In a project update last week, Robin Sloan — who previously penned this video guide and whose Kickstarter project is currently 243% funded — wrote about “gold coins,” small treasures left for an audience to discover and relish. Robin quotes a writing coach advising: “Place gold coins along the path. Don’t load all your best stuff high in the story. Space special effects throughout the story, encouraging readers to find them and be delighted by them.”
Robin specifically means writing when he talks about gold coins, but there’s a larger truth in there for people creating projects. Especially “don’t load all your best stuff high in the story,” to which I add, “And make sure not to overload them at all.”
It’s important to show passion when pitching a project, and it’s equally important to be judicious with how much and what kind of information you share. (This goes for both Kickstarter and real life.) You might have a million and one reasons why your idea is the one worth funding, but the only ones that matter are those that you can present convincingly in those first 20 seconds you have to make an impression.
Every project creator should ask him or herself: what are my project’s gold coins? Is there a good story behind the project? Is there one reward that’s particularly strong? Are you strong on-camera? Find what these things are, and build your project around them. If you have a really awesome reward, then don’t add too many others — they’ll only distract from your best stuff. If you’re good on-camera, plan to do regular video updates and advertise it loudly.
The point about sprinkling these things throughout the story is huge. Running a Kickstarter project is not a set-it-and-forget-it situation. A better phrase, in fact, would be campaign. Like a political campaign, a Kickstarter campaign is a marathon, and every day is a chance to win even just one new supporter.
So plan your days out. Create goals and deadlines within the project. Space and target your emails and social media messages asking for support so as not to fatigue. Add new, limited rewards. Post in-depth project updates on the most interesting parts of your story. Think of the experience that you would want as a backer, and then work your ass off to replicate it. Now scatter those gold coins, and you should be all set.