. Be sure to cover all the big questions your audience is most likely to have:

  • Who are you?
  • What’s the project about (including funding goals and deadlines)?
  • What are the rewards?

Don’t just start shooting. Be sure to know exactly what you’re going to say. It might help to have a script or cue cards you can read from to offer talking points.

When you’re ready to start shooting, you’ll want to create the most professional looking video you can. If you’ve never used video before, you can snag a copy of VideoStudio, which is a super easy to use video editor and lets you cut footage from just about any source – be it a high-end video camera or a basic smartphone.

Don’t be afraid to get in front of the camera. Remember that YOU are the spokesperson behind your project and it helps to put a name and face behind your project.

Also ensure that you have lots of visuals. Show some stills of your band’s last concert, or some sketches from your comic book. VideoStudio makes it easy to edit in images, so don’t be afraid to get visual. Also, be sure to avoid using copyright materials. If you do, Kickstarter may yank the plug on your project. And if you need to grab some free music to spice up your video, there are a ton of great resources out there, including: Free Music Archive and SoundCloud, to name just a few.

Kickstarter also has a few video specs which you’ll have to follow, so when you’re ready to go make sure your video is 1000 MB or less and in any of the following formats: MOV, MPEG, AVI, MP4, 3GP, WMV, or FLV (again, VideoStudio lets you convert your finished project into any of these file types).

Oh and the most important thing of all: be sure to say thanks in your video. It really is the magic word.

Step 4: Create your Kickstarter project

Okay, so you’ve got your project plan in place, you’re ready to roll on your rewards and you’ve finished shooting your video. Now it’s time to create your Kickstarter project. You can do this directly on the Kickstarter page.

Take your time during this step. According to Kickstarter, the average successfully funded creator spends roughly two weeks setting up their project before launching!

Specifically, you’ll need four things:

  • Title
  • Project image
  • Project description
  • Your bio

For your title, choose something snappy and memorable. “Mr. Bozo the Drunken Clown – An Illustrated Kid’s Book” works better than “Gimme Money for My Kid’s Book!”. DON’T use words like “help” or “fund”, those are a death sentence for a Kickstarter campaign. Remember, you’re selling something of value to your backers, not asking for charity.

For your project image, choose something that’s both representative of your project and looks great. An image of your book cover works well; your cat Muffins, not so much. Again, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite or Painter are great ways to whip up a logo or an impressive design.

For your description, be specific but be brief. Think of the “elevator pitch” in which you have only 30 seconds to explain what your project is all about. Or even better, use the Twitter method and write out your project in 140 characters or less!

In your bio, don’t sell yourself short, but don’t oversell yourself either. Be honest. Got some links to previous related projects? Throw ‘em in there! Remember that your backers want you to succeed, so the more information you can provide that shows why your project will be successful, the more funding you’ll be able to get.

Step 5: Promote, promote, promote!

Okay, so your Kickstarter project page is up and running. It’s time to cross your fingers and send your project out into the big, scary world. This last step is key, since how you promote your project will literally make or break your Kickstarter campaign.

With that in mind, here are just a few great ways to get backers:

  • Email
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Targeted messaging
  • Real-world events
  • The media

For email, just look at your contact list. Chances are you know a lot more people than you think. Send out an email blast letting your family, friends and colleagues know about what you’re up to. Keep your message short, sweet and to the point. Be sure to include a link to your Kickstarter page and ask them to forward it on to anyone else who might be interested. You might also want to take the time to contact people individually and personalize each email. It’s a bit of extra effort, but can help generate better results than a generic message.

If you have a blog, be sure to promote your Kickstarter as much as you can. Talk about what you’re up to with the project, encourage people to post comments and try and do whatever you can to generate interest. Of course, if you don’t have a blog, there are a ton of free options out there, including Blogger, WordPress and Google Blogspot

For social media, be sure to use Twitter and Facebook as much as humanly possible. Social media may just be the most important make or break factor in getting your Kickstarter successfully funded.

For targeted messaging, take a good look around the internet and find out exactly who you should be reaching out to. Chances are there communities out there who are interested in what you’re doing. If you’re creating a graphic novel for example, be sure and hit up comic book forums, comic book blogs and graphic novel review sites. It’s all about connecting with others who will not only back your project, but also help spread the word.

For real world events, there’s no reason your Kickstarter has to be relegated online. Live meet ups and events are a great way to meet backers and gain more attention for your project. For example, host a BBQ, create a silent auction or throw together a concert. Chances are that connections you make in the real world will have even more of a lasting impact than those you make online.

The media can also be a great way to get the word out about your Kickstarter. Be sure to contact your local newspaper, TV and radio stations. Be professional, be polite and most importantly, try and offer a newsworthy “hook” that will make your story interesting. Writers and producers are always looking for a great story, but they need that little extra something to make it appealing. Tell a compelling story centered around your Kickstarter and you have a much better chance of cozying up to the press. It also happens that Kickstarter has become a popular topic in the press these days, so don’t be afraid to namedrop.

However you choose to reach people, don’t be obnoxious about it. Keep the emails, blog posts, tweets and Facebook comments to a reasonable level. Also, don’t just post links to your Kickstarter and hammer your audience over the head with the same message. Mix it up a bit! Post other items of interest related to your project. Get into discussions with your followers.

Most important of all, be sure to post constant updates about the status of your project. This is key to getting your Kickstarter funded. Talk about your latest achievement, show photos of your progress and talk about how things are going in terms of your goals. You’re likely to get more backers if they feel like the project actually has a chance of getting finished. Remember that Kickstarter is all about building momentum.

Best of luck out there and happy Kickstartering!

Have you created a Kickstarter? Post a link below and tell us about it! 

About Adam Volk

My name is Adam and I'm a copywriter with Corel’s Marketing Department. In a past life, I've been employed as a book editor, journalist and video game screenwriter. I enjoy reading, biking and cheesy 80s action movies. I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that I am a massive nerd.
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One Response to How to Create a Kick-ass Kickstarter in Five Easy Steps

  1. johnny says:

    Nice write up. I think the most important part is promoting and making a video that clearly defines your product, it doesn’t have to be perfect but definitely be honest and upfront. For me that has been the hardest part, considering I don’t have much help, I’m camera shy and little money to make a high quality video (I used my android camera and imovie) I feel like I should have waited to launch. I purposely ran a 45 day campaign so I can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t during the first 15 days. And overall I would say I have a good feel for what I have to do the next 30 days if I’m going to be successful. I’m just hoping I can pull off it off.

    I guess only time will tell. Here is my project.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theluka/the-luka-hit-pause-on-your-shower-save-money-save

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