Friday, February 20, 2015

Tips to Launch a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

You guys--I am so humbled by the success of my Kickstarter campaign. I seriously can't thank you enough for your encouragement and help. I'm so blessed to have good friends and such a great support system! Thank you!!!! My campaign ended on Sunday, Feb. 15. It ran for 30 days and was 117% funded!

That said, I've had a lot of people ask me questions. I want to help anyone else who is considering a Kickstarter campaign. I went into it having one idea of how it would turn out and ended up realizing that nothing will just fall into you lap without a lot of dedication and hard work. I really thought my idea would sell itself and I could sit back and watch the dollars roll in. Ha! No, it took some work, and knowing what I know now, I would have done more research beforehand. Here are some of my tips.

1. Never and I mean NEVER launch a campaign without a video. Do not expect that having pictures will suffice. Most campaigns without a video don't ever make it. Make sure that you watch a lot of videos before you make your own. I used Windows Movie Maker. It was easy and I'm no expert. Along with a video, make sure you have good music. You can't use copyrighted music. My ideal song would have been "Speak Life" by Toby Mac but using that would have been illegal. I downloaded a song I purchased from iStock.com.

2. Take good pictures. Pictures matter. Make sure your pictures are crisp and clean and void of clutter. The simpler the better.

3. Start a Kickstarter Instagram account. I didn't do this but now I've connected with people who did it and I think it is a great idea. Before launching their Kickstarter, they use that IG account to generate hype about their campaign. This is probably more common with campaigns seeking more money but even a small campaign would benefit. Develop an IG following and then launch your campaign. Those followers are a great first start for some backers. Go on IG and look up #crowdfunding and #kickstarter hashtags to see what is out there and what they are doing to develop a base before they launch a campaign.

4. Develop a straightforward business plan. Nobody will want to back you if you don't seem like you've thought through your business plan. Make sure to spell out exactly how you will budget this money. Show that you have a good head on your shoulders and are thinking through it all and taking it seriously. I made sure to spell out my plan in three key areas: Advertising, Trade Show Participation, and Stocking Up Inventory. Those are the three areas where my money is going.

5. Have a strong support base. Ok, so this is where I was completely taken for surprise. I thought most of my backers would be total strangers that are searching on Kickstarter. I definitely had that happen but only 25% of my money was funded this way. The other 75% were all people who I know. When Kickstarter tells you to let everyone and anyone know about your campaign, they aren't kidding. I have little Moo.com business cards that I would hand out if the subject came up. I sent email messages to my closest friends when the campaign started, halfway through and right before the end. I was terrified about bugging people. I hated the idea of posting it on my personal Facebook page. I think I said it in another post--failing publically seemed scary. I was so surprised how much encouragement and support I received. Also, think about the businesses who help you create your product. The vendor who supplies my snaps and rivets gave to my campaign (Minkus Margo). Kelly at Minkus Margo has become an amazing support for me. You never know unless you ask!

6. Use social media. I used Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, this blog, Twitter, and Reddit. When you use your social media, don't just announce it but hashtag the heck out of it. I was on the treadmill one day and watching the Today Show and Donald Trump's daughter was talking about the #womenwhowork hashtag. So I started using that hashtag. If something relevant was in the news like that, I used it. I attached pictures and posted links to my campaign on every Kickstarter-related post. Here's a type of image I would post:

7. Make sure to offer many different backer levels. I ranged mine from $10 to $150. Everyone is in a different place in life financially so make sure you offer a variety of backer levels. I was actually surprised at how many backers I had who just gave and didn't want a reward at all--7 of my 24 backers. Here are some images from my backer levels:

8. Take your time creating your campaign. There are many facets to the campaign--the video, the pictures, the backer copy for each level, the About Me section, the My Story section, and more. Don't think you can plan it all quickly and launch it just as fast. I took two months to develop the copy for my campaign. I studied other successful campaigns and thought carefully about my titles and descriptions. I wanted to make sure if people did a search that mine campaign would pop up.

9. Probably the most important piece of advice I have is to be extremely conservative in the amount you set as your goal. Every single day that went by without one single backer or very few page views (Kickstarter lets you see how many views you get), I questioned the amount I set my campaign for. At the halfway point I was 47% funded. I kept thinking about how if I'd only set my goal at $1000, I'd be there. I had to work so hard for that 47% funding. I just couldn't believe I was only halfway there. Remember that if you are only at 90% funding at the end of your campaign, you don't get any of it. Think about your support base and be realistic about your goal. Looking back, I am glad for the goal I set but at the halfway mark, I was pretty discouraged. Things came together at the end for me somehow, someway.

10. Last, make sure your rewards are realistic and that you will be able to deliver. The last thing you want to do is not deliver to the people who believe in you! Make sure you can deliver your rewards in a timely manner. Don't leave people hanging.

I am grateful to Leslie Mader, Jerry Honeycutt, Doug Steen and Fayth Sims for their generous support to my campaign. They gave at the $150+ level. Thank you to every single one of my backers. I am so grateful!

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