Would you recommend any third-party services to help with managing backers and fulfilling rewards?
We use Backerkit.com for managing post Kickstarter pledges and add Ons and generating the final data that will go to our warehouse. With Backerkit we were able to pull in an additional 25-30% funds on one project and 20% on another project (through a combination of late pledges, people upgrading pledges or choosing more add ons over time and offering paypal as an alternative payment service) Backerkit say projects often get 5-10% uplift through them and they charge 1% of your project but for the ease of managing backers after the event it's VERY worthwhile.
Chris Birch, Modiphius
The feeling of "omigodwhatif..."
We're a husband and wife team and we've run four projects so far. We've also had those same mixed feelings of doubt and elation. The first project (a toy castle that I'd have killed for as a kid) seemed to us like a sure-fire hit. We dressed up in nice clothes, sat behind a nice desk and gave a heavily rehearsed and much practiced and edited speech for the video. It bombed...not just by a little bit...it didn't even make 1% of goal. We were entirely dejected and would probably have given up right there and then....except...One of our backers had a suggestion to re-think the product for a different market - so what had been a toy for little kids shrank in size and became scenery for adult tabletop gamers. He also put us in touch with a Kickstarter veteran who offered to do a joint promotion - a competition featuring his product and ours as prizes - we donated a few hundred dollars of product and that got us an instant 500 person mailing list.Despite this, we entered our second kickstarter with very low expectations - we thought we'd just see a repeat of the first one. Rather than go to the hassle of making a nice video, we literally sat at our kitchen island and ad-libbed - we used the very first take and didn't even bother to edit it.The tabletop gamers loved it! We made goal in a little over a week and hit about 350% of goal by the end. We were totally elated! There was plenty enough income to let us invest $10,000 in a laser cutter to make the rewards - and we had a small, part-time, business of our own that we could run from our tiny apartment.The third Kickstarter was an odd mix...we knew it could be done in principle, but we had an entirely new project idea and we had no idea whether it would take off or fail. We were nervous of screwing up a successful formula - so we went back to the kitchen island to make our video and made NO effort to do anything fancy. This time, we got 500% of goal...and an incredibly enthusiastic set of backers. We thought we'd reached the big-time...for one of us, it became our full-time job...we invested another $10,000 in equipment, moved out of our apartment and rented a bigger house with a nice big garage to do it all.Our fourth, most recent, project had us being very cocky. We made the most elaborate set of rewards with incredibly flashy photos. We sweated every tiny detail although we still ad-libbed the video. We were pretty darned sure of doubling our previous success...but sadly, we had over-complicated things, confused many of our backers and inadvertently timed the project very badly. So we earned almost exactly the same dollar amount as the second time - but with a LOT more preparation work. An odd mix of "Yeah! We made a big pile of money again" and "Oh....we did *SO* much worse than we expected". :-(Kickstarter is immense fun to do...the stresses and the elation...the ever-present possiblity of disaster. It's an incredible rush. But without risk of failure, no activity can be all that exciting.It definitely makes us feel more 'alive'.Our many hundreds of repeat-backers are our friends, we know many of them by name now. We put in rewards that we know will specifically push someone's button because they asked for it personally. When someone has an idea for a new reward that's good enough for us to want to make it next time, we give them a free copy of it. One of them happened to mention that it was his birthday close to the day we were due to ship to him, so we made an extra reward and stuck it in his package with a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" written on the box. We routinely give away freebies for funny posts, clever ideas or just for being the 100th backer or the 1000th poster...and that makes us feel very good about ourselves.We'll be back for KS #4...older and wiser! We're planning KS #5 and #6 as we do it! Gunning for the viral win that'll spell early retirement!
How do you get THAT much PR?!
Hey everyone -- Stephanie from Kickstarter here. We just posted a whole slew of new videos from workshops and talks we have hosted here at Kickstarter HQ over the past year on the Advice playlist on our YouTube Channel. There are two short video clips that made me think of this excellent conversation in particular -- linking to them below. Hope its insightful!1) In this video clip, early 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.2) In this video clip, Heather Delaney from Dynamo PR (has worked on numerous Kickstarter campaigns), shares some very sound strategies for getting and working with press.(Chris Birch: If you are still reading, check them out -- Love your take on this advice!)
How can you use Kickstarter Live to connect wth your community?
I think everyone's experience with live-streaming might be slightly different. I laser cut miniature war-gaming terrain. I currently have a live project running (my first ever Kickstarter) and I live stream my laser cutting nightly on Twitch.tv. Every night at about 10pm CST I turn on the cameras and interact with my backers, friends, and the community at large. I show backers the rewards they signed up for and I let them see their things being cut live. I also answer a lot of questions about lasers and design. So far it has been a very positive experience for me and I think it might be the reason that my project was 100% funded in 4 hours and is now holding steady at 600% funded. I think with live streaming people want the interaction, they want the creator to say hi to them and single them out when talking so they feel connected to the creator. So when you live stream you have to be very personal with people and ask how they are doing and be genuinely involved in conversations with them. All 500 of them at the same time. It is a very exhausting thing to do. But after over a month of doing it I already see a very loyal community forming around my brand and what I do. So it is very worth the time. I also feel one single live stream event is just dead hype. People log in to see it but don't stick around until the end. If you consistently live stream more than once a week at set times and days and stick to that, you will find more people showing up week after week and hanging out until the end.My tips?Dont plan every word to say, have a list of topics, but be genuine and engage the audience. the reason people watch live is to engage. If they wanted a scripted speech they would have watched your youtube video.When your stream starts no one will be there. so have something to talk about for 10-30 min where you can just ramble on. Make it fun and exciting, like a youtube video. People will latch onto something you said or an interesting thing that is in frame and make a comment. When they do, acknowledge them and start talking about what they want to talk about. If the tangents get too far off topic just jump the rails and get back on topic.Have interesting items in frame. Wear an interesting T-Shirt that your viewers can ask about.Go to Twitch.tv, go to the games section, and there is a "game" there called creative (normally the 10th or 20th on the list) open that up and watch some creative streamers. See what they are doing and try to do that. Even if you are facebook streaming or youtube streaming, you can learn a lot from those twitch streamers.Have a blank notepad document open with links to places pasted in. This allows you to quickly grab a link via copy/paste and send it to your viewers. Also, great place to put notes.Anyways, My campaign ends on 10/14 at 10:14am (CST) and I will be live streaming that whole day to celebrate. Before and After. Most of it will be a view of the laser cutting their rewards but it will also be me chatting with the viewers and giving shout outs and giveaways.
Any tips on what to do 48 hours after launch?
Bjorn please don't buy services from people who solicit you through the KS message system. In fact, I'd go further and report them as spam using the facility provided. This will help KS to weed out the accounts of people who do this.(Edit March 2017) I see the question has been edited to remove references to marketing solicitations. Well they were there when I originally answered the question. Also - I've got a campaign ongoing at the moment and am receiving a lot of solicitations. I'm in the "flatlining" middle period which is pure agony, but I'm holding onto my own advice and reporting every single one. But I really really understand why some people might actually be desperate enough to be tempted by these offers. Don't buy from spammers! It really is that simple. :)
Alex Eames - RasPi.TV
What did you do to get through your project's "plateau"?
I'm seven-for-seven with regards to successfully funded Kickstarters, now, and I've developed a routine.- Announce the project at least a month beforehand. I sometimes start promo six months to a year beforehand! Let Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Instagram- wherever you have an established audience- know you're planning this.- I maintain a mailing list of ~5,000 folks who already know and like my stuff. I incentivize subscribing to the list by making sure everyone knows I'll be announcing the exact launch date of the KS there, so folks who want limited edition backer levels can get first dibs. (This also helps create the important first-day push for the project.)- I launch the KS, tell the mailing list, and then inform social media. The first-day push commences.- The initial excitement for the project has cooled by day three or four, in my experience. That's when I send out the press releases. I target blogs and reviewers who are already interested in my project's theme, or my general output. For the next week or so, I rely on promo from those outlets for bumps in interest, along with occasional social media reminders. I try to tweet about any Kickstarter I'm running at least once a day, preferably with images. I find reasons to talk about it. "We're just one pledge away from $1,000!" "Eek, who wants to be backer 666!?!" "Look, we're at $45,000! what a nice, round number." etc. - Day three or four is also when I announce/decide on stretch goals. How fast the project is funding is a big deciding factor in those; I've been caught out before making stretch goal graphics for goals the KS hit while I was playing around in Photoshop! Announcing the stretch goals give people reasons to keep promoting/pledging to the project, and i favor goals that would benefit everyone involved for that reason.- This will hold me until the halfway point of the project. If I think the project needs it, I do another round of promotion. If things are humming along smoothly, I hold back. It's important not to cross the line into annoying people. - After all this, when the KS enters its final week? I play it by ear. Does it need more attention? Does it need more aggressive promotion? Should I bother the mailing list again? Should I post an update about my new project in past Kickstarters? It varies from project to project, but when the countdown clock tics over into hours instead of days, that's always the beginning of the final big push from me. if I'm lucky, I've calculated a final stretch goal that can be feasibly reached on the last or second-to-last day; that keeps excitement high.If I do everything correctly, the project gets a respectable number of pledges every day. And while they'll always drop off after the first few initial days, I still experience promo-related bumps all throughout the campaign's slow, plodding middle.
Do advertisement or crowdfunding agencies help to spread the word about crowdfunding projects?
Some yes, some no.I use advertising on relevant sites. I create board games so I advertise on board game websites, forums, blogs (where applicable). I then contact directly with a personal letter and press release: blogs, articles, news agencies, and reviewers. I send them a prototype if available.Most PR firms for Kickstarter are a joke/scam/or ripoff. Try asking them detailed questions about their practices, for references, for stat sheets on success of multiple LIKE projects. They tend to get annoyed, defensive, or stop writing you back. If they are calm and collect and answer ALL of your HARD questions with good answers and integrity, then they might be worth using. Otherwise, Kickstarter alone drives enough traffic for you.Most of the time these agencies advertise on Google Adwords, and Facebook. ... You can do that yourself. Sure they "target"... but you can too, you just need to fill out the forms instead of them. It takes about an hour per site to do it right.That said, I advertise on Facebook for a measly $100 over the course of our campaign. That's usually enough. Films are larger budget with a wider audience, increasing this might be worth it. I haven't tried Adwords in a while. I found it a money sink-hole years back for another business, and never saw a single bit income from them. Though that was a while ago, and I'll probably try them again in the future just for the sake of experimentation to better answer questions like these.John
Success rate depending on project's country of origin?
Hi Samuel,First of all, you shouldn't be worried about your project not being seen in other countries. Every project on Kickstarter has equal chances of being seen by anyone worldwide and it only depends on the quality of your project that makes for its success. I've created two projects myself and the majority of my backers came from Austria, Germany and the US. But I also had backers from countries like Japan, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands.. I could go on. It's so exciting for me to ship packages to all these countries I wish to visit one day. If your project has the chance of attracting international backers then in my belief Kickstarter is a good place to reach them. If your project's good, you'll find the support from your local people too. At the beginning, your backers will be friends and family because it's hard to convince strangers to support your project if people who know and trust you don't.. you wouldn't go to an empty restaurant either I assume. Once you have your friends supporting you, more people get curious and will check out your project.I've seen many projects create their campaigns in multiple languages or they used subtitles to make their projects available to everyone (SolidLUUV from Berlin or Livin Farms from Vienna) and I've also seen projects done in German only (Nicht Lustig from Frankfurt or the Towell from Kiel). They were all hugely successful. What is your project about?Take care, Monika
How do you continue to grow your community after you're funded? Does it get easier or harder?
I'm still in the beginning stages of this as well, but for us, we've found that opening up additional pre-orders directly from our site has been quite helpful in continuing building our community. Of course, the most important thing is to ensure that you're focused on fulfilling your initial Kickstarter adopters, as they're the ones that got you to where you are now. Updates are, of course, the best way to do this. We've handled consolidating all of this by pushing all Kickstarter backers, as well as new community members into a single mailing list. So for anyone that joins in post-campaign, you're able to send out email updates to everyone associated, not just your Kickstarter backers. MailChimp is very helpful for this, as is Shopify, as they allow for MailChimp integration where new buyers are able to accept email marketing directly from our site, and are automatically added to that pre-existing email list.Finally, having a way for interested parties to put an email address down somewhere on your website will make it even easier to throw them in to your MailChimp account. I guess the bottom line is that having a consolidated list of emails for all Kickstarter backers, new buyers, as well as interested parties makes it a pretty seamless ecosystem to reach out to your community.
What tips do you have for making a great project video on a limited budget?
Keep it 2-3 minutes. Attention span is low, and everyone has a threshold for how long they'll pay attention (or can pay attention before the manager comes to look over their shoulder). The opening moments will have the backers judging your video and deciding if they want to keep going, so try and hook them early. Focus on audio quality. If you don't have a microphone and have to use the in-camera audio, then get the camera as close to you as it can. You can kill audio bounce by hanging a blanket behind the camera. A cheap solution is getting a Zoom H4n (or whatever device that works as a microphone/recorder itself) and holding it in your hand just beneath the frame. Also, make sure where you're shooting isn't riddled with background noises. Shoot near a window. As a filmmaker, I use a light kit, but for the natural look, I tend to just shoot near a window so the soft, diffused light can look good and natural. Just be careful to keep continuity on days where the sun peeks out from behind the clouds while you're filming. It's a cheap way to look well lit. Find the line between informational/inspirational. Some people pitch the big picture without satisfying the detail-oriented people. Some people focus on the nitty gritty without explaining why they're running the Kickstarter. Be fun. Not all campaigns can focus on this, but I'm more likely to keep watching if I'm entertained. I want to like you and if I like you, I'll be more likely to support you. Tell a story. Lastly, let the backers in on why you're doing this, and give them a sense of the origin story if it's interesting. These people are being invited to be on the ground floor of something cool, and as long as you don't come off as needy, a fun relationship can form between creator and backer. Most of those have no impact on the budget, but are important to get right.