Studying failure: What I learned from a Kickstarter project that failed… badly

According to Kickstarter only 40% of projects are successful. That doesn’t really surprise me. Creating a project that really resonates with people is actually very difficult, as I learned the hard way.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have run two successful Kickstarter campaigns. But this post isn’t about those projects. This post is about what I learned from one of my most recent and biggest failures. My hope is that you can learn from my experiences and avoid the painful mistakes that I made. Failing isn’t fun, neither is reliving that failure, but I think it’s important to talk about it so we can learn from our mistakes and figure out what works.


My third project, StreetXSW

Back in February I launched my third Kickstarter campaign called StreetXSW: Capturing the moments you missed for a photo book I wanted to make. The project looked at how people are being distracted by their mobile phones and are missing out on life happening around them. I wanted to go to the SXSW music film and interactive conference in Austin, Texas and shoot the entire festival in the street photography genre. Street photography is a type of photojournalism that focuses on people and special moments that happen in the street. Since street photography focuses on interesting moments that happen around us, it was a perfect way to highlight the moments we missed while on our mobile phones.

A year earlier, while attending the SXSW festival, I had experienced how distracting mobile phones can be for myself. I had been walking through the streets when I snapped a photo of a petty cab driver that I thought was interesting. A few days later I went back to the photo and was shocked to realize that I barely remembered the moment. I had been so busy tweeting, and checking Facebook, and looking for the next big thing, that I had completely missed this amazing moment. It hit me over the head like a ton of bricks, my desire to be connected (online) was making me disconnected from the world around me. It was a powerful realization for myself, and one that I wanted to share with other people. It was the type of project that I thought might be great for Kickstarter.

Having done two other Kickstarter projects I was well aware of the process. In fact, one of my projects was to write a book about how to use Kickstarter to fund a creative endeavor. I knew a photo book might be a tricky idea to kickstart but having written the book about the site, I felt I had a leg up. From my research I knew that idea and story were very important components to any project. I knew my project wasn’t that unique of an idea, so I focused on telling a compelling story.

I spent from November until the end of March working on the project page and the video. I wrote and rewrote the script countless times. I shot the video at least three different times. I knew how important a great story would be to my project, so I poured everything I had into making the best video possible.

One of my goals for the project was to create something that would go past it’s minimum funding amount. I think what people don’t realize about Kickstarter is that most projects do not get overfunded. The last figure I saw, only 8.5% of projects get over 200% funded. I wanted to make something that was both meaningful, beautiful and could go the distance.


The Launch

Early in the morning at 6am on February 1st I launched the project and then…nothing happened. From my research and previous experiences I had a sense something was off. Usually there is some early traction. Either people backing the project or sharing it online. This time there was nothing.

I spent the rest of the day preparing emails and updates to send out across my networks. I wrote a long and detailed message about how excited I was for this project and encouraged everyone to be a part of it by sharing it or backing it. Still nothing…

There were a few backers here and there but none for my main reward of the photo book. It even got picked by the Kickstarter staff as a featured photography project. Still that did not help. After a day or so I knew the project was not going to make it. It wasn’t getting enough traction and I started to get negative feedback about some of the rewards. I could have made some adjustments to the rewards or the project description but I felt like this would not fix the underlying problems.

So, with a heavy heart, I canceled the campaign. I wrote another set of updates to all the people I had contacted only a week earlier and let them know project was off. I said that I was sorry for bugging them and I hoped that they didn’t think negatively of me for the emails.

I was devastated. I had put so much time and effort into the project. I had made an amazing video that people really loved but all of that wasn’t enough. I felt silly. After all, I had “written the book” when it came to Kickstarter. Shouldn’t I of all people know how it was supposed to work? Not only had my campaign failed but at 4% funding I wasn’t even close to what I set out to do.

After a couple weeks of sulking I started to realize my project wasn’t a complete failure. I had gotten some elements of the project right, but there were others I had overlooked. There were also some aspects of my project that were more important than I had originally thought. Eventually my failure helped me see that there is a lot that goes into a Kickstarter project and even though I had a couple successes, there was still a lot to be learned.


What I learned

I’m not a big fan of bullet points but here you go. No summaries though. If you want know what I learned you’ll just have to keep reading. 🙂


The importance of a prototype

Generally speaking project creators on Kickstarter are trying to do one of two things: Get funding for an idea they would like to do, or get funding to help complete a project they have been working on. It turns out that knowing what kind of project you are working on is very important because the two types of campaigns operate in different ways.

When you are gathering support for an idea that you would like to do, Kickstarter acts as a fund-raising platform. People are helping you launch your idea but often care less about receiving the final product. They are there to support you as a creator and to make your idea a reality. For the most part these projects are funded by a few backers, which are mostly friends and family, and rarely get overfunded by large amount.

When you are fund-raising for a project that is almost finished, Kickstarter acts as a powerful pre-sale platform. In this scenario people are often backing the project to buy the final product. There is a much greater chance that it will be overfunded and might have hundreds or even thousands of backers.

The first big lesson I learned was this: Unless you have a working prototype of your final product then your campaign will be viewed as a fundraiser, not a pre-sale.

When I started StreetXSW I wanted to create a project that acted like a pre-sale and might get overfunded. Partly to prove to myself that I understood Kickstarter and partly to challenge myself. In order to have a better chance of being overfunded, I knew that I had to create a campaign that acted like a pre-sale. I studied many of the projects that I classified as being pre-sales and and set my project up like theirs. There was just one problem, I didn’t have a working prototype.

This might have seemed like a red flag, but going into the project I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I thought if I accurately described the project and the product, people would respond to it like a pre-sale. Turns out I was wrong.

Right away I started getting negative feedback about the price of my product. I was confident in the fact that my pricing was not off, and what I figured out was that they were responding to the lack of a prototype. In other words, I had nothing to show them. Had I already had the book made and almost ready to go, then I think people would have seriously considered my offer. But the lack of a prototype was a deal breaker.

What does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about launching on Kickstarter be honest with yourself about where your project is. If you don’t have a working prototype of your final product then your campaign will most likely act as a fundraiser. Fundraisers are not likely to get overfunded and it is much harder to get higher goals. So, set your goal lower ($10,000 or less) and embrace the fact that people are here to support you. Tell a great story and get people excited about your idea.

A couple of clarifications. When I say product that could mean anything from a record, to film, to an actual commercial product. The word product refers to whatever it is that you are creating. Also, the words working prototype are very important. Unless you can show me an almost completed movie, a product that’s ready to buy, or illustrations for the book you want to publish, then you do not have a working prototype. Sorry, CAD drawings don’t count.

Bonus Tip: In both fundraisers and pre-sales people aren’t always buying the final product. Often, they want the experience of helping to bring a bright idea to life. If you want to make your campaign even better, embrace the fact that you are also selling an experience. Lean into that, and provide ways for people to be part of the creative process. We get caught up thinking that people are backing our projects just to get the final product. That’s not necessarily true, especially with fundraisers, where the final product could be months or years away from being delivered. We already have enough stuff, what we want is an experience that we will remember.


There are different stages of an idea

Another interesting thing I realized is that there are different stages of an idea. With Kickstarter you can launch your idea at any time, regardless of what stage you are at. However, there are some stages that are better for launching projects than others. I broke the process of developing an idea into four stages. There are probably more, and it’s probably way more complicated, but breaking it down like this makes it a lot easier to talk about.

Conceptual – This is when you first get an idea. You’ve done very little research and you just think something is neat or fun. The problem with this stage is that ideas are easy. Everyone has ideas and what really matters is execution. Can you deliver on what you say?

People like launching here because it’s safe. You haven’t really invested anything so there’s nothing to lose. But if you haven’t invested in your idea, why should other people?

Research – You’ve done some research, you know what you want to build, but you haven’t started yet. You are turning to kick starter to help start your project and get your idea off the ground. There might be more expenses down the road, but with your funding goal you’ll be off to a great start.

This is actually a pretty good time to launch your project. I launched my first project Identifying Nelson/Buscando A Roberto at this very stage. We didn’t have any equipment and we needed the funds to get the cameras rolling. The catch is, your project will probably act like a fundraiser. Lower goals are better because it’s unlikely thousands of people will comply with your idea. It’s not that it’s a bad idea it’s just not developed enough.

Development – The next stage is when you are developing a prototype of your idea. This is not a great stage to launch because your campaign is confusing. Is it a fundraiser or a pre-sale? Well it can’t be a pre-sale because your product doesn’t exist, and it you’ve already spent money developing it, so people wonder why do you need their help? This is a very difficult place to launch but more on that in a bit.

Prototype – You’ve spent a lot of time developing your idea and you have a working prototype. This is probably the best time to launch. People can see what the final product might look like and they know what you are getting. Most of the biggest and well-known Kickstarter projects are pre-sales where the creators have a working prototype that is featured in the video. However, this stage is one of the most difficult stages to get to.

When people launch on Kickstarter with dreams of being vastly overfunded this is the stage that tempts them. What if my great idea gets picked and the internet comes flocking! What they miss is the fact that it may take months or even years to get to this final stage. It also requires a significant personal investment to bring a project this far along.


There are good and bad times to launch

Reflecting on my failure I realized that I had launched my project during the development stage. I did not yet have a working prototype of my photo book, and therefore potential backers had no idea if it would be any good. Why didn’t I just create the photo book before launching?

This was the tricky part, when I launched StreetXSW I had not actually gone to SXSW yet. So, I did not have the pictures to create the photo book. I set my funding goal so that it would help offset some of the expenses I had already put into the project, and help pay for the creation of the book. This seems like a logical place to launch the project. I had already invested in the project so people could tell that I was serious, but I needed a little help finishing the project. While this made sense in my head it confused potential backers and inflated my funding goal.

I got comments such as: “If you’re already shooting with this very expensive camera, why do you need our help?” or “The price you are asking for this photo book seems very high.

To me, these comments highlighted the fact that people could not see my final product. Even though I really did need their help at this point in time, without a working prototype they were just not willing to become a backer on the project.

If launching during the developing phase is confusing, when is a good time to launch? After re-examining many projects I’ve come to the conclusion that the best times to launch are during the research stage or prototype stage. During the prototype stage you can see the final product and you know what you’re getting. During the research stage it is very clear that you need financial help to start your project but the final product is still an unknown.

This raises the question: Why don’t more people back projects with unknown outcomes? As Seth Godin points out we like to pick winners. We want to know that the thing we have backed, both financially and emotionally, is going to happen. When there is a working prototype of the final product it’s easy to see that it will eventually happen. It feels less risky to part with your money to support an idea that’s well on its way to happening. It’s much more emotionally challenging to back a project that may or may not happen. This is why people are so hesitant to back fundraising campaigns in large numbers.

Bonus Tip: One of the reasons that getting to the “30% tipping point” is so important is because it changes the perception of the projects success. Once a campaign has crossed this line, it feels much more likely that it will succeed. Making your project seem like a sure thing from the beginning, will help get you over this hump. One way to do this, is to offer a limited reward designed specifically to get you to 30%.

For example, if you’re funding goal is $5000, then the tipping point would be $1500. So why not offer in extra special reward at $60 and limited to 25 backers? This limited-edition reward will help you get to 30% and make your project look like it’s well on its way.


The are several factors to success

In A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter I argued that there are two primary factors to a project’s success, idea or story. Either the project represents a unique idea OR it tells a compelling story. Since I knew my project was not a unique idea, I focused on telling a compelling story with the video. Based on the feedback I received, I think this is something that I did well. However after the project failed I realized that idea and story aren’t the only two factors.

After thinking about it for a while, I realized that there were four major factors that determine the project’s success. They are audience, engagement, offer, an explanation. Idea and story fall under the engagement category. I’ve created a framework around these four factors which I call The Kickstarter Hierarchy of Successfulness. You can read more about the framework and get an introduction to each of the four factors in this blog post. For now, this is what you need to know:

Simply posting your project on Kickstarter is not enough. Having a great video is not enough. Working really really hard is not enough. Kickstarter is complicated and there are multiple factors that determine a projects success. I hope you’re not freaked out or discouraged. There is some good news.

Even though Kickstarter is complicated, there are specific tactics that you can use to address each one of these factors and boost the chances of your project being a success. My interviews with other Kickstarters revealed that their projects were not super special or picked by random. There were specific things that each project creator did during their campaign which helped their project get funded. I can’t go into all the details now because this post is long enough as it is. But many of these tactics I will be discussing in detail in future postings and in the next version of A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter.

How important is this stuff? Well it really depends on what you’re trying to do. If you’re just launching the small creative project because you just want to do something fun, well then most of the stuff you don’t need to worry about. However, if you are trying to use Kickstarter to launch a serious creative endeavor, and you wanted to go beyond just your friends and family, then understanding how Kickstarter works becomes increasingly important.


I should have done a soft launch

Something that I wrote about in A Kickstarter Guide was doing a prelaunch for soft launch. The idea is to show people before you launch the project what you have in mind. This does two things.

One it gives you valuable feedback about how your project is set up. Sending it to people within the audience you are trying to reach before it launches can help you identify any problems or concerns people might have with your campaign.

Two it exposes people to your project before you launch. After StreetSXW failed, I was reading Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness. The book was about how ideas spread online and it shed some light on how Kickstarter project are shared. Zarrella’s research showed that a person will only spread an idea if he or she was aware of the idea or it’s creator before being asked to share. In other words, people need to be aware of your project before it launches. This is what makes the soft launch so important.

Over the course of my three Kickstarter projects I am yet to do a successful soft launch. I came across the idea while doing research for A Kickstarter Guide To Kickstarter. At the time it seamed like a neat idea but it wasn’t until I read Zarrella’s book that I realized it vital to a campaign’s success.

I did not do a soft launch with SeetSXW and had not shown it to anyone in my core audience. Had I done so I might have noticed some of the flaws before launching so publicly. This also meant they were less likely to share it with their networks and spread the message.

So for my next project, A Kickstarter’s Guide: Version 2, I will be sure to talk about and share it with people well before it launches. (Hint hint like I am doing right now.)


Taking my own advice

This experience was interesting for me because I talked about having a prototype in A Kickstarter’s Guide. I also talked about a soft launch and the importance of finding an audience. Basically everything that went wrong in my campaign I had written about in A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter. Maybe I should’ve read my own book!

I think what happened was I underestimated how important many of these factors are and I got sucked into the details of launching my campaign. The difficult thing about launching anything publicly is that you get caught up in all the details and trying to make everything perfect. You are so busy crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s that sometimes you miss the bigger issues. Hey it happens to all of us.

The good news is that I learned a lot about what it really takes to make it Kickstarter project successful. Perhaps even more than I learned on my first campaign. I’m looking forward to sharing my insights with all of you and helping people avoid the many mistakes that I made.

In closing I want to leave you with my summary of A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter which pretty much says it all.

Great Kickstarter projects are successful because they connect and resonate with a specific audience. They use compelling storytelling combined with interesting or wacky ideas to attract backers. They are authentic while effectively communicating goals, passion, credibility and purpose. The more time spent thinking about these elements BEFORE the project is launched the easier the campaign becomes.

If you want to do a Kickstarter project because you think the Internet will find and love your project, stop right now. The Internet does not care about you. However, if you can reach out to the right people, in the right way, before time runs out, you just might get lucky.

The Kickstarter Hierarchy of Successfulness

Over the past couple months I’ve been working on something I call “The Kickstarter Hierarchy of Successfulness.” It is a framework that helps explain the most important factors to a Kickstarter project success. It is based on a lot of the research I have been doing over the past year as well as my own personal experience.

The name is a hat tip to Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness, whose book is an excellent resource and explains how ideas spread online.

This is just an overview and over the next couple weeks I’ll be taking a deeper dive into each of these. For now, here are four main factors that determine a projects success listed in order of increasing importance.

4. Explanation – The project must be simple enough that someone else can share it. Projects that have multiple parts are hard to explain and therefore spread slowly.

3. Offer – A project offers product or experience. Backers are either getting a finished product or are receiving an experience. Unless you have a working prototype in hand then you are offering an experience. Typically project offering almost finished products which are being pre-sold perform better than projects just offering an experience.

2. Engagement – The project must engage potential backers with an idea or story. A project either represents a unique, perhaps eve quirky idea or is telling a compelling story that is meaningful to a particular audience.  Projects that represent a unique idea get a lot more attention because they are easier and more interesting to talk about.

1. Audience – The project must have a specific audience. Project creators either have an audience before launching or are working to build an audience during the campaign. Project creators who have a built in audience before coming to Kickstarter will have a much easier time funding there project.

The framework dictates that the most successful projects will be those that have a built-in audience, represent a compelling idea, are in the final stages of development and are easy to explain. As my friend Cedric Victor has said “but that’s kind of difficult isn’t it?” The answer is, yes. It’s very hard to do. An example of one such project is the Pebble E-Paper Watch.

What if your project is not like this? That’s Okay. The Pebble is the exception, not the rule, and there are a number of things you can do to push the odds of achieving success in your favor. This will be the topic of future posts. More to come!

Show some credibility to get more backers

If there is one thing people should do to make their Kickstarter projects better, it would be to demonstrate more credibility. I really think this is the missing ingredient in a lot of campaigns. The more credibility you show, the better. I don’t think you can have enough of it.

In the Kickstarter world this could mean a couple different things. If you are launching a product, then having a working prototype is very important. If you are doing a more artistic project, then show your work in the video and on the page. If you are making an album, then let us hear an example of your music.

According to the folks at Eureka Ranch, whose innovations appear in many household products, you double the odds of a sale when you communicate real “reason to believe.” The simplest way to do this, is to tell the truth and show your work.

Ideas Are Easy

At the end of a video for The Daily: Business Gary Vaynerchuk makes an excellent point about execution.

“Nobody is investing in ideas…execution is the game. I’m not interested in investing in your idea, everyone has one. Show me if you can execute it, show me a tangible product. That gets people like us excited.”

Ideas are easy. The execution is hard. People want to see that you can carry out what you say. This is why demonstrating your credibility is so important.

If you don’t have a solid working prototype or examples of your work, then maybe you aren’t ready for Kickstarter yet. That’s OK. Launching a creative project is hard. Don’t rush it because you want to do it right now. Take the idea as far as you can before you launch on Kickstarter. It will make the whole process so much easier.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

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

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

Four questions people want answered when visiting your Kickstarter page.

Whenever someone is visiting your Kickstarter project page they are coming to hear about you and your project There are four basic questions that they will want answered. Your ability to answer these questions effectively and clearly will make it easier for people to back you and spread the word.

Who are you? – This can be as simple as your name. People who don’t know you will be viewing this project, so introduce yourself.

What are you doing? – Explain what your project is about and what the result is going to be. You can also talk about how you arrived at this project and the history behind it.

Why is it important? – Are you passionate about this idea? Tell us why. Explain to us why the project is so cool. Passion draws people in, even if they don’t love the subject matter as much as you.

What is the money for? – When answering this question you can be very specific or general, it’s really up to you. “I’m building a prototype” or “I’m using the money to get the book printed” are both acceptable explanations of what the money is for. Saying nothing is also an option, but probably not a good idea for larger projects.

Answer the questions with Story

As you try to answer these questions on your project page try to tell a story. Talk about how this project came into existence, and why you are trying to raise funds.

Now, you might be thinking: I don’t have a good story. Yes you do. Your project must have come from somewhere. Tell us about how you got started and why you love the idea. It doesn’t have to be complicated or in-depth, it just has to be you. The more personal and authentic the better. If your project is about bottle caps, tell us how you got started collecting and why they are so awesome. Make us love your subject matter as much as you do.

If you can tell a story and answer the questions above you will be well on your way to crafting a compelling pitch.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

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

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

The Paradox of Choice

We love choice. In any given year every single film on Netflix is watched at least once. The Long Tail is an economic theory and excellent book, which explains why this happens. It states that due to the infinite shelf space of online retailers, people will now have almost limitless choices as to what they consume. We are living in a world where people can find exactly what they’re looking for and are willing to pay unbelievably high prices to get those special unique items.

At the same time, we hate choice. Having too many choices when we don’t have a lot of time, can be overwhelming and confusing. Limitless choice works when people have the time and energy to pay attention and look for the very best. When they don’t, people want quick and easy choices.

The Coffee Joulies project is one of the top-funded design projects on Kickstarter, and it has only three backing levels. It’s simple, and people visiting the page do not have to think much about what level they are going to choose.

Then again, the Womanthology; Massive All Female Comic Anthology! project was incredibly successful with a very complex system of rewards and almost 50 different backing levels. They even had unlockable rewards that, like in video games, became available when a certain goal was reached. This, however, was probably planned out ahead of time, and a lot of work went into putting them all together.

When creating your rewards, it is probably to best make ones that have meaningful value. If you are having trouble coming up with a $5 reward, then maybe you don’t need one. Having too many rewards ultimately clutters up your page and makes it difficult for people to decide. However, you may want to have a lot of different rewards. Either way, make it a conscious decision. Creating rewards just to fill price points probably won’t be meaningful enough for backers.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

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

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

Pricing theory, thoughts about pricing your Kickstarter rewards

The psychology of pricing is very difficult and complex. This book is too short to really get into it, but here are some things to think about. If you would like an in-depth look at pricing theory, I recommend Smart Pricing by Z. John Zhang

People enjoy a purchase more if they pay more for it. This is counter-intuitive. A common misconception is that people are very price sensitive, and always look for the best possible price. That might be true for food or gas, but most people coming to Kickstarter want to connect with other people. Stay away from really high reward levels, but don’t undervalue your rewards either.

If a higher priced reward is not significantly better, then why pay more? The tricky part about creating rewards is increasing value to match the increase in price. For example, if you are making an album you could offer a digital download and a CD as rewards. But, how much more valuable is a CD vs the digital download? I don’t mean monetary value but sentimental value. If the download is $10 and the CD is $25 is there enough of a difference that I would purchase the higher priced reward? For me, no. In fact I might pay you $15 extra NOT to make a CD. What’s the point? It wastes resources and gets scratched. However, if your CD is personally burned, and has an extra track, and sold for $50, then it might be a compelling enough reward.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

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

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

The Allure of a Large Backer

While large backers definitely give your project a boost, they also take away from the size of your new audience. One of the biggest benefits to Kickstarter is that it allows you to talk to more people. Every time you post an update, you get into the inbox of people who want to hear from you. Large backers are, in a way, a double-edged sword. They help your project, but hurt your reach.

Let’s say you launch a project for $3000. You get six backers and raise $400. Then a BIG backer pledges $2000 and almost completes your project. Now you only have a handful of people you can talk to. One of the best things to come out of my first project, Identifying Nelson, was the 170 people I can now talk to directly. Next time I want to launch a creative project I have a small group of people that I can share the idea with first.

Quantity OF Quality

When creating rewards the goal should be to have an adequate quantity of quality backers. You want to design the rewards so that most people will pledge right in the middle of your reward levels. You want some high backers and some low backers with most falling in the middle. Having a good spread of rewards, especially in the $25 to $250 range, will really help get a solid group of backers.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

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

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