What could be cooler than having an open forum to market test an idea and if its worth a damn, it gets funded and produced. That is basically my review of my Kickstarter experience in a nutshell. It connected me to several types of great people:
- folks that wanted the toy. They just dug my design and wanted to see it happen so they could own it.
- people who really appreciated the time and effort I put into this so far and sincerely wanted to help me see it through
- people who are doing something similar and want to use this as a resource.
- people that make me love waking up in the morning because they simply have the means and want to help others.
- family & friends
Getting started tips:
SO you have an idea and are ready to make a Kickstarter project. What to do after launch:
Kickstarter will do what they can to promote you to their own traffic and newsletter recipients but its not a calculated effort. You get lucky. Maybe project of the day, who knows. But its really up to you to bring people to your project. Have a plan to contact bloggers, writers, voices in your related industries and make sure you have something for them. In my case, I offered to provide them give-aways on their own site so they get something out of it.
There is a psychology to backing a project too. It is interesting and I confirmed this with more than just one person’s experience. At the beginning of a project there is a spike in support. Your friends, family, co-workers and roommates who have known about what you are doing are excited for you and ready to help you out. That first week is crazy exciting as you ramp up in funding quickly. Then it plateaus into what we’ll call the dead zone. That is when you have exhausted the known and have to connect with the true market for your product. Don’t lose enthusiasm, its time to really see if you’re idea has promise. You have to sell now. Your video will do a lot of the heavy lifting but you have to get people to it. Social media is ideal for this – embrace it. Hopefully long before trying to get something funded you have done a lot of research, made a lot of connections that can help in this effort. If not, no worries its not a kill-switch, it just makes the incline a little steeper. Start connecting.
TWITTER & FACEBOOK. I kept this to a minimum but it was vital. I picked two times during the day that I would send updates or comments about progress. Tweeting can get obnoxious. Some exceptions to tweeting just the current % of funding are when a backer tweets about your project – follow them and RT it, thank them for getting you to that % wherever it is. I also used twitter a lot to connect to industry blogs that might like to pick up my story.
THANK YOUR BACKERS! I can’t tell you how many backers wrote me after I sent each and every one of them a message as soon as I had a free moment to thank them for supporting me that I was the first to do so. Really?!?! Kudos to my folks for raising me with the inkling of class it takes to jot a short note to someone who has just given me money in support of my own vision. I know I have a reward commitment to them, but c’mon it takes :10 and in many cases creates a flag waving voice for your project.
UPDATE, OFTEN. People want to know this is something you are really ready to pull the trigger on. What are you doing while you wait to get funded? Have you really done everything? What will your next steps be after funding, what is the plan? When can you expect to see your backer reward? You really can come up with any excuse to connect with backers and when you do they are apt to share the progress. In hindsight, I wish I had a few of these updates written and ready to go during that dead zone. A few of the one’s I came up with saw a spike in backing like a surprise bonus reward or more detail on each reward level.
PRESS KIT. Have a press kit put together. Photos, text, anything that would make it easier for a third party (blog, magazine, whatever) to say something nice and link their viewership to your product. Upon contacting them, if they show the slightest interest, link them to the kit where they can just download a nice tight package of awesome. Less work for them means it is easier for them to get up quickly.
REWARD LEVELS. Really think this one through and make sure you offer something for even $1-$5 backers. Stickers were great for this for me. I have seen some people mention backers on their blog. Whatever, just make sure you don’t start your rewards at $50 even if they are the meatier one’s. Offer some crazy rewards too – like fully funded – what would you do if someone just gave you every cent you needed. Can happen.
VIDEO. Not reporting anything new here that I haven’t read on the interwebs already. You are selling yourself as much if not more than your idea. Connect. Speak up. Be creative.
TIME: I get asked a lot if I had my project deadline set at 60 days instead of 30 would I have sold more? Probably not. I think there is a lot of excitement on both sides to see what you can do in a month and backers don’t have to wait that long to see if it comes to fruition. The afore mentioned spikes and lulls in support just get spread out and you risk the chance of those planning to come back at the end to help see it over the line forgetting about you. I like 30 days, felt right.
Some interesting reactions to using Kickstarter (and my responses):
“It’s pan-handling.” – It’s do or die market testing. You’re not asking for hand-outs you are pre-selling a product pretty-much sight unseen. If you can pull that off, you have a pretty damn good idea/product.
“If you can’t fund it yourself you shouldn’t be doing it to begin with.” – Kickstarter is a funding tool yes – but it is also a marketing platform. 1000′s of people know about what I am doing and creating having used it. I have connected, collaborated, learned from, and been a resource with dozens of people I wouldn’t ordinarily have had the opportunity to share with.
“KS is an easy way to get funded and is just going to help saturate the market with low quality crap.” – Wrong and Doubtful. You might be the best salesman on the planet but people are only going to back products, people or ideas they believe will succeed. It is not easy, it’s a lot of freaking work and I dug every minute of it.
In the end.
The best part of Kickstarter was that I maintained control of the process and at the end of it all, I am indebted to my backers by not having to sacrificing my vision to make the project happen. Hope that helps anyone considering using Kickstarter. Here are some hard numbers to geek out on for hours: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/10000-successful-projects
Best of luck on your project.