Kickstarter is an invaluable resource for those looking to turn their idea into reality, but launching a campaign on the platform can be a fraught exercise. Success requires more than just enthusiasm and an awesome product; unless you have a clear strategy for raising money on the platform, you'll likely miss your goal and walk away with nothing but raw nerves.
Luckily, you don't have to create a campaign in the dark: There are plenty of comprehensive guides and tip sheets outlining effective crowdfunding techniques, and now, Kickstarter is offering up advice of its own.
On the heels of its new relaxed rules for raising money on the platform, Kickstarter has published a "Creator Handbook," which it describes as a "one-stop guide to designing a solid Kickstarter project, presenting it effectively, finding backers, and delivering on your plans."
"We’ve talked to countless creators about what they learned from their campaigns, what it’s like to run one, and the best ways to help a project succeed," Kickstarter said in a blog post introducing the Handbook. "It all adds up to a mountain of collected knowledge about how to make an idea thrive."
And so, without further ado, here is a roundup of useful tips and best practices for creating a successful campaign, courtesy of Kickstarter. (You can read the full Creator Handbook here).
1. Keep your campaign under 30 days. While your funding round can last anywhere between one and 60 days, a longer campaign doesn't necessarily mean people are going to give more. In fact, statistically, projects lasting 30 days or fewer enjoy the highest success rates, according to Kickstarter: "Shorter projects set a tone of confidence and help motivate your backers to join the party."
2.Make a budget and include it on your campaign page. It doesn't have to be super detailed, but a budget will show potential backers that you've done your homework.
Because Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding model (i.e. while you can raise more money than your target, if you fail to hit it you'll walk away with nothing) your funding goal should be the minimum amount necessary to execute your project.
Don't go too low, however – remember, you are responsible for delivering rewards to your backers if your campaign is successful. "Consider the costs of offering each reward," Kickstarter recommends. "Presumably you’ll use some of the money raised on Kickstarter to make that happen. Plan ahead and budget accordingly for these costs."
In addition, Kickstarter suggests you leave a monetary cushion to pay, well, Kickstarter. The crowdfunding platform applies a 5 percent fee to the total funds raised on successful campaigns, and there are additional credit card processing fees and tax fees. (Check out Kickstarter and Taxes: a guide for your accountant for more details.)
3. Offer a lot of small rewards. According to the crowdfunding platform, the most popular pledge amount is $25, while the pledge average (for big and small pledges) rings in at just $70. Make sure the affordable perks don't run out too fast, or you risk losing potential backers who can't afford steeper offerings.
4. Reach out to people you know before the launch. We all hear about projects that captivate the internet and meet their funding goals in a few hours, but those, unfortunately, are anomalies. "For most projects, support will come from the people you know," says Kickstarter.
So reach out to friends, family, relatives, co-workers, ex-boyfriends, acquaintances etc., basically anyone you think would be interested and/or supportive in your project to drum up pre-launch buzz. Once the funding window opens, it's important to reach the 20 percent benchmark as soon as possible; That percentage, according to Kickstarter, is a crucial tipping point -- while 10 percent of projects never receive a single pledge, 80 percent of projects that manage to raise more than 20 percent of their goal end up being successful.
5. Send out tailored messages. Don't spam your entire contact list with the same rote message. Kickstart recommends breaking your social network into subgroups and customizing your message for each one. Will your older, conservative relatives going to react to the same call to action as your college aged nieces and nephews? Probably not.
6. Follow up individually. It's the next natural step after customized group messages, especially for important potential backers right before the launch. "Try highlighting very specific things about the project you think each individual might like," Kickstarter says.