Before You Launch, Build a List

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What if we told you that one of the most powerful tools behind nearly every successful Kickstarter project is...a list? Creating a list of your fans, friends, followers, and their contact information is a huge step in running a smooth campaign. And even if you’re not planning to launch a campaign, contact lists are a great organizational tool that you can use to keep your fans in the know about your work. So open up your spreadsheet software of choice! Here’s how you can start your own list right now:

Building your list

  • Think of the supporters you already have and how you interact with them. 
  • Collect email addresses, Twitter handles, phone numbers, and other means of contact information in a single place. 
  • Once you’ve got a sizable list, start segmenting. Are these supporters friends, fans, family, VIPs, industry contacts? Breaking the list up into groups will make it easier to craft and send tailored messaging later on. 
  • Another way to categorize your list is by the amount you think each person will pledge. This can also help you estimate your funding goal and how much you can expect to raise with the help of your community. 
  • One list-group should be people that you know can support your project as soon as it launches. Think of them as the people that will drive momentum!
Barbara and fellow artists and photographers discuss reaching their fanbase.
Barbara and fellow artists and photographers discuss reaching their fanbase.

 Finding your audience

  • Identify and start engaging with groups, forums, and social media outlets with interests that are relevant to your work. 
  • Look into organizations and collectives that other creators in your category belong to. 
  • Remember to collect names and contact information at any events that you host. 
  • Share your ideas, early drafts and sketches, and prototypes with those groups to get feedback and start seeding interest in your project. 
  • Where can people find out about you and what you’re doing? Think about places to share updates on your work, whether it be a blog, Facebook page, or email newsletter. And if you do launch a project, remember to share it through these outlets, too! 
Dave Arnold and other food creators talk building community.
Dave Arnold and other food creators talk building community.

Some best practices

  • Think about how you’d prefer to interact with other creators. Are you more comfortable with email or social media? Choose a medium that will work for you and your audience. 
  • No matter which medium you go with, make sure you’re updating it regularly.
  • Try planning out a week’s worth of content and think about whether this cadence and volume isn’t too taxing. 
  • If you’re sending emails to a group of supporters, bcc each recipient to keep email addresses confidential. Try a newsletter service like TinyLetter to manage your list and send out emails.
  • Respect your recipient's inbox! Is what you're sharing new? Is it something that they'll be interested in? Just some things to think about before clicking 'Send.'

Extra credit

  • Check out this conversation on Campus to learn how other Kickstarter creators reached beyond their own network. Or drop some knowledge of your own! 
  • All the quotes featured above were pulled from Creator Basics, our super short how-to Kickstarter series on YouTube. Watch them all. 
  • In this video clip, entrepreneur Kit Hickey from Ministry of Supply talks about how they built their PR list before they launched their campaign, and how they pivoted once they went live.

We hope these tips have you feeling more confident about thinking through and organizing your support network. And just remember, these are all things that you can get out of the way before you launch without the help of a marketing service. Just take your time, get organized, and download our complete guide to spreading the word.

Want to share what worked for you or hear how other creators reached new audiences? Join the conversation on Campus.