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.
PR: What moved the needle, what didn't, what did it cost?
This is an aspect of crowd funding I didn't consider and found to be a bit unnerving. The amount of spam in my inbox here and through my website was overwhelming. I have not felt the need to risk the cost against what i see as unrealistic promises and predatory business practices. When a company makes claims to get you funded that include things like product placement, top billing on popular blogs or getting you on national news, for a free or tiered fees, I say, walk away. The commercial industry is definitely shifting and while this forum is a fantastic way to network and grow, it is important to remember those things happen whether or not you roll the dice on a PR/Marketing firm, use cheap apps to spam your own contacts, or actually reach your goal. there. my two cents. it's been an interesting learning experience so far ;)
What's the best way to utilize events during a campaign?
You could set up a handful of laptops at a table to encourage on-site voting, but not sure how well that would work if you have a bunch of people in the room that have never used Kickstarter before. Not sure they'd be super comfortable signing up and entering their CC number, etc. on an unknown computer in a room full of strangers.Alternatively, you could print out postcards that have some promo art on one side, and the campaign url on the back. My suggestion for this would be to pay the nominal fee to buy a .com domain, and have it forward to your campaign page. That way, you can write www.mycampaignamehere.com, rather than www.kickstarter.com/somelongthingiwillneverremember
How have you successfully reached new audiences?
Work your project HARD. Email relevant people and companies, find forums, twitter, facebook, contact news outlets and for serious connections, believe it or not, send them a handwritten letter.However you decided to reach out, have a clear message, be polite, understand if they can't get their heads around your idea or product. If they say no it is not personal, don't be offended.And most important, learn from this fish:Dory of Finding Nemo - Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming, what do we do we swim.
I am nervous about sharing my idea without a patent. Have others used this site without a patent?
First things first. The internet and Google are wonderful tools to find out everything you need to know. If you are even asking this question, it tells me you have not spent the time to research your questions. The more you research and learn, the more you will understand the risks involved with becoming an entrepreneur. Before you spend any money, research your idea and make sure it's original and has not been done before. Is your idea patentable? Understand the difference between design patents and utility patents. Ideas are not patentable - but the product you create to solve the problem and how it works is. Only good ideas are worth ripping off so how do you know if you have a good idea or product? Kickstarter is a great place to find out if there is interest in your creation. Kickstarter is also a great place for competitors to look for new products and innovations they can copy. We have our Skoother Skin Smoother campaign running and have been contacted by at least a dozen Chinese factories that want to do our tooling and manufacturing for us. How many others have seen our campaign and have not contacted us? Domestic and foreign companies scour Kickstarter looking for new ideas. This can be good and bad for your goals. If you have no intellectual property protection, these companies are free to steal your idea. If you do have a patent pending, you may get large companies contacting you to license the exclusive rights to your product and pay you royalties. "Patent Pending" will also scare and deter other companies from copying you. Exposing your idea on Kickstarter is exposing your invention to the world and so you should be prepared. You want to always limit how much risk you take, both financial and how much work and time you put into it. A simple U.S. utility patent will cost usually between $6,000 - $8,000. That's a big risk to take on for an unproven idea! A good strategy is to write a "provisional patent application" yourself. $125. This is a temporary application that last for one year from the time you file it with the USPTO. This application does not need to be written by a professional. You need to explain very clearly, with as much detail as possible with illustrations, photos and descriptions your invention. Show what it looks like, exactly how it works and any other variations of it you can think of. This basically reserves your idea at the USPTO and gives you one year to file an actual utility patent application. The provisional application is your "first to file" protection you need from the USTPO. So you have a choice; You can forget all of the intellectual property protection and just try to make a quick buck from your Kickstarter campaign...or, you can file a provisional patent application for $125, (which makes it legally "patent pending") and then show the world your invention. If your creation proves successful, you can then go ahead and invest in the full utility patent application. You then have a choice of licensing your invention or starting your own company so you can have it manufactured and market it yourself. But...if your brilliant idea is a flop, you've only lost the $125 for the provisional along with the time and cost of your campaign. It's all about risk, and knowledge will always lesson your risk. Learn about patents, look for similar ideas or products. Is there a big enough market for your product and can it be manufactured at a cost that will be at least 1/5th of the estimated retail price? Look up invention sites and advice but beware, most all of them want money from you. So research, research, research yourself! And remember, if your Kickstarter campaign does not succeed, it is not a failure. It is a lesson learned to be applied to your next great idea. The only way you fail is to never take a risk in the first place!Best of luck and never give up! - Scott Comstock/ TheInventionBrothers.com
THE INVENTION BROTHERS.com
What is the best way to drive traffic from within Kickstarter?
I've had three successful projects that were buried in the stacks and stacks of projects. I would love to make staff pick, as well. If backers can't see the project, they are unlikely to back it, after all! Here are my suggestions: Updates at least once a week, even if there isn't any activity. Keep them positive and talk about how great your product is. Have a finished project/prototype for people to see. My videos are rough, but they definitely aren't photoshopped! I'm not a big fan of buying social media likes. Keep the features to three points. It seems more realistic and pragmatic. Above all be cheery and respectful in all messages to backers. That doesn't mean caving into every suggestion, but thanking them for the time and suggestions.I try to make every project something that I would personally pay money for. Much better than trying to build a project that is going to net $1M on KS. :)Have a great day!
How can a Kickstarter success be translated into sales when your project is complete?
I think a post campaign sales strategy is very important. For me, Kickstarter has always been used to pay for production. It's the sales after where I start making a profit. It is important to start thinking about it well before your campaign has launched. Who are the distributors that deal in your product, are there any local stores that would be interested, and what kind of trade shows can you attend to promote it?
Paul Roman Martinez