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What is on your how-to Kickstarter reading list?

We love this essential Kickstarter reading list. What did you read when preparing to launch your Kickstarter project? Share your links, summaries and excerpts here. We will collect the best of and share them on our blog.

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Don Moyer
31-time creator
24
Answered on

I'm currently on my 15th Kickstarter project, so I don’t read anything about crowd-funding anymore. But initially, for my first few Kickstarter projects, I read and reread all the info on the KS site. I mean everything. There is plenty of sound advice scattered there.

I haven't found any crowd-funding bloggers that have content that helps me. They often seem to be focused on blockbuster technology projects. That's not me.

Let me explain where I think I learned the most about running Kickstarter projects. I supported several projects before I even thought about doing my own. I'd say the best way to learn about doing Kickstarter projects is to support Kickstarter projects and pay attention to what people do well. Copy the stuff you like. 

But more important, I learned from the mistakes of others. Pay attention when you see updates complaining about schedule problems, wonky prototypes, manufacturing fiascoes, shipping delays, and problems with customs inspectors. These are vital lessons from the front lines. Much better than some author or blogger pontificating about their theories. Plus, these glimpses behind the curtain can be highly entertaining.

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Sandy Collora
11-time creator
12
Answered on

If I'm being honest, I really didn't read anything. Kickstarter, I believe is something that is truly different for everyone. I don't think there's a set formula for how to build your campaign, nor is there a way to make what has worked for someone else, work for you. Like I said, each campaign is different as is each creator. What I do frequently however, is look at a lot of campaigns on the site. This is not only how I get information about how creators build their campaigns, but discover ones that I support. I've backed quite a few campaigns since I've become a "Kickstarter person", and it has certainly changed the way I do business. I've been fortunate enough to have a few successful campaigns, so I get asked a lot about what to do, by people who are about to launch a campaign. My advice is always to follow your heart and do what YOU truly want to do. People will either dig it or they won't...

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Stephanie Pereira
Last edited on

Someone just reminded me about Stonemaier Games, and what a great resource it is. While poking around I came to their year-end post which was a round-up of the top 10 projects Jamey Stegmaier learned the most from this past year. Since so many folks on this thread say they get the most from backing and browsing other Kickstarter projects, it seemed like a relevant post to share here. 

Link: Top 10 Elements of Other Kickstarter Projects in 2015, via Stonemaier Games

As someone who has worked at Kickstarter for 4+ years, seen literally thousands of projects launch, and backed a few hundred myself - I can say that the insights shared in this post are really really great.

A few months ago I also pulled together of some of my top reads for preparing a Kickstarter campaign, here they are in no particular order:

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protoOne
Creator
7
Answered on

I haven't launched yet. But I have been reading crowdfunding information from http://www.crowdcrux.com. I suggest that you get on Salvador Briggman's e-mail list as he sends topical information on a regular basis.  Good Luck!

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David Mautz
3-time creator
7
Answered on

For our first campaign, we didn't do much research other than being familiar with other campaigns I had backed. Our second kickstarter we read tons of blog posts, researched other similar campaigns, and mostly relied on Tim Ferris's Soma writeup for contacting blogs and engaging our followers. For our video, we followed this copyhackers post. For our next, I think we will follow a lot of advice from the Shopify blog post and just listening to our community.

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6

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Richard Gale
2-time creator
6
Last edited on

I found a lot of useful info on Jamie Stegmaier's blog:

http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/insights/

also: http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/

Much of my research was done on Kickstarter itself. This might be obvious, but I'd strongly recommend studying the campaign pages of the top funded campaigns in your category, to see what they did.

As a filmmaker, this was my starting point: https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/film%20&%20video?sort=most_funded

Good luck!

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Lone Shark Games
5-time creator
6
Answered on

What I first decided to launch the Kickstarter for The Maze of Games, I wanted to know what other people thought about making crowdfunded projects work. I was especially interested in creating visual and emotional resonance with the complex ideas behind that campaign. So I reread Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which (among other books of his) is the graphic bible for trying to present information that people internalize and remember. Tufte's work talks about how to highlight concepts you want to stick, both from a visual and textual viewpoint. It's helped with all our campaigns, especially on the Apocrypha Adventure Card Game and our new one, The Ninth World: A Skillbuidling Game for Numenera. Thinking about what resonates is important; thinking about how to make it resonate is just as important. Check Tufte out if you haven't read his stuff.

Mike

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5

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Doug Monahan
Creator
50
Answered on

Every single post here at the Kickstarter Campus - lol - isn't that the whole purpose for the Campus? I haven't read every single one of the posts yet - but almost. I am going to make sure to go through and "bone up" one last day before the big launch and then also review terms and conditions, rules, etc. just to make sure we are 100% compliant with all - Feel like I am headed off to college for the first day as I get ready to start my own campaign

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5

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Laura Dodson
4-time creator
9
Answered on

I read a blog after blog before launching the first campaign.  I thought about the themes in each blog post.  Each KS campaign is different, so what worked for someone else, won't work for you.  Don't promise the moon, but give them the stars; is my basic philosophy.  

It's important to read up on failed KS campaigns as well.  Not the ones that massively fail, but the good projects that you can't understand why they weren't backed.

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4

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Eric Gladstone
Creator
4
Last edited on

In preparation for No Holds Bard, I probably should have read the Collected Works of Shakespeare, but I didn't!

Instead, I read Grant Morrison's Supergods, and my current favorite comic of all time: The Auteur. I've also been reading a ton of the All-New Archie relaunch, and rereading Orc Stain, because good art and good writing matters. 

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Rick Hale
Creator
4
Answered on
I'd like to be able to say I did a ton of outside research into what makes for a successful campaign, but my strategy was a bit different. I studied several Kickstarter campaigns that were somewhat similar to mine in scope and subject, and then poured all of my energy into making quality content of my own. I think there's a balance to strike when you're trying to create a successful campaign: Planning is great, but it's the doing that is the hardest part (and probably the most critical).
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4

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Kiernan Sjursen-Lien
3-time creator
4
Answered on

Honestly, like Sandy, I didn't want to read too many articles on 'how to create a successful Kickstarter' because for me I also don't think there's really a formula for a successful crowdfunding campaign- it's more about the idea and how that resonates with audiences. So in preparation for my campaign (A Gay Ol' Time) I basically just mentioned to people I was working on a book, buried myself deeply in 19th century American history and LGBTQIA history books, and tried to come up with something inspirational from there. Of course, I did look at other Kickstarter campaign pages just to get an idea of the basics of what should be included in the 'story' section of the campaign- but that's about as much preparation as I felt was needed.

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4

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Gizco International
5-time creator
4
Last edited on

For my first Kickstarter project, I've read around 100 successful and 100 unsuccessful Kickstarter project pages . I don't think that you need to read stories of other people from external sites.. Instead, you can just have a look at their Kickstarter projects and see what helped them succeed. Kickstarter itself is really like a blog for creators, you can find both successful and unsuccessful project and observe what they had done right and wrong. 

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Nandita Godbole
4-time creator
4
Answered on

I am so thrilled to be part of Kickstarter... it has been a fabulous journey.

While preparing for the launch of the first campaign of my first cookbook 'A Dozen Ways to Celebrate', I was nervous and tried to read as much as possible... business magazines, food magazines, blogs (everything other than crowdfunding). Every article I read made me afraid. It seemed like I was bound to fail, because at that time there appeared no legitimacy to such a process, especially among conventional methods. I did not fail, the community picked up my project as a Staff Pick first and then it made the Newsletter. The campaign was completely funded about 50 hrs into the process.

Once I had gone through it, I discovered the wealth and value of this experience... which helped me shape the next campaign.

When I launched my second campaign two years later, for my second cookbook 'Crack the Code-2', I was less nervous. I had kept up with most of my reading, but also found it important to trust my gut feeling for the product, and what I wanted to achieve out of going through the Kickstarter engine again.  The project was a 'Staff Pick' (again) and funded within its first 48 hrs.

My goal has been clear from day 1 of the project: to get a product that people can use, revisit, improvize with and enjoy using over time. This goal guided virtually every conversation I had with peers, every article I read during the time I was preparing for the second campaign: newspapers, cultural readings, conversations with friends and neighbors, clients and testers. My favorites included insight by Richard Branson, snippets of wisdom from Steve Jobs from some article, TED talks, TED-Ex talks, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc., Fast Company, Money & Time. 

I was routinely skimming news for information that would make my product better than it had been the previous day. When I finally had a revised version of my idea, I had tested it out among strangers and came out with good results because I had started with a clear goal in mind - usability.

That is when I took it to the Kickstarter community who received it with open arms and generosity. It was not about polishing a presentation to where the viewer was lured into the campaign, finding marketers, or even dealing with the stats - it was being confident that the product I had created was worth someones' time and money. Because I had given it enough thought.

I still think there is no dirth of news articles, magazines and blogs that can help shape a project creators' project.

My best reading material suggestion: read your own product-blueprints. Try to read it in the still of the night, in the quiet of the day when you are not being swayed by another persons' opinion.

What makes it different? What makes it the same as something else on the market? If you can write the answer to the question 'Why'... and are happy to read what you've written, then you should have no problem with your product or your campaign.

Thank you, Kickstarter community. You will never know how much you are loved and appreciated.

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4

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Smita Sharma
Creator
4
Answered on

I am thrilled to be a part of Kickstarter community.

I have had a couple of colleagues from the photojournalism community who have had successful kickstarter campaigns.I had seen a few videos earlier and spoke to them before launching mine. They advised me to keep the video honest and simple. I reached my goal in two days and it was an overwhelming experience.

People care for a social cause and issue and are always keen to help in their own ways. Thanks to the team at Kickstarter ! Regards, Smita

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4

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Kidneythieves
Creator
4
Last edited on

I didn't read anything. I saw that Kickstarter had worked for a couple of musicians I know and I "saw the light!" ...You mean we could actually create a new working model to empower our fans to keep us going?? For me, it as instinctual. You connect with your audience (know your audience!), communicate from the heart, make them a part of creating something. Give them "The Why."   It's direct, it's community, it's re-inventing out of necessity. It is humbling -- to see it in action. Thank you Kickstarter for creating this opportunity. (Free Dominguez)  - 1st funded Kickstarter for Volcano+The Sea // 2nd funded Kickstarter for Indigo Blue // Current funded Kickstarter for The Mend

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4

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Slava Menn
4-time creator
4
Answered on

We prioritized two keys for this campaign: sharing a compelling story (and making sure that story is evident in EVERY aspect of the campaign) and building a clear, beautiful page. Really, this came down to a lot of research of successful campaigns that we love. Because we're not only KS creators, but passionate backers too, it was pretty easy for us to find inspiration.

To build the story, we studied Jake Bronstein's 10 Year Hoodie Campaign

To build a beautiful page, we relied heavily on the work of our friends at Peak Design, who set the precedent with their Everyday Messenger campaign

Lastly, we've created our own resources for tips and best practices - we're a little biased, but we think there's some pretty good stuff in there :)

We wrote one article for INC Magazine about the three mistakes you absolutely have to avoid when launching a Kickstarter

We also created a Udemy class on how to bring your idea to life on Kickstarter. It's trained over 7000 potential creators (and counting) and we couldn't be happier to have helped.

Cheers and enjoy the ride!

Slava

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4

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PINE64 Inc.
Creator
4
Last edited on

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding projects are not easy. A lot of people think its just launching a video online and getting it out there, but there are tons of research that goes behind it. A lot of other answers are great and I agree with alot of the recommendations. However, the best read is Purple Cow by Seth Godin.  This book will change the way you think and really open your eyes to a bigger picture. Once you find your Purple Cow, apply it to your campaign, and you'll succeed. 

Thanks

Johnson Jeng, Cofounder

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4

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Jason L. Witter
5-time creator
4
Last edited on

Kickstarter has been great for me as a first time project creator!  Before launching my 1st Kickstarter campaign, I focused my attention on researching successful projects that were similar to mine.  My project, "The Tiniest Vampire (and other silly things)" is an illustrated book of children's poetry.  So, I searched through "Publishing - Children's Books" on Kickstarter and found several projects that had ended and were very successful.  I then attempted to model my basic campaign setup off of those, but still make it unique to my project.  It was very helpful, even just for the basics, such as figuring out reward tiers, what to include as far as illustrations and images were concerned, and even how to present the video itself.  I would say looking at successful campaigns that were similar to mine was the most valuable research I did.

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4

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Alex Eames - RasPi.TV
7-time creator
324
Last edited on

I recently did a presentation based on my experience of 4 successful KS projects (average time to funding 27 hours) at the Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Celebration. The title was a bit "click-baity" but it got people into the room to hear the talk. It was called "Is KickStarter Dead Yet? The Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding"

https://youtu.be/rymeSP0AJTg 

There's also a text based version on my blog at http://raspi.tv/2016/is-kickstarter-dead-yet-pros-and-cons-of-crowdfunding 

Of course KS isn't dead, but I think backers are getting a bit more 'savvy' and choosy about what they back. There's some very interesting statistics at the end though.

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Edward Witt
2-time creator
4
Answered on

This one is comics-specific. But I found Spike Trotman's guide "Let's Kickstart a Comic (and NOT screw it up) helpful (https://ironcircus.com/shop/ebooks/27-let-s-kickstart-a-comic-pdf-ebook.html). Though I did ignore the first bit of advice from it (not to kickstart a floppy book) :) It's like $5 and really helped me nail down an actual budget that was accurate when all was said and done to like .5%

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4

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Dave & Calvin Laituri
12-time creator
77
Answered on

After 10 projects, my tip: avoid reading anything written by someone who hasn't run (or backed) a campaign. There is ALOT of ink out there from outsiders making best guesses, posing as pros, etc. It all sounds good, but if it's not coming from a personal experience, it's worthless.

If you want to learn about how lions hunt, you don't go to a zoo ...or read a book written by someone who want to a zoo.

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4

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A K Nicholas
17-time creator
71
Answered on

I still just look at other people's campaigns. Of interest are those that are similar to mine in some way. I mostly study the very successful and the failed ones; especially when the results are surprising. Then I try to figure out the reasons. One can learn a lot from others, both from the mistakes and the innovations.

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Becky Haynie
Creator
3
Answered on

I read articles that came up on my Facebook feed, what I could find on google, etc. But the most important thing I did was I talked to people who have run kickstarter campaigns. I talked with a wide variety and got varying opinions on what to do and what not to do. I also looked at several kickstarter campaigns that were active and that had ended to learn whatever I could and I kept dialogue open with my contacts who know kickstarter as well as people who were looking at my campaign.

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Laurence Flood
2-time creator
2
Answered on

As a total newbie here I would agree with Don Moyer that the best advice is to look at how other successful campaigns have been run. Before publishing this first campaign I took a close look at other music based campaigns. Early days for me but so far so good.

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1

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Andy Swartz
8-time creator
2
Answered on

I haven't found any groundbreaking advice from how-to Kickstarter blogs. Most of them are thinly veiled self-promotion with info that can easily be found on Kickstarter's own site. The absolute best thing you can do before launching your own project is to back a project similar to your own. Even for a dollar. It gives you real experience by watching other creators at work, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what and what not to do.

 I've helped a few other creators get started on their projects now, and one exercise I have them do is to find 5 successful and 5 unsuccessful projects similar to their own, and try to find common denominators between them to see if they can figure out why they were successful or why they failed. I also have them track down projects that failed after being successfully funded to learn from the creators' mistakes... this is a big one.

Basically, there's nothing that you can glean from reading endless crowdfunding guides that you can't learn better for yourself by studying other projects. 

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1

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John Wrot!
8-time creator
399
Last edited on

I think the question is a great one, and I warn that those saying: "I don't think you need to read blogs about it, there is no formula" are basically saying "I don't think you need advice, experience means nothing". 
That's a dangerous and slippery slope.

I agree there are no "formulas" per-say, as honest, fresh, campaigns often do the best.  That said, there are "rules" that one should follow. 

Consider it more like art class than math class. 

Math class has rules that must be followed. 
Consider the literal formulas, the laws of math, and the theorems of geometry. 
If you go outside those, you are doomed to fail.

Art class also has rules that ...usually... must be followed. 
Consider that "perspective" is "perspective", that you can't oil-paint with charcoal, and that a C-note is not, and never will be a G.  BUT there are no hard-and-fast formulas.  Thus if you go outside the box and make oil-paints out of charcoal, paint the city-scape upside down, and set the display to discordant music, you might become famous.  -  But I submit that you couldn't have done that if you didn't know the first 3 rules in order to intentionally misuse them. (!)

It's a loose and questionable analogy, but I hope you get my point:  You need to know a few things that you currently don't, and need to know them even if you want to break the mold.

General examples:
Don't have too many pledge tiers.
Don't have products on your page not related to the actual product (ie: keychain fobs when you're trying to sell a book).
Don't over, or under, -price your product, your shipping, or yourself.
Have a 3rd party proof-read your page.
Make a video, and don't beg in it.

There are a million tips, and these are super 'basic' but I see these being broken all the time, and the related campaigns not funding. 

I also strongly suggest you take a look at my blog.  It is chock full of advice from my personal experience, lots of research, and it also links to all the many many other places I found valuable to get advice from during my research.  That is, from truly interested people looking to help!

Whether its from me, Alex, Stephanie, Carol, Stonemaier Games, or anyone else...
The advice I'd give is GET ADVICE! : )

John Wrot!
-Community Adviser
-Hearts Welcome

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1

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Nicole Waltenbaugh
Creator
5
Answered on

I did as much research as I could prior to launching my first campaign, which is currently running, so I'm hoping that it pays off. This is such a scary thing to put yourself out there. I guess I know that I'm doing something amazing but it's seeing whether other people think that too. You guys all seem to be pros at this. Your campaigns look perfect. I'm constantly trying to tweet mine and learn more every second of every day!

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Lemurlock
Creator
0
Answered on

Art of the Kickstart is a good resource. I listened to all of their podcasts before launching. Each episode highlights a different campaign success story, and goes into the finer points of what contributed to their successes. Crowd Crux is also a good place to start.

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0

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philip mann
Creator
0
Answered on

I may be wrong, but I'm with those who just read the basics and got going. We learn as we go along, and nothing blows up if we make a mistake. Just get it going.

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Earl Brown, Project leader
5
Answered on

Here's a good one with lots of great advice:  How to Raise $100k in 10 Days http://bit.ly/ILHXto

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