Two summers ago, I had just launched my first-ever Kickstarter campaign. I was 5 days into my 30-day ask, and I had no idea what I was doing. I flew by the seat of my pants and went for a wild ride. Over the remaining 25 days, I learned so much about how to be successful with crowdfunding. I learned what to do and of course, what not to do (ugh!). With 5 days left, I was fully funded, and by the end of the campaign, I had exceeded my goal by 132%!
A few months later, I was able to use those funds to launch the next line of my business: The Skateboard Collective. I honestly wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of a crowd and I am still so grateful that these supportive communities exist.
Here's a few tips on how you can use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to launch a project and grow your business:
DO: Create A Video
Okay, so this may not be a groundbreaking tip, but since it is one of the things Kickstarter emphasizes most, I thought it was important to explain why it's a must. For my first campaign, I had a strict budget of $0 to create a video. One sunny afternoon, I taped my camera to a chair (uh, yeah, I didn't even have a tripod then!) and filmed a few minutes of me crafting a skateboard deck. I threw some video clips in iMovie and pasted them together with some royalty-free music I downloaded from SoundCloud.
It definitely wasn't high-quality production, but it was a fun way to show people what I was about to create. They say you have about 8 seconds to grab someone's attention, and it's a lot easier to do that in a video than with text.
DON'T: Act Like A Charity
Here's two conversations that I could have after I launch a Kickstarter. You let me know which one you would respond better to:
Scenario A: "Hey you! I've got some super-exclusive goodies that are only available by backing my latest project on Kickstarter! Click on over to see what I can create for you. This offer ends in just 30 days. Thanks for your support!"
Scenario B: "Please donate to my Kickstarter. Your hard-earned money is so important to me and my project. I can't fund this project without your help. Thank you for spending your money on me!"
Can you just feel the desperation dripping off of Scenario B?
Yes, of course Kickstarter is all about the $$$- otherwise you wouldn't be creating the campaign! But, don't forget that these friends, family, and strangers aren't donating their money to you with no return. They are giving you their financial support, and in exchange, you're giving them some great rewards! Your project is not a charity- it's a win-win experience for everyone involved.
DO: Spend The Time To Think Of Amazing Rewards
As I just mentioned above, your fans and followers (and your mom) aren't just giving away their hard-earned cash for no reason. They expect an awesome takeaway! When I was doing research for my first and second Kickstarter, I can't tell you how many sticker packs people we're giving away at the low, low cost of $25USD. I love a good sticker as much as the next person, but that's not nearly enough to entice me to pledge a project.
Really dig deep and get creative. One of my favourite rewards I've ever seen was an apparel company that promised their highest reward tier members a fast-food chicken dinner with the two owners of the company. The meal couldn't have cost them more than $40.00, but it gave the buyer a few hours with these amazing guys, in a setting that was authentic to their brand. Spend some time thinking of great reward ideas and make sure you....
DON'T: Underestimate the Cost of the Reward
I don't just mean financial cost, either. It's also important to consider the cost of your time. When I created my reward tier, I was giving away different sized art prints as rewards. These we're fairly easy for me to make at home, but what I didn't factor in, was the time it took for me to get the prints just right. My printer has a fickle heart, so for every 1 beautiful, amazing, perfect print, I have to make about 5. At the end of the campaign, I had spent way more money than expected on printer ink, paper, and sanity! Make sure to factor in EVERY cost.
I can't tell you how many horror stories I read about companies that had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding, but had underestimated their production costs. Some of them couldn't even afford to send all of the rewards they had promised, and had to sheepishly refund their backers. A foot of bubble wrap may cost a few cents, but if you're sending thousands of rewards, it's a significant amount.
DO: Believe You Can Do It
I'll talk day and night about mindset. A positive attitude is the absolute most important thing you can have to achieve success. When I created my first campaign, I was nervous and only asked for a small amount. I wasn't sure I could garner enough support. But the more people believed in my project, the more I believed in it too. And once I felt confident that I was going to reach my goal, it was like the pledges came in like wrecking ball (thanks, Miley, for ruining that saying). But really, a positive attitude will change everything. There is no project too small or large that you can ask for help with.
SPEAKING OF KICKSTARTER...