Having run or advised on crowdfunding projects that have raised nearly £600,000 since 2013, I thought I’d put together a quick resource – with suggestions and links that might help you as you put together and run your campaign.
Preparing your crowdfunding campaign
- Become an active part of the Kickstarter and Indiegogo communities – check out and back some projects!
- Find out how not to do it: Kickended – a collection of projects that ended with zero backers.
- Read articles about how to run a crowdfunding project well – find out the latest do’s and don’ts. Salvador Brigmann’s CrowdCrux website is a good place to start.
- Choose the right platform. Kickstarter was the best fit for all of our projects. It’s internal traffic helped us, and we preferred the fixed goal funding model on Kickstarter vs the flexible funding models available on Indiegogo.
Constructing your campaign
- Draft, redraft, re-redraft and get feedback from potential backers. Don’t just ask your friends and family. Get real feedback from people who are willing to be unkind and tell it like it is.
- Be prepared to be the face of the campaign. Backers want to see a real person fronting the campaign, not a faceless corporation.
- Make use of images within the body of the campaign’s text. Campaign pages can be long (often out of necessity), so keep it interesting and varied for readers!
- Give your campaign a personality of its own. Check out the Exploding Kittens campaign for a good example of giving a project a personality and life of its own.
- Search for similar campaigns/projects – you’ll be able to pick up lots of useful tips by doing this (both what to do, and what not to do).
- Most successful campaigns run for 30 days – longer and it can become stagnant, shorter and you might not give it enough time to build and reach a wide audience.
- It’s OK to allow for manual add-ons and rewards outside of the traditional tiered structure. Check out the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter to see how well it can work!
- Check out the videos for Pebble, Tight Wallet and Coolest Cooler for inspiration.
- Keep your video short – 1:30 to 3:00 max in most cases.
- Have a rough script for your video, but don’t read it off like an autocue. There should be a lively, human, excited edge to your video. If you can’t pull that off, then you might want to consider having someone else be the face of your campaign!
- Make sure you tell people watching the video what they’re potentially backing and why it’s cool early on. Within the first 30 seconds, and within the first 3 lines of the campaign text.
- When estimating your delivery dates – double it, then add 50%, then 50% again (then probably 50% again!). OK, I’m exaggerating, but creating a product, film, game or anything else can take SO much longer than you think – even if you’ve carefully scheduled it and added in contingency time… it probably won’t be enough. Trust me. We’ve gone way over our estimates on two projects. These things happen!
- Don’t overcomplicate your rewards structure. 7-10 is normally enough tiers, but you should have a good range between small (£1) and large (£5000) reward tiers with the majority in the £25 to £100 range. The average pledge will vary by project type, but in the UK will generally be around £30 (+/- £10).
- Set your base goal as low as possible. Ask for what you NEED to get the project off the ground and fulfil rewards. Not what you’d LIKE.
- Prepare some stretch goals ahead of time… you never know how well the project might go!
- Consider the implications of VAT ahead of time – speak to an accountant or advisor!
- Make sure it’s clear to your backers when the money will leave their account – in the case of Kickstarter money will not leave until the end of the campaign, and then only if it is successfully funded.
- Consider offering a limited number of early bird rewards – discounted, to encourage people to snap up those rewards early, and help build momentum.
- Be prepared to educate potential backers. Depending on your demographic and existing fan base, you may find that your potential backers don’t understand crowdfunding, or this may be their first time – so you may need to spend some time telling them about it before and around launch day.
- Create a press pack and share it with bloggers and press via Dropbox or a similar service. People don’t like scraping images and text from your page. Give them releases, quotes, images (high and low resolution) all in one place… make it EASY for them to cover your project.
- Schedule potential updates, tid bits, and stuff backers will want to know so that you will have a constant stream of news and information throughout your campaign.
- If you can find a big backer early on – ideally someone who can put in a (real) top level pledge in the first few hours that will really help your momentum.
Launching your campaign
- The first 48-72 hours is absolutely crucial. Basically, if you’re awake and not working on your campaign, then you’re not doing it right. Building the initial momentum is crucial. Fail to do that, and your chances of success are going to plummet.
- Create a press/bloggers list in the weeks leading up to launch, and start engaging with them one-on-one ahead of time. Read more on this here.
- Reach out to friends and family ahead of time. They’re likely to give you some early pledges and spread the word for you to help build that early momentum.
- We tended to launch on a Tuesday and close on a Sunday – although the reasoning for this is really subjective with anecdotal results driving it. You may wish to research this more thoroughly!
- Consider using a tool like Green Inbox to spread the word on launch. Thunderclap is also a good tool if you have an existing following on social media.
- Do whatever it takes to make the campaign popular in that first 48 hours.
- Prepare for the pit of despair. You’re 1/3 through your campaign and pledges are down to just a few today. Nothing you do seems to make an impact. Don’t panic. This happens to most projects. Check out some project backing data via Kicktraq. You’ll see it happens to lots of projects. People who find your project during the middle third tend to wait until the end before they pledge. It’s part of the game. But if they visit your page and see no updates for a few days, it’ll look like a dead project and you may well lose them as a potential backer.
- Be honest and frank in all updates. Problem? No problem – IF you tell your backers as and when it arises.
- Keep up the pressure – it can be hard when backers and pledges slow down, but if you let up in the middle then you’re doing yourself a great disservice.
- We’ve found that weekends tend to be quieter, so be prepared for that, and definitely focus on weekdays. I guess people are at work, bored and browsing Kickstarter – be prepared to brighten their day!
The Last 72 hours
- Whereas the start was about momentum, now it’s all about urgency.
- Big final push via press/bloggers/social media.
- Change your header/thumbnail image and page in the last 10 minutes of the campaign to direct people who missed the campaign to your website/blog/social channel – somewhere they can engage with you (and potentially buy from) if they missed the campaign.
- Take a break. You’ll likely need a couple of days to recover. It’s not easy running a crowdfunding campaign.
- Keep your backers informed – once a week when things are really moving, once a month if not. Try not to leave it longer than that between updates until your project delivers.
- Delays? Yeah. Told you that might happen. Just tell your backers straight away. They want you to succeed, and are generally very understanding!