How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story

These are the two fundamental building blocks of any Kickstarter project. A great project embodies a remarkable idea or tells a compelling story. The very best projects use both idea and story to build an audience and attract backers.

Unlike the other concepts in this book, these two principles affect all aspects of your endeavor. They can be embedded in everything, from what you are producing, to the way that you run your campaign. Using them well is extremely hard, but the payoff can be incredibly high.


Ideas are powerful. They are like viruses, spreading form person to person. When your project embodies a remarkable idea, it too will spread and this can serve as your marketing.

There are some projects on Kickstarter that have been funded because they represent an idea so contagious that people can’t help but talk about them. Building a stature of Robocop in downtown Detroit is one such idea. These type of projects are rare, but you can use this principle to make your project more interesting.

When Dan Provost & Tom Gerhardt ran their second Kickstarter project, they tried something different with their pricing. During their first project The Glif, they set the price of their product at $25. For their second project, a wide grip stylus for tablets, they did not set a price. They said the item would retail for $25, but people were able to pledge whatever they wanted. The catch was that there were only 3000 slots to raise $50,000. If everyone pledged $1, then no one would get the reward. By using a creative pricing model, they captured an idea that got people talking.

Everyone is making a film, album, art project, comic book, novel, etc., so you should want to create a project that represents an idea worth talking about.


Story is the other building block you have to play with. Telling your story in a compelling manner can make an ordinary project shine. Storytelling isn’t just the narrative of how your project came into existence. It is about entertaining people and connecting with them on an emotional level. It’s more than your video, although that may be the primary medium. It is the way you convey the story that reveals the essence of your project.

Zach Williams and The Bellow used storytelling as a critical element in their project to record an album. Recording an album is not a new, creative, or even that interesting of an idea, but the way they talked about it was. In the video Zach talks about how eight strangers from the South found each other in New York City and formed the band. He talks about what the music means to them and why it is so important. Through their video you understand that, for them, this is about much more than just recording an album.

As you build your project, think about the elements that will make your story more compelling, and how you want to express them. There might even be things you can do that will enhance the story when the project launches. Give it some real thought, because a great story can turn an ordinary idea into something magical.

A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

pssst…you can read all of this offline by downloading the e-book.

  • How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story

A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter: Introduction
How Kickstarter “Kickstartered” it’s own website
Understanding Kickstarter
The Basics of Kickstarter
Kickstarter is an updated version of the Parton Model
Kickstarter is like girl scout cookies…without the calories!
Make sure your project has an ending
Some additional benefits to running a Kickstarter project
Perry Chan’s Six Principles on why Kickstarter projects are successful
Yancey’s thoughts on getting funded
Brainstorming Your Project
What is this damn thing about?
Simplify your project for success
Is your project a Purple Cow?
Making Lemonade And Telling A Good Story
Reward The Patrons
Naming Your Kickstarter Project
Doing Your Homework
Before you launch, do your homework
No one cares about you
Some People Care About You
Who is Your Audience?
Where is Your Audience?
Resonating With Your Audience
Crossing Chasms
What Will it Cost?
Understanding Profit Margin and Costs
Setting Your Goals
Make or Break Decisions
Running the Numbers
Focus on what you need
Reasonable funding goals
Why be Reasonable?
How long your campaign runs depends on one thing, momentum
30 days or less
Managing Deadlines
Going for the BIG bucks
The Allure of a Large Backer
Pricing theory, thoughts about pricing your Kickstarter rewards
The Paradox of Choice
Crafting Your Pitch
Creating a compelling pitch for your Kickstarter project
Four questions people want answered when visiting your Kickstarter page.
Show some credibility to get more backers
Clarity is your friend
How to ask for Support
Kickstarter is a video-driven site
Examples of great pitch videos
Launching Your Project
Launching your project
How to track the progress of your Kickstarter campaign
The 30% Kickstarter project “Tipping Point”
How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story

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Separated from my family during El Salvador's civil war, by death and adoption, I was reunited with them at the age of 16. I do entrepreneurial art projects that are meaningful, relevant, and push me creatively.

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