The Things I Wish I Knew Before Launching My First Kickstarter Campaign

The Things I Wish I Knew Before Launching My First Kickstarter Campaign

As I close in on the last eight hours of my very first Kickstarter campaign, I wanted to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained through this amazing experience that might help other people who are thinking of launching a Kickstarter. It’s a daunting experience but one that can hopefully be improved by learning as much as you can before you start.

You Are Going To Need Help

Smaller scale campaigns like mine can certainly be run by just one person. But only if you’re willing to put everything else on hold while the campaign is running, because as I’ve found, running a Kickstarter campaign is at least a full time job.

If you’re unable to take time off from your normal work, you might want to consider hiring someone to help manage the campaign or to help with specific areas such as campaign page design or video editing if they're not your strong suit. Even as a freelancer who is able to more-or-less change his schedule at will to accommodate things, I still had a lot of trouble shuffling shoots around, putting together interviews, answering phone calls, doing the marketing, and running my own business in the interim. I can’t imagine someone with a full time job doing one of these all on their own and not entirely losing their sanity!

Simply Having a Good Product Is Not Enough

Before I launched my campaign, my biggest concern was the quality of my pictures and the book that they were going to be in. Do I have enough pictures that I’m confident about? What kind of paper and binding method should be used to best show the images? These are extremely important things to consider especially when you’re producing a high quality product that has a price tag to match, but this is not the only area to focus on.

Make sure you have your presentation down. One thing I’ve noticed about the Kickstarter campaigns that I back myself, is that they all have very professional looking campaign pages. If you just put up a bunch of pictures and a wall of text, people might not take your campaign as seriously as say, a campaign that has a cleverly crafted campaign page that clearly looks like a ton of time and consideration went into. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend who does this type of thing for a living and she stayed up until 4am for a few days to put my campaign page together for me. Also, make sure you have a solid script for your campaign video. My video came out great in the end, but I filmed it without preparing a script or message, and most of it had to be scrapped together in post by my poor video editor with a lot of overdubbing. Make sure you have a solid idea and script for your video before you go to film it.

Also know that the number one thing is that you absolutely need is to get your campaign in front of as many people as possible. Yes, you’re going to turn into “that Kickstarter guy” but it’s the difference between a failed $5,000 campaign and a successful $50,000 campaign. Think of every single person you’ve had contact with in the past couple of years and email them. It’s not just people you know directly, but also social media, newspapers and magazines, networking groups, clients, anyone you can think of. Especially for someone like me and most other photographers who do not come from a marketing or sales backgrounds, it is going to feel very uncomfortable, but don’t be afraid to shamelessly push your campaign and be “that Kickstarter person” for a month or so -- it will be the determining factor on how far your campaign goes. 

The Three Important Groups Of People

Our plan at the beginning was to break the campaign into three funding ‘groups’, if you will. For each part of the campaign, we’d focus on one specific group at a time, and hopefully this would have a snowball effect over the course of the month. 

For the first week, we wanted to focus on getting people that we directly knew on board - friends, family, clients, and people that we see on a regular basis. For the second and third week, we pushed hard to media outlets, blogs, social media, etc. Finally, towards the end of the campaign, we were able to focus on using our momentum to show people that we didn’t know that this book was something worth being taken seriously. It was also during this last week that we made the rounds AGAIN to all of the above, and showed them how far our progress had come, and that we’d still love for them to be a part of it, share it again, or increase their pledge amount.

Thankfully with some tenacity and stubbornness, we got some great press involved, had a huge upwelling of support from the local LA community, and hit some great funding numbers during the traditionally slow ‘mid campaign slump’ that so many campaigns fall into.

Things Slow Down on Weekends

This is a random piece of advice, but the pledges seemed to slow down like clockwork every weekend. So when you launch your campaign and suddenly don’t get any pledges come in during the weekend, don’t panic. This appears to be normal, though was a bit shocking at first. Only about 5% of our funds were generated over the weekends. That said...

 

End Your Campaign on a Weekday 

This will allow you to do one final push for your campaign and everybody won’t be busy sleeping in and loafing (like me) or going out with friends. On that same note, try not to end on or around a holiday. One of the things that I would have changed if I were to do this again would be that I would have not ended around the 4th of July. Very few people are going to donate around holidays. We built in a little buffer but I would have liked to still have a few extra days to let everyone sleep off their hangovers and return to normal life before ending the campaign.

 

And there you have it! Hopefully this will come in handy for those of you who are thinking of launching a Kickstarter campaign. Time to get back to giving my campaign a final push! You can check out the campaign out by clicking here.

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4 Comments

E Port's picture

Congrats on reaching your goal, Mike! A very creative reward scale too.

Scott Basile's picture

Quit yapping and print my damn book. Seriously, congrats on a successful campaign and getting to publish what I am sure will be the first of many books. Well done Mike!

Bert McLendon's picture

Congrats Mike, that's a huge goal to meet! There are a lot of deserving projects that don't get funded, so mark that off your bucket list! What's next? =)

It’s a full time job if you want to achieve your goal more or less quickly. Thank you for sharing your experience; I believe it can insure lots of people against making common mistakes. I read similar info at http://payforessays.org/essays-for-sale.html where examples of campaigns gone into oblivion though being worthy and interesting were cited.