10 Project Tips from David David Katzman of "A Greater Monster"

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Our project creators make good teachers. Once a week, we ask one post-success project creator to take a break from the packing and shipping, put pen to paper, and give us their best lessons learned for making and running a great Kickstarter project. Today we talk to author David David Katzman of the writing project "A Greater Monster."

1. The most exciting part about launching my Kickstarter project was that there really wasn't a single most exciting thing. It was a constant stream of buzzes coming throughout the project. The first mass of donations that barreled in at the beginning from my personal connections. Then there was the first donation from someone I had no connection to whatsoever (who just found me from Kickstarter and valued my project). Then there was my first higher level donation — $100 or above. And then every higher level donation was a buzz! Then watching the total keep going up was exciting! Predicting when it would cross the line AND fear I wouldn't make it was exciting, too. Crossing the finish line, of course was a huge thrill. And then having even more money come in after I passed it, every contribution was a buzz. And even more, the positive comments posted on my project, were very exciting — hearing back from the donors that they were inspired or how awesome they thought the project was. Those were truly exciting as well. Lastly, was getting picked up by your blog! That was really cool. 

2. My approach to making a project video was to get a rough idea of what I was going to say and then wing the actual script. To shoot a bunch of different takes of it, as well as a variety of scenes and then see what worked best in post. To shoot some random shit that might also be useful in post, you never know. Which worked because my talk came across as spontaneous and real and had surprises in it (it surprised me this way). Also, we got some of the funniest shit just by improvising random things then adding voiceover from other takes to them. It's KEY to have a good editor. And good quality video helps, too. 

3. I started to experience some anxiety about not making my total when I hit a lull in the donations about 2/3 of the way through — and I had already hit up all my personal contacts.

4. But then it picked back up at a rate that carried me through, and that was so great!

5. One thing that I really didn't expect was being featured in a Kickstarter blog. Another thing was the great number of random people who funded me that have no connection to my social network. 

6. The one thing I wish I had know before launching my Kickstarter project was that it was going to produce a lot of anxiety worrying that I wouldn't make my goal. 

7. When I reached my goal, I felt tremendous relief.

8. The toughest part post-funding was producing the rewards (in my case, the letters and emails took a lot of time), so my advice to future creators is to make sure to take very seriously the time commitment required for their rewards, especially if they get more funders than they expected.

9.  My plans next are to get the book out more broadly. I had my book release party, it will be up on Amazon soon, and I'm going to work to get bookstores to carry it, get a national distributor, etc. 

10. My other tips are to not neglect the static image that will exist in the video player before it plays. It's essential to have an attention grabbing image. To think of your supporters as a new network you can communicate with about your project. Make the most of that. Keep them interested with exciting updates (photos & videos) and also recruit them when you can to help with the work in other ways (like spread the word, write reviews of it, etc.)

Make the video personal and honesty, an authentic representation of yourself and your project. People will respond to the personality as well as the project, i think.

    1. Lynnette Cabrera on November 17, 2011

      This was helpful, I'm so scared that we won't make our goal too. We have hit a plateau and I'm struggling with how to overcome the lull. I have this thing where I'm afraid of having more updates than backers, but I have to get over it. Thanks for the insight!

    2. Dustin Andrews on November 17, 2011

      I wrote a blog post about doing open source hardware project on kickstarter. http://authenticinvention.com/…
      @Lynnette, people who tag the project get a reminder at the 48 hour mark. My project saw a huge upswing at that point. The project was behind goal percentage-wise up to that point. Then BAM, people started upping donations and more just poured in. If you can get to 30% of your goal, you have a 90% chance of making it (according to the Kickstarter blog). Good luck! I'll post your project on Facebook for you.

    3. Mark Gebhardt on November 17, 2011

      Great tips - we are busting our tails trying to get our message out to the masses. Next step we will be shooting out press releases about our unique product for red wine drinkers, for goodness sake it's a healthy habit and there's over 77 million wine drinkers in the US - all we can do is hope we get picked up which will give us a BIG boost in hitting our numbers. Thanks again!

    4. April on November 17, 2011

      I have a project under the "Food" category (http://kck.st/s9bbFa).What I have noticed is that projects under this category almost never get on the "New & Noteworthy" or "Popular This Week" page. The "Food" category does not even show up on Kickstarter's home page. I wonder if Kickstarter has it's own analytics to determine which projects get the most "clicks" and those that do get on the home page. Or do they pick in which order the projects appear? @Dustin...did your project make it on any home pages (not counting "Recently Launched or "Ending Soon" pages. This project is the last chance for us to keep our business open and am praying that the stars will align and somehow we will meet our goal. Good Luck Lynnette & Mark. I hope your Kickstarter Dream comes true!

    5. April on November 17, 2011

      At what point in a 30 day project should you reach 30%? I am freaking out a little bit about just hitting that goal. I have a project in the "Food" category and this category doesn't even show up on Kickstarter's home page. I almost never see this category in the "New & Noteworthy or Project of the Day" page. @Dustin...did your project make it on the home pages (excluding "Recently Launched or Ending Soon")? Also, is tagging the same thing as the "Remind Me" button on each Kickstarter Project page?

    6. April on November 17, 2011

      ooops...I was told the first comment did not post so I rewrote it...sorry for the double posts!

    7. Quincy on November 20, 2011

      Life is good! We just launched our Wood Ties project and are so full of excitement, we can't wait to see what comes next.

    8. Rupinder Dhillon on November 23, 2011

      I just launched a project last night and like David, the anxiety is insane!! Hopefully my network will start responding to my messages and Kotaku will post it on their website. I'd like to bring 3 years of work to conclusion. Next blog post: How to Relieve Kickstarter Anxiety!!

    9. Shani Shousterman on November 23, 2011

      I just launched a project this past weekend in order to afford to finish my album. @April, I've also been wondering if my project is showing up in "Recently Launched", and if that actually helps in terms of getting some exposure from people who wouldn't normally see your project. Also, the Kickstarter Anxiety has just hit me! Its not a great feeling, and any tips about how to feel normal would be greatly appreciated. I always feel like I need to constantly be doing something to get the word out, and if I'm not, then I'm wasting time, etc.

    10. David David Katzman on December 2, 2011

      I'm happy to answer any questions anyone has, too!

    11. David David Katzman on December 2, 2011

      I recommend creating a shortened URL and customizing it so it's easier to tell people. Kickstarter gives you an automatic shortened on, but I went to Bitly and did my own which was http://kck.st/daviddavid that way you can jot it down easily or text it to someone whom you run into. Regarding the stress - the only thing I can recommend is meditation! What happens, happens. But do keep letting people know throughout the event. Remind people in the middle and at the end in your network. Some may want to contribute but forget.

    12. Sean Medley on December 5, 2011

      Wow, this is great advice indeed. Everything in it is ringing true for me so far. I definitely will work a video in to my next project or (the horror!) recreating my current one. I'm definitely in anxiety land right now!

    13. Missing avatar

      Resplendent Entertainment (deleted) on April 12, 2012

      Good tips. My project Parked 3D has been slow to grow but I will be sure to implement some of the strategies here.

    14. nick black on April 28, 2012

      I'm definitely feeling #6, and hope to see #7! Could you tell us anything about your funding curve, i.e. whether inflow was linear, exponential followed by stall, etc? basically comment on the thoughts http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickblack/the-finest-machine/posts/216415 and http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickblack/the-finest-machine/posts/215050? Thanks a lot! It's good to see someone from the book/publishing side of things :).

    15. Marty Koenig on May 24, 2012

      When you have a well thought out, well planned Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign, you get a much better chance of getting funded and reaching your crowdfunding goal. Executing on the plan or Kickstarter checklist is the fuel that turns your social capital into money capital. That's what Eric Migicovsky did with Pebble. He raised $10M+.

      An awesome product helps, too. Figure out who are your fans and who are your evangelists. They all have their own networks that you'll want them to tap. It's a network of networks game.

      I found this great video about a Kickstarter crowdfunding checklist, road map, plan, plus lots of additional advice. It helps you get funded on Kickstarter. 120 things to consider for a successful Kickstarter or crowd funding campaign. [video] http://bit.ly/L3JRPL

    16. (the) Crash Kennedy on August 23, 2012

      Great stuff man.. especially what you did with lots of different takes for the video... that's been a worry for me.. this is a perfect solution.

    17. W. Terry Beck on April 21, 2013

      Thank you for these helpful hints. We launched a few days ago; I am already having anxiety. Your information was very good, and I found solace/comfort in others comments. We have 33 days to go, and we are 30% there! http://bit.ly/WAITERS Thanks!

    18. David David Katzman on November 5, 2013

      Hey - just wanted to thank everyone who had commented on this. I don't get alerts when someone posts so I didn't notice all these comments until just now. Nick Black - your question is probably not relevant to you anymore, but my fundraising path was steep initially, then leveled off, then had a slow build, then stalled out at about 2/3 mark, then started moving up fairly quickly again at the end (but not as fast as at the beginning.)

    19. Missing avatar

      Namaku Keren on October 20, 2015

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      Doa Ibu Tersayang on October 23, 2015

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