I have been very involved in writing Kickstarters lately, and am about to go, in a week, to a convention where I am likely to be asked how to run a Kickstarter.
Instead of covering that right now (maybe I will do it after the convention, when I am reminded of all the specific things people want to know!), I thought I would mention a few things which I have discovered over the course of running 13 Kickstarters, which I wish I had known before I started.
1. Everything you think you see when you look at the list of Kickstarters that are active is horribly misleading.
This is the big one. You look at a Kickstarter in whatever category and see what the successful ones bring in and decide to set your goal for the bottom end of that.
Well, unfortunately, because of the way Kickstarter orders the projects, you are likely to have only seen the ones which are the most successful… and the reason they are the most successful is because they are at or near the top, because they are successful.
I will cover more about how you get up there in a minute, but if you want an accurate example of what your first project might look like, scroll down to the very bottom of the list.
2. Nearly everyone who backs Kickstarters come from Kickstarter.
Even for my latest book, when I have nearly a thousand people as my “known audience”, 70% of backers for Era: Silence came from within Kickstarter.
These people see hundreds of projects every time they log in, so you have to show them what you are doing and get them interested within 20 seconds of them looking at yours.
3. The successful Kickstarters are the ones with an existing list of supporters… but who also give a great deal.
Seventh Sea broke all RPG records ever by not only having a huge audience of existing fans, but by giving away the entire set of first edition books in digital form for a nominal price.
People want a bargain.
And, when people notice a bargain like that, they blog about it and post on Facebook. The communities hear, and before you know it, a lot of people know.
Other companies that use Kickstarter heavily have been taking this approach for a while, also achieving a lot of success.
Consider how that might apply to you – early bird tiers aren’t enough, you need something that makes everyone interested, even if they arrive on the last day.
4. 20 seconds is the maximum amount of time anyone except you watches your video.
If you don’t believe me, look through 200 projects in a day and then let me know.
If you don’t say in the first 20 seconds what you are giving people, they will have moved onto the next.
I don’t mean list the rewards, I mean explain what you are doing and how this benefits them.
By the same token, having a 20 minute video is wasted money and effort, in my opinion, for the last 18 minutes.
5. Setting your goal level…
This is the big mistake I made with my first Kickstarter.
When you start (assuming you aren’t an established company with an established audience or an individual who is already famous), no-one knows whether you will deliver. I now have 13 projects behind me, so people tend to have faith I will.
You will likely not cover the development costs for your first Kickstarter, if it costs any reasonable amount.
My advice is to set your goal at the minimum you can manage with for a production run, for printing, or whatever. Yes, that does mean that you might lose money overall, but at least your dream is made. It is better to run a successful Kickstarter for part of the money than to get no money and no audience, in my opinion.
Well, I hope that helps or, at least, is interesting. Feel free to ask me if there is anything you would like me to expand on!