Tips: getting to know them is the best way to tackle a Kickstarter project. No matter how many projects you peruse on the daily, it's always a good idea to seek words of wisdom from those in the know. Last year we rounded up a collection of great pieces from knowledgeable creators all across the cyberscape, and while their tips and tricks still ring true, we think it's time for another round.
Filmmaker Nathaniel Hansen, who raised funds for his documentary project The Elders last year, says what you need to succeed boils down to three things: a good idea, a lot of hard work, and a network of supporters. He offers a fascinating in-depth analysis of how to rally your fans — and your fans' fans — around your project. The good news: everyone has fans. The scary news: making the most of them can take some hard work. First you reach out to your closest contacts, and then you dig for your evangelists: those who will get behind your project and help you promote it through their own networks (preferably extensive ones that don't overlap with yours). Back to the good news: the effort will create tighter bonds with those you know, and new bonds with those you don't!
Ultimately, getting people interested in supporting you stems from the heart and soul of it all: the story.
Story is everything. Let me back up. Your story is everything. People aren’t so much getting behind the idea as they are getting behind your passion to produce it. ... It HAS to have heart. Kickstarter isn’t a place people come to make an investment expecting a financial return (it's forbidden, in fact). They come to engage with other interesting people and to help along artistic projects they feel add value to the world in which we live.
Three cheers for Gary Sarli's meticulous tip sheet, which devoted a well-deserved amount of attention to preparation. Gary ran a role-playing game project in early 2010, and from the experience emphasizes the importance of working through as many details as possible before going live with a project. Not only will the prep help you field questions from backers, but it'll also give you a sense of where and how you can give backers a chance to get involved with and offer input on the project.
This will help you focus, which is so essential to getting your point across to backers:
A project needs to be as focused as possible. If you try to bundle multiple projects together — a rulebook, web tools, and a novel — and then give backers the option to pick individual pieces a la carte, you might end up with a very lopsided set of rewards that you have to provide. For example, if you have just one person opt for the novel, you have to write the whole thing for a single customer.
And when it comes to spreading the word and using social media, do it with class!
Make sure you have something new to say each time; don’t just remind people over and over again about the project. As you engage with potential backers, you’ll get some good discussions going; when this happens, use social media to get other people in on the conversation. This keeps it fresh and gets more people engaged.
Sometimes it's nice to hear what backers have on their minds, and interneter Matt Haughey shared some interesting user behavior:
I've bought a lot of toys and things for my daughter on Kickstarter and the way I do that is by going to the Ending Soon page. These are all projects about to be funded and I'll check that page about once a week and if something is fully funded and they have a cool reward in my 'what the hell' pledge level of $20-40, I'll often kick in some money. It also means the month or two campaign time is cut to almost nothing, getting rewards into your mailbox that much faster.
Obviously not everybody backs this way (pledging at the beginning of a project's life-cycle is just as popular), but the behavior does speak to the fact that a longer project duration will not necessarily help you, and can actually just delay backer involvement.
Matt has a lot of tips about how he personally likes to spend money on Kickstarter and what kinds of reward pricing he finds reasonable — and strategic — for a project. Definitely dive in for details.
Game blog Purple Pawn ran an impressive survey of projects and compiled responses from 13 creators from both successful and failed projects. The reflections are relevant to anyone, not just gamers, like this from D. Brad Talton of BattleCON:
Good artwork available right from the project’s start makes a large difference. I’ve seen a number of projects on KS, and the more successful ones seem to have a large quantity of distinct visual resources available right from the outset.
Whether it's artwork or a film clip or a prototype, being able to visually communicate your project to people makes a world of difference. On top of that, as David MacKenzie of Alien Frontiers reinforces, open communication with backers, following up on questions and comments, and being as transparent as possible will also help you:
Connecting with all of our backers through the project updates was a HUGE part of [our] success. The one thing I thought other projects were missing was that sense of family.
At the end of the day, it's all about the love.
Any personal experience of your own you’d like to share, or something you know you’re looking for as a backer? Drop it in the comments! Also, check out a great write-up from Vimeo here and another from game publisher Fred Hicks here.