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Having launched my first Kickstarter campaign, I’ve been doing a lot of “I make mistakes so you don’t have to” research for this site. Here’s a few things I learned and a few tips I’ve culled from from others along the way.
Start the verification process early
NOTE: Kickstarter has since switched to Stripe for their transactions. Skip ahead to Number 2!
I started the process for my first Kickstarter campaign in June 2012. It took me three months to get verified by Amazon Payments! I got stuck in a log jam that was only broken up (minutes) after I posted a particularly sour accounting of the process on my comic’s blog. My theory is that I encountered problems when I used my Employer Identification Number (EIN) instead of my Social Security Number (SSN) in the registration process. And I’ve heard anecdotal evidence from others who encountered a similar situation.
Set a reasonable goal
The Kickstarter campaign does not end with the goal. Stretch goals have come to be expected in a Kickstarter campaign. It’s much more impressive (to a potential donor) to have surpassed a reasonable goal than to struggle to reach a lofty one.
Don’t end on a weekend
Pay close attention to the end date of your campaign. Ending on a weekend is murder. Internet traffic slows to a halt over the weekend. You want to be able to ramp up the excitement in the closing minutes of the campaign. And that’s not going to happen while everyone’s away from their computers.
Answer questions and respond to comments. Talk it up on your social media feeds. The more excited you are, the more excited they’ll be.
Kickstarter allows you to take polls among your supporters. what a great way to gauge interest in stretch goals and rewards.
There’s a huge social aspect to Kickstarter. People will look at how many Kickstarters you’ve backed and use that to help decide whether to back yours. A healthy number of backed Kickstarter campaigns can replace name recognition or brand.
Make it visual
People don’t read. They look and then they read (if they’re interested). Show pages from the comic or book that you’re gathering funds for. Get them interested.
Short and Sweet
Make your video friendly, informal, and — most importantly — short! Get to the point. There’s nothing worse than trying to slog through a video that takes more time showing you how cute the creator can be with his copy of iMovie. I wanna know who you are, what you’re doing, and why I need to be involved. Make eye contact. Smile. And talk clearly.
Wanna know what’s going to take a bigger bite of your profits than you’re prepared for? Mailing costs. They’re gonna eat you alive if you’re not careful. Avoid shipping anything to anyone until you get to your higher tiers. Make as much use out of digital rewards as you posibly can.
Listen to your supporters, study your numbers, and adapt your campaign accordingly. I noticed that my Kickstarter was stagnating a bit because my reward tiers topped out at $100. When I included rewards at higher numbers, my campaign took a leap ahead as new supporters joined the campaign. But more importantly, current supporters increased their pledges. They wanted to give me more money, but I wasn’t letting them!
Clear your schedule
This was originally a top-ten list, but I can’t not include this one: Clear your schedule for the next 30 days. You have a defined window of opportunity, and you need to be completely tuned-in to make this happen. That means a significant investment of time and mental energy. Get ahead on your buffer and warn your family. This is going to be thirty very intense days.