What do you wish you had known before you ran your first project?
Kickstarter cannot deliver that *initial* audience.
Once you have enough backers, and a REASON to promote your project (making your goal, then stretch goals and freebies), you hit a certain point where your backers will promote the project and you can, in principle, sit back and watch the money roll in. But you somehow have to hit that first critical mass. We thought we'd be visible on the front page for a day or so - but we were only there for a matter of a half hour or so...and then you had to already know that we existed or you'd never find our project. We didn't expect that...we thought we'd get hundreds of page-views per hour...what we actually got was crickets!
Our first Kickstarter failed horribly because we didn't understand that. But after we retreated, re-tooled and did some up-front promotional work - the second one took off nicely. The backers from that first successful one then formed the core of people who started the third and now fourth (and soon FIFTH...you heard it here first!!) projects - so we don't need to be so concerned.
But the first time out, it's tough. Nobody knows who you are, whether you'll deliver (lots of projects don't!) - whether you can deliver on time - whether the quality of the rewards will be up to your claims. Nobody is searching for your keywords - and initial failure gets you pushed down the search further and further. Unless you get a "Staff Pick" (we never did) or somehow find out how "Sort by Magic" works and exploit it - you're not going to get an audience.
So the first Kickstarter is without doubt the toughest...and the only defense is to pre-promote it somehow.
Actually, one of the things I found frustrating first time around was not knowing quite what to expect at the 'back-end'. Let me explain...
You can't see the survey back-end until your campaign completes and there's no documentation, so you have no idea what to expect.
At the time I did my first project, there was no function to copy a survey, so I had to create the surveys for all 8 of our categories 8 times, even though much of it was the same. This was frustrating.
When you do surveys and close off address changes, the system sends an email automatically to people saying you'll be shipping soon. This was a complete surprise to me and confused a lot of our backers because shipping took us several months. It would perhaps be a good idea if creators could tailor the text of that email?
It would also be good if there was a standard "how to change your pledge" video. "How to change your address" video and basic help for users to use the site.
These would all be big improvements.
I guess you could sum it all up by saying "I wish I'd known more about the workings of the back-end and that there was some sort of documentation for project creators".
Second time around, there shouldn't be too many surprises, but there's always something unexpected :)
I wish I had known the following...hopefully this will help you and others:
1. Set a reasonable goal, but don't shoot for the moon. One of our biggest mistakes was setting a very high goal. We didn't want to disappoint and not be able to deliver our vision, but we should have set a lower, more attainable goal. Kickstarter is largely about momentum, and most people won't jump on board until they see things moving.
2. Don't rush into launching! I had read the advice before launching, but thought we could launch and manage. Make sure all your ducks are in a row, you're extremely organized and ready to go on the day you launch.
3. Be persistent EARLY! You will have people tell you they will back the project, but make sure you follow up with them very early on. You want the backers early so you get that critical momentum going. We had several high value backers that had been sitting on the sidelines until it was too late in the game. Get them on the field early, so they can also get others on board.
4. Have a game plan for support. We have a very small, nimble team and a Kickstarter is VERY time consuming if you are working hard to reach the goal. Between social media, thanking backers, PR, etc. it would have been great to have people ready and able to help with some of these things in advance.
Hope this helps!
I´m runing a campaign right now and these are the things I wish to known before I ran my first project, NEPAL! The Art Book
-MEME FACTOR: a project that wants to reach patrons beyond their direct circle of family, friends and fans (who already follow your work) should focus the project towards the virality. You must ask yourself: would I share this project on my facebook? Why? why not?
FLEXIBILITY: Generally it´s said that one should set a goal of funding according to the needs of the project. If you need X amount of money to make the product, send the rewards, pay taxes, etc... you should focus on achieving that goal. Actually I think it's the oposite: one should make a forecast of how much money you can raise and make a project in anticipation of that budget. Of course this is not applicable to all cases. But I think it's interesting the idea to be flexible with the product that you want to perform. I mean, sometimes we persist in wanting something great for which you need a campaign that works really good, when in fact a more modest project may be equally interesting and easier to achieve.
Moreover, it can be much more profitable an small idea than a very complex project. It requires much less effort on promotion, manufacturing, etc ... As an example, the potato salad: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zackdangerbrown/potato-salad
In short: work for your audience, stay ready for the big leap. Be water my friend.
-EFFORT: Some people may think that you want their money to have fun making things. That´s good but I think it is important to note in a campaign of crowdfunding that the project is the result of real effort.
I hope that my really bad english has been understandable.
OK so i'm totally new at this, so maybe i've missed something, but i have found three or four points that I think are worthy of mention for future users.
1) The hole in the image - as it transpired, when i uploaded my image at the head of the page, no mention was made of their being a big "play" button in the centre when you go live. Obviously i've seen, and used, them before but it's easy to forget when in the throws of creating your page, so surely in the notes on maximum size image etc. it would make sense to mention keeping text away from the centre, or perhaps to provide a template to use that contains a button layer to see where it appears on your image. In my case it was easily sorted, but it would be better to have been able to preview it before launch. This ties into my second point...
2) The URL - clearly a critical part of your promotion campaign, isn't allocated until launch, for obvious reason, and so everything has to be done immediately after launch, unless you link to your home page on Kickstarter. I found this a little frustration and when combined with the third point, I wondered if something different could be done.
4) The length of the URL - uncomfortably long, which is fine for cut and paste, but that's not the only way I wanted to pass it on. I ended up buying a domain name for this project, forwarding directly to the page, and allowing me to pass it on verbally very easily, but more importantly for others to do the same. Well worth the minimal investment.
Now I appreciate that there is a preview link available, but I wonder if there could be another level of publishing the page. This could be Private Publishing, or simply publishing, and then add a "Go Live" button for a public launch. The reason for wanting this is simple. I have a number of friends, customers and others who i treat in a preferential way. It would be useful if i could publish the project page for a day or two privately, find out the URL, check the final appearance, and then pass on the information to the VIP customers, close friends etc. to give them first pick of the pledges. Then click go live and reach everyone else. This two stage approach would help so much, enable pages to go public with pledges already in place to aid momentum, with images looking perfect despite the play button, with promotion using a shorter URL or pre-generated link buttons with the URL in place all from the moment of going live to the world.
To be honest, this probably counts as nit-picking, as the site is brilliant, the concept is well proven, and the flexibility is great, but it's always worth considering tweaks to make life easier for users.
What does everyone else think?
Paula - Peblsrock
Even though you think you're overestimating how much time Kickstarter takes...you're probably underestimating it! Kickstarter is a HUGE commitment and it takes awareness for the whole month (+/-). Also, the anxiety of watching the numbers and finishing up last minute posts and such throughout the campaign takes a huge amount of energy.
Most of all, take care of yourself. It's better to take a break than to burn out. Burning out will set you back much farther than one day where you step back to rest when you need it.
What do you wish you had known before you ran your first project?
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