Unsolicited Advice for Project Launch Week

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Everyone at Kickstarter HQ knows that I'm a huge fan of planners and notebooks, and Adam J. Kurtz's (a.k.a. ADAMJK) are definitely one of my faves. Every year for the past four years, he's run a project for his "Unsolicited Advice" agendas. Each one is full of little quips, maxims, and exercises to keep you motivated throughout the year. This year's even came with stickers. Who doesn't love stickers? 

We're always coming up with different suggestions and tools to help creators through the process of starting their projects, but nothing comes close to this thorough planner of sorts that Adam has put together for us. (Sorry, no stickers in this post.) –– Carol

It’s the week of your Kickstarter launch. I mean, you decided you’re going to launch this week. I mean, you are pretty sure. Okay, yeah, you’re gonna do it. But before you hit that launch button, it’s time to do a final once-over.

Make sure everything is accounted for. Set yourself up to succeed, so the only anxiety will be that good “watching your dreams come true” kind.

Project Image:
You might have done this part when first setting up your project. Now that you’ve done the rest, it may be time to go back and edit to reflect everything you’ve since honed in on. Show people what they are helping build. Keep this image clear and beautiful. You don’t need to muck it up with text — the project title is gonna be right there with it. 

Funding Goal:
How much are you asking for, and does it reflect your true cost? Is there any wiggle room in there in case of unforeseen expenses? It’s scary to imagine not hitting your goal, but going lower than your actual costs will screw you in the end. Also do not forget Kickstarter and credit card fees. Postage costs collected from backers are included in your funding totals, but that’s money that you’re immediately spending at the post office. Adjust your goal if needed.

Now is the time to streamline this. Be human, and be direct. Kickstarter is all about real people helping other real people create something special. Let backers get a sense of who you are and why you’re the right person to do this. Be clear and focused in what you are creating, use embedded media to let people take a look, and detail any other rewards.

WHAT ARE YOU ACTUALLY TRYING TO MAKE? This should be your primary reward, and you can build other rewards around it. Extras are nice, but don’t steer people to a $20 T-shirt when you’re trying to print a $40 graphic novel. Clear, simple rewards help potential backers make a selection, and help you get funds to spend on the actual project.

Shipping: Calculate true shipping costs, including packaging. A mistake here will get expensive fast. If you’re a new creator, now is when you need to go back and double check the hell out of this. Take it from someone who learned the hard way their first time.

Project Video:
Your video is the chance to inject even more personality into the project, not to mention that some people just don’t read. Show the product. Show some of the process. Explain who you are. This is when you get to connect with individual people. It’s hard to see outside of yourself so let a friend or two watch your video and give you some feedback. 

Risks and Challenges:
Remember that you are asking people to give you their money. Show backers that you’re serious and that you respect their commitment. Address any of the more obvious challenges. Why are you equipped to handle them? Have you already gotten over some hurdles? For brevity’s sake, it may be worthwhile to clean up your description by going into detail on this stuff here instead.

Be Part of the Community:
Fill out your profile. Link to your social media accounts. Not (just) to get a couple followers, but because that’s how people can check to see if you’re a person. Upload a photo. Back other projects. Get a feel for Kickstarter, and be a part of the community. We’re all trying our hardest to make dreams come true — you can’t (shouldn’t) just show up, ask strangers for money, and leave.

It’s Gonna Be OK: The process of making something is scary enough, but creating your Kickstarter project doesn’t have to be. Prepare yourself to succeed by setting up a simple, beautiful, honest project page, and help backers quickly understand how they can take part in the excitement of making something new.

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Whether you’re raising $500,000 for a film or $500 for T-shirts, this can feel overwhelming. Briefly distract yourself by printing this simple zine & checklist PDF that you can take with you as you near your launch day. With a single sheet of paper you’ll create a useful tool. Something cool from humble beginnings? Sure sounds like a metaphor to me. Now go launch that project!