The blog

A gamble or a sure thing? Here’s how to succeed with Kickstarter (& don’t forget the deductions)

fundedMarket-leading crowd-funder Kickstarter recommends you spend two weeks or so crafting and honing your campaign. I agree, and add that most of those two weeks will be spent in a maelstrom of self-doubt. Or maybe that’s just me? In this stat-packed posting I’d like to explore how I succeeded with my Kickstarter project but I’ve got to be upfront about the doubts. There were many of them and I was genuinely surprised when pledges for my book came in thick and fast, and funding was guaranteed on the first full day of the campaign. I didn’t plan for that, I didn’t expect that. It was a beautiful, warming, touching surprise.

UPDATE: since this article was written I put another book on Kickstarter. This, too, was successful – it’s the sequel to the first book, and raised £14,692 in a three-week campaign.

Once the funding was guaranteed, I had a relatively easy month. I didn’t have to badger my Twitter followers or send out increasingly desperate emails to anybody and everybody on my computer’s email client. With hindsight I can now dig down into the stats and analyse how the Kickstarter campaign did so well, so quickly. I can also throw in a few warnings, especially about the amount of money you think you may get after a successful campaign.

TESTING, TESTING, 1, 2, 3
Before hitting the ‘launch’ button I shared the campaign with a number of trusted friends and associates. They helped me fine-tune the text, the video and the pledge amounts. Most of them said I’d easily reach my total but I wasn’t so sure. When I first broached the idea of launching on Kickstarter I got five or six comments and tweets to “go for it” and that these folks would pledge. Great, that’s an indication there could be some life in a funding campaign but, in reality, the five or six comments only accounts for five or six pledges. To go out on a limb, I felt, was risky. Asking for angel investor cash is done in private; Kickstarter is a very public place. Fail, and it’s noticed, and thanks to Google, it’ll be noticed for ever and a day.

kickstarterembedI asked for £4000 and eventually got £17,407 from 648 backers. Only one pledge was from family, and that was three weeks into the campaign.

I pressed the ‘launch campaign’ button via my iPad while sat on an evening train to Coventry. I then emailed the 2000 or so names on an opt-in list placed on this blog-of-the-book. Within seconds of the email going out (it might have been minutes, time telescopes these things) I started to receive pledges. The first was from a lawyer in the US, for £65. The project was now real to me. People were pledging cold, hard cash. More pledges started to come in. The Kickstarter app on my iPhone started going crazy fast, updating me with pledges. I went to sleep in a Coventry hotel knowing I was a quarter of the way to my target already. The next day I was researching the book at the National Cycle Archives at Warwick University and had to turn off my connectivity because of the pledge pinging. I have to say, it’s rather nice doing research in an archive room knowing the book you’re researching is being so actively and wonderfully supported.

My project reached its funding total while I was sat in a coffee shop chewing the fat with a Coventry cycle campaigner, waiting for my train back to Newcastle. Twenty hours had elapsed. Naturally, I was elated.

But how and why did my campaign work? Let’s look at some stats, taken from the admin section of my Kickstarter project.

Funding was guaranteed within 20 hours. The next spike was when Kickstarter.com plugged the project in a global email.

Funding was guaranteed within 20 hours. The next spike was when Kickstarter.com plugged the project in a global email on March 27/28th.

HOT LIST
The early success of the campaign wasn’t down to the video or the images I placed on the Kickstarter campaign page or the finely-honed text. It was due to trust. I got pledges before people had a chance to read the copy or watch the video. There were people out there (lovely, intelligent people, people with impeccable taste) who wanted to back the project no matter what the Kickstarter campaign said. This has to be due to my email list of 2000 names. These are people who trusted me enough to pop their email addresses in a digital opt-in box. Many will be happy to wait for the free version of the book but a large number were clearly primed and ready for my announcement – I’d plugged it on the blog and on Twitter – and pounced as soon as the campaign went live. I wasn’t expecting this level of support, I wasn’t ready for this. It’s a history book FFS, it’s not a flashy digital doo-dah, of the type that seem to do so well on Kickstarter (I should know, I’ve bought two of ’em: an iPhone thermometer and a Bluetooth amp) or a smartphone accessory such as the Millimount.

PERSONALISED VIDEO
Kickstarter School says having a video is the cornerstone of a successful campaign.

“A video is by far the best way to get a feel for the emotions, motivations, and character of a project. It’s a demonstration of effort and a good predictor of success. Projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without (50% vs. 30%).”

having-a-video

Research by MWP Digital Media found that having a video on a project gives the owner an 85 percent better chance of achieving their funding goal. MWP Digital Media analysed 7,192 projects on Kickstarter in order to understand the effect that a video has on whether or not the project achieves the funding target.

I enjoyed making my video and spent a long time fine tuning the edit, choosing the music, and generally faffing about. Was it worth it? I’m not so sure. I invested time, effort and money in that video (the 1.5 second appearance from the Roman Centurion cost me sixty five quid) and yet not everybody clicked into the video, and even those who did, didn’t make it all the way through. Which is a shame because, in my opinion, the best bit is at the end, with me riding an 1890s bike around an architect’s office.

kickstartervideo

However, later in the campaign, when I was reaching out to those who didn’t know me from Adam, perhaps the flaky pieces-to-camera helped persuade pledgers I was real? It’s hard to tell from the stats.

BACK OTHER PROJECTS
When I look at which projects to back on Kickstarter I’m influenced by whether that project is a Kickstarter pro or just a crowd-funding beginner. I’m much more likely to back a project if they too have backed projects. It’s not just a karma thing, it’s about being part of a community. I’ve bought e-books on Kickstarter; and real, letter-press printed books, too; I’ve pledged for LED-lit pot plants. Before you set out your Kickstarter stall I think you should become part of the crowd. Fund some stuff.

30 DAYS TOPS
My project lasted a month. Any longer than this and you risk boring folks to death. I limited the amount of tweets I did for the Kickstarter project; to keep them going for longer than a month would be punishing for any social media audience you may have. More time does not mean more time to pledge, it means more time to potentially annoy people. If I did another Kickstarter campaign I’d probably limit it to two or three weeks; four is too much.

Kickstarter School recommends keeping it short:

“Funding can last anywhere from one to 60 days, however a longer duration is not necessarily better. Statistically, projects lasting 30 days or less have our highest success rates. A Kickstarter project takes a lot of work to run, and shorter projects set a tone of confidence and help motivate your backers to join the party. Longer durations incite less urgency, encourage procrastination, and tend to fizzle out.”

TAKE YOUR TIME & GET OTHERS TO CRITIQUE YOUR PROJECT
“The average successfully funded creator spends nearly two weeks tweaking their project before launching,” says Kickstarter school. This is exactly how long I spent, albeit on and off (I have a day job, too; in fact I have more than one). Don’t rush it. You can edit your campaign text, the main body of words, but you can’t edit the blurb or the financial amounts on the rewards. I spent a long time working out my costs and testing the prices on the rewards. I asked a number of key associates to look at the rewards structure for me: some said the rewards were priced too low, some said they were too priced too high. I took a middle course and hoped the market would bear the costs. It did. Some of the rewards sold out; the £275 reward was bought once; and the Karl Kron £105 package (hard-back book and name in lights in the book) was bought by seven people. No matter how good you are at video editing, graphic design, project management or writing, it pays to seek out the opinions of others. I’m glad I did, and thankful, too.

‘HIDDEN’ COSTS
I raised £17,407 but that’s not how much I ended up with, 14 days after the campaign ended. Kickstarter takes a cut (they gotta eat) and there are credit card charging fees, and VAT to pay.

Here’s the breakdown:

kickstarterfunding

Kickstarter gets a fee of 5 percent of whatever your campaign raises. Payment processing fees slice off another 3 percent, plus £0.20 per pledge. Pledges under £10 have a discounted fee of 5 percent plus £0.05 per pledge. Value Added Tax is assessed on the fees.

If you have a fixed amount of money you have to raise, you really ought to factor in these deductions from the start. Need to raise £15,585? You’ll need pledges worth £17,407.

On the subject of credit cards it’s worth pointing out that not all nations are fixated on plastic. If you expect to sell loads into Germany or Denmark or many other European countries, Kickstarter may not be for you. There are other crowd-funding services available and they often have more ways to pay.

kickstarterreferrersgraphic

KICKSTARTER IS LISTENING
Part of the two week research and testing of the campaign involved reading Kickstarter’s comprehensive guidance notes. I noticed they pay attention to social media and to mentions on Google News. Hammering away on Twitter by constantly mentioning @kickstarter ain’t gonna achieve much. The company has too many followers to notice the @ messages. My goal was to try and get Kickstarter to take notice by getting mentions in news sites, sites crawled by Google News.

By asking nicely on sites such as Road.cc my project appeared in news stories. The plan was to accelerate the appearance of these news stories, outside of the world of bike media, in week two in order to maybe get handpicked as a Kickstarter staff pick.

As it so happened my project was a staff pick very early on. This led to some pledges from outside my social media reach but my biggest break was appearing in Kickstarter’s global email. In the graph near the top of this piece you can see the spike in pledges on March 27/28th when this email went out. The weekly global email picks out three projects: get in that and you fan out to a whole new audience. And here are the results in more depth.

Nailed it was the title of that week’s global Kickstarter email.

kickstarterreferrer1

Nearly a fifth of all my pledges came from the Kickstarter global email. I got lucky, but from the get-go my goal was to get in that email. Only three projects out of thousands get picked: getting in front of Kickstarter staff can be the difference of an OK campaign and a stellar one.

Direct traffic is made up of emails from CTC and my opt-in email list of 2000. CTC sent out one email newsletter about the project, I sent out seven emails, spaced over the month. I didn’t email friends and family. There were sixty pledges via Twitter. I have 10,800 followers on Twitter. The embedded widget appeared on this blog and so should be counted alongside roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com: so that makes 11.5 percent of cash pledged. The two articles on Road.cc brought in more pledges than the article I wrote on the Guardian Bike Blog, which surprised me.

kickstarterreferrer2

KICKSTARTER IS JUST THE, ER, START
Raising the money pays the bills but I feel Kickstarter’s greatest value is in raising a project’s profile. I can’t go into details right now but let’s just say the £17,407 (which turned into £15,585) isn’t the end of the story. I’ve had approaches from TV companies and major US publishers; I’ve appeared on podcasts in America and on mainstream radio shows in Austria. Success breeds success and a successful Kickstarter campaign is able put your project in front of new people, and in a manner that would hard to do in any other way.

LEARN FROM OTHERS
From the comments below, and from emails, it’s clear that this posting is reaching out to others thinking of launching their own Kickstarter projects; projects nothing whatsoever to do with cycling. Google’s great (mostly). If you want to pick up more tips check out the Green Lighter podcast show. This interviews crowd-funding creators, driving people to projects when there’s still time for them to make a difference.

101 thoughts on “A gamble or a sure thing? Here’s how to succeed with Kickstarter (& don’t forget the deductions)

  1. Philip McAleese (@iPhilipM) / Reply April 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Really fascinating to see how it looks from the other side.

  2. VELECO / Reply April 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for this Carlton we’re due to launch a Kickstarter project for our ethical cyclewear in the next few weeks, there’s some great advice in here, really appreciate you sharing your experience

    • carltonreid / Reply April 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Make sure you let me know by email so I can do a trade story on it. carltonreid at macdotcom

  3. Gemma at Loopwheels / Reply April 23, 2013 at 8:35 am

    This is excellent and interesting advice Carlton. Kickstarter is all about sharing and thank you for sharing your experience in this way. I am 61% funded nearly a week into a campaign (loopwheels) and it is a nerve-wracking experience when it means so much to you. Exhilarating too, but I think when you get to 100% you enjoy it more!! Your point about other countries is important, but not just because of credit card attitudes. Would-be backers from non-UK, nonUSA IP addresses can’t back, and that can be frustrating for them as well as us. You feel you’ve set up an expectation you can’t fulfil – though it is reassuring re future sales of a product. However, some of the messages of support feel even better than the pledges ( as long as we reach that target!!) I agree too it is about so much more than the funding: it is just the, errr, start. 😉

    • carltonreid / Reply April 23, 2013 at 9:40 am

      First off, thanks for buying the book. I saw from your Kickstarter profile that you had done so. I tweeted your Kickstarter campaign last week, it sure looks like you’ll reach your target.

      And, yes, Kickstarter is a perfect pre-launch platform for a tech, innovative product such as yours. Yet also amazing that people are willing to spend so much for products they can’t feel and touch and are very much having to take on trust. Bodes well for the future, for sure.

      I didn’t know about the IP blocking, I thought it was just a credit card thing.

      • Gemma at Loopwheels / Reply April 23, 2013 at 10:22 am

        And thanks for tweeting our campaign, and your encouragement! The IP thing is definitely real, it’s not the credit cards that are the main problem. And yes, high priced products are a gamble – but we’ve managed to get some good external validation in the form of comments from people who rode at Bespoked – that’s really important for any one who is planning a campaign for a similar kind of product . . . No need to reply again 😉

        • March / Reply June 13, 2013 at 8:49 pm

          Ehi I just wanted to say that I’m from Italy and I was able to back, so maybe is not a IP issue?

          Usually we are always blocked (netflix, spotify, google music), but this time i had not problem, only had to pay like a little more like10% or something

          • Gemma at Loopwheels / June 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

            Thanks for this. With our campaign about 6 or 7 people had problems from “abroad” (in different EU countries plus Egypt plus Africa) and others did not. So there does seems to be a problem but is is intermittent – and I don’t know if maybe it is the credit card companies, if not the IP address??? Anyway we let Kickstarter UK know and they were going to look into it. Some of our backers got other people in the UK to back on their behalf and a couple gave up and dropped out.

  4. Minnie Rodriguez / Reply May 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m also in the nerve-wracking midst of crafting my project. Your insight is very helpful. Cheers!

  5. Anonymous / Reply May 15, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Great information Carlton, thanks for taking the time to craft such an informative and inspirational piece. We are prepping for our kickstarter project launch and are so thankful that folks like you have taken the time to share your experiences.

    Thanks man!
    -Mike

  6. josh / Reply May 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Good suggestions. I’m working on a project of my own and this is incredibly useful!

  7. Sausage King / Reply July 31, 2013 at 10:50 am

    This is awesome! Thank you for sharing it. I think Kickstarter is brilliant.

    Any tips on how to push mine along a little? http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2002246497/the-sausage-king-adventures

    Many thanks in advance.

    Stephen

    • carltonreid / Reply July 31, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Hi Stephen

      I like sausages.

      Perhaps the £25,000 total was too ambitious? Costings were a bit vague.

      • Sausage King / Reply July 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

        Thanks Sir, maybe I should tighten them up and be a little more detailed. I’m not even sure £25k is enough! I want to regenerate the High Streets of Britain!

  8. Dwight M / Reply July 31, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Hey Carlton, this post was very inspiring. My kickstarter can be seen here http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iomxv/ides-of-march-clothing?ref=category . The trouble we are having is getting noticed outside of our social network. I’ve sent out AT LEAST 100 e-mails to blogs, publications, etc. to no avail. Any suggestions?

    • carltonreid / Reply July 31, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Hi Dwight

      Sweet tees – and I love the Roman angle.

      As you know, clothing is a v competitive category on Kickstarter.

      Your own email list would normally be the best and quickest pledgers. Failing this, what you’re doing is the right thing: trying to get street fashion blogs to mention your campaign.
      Good luck with the rest of the month.

      Carlton

  9. Chris Bryant / Reply August 26, 2013 at 7:09 am

    I really appreciate you posting this article. I also have a kickstarter project that could use a little expert advice. I’m two days in live and no attention yet, though I just changed it a bit today to the main and most important reason for doing this.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/68188799/the-sword-of-hope-destiny-awaits

    Some things can’t be put into words. Some emotions run too deep. My project, getting my book made into a game, is not only for myself. When I began writing, things were simple. It was about sharing my gift with the world. Just before publication, tragedy struck my family. Within 3 years, I lost my Dad, my Grandfather, both of my Great Grandparents, and one of my best friends. To add to that, my mom, now a widow, was diagnosed with the same disease that claimed my Grandfather’s life, Parkinsons.

    I chose at that point to move out of my apartment, leaving my roommates, to do the responsible thing: take care of my mother. For the last 5 years, I have lived here with her trying to take care of her and it’s hard. It gets worse everyday. I remember the woman who was so strong, who used to take walks, worked all the time, had a great attitude. Now, she sleeps all the time and can’t remember what happened that morning.

    Here’s why I began this project. Like my book, I want to not only share with the world, but I want to be able to earn a revenue stream where I can take care of her needs without having to leave her alone for multiple hours a day. I want to give her the peace of mind that everything is taken care of. I can’t do that without your help. I’m asking you to take compassion for this situation and pledge towards this project, towards her future. Thank you.

    Chris Bryant

    • carltonreid / Reply August 26, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Hi Chris

      That’s a heart rending story, for sure. Re your project I think you ought to edit the text to tell prospective backers what you’re planning. I couldn’t find many details on the page (maybe cos I was accessing via an iPhone?)
      Good luck.

      • Chris Bryant / Reply August 26, 2013 at 7:57 am

        you’re absolutely right. I had gotten caught up in the why and didn’t add the what. lol I’ve updated it to include this paragraph and picture.

        I have been working with Dusty and his team at Podunk Studioz to create a prototype for a game based on my book, The Sword of Hope Destiny Awaits. We have been doing some primarily design work on a 2d/3d adventure game that takes ques from legend of zelda puzzle solving and shadow of the colossus boss fights, which both seem to be perfect fits for the mythos created in the first book. Below is the main “boss” designed by artist Charm Hockaday. With the $5000 pledged, we will create a game prototype to be sold and also promoted to the larger platforms, such as Nintendo, Sony Playstation, and Microsoft Xbox.

        • carltonreid / Reply August 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

          Can’t access the updated page right now but will you be adding a video? That helps, especially with ‘visual’ projects.

          • Chris Bryant / August 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

            I have a promo trailer posted on the project as my video. Its the trailer I created for th book. Something to give backers an idea what the game will be about.

  10. matt / Reply September 4, 2013 at 3:28 am

    I loved the read! We wont have a video up on my kickstarter for another week. Can you check mine out and tell me if I am dooming the project early by starting without our Promo, thanks!

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/146510098/project-able

    • carltonreid / Reply September 4, 2013 at 7:21 am

      Hi Matt

      As your project is about a film I’d say it very definitely needs a video, introducing yourself and Imani.
      I reckon you also need more detail on the pitch about exactly what the $20,000 is for. Just saying ‘film crew’ isn’t enough.
      You have a lot of Facebook friends, which is good for getting the word out. Backing another Kickstarter project or two would show you’re part of the crowd-funding community.
      Good luck.

  11. Amr Saleh / Reply September 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Amazing, we’re launching a kickstarter campaign soon and this is really helpful!

  12. Max Timm / Reply September 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks so much for this. I have 19 days remaining on my campaign, and I’m at $5200 where my goal was $3500. I’m quite happy, but I feel my book deserves to be seen by a broader audience. My biggest challenge going in was that I didn’t have much of a blog following. I’m quite lucky that I have had such a positive response without any real existing fan base. It could mean A) I have an amazing group of friends (which is true) or B) the project truly does represent something marketable and profitable. My issue right now is continuing the positive funding trend, but I have had quite a “leveling out” period over the past couple days.

    Do you have specific suggestions as to how you got your project into the Kickstarter global email (beyond what you mentioned above)? I’d love to know…that was obviously very huge for you and your project.

    Here is my project if you’re interested in checking it out. I feel very happy with the video and campaign as a whole. Thanks for such an informative and helpful article.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1997871021/not-just-another-pixie-story-a-young-adult-fantasy

    –Max

    • carltonreid / Reply September 16, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Hi Max

      This is a toughie. Part of it was plain good luck for me, I guess. And somebody at Kickstarter who must like cycling.
      Now, who at Kickstarter is into pixies?

  13. Thisishappy.org / Reply October 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Fascinating insight, I guess all projects are different, we are half way through and still a long way off, but we are tweaking and trying every day. I think not having a physical product as such, may be a major block.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/helphappyhappen/happy-banging-the-drum-for-creative-cumbria-uk

    • carltonreid / Reply October 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      A ‘thing’ to hand on is definitely a strength.

      How big was your original email list?

  14. Greg Allum / Reply October 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I’d love for you to check out my Kickstarter, we’ve gone for a somewhat different approach with the video:

    http://kck.st/181kFI8

    • carltonreid / Reply October 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Funny video, esp the bit about your poor starving baby. Bit of Blair Witch Project styling going on there.
      I love the tache on the ant-eater. I notice you’re nearly at your target with 19 days to go.
      I also tweeted it out there.

      • Greg Allum / Reply October 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

        Thanks. Well I tried the professional video but I have a face for radio. We’re nearly there but still we have lulls. Am hoping for a big push via interviews and would love KS to feature the project. That’s the boost I need 🙂

  15. chelle snail / Reply October 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    What a fantastic project and teaching us kickstarter tips, really appreciate it :). I would too ask you to check out my kickstarter project once its up too 🙂

  16. kenny / Reply October 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    How do I get an opt-in list to email blast 2000 people? BTW here’s my kickstarter 🙂 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2067453190/i-want-to-be-bacon-when-i-grow-up-childrens-book?ref=live

    • carltonreid / Reply October 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      I’m a vegetarian! Only kidding..but I rarely eat bacon.

      I built-up the blog with regular content to get 2000+ email list.

  17. LumaGlo / Reply November 8, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Thanks for the great tips. I have a live campaign going on right now with 23 days left. Over half of our backers were from the first day when we were featured in the “recently launched” section. It seems as though everyone loves our project, and the ratio of views-to-pledges is pretty high. But the hardest part is telling people about us. Do you have any suggestions for getting the word out or for getting chosen as a staff pick or included on the email?

    Our campaign is http://kck.st/16MXsff. I think we have a compelling product. I would love any critique you could give.

    • carltonreid / Reply November 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

      Hi Jill

      I’ve tweeted it. Product could be good for cyclists.

      • Lumaglo / Reply November 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

        Thanks! You’re exactly right, it’s perfect for cycling–either wearable OR adhered to bicycle itself. It creates visibility, but it’s also cool using different patterns and colors to turn heads.
        Jill

  18. carltonreid / Reply November 8, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Good luck. How did the Gadget Show Live show do for you?

    • Mark Cronin / Reply November 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Hi

      The Gadget Show Live was great – lots of interest. Although most people wanted to spend money at the show and walk away with the goods. It was an excellent opportunity to get the backers reward (ipad) bag in peoples hand, it got great feedback and we had about 10 pledges during the show.

      Also the press day (Friday) was great for PR, it resulted it 2 TV interviews and 2 decent blog articles. (eBuyer and GirlyGeekdom).

      However even though the foot fall at the show was over 25k, these where not

      targeted fans – so depending how the next 11 days go, for next time I will be focusing on a longer term strategy, and taking your advise to build a solid marketing list before launching.

      But still time for some luck 🙂 My half way press release should make it to Google news in a day or so..fingers crossed.

      Here are the links to the reviews of the Kickstarter projects at the show if you are curious.

      http://www.ebuyer.com/blog/2013/11/the-gadget-show-christmas-kickstarters/comment-page-1/

      http://girlygeekdom.com/gadgets-entertainment/4-interesting-small-companies-with-great-gadgets

      Thanks
      Mark

      • carltonreid / Reply November 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

        The list was an overnight success story, that took nearly two years to build…

        • Mark Cronin / Reply November 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

          Watch this space 🙂

  19. Bryce Westervelt / Reply November 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Love this post…and congrats on your project. Clearly building the list was huge for you – and then Kickstarter boosting you way past your goal was tremendous. I am currently running my second project – a couple years after my first one – and I am finding the landscape a bit different. Unlike you, I have been going person to person it seems…. but it is working, little by little, to get my set of books into print! Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed for a great last 9 days! – Bryce http://kck.st/1eESJfr

    • carltonreid / Reply November 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      It’s possible to get bicycle-shaped pasta: I wonder whether you can get penguin-shaped pasta…
      Good luck with getting the next half of the funding.

      • Bryce Westervelt / Reply November 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

        Penguin-shaped pasta is an interesting idea…. was talking with a colleague of mine who is mentoring me though this. He runs a publishing company that deals with cookbooks. We talked about a kid’s cookbook collaboration at some point…. penguin-shaped pasta has my wheels turning.

        • carltonreid / Reply November 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

          I get bike jerseys made via Foska.com They also sell the bike shaped pasta: http://www.foska.com/pasta-di-bici.html

          Last time I asked, they use an Italian company (obviously) which will create a die in any shape you want. Costs a bit but die shape is then yours…
          No doubt there’ll be an American company that could do this for you. Not for this book, but for the kids’ cookery book. Giraffe shapes, too.
          Then again, there’s already penguin-shaped pasta: https://pastashoppe.com/product.php?id=47&&c=2

          • Bryce Westervelt / November 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

            Yes…had seen the penguin party pasta…. That is a really, really interesting idea – to have a die made. Oh the possibilities…penguins, giraffes, owls, oh my!

  20. James Gorman / Reply November 17, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Big congratulations and thank you for freely giving the insightful analysis. This has been on my mind while I was building prototypes- how? what works? the all or nothing pressure, will they love me or dump me? I’ve been studying successful campaigns, and you have helped me. Thank you.

  21. Dwight from BackersHub / Reply January 12, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Hey Carlton,

    Awesome points – especially the section “TAKE YOUR TIME & GET OTHERS TO CRITIQUE YOUR PROJECT”. I personally believe feedback is very valuable, before you launch and during your campaign. As a campaign creator, we get hundreds and sometimes thousands of views for our KS page but we can’t really tell why we aren’t converting. The team and I at BackersHub have created an awesome rating system for Campaign Creators by Hardcore Backers – we help give campaign creators awesome feedback in real time from our growing community of Backers. We like to think of ourselves as the next best thing as getting featured on Kickstarters Global Newsletter.

    Do you think a feedback mechanism for potential backers that left your page without pledging could have been helpful for you? You could have found out why they weren’t interested and probably made minor changes to your campaign to get them in the fold. I would love to get you, and any Kickstarter Backer that may be seeing this, on board – http://hardcore.backershub.com/

    Cheers + Congrats!

    Dwight from BackersHub

  22. chris / Reply January 26, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Hi Carlton, we have just launched our kickstarter
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/900916787/tuscan-farms-very-first-olive-harvest-tractor-and

    can i just add to your great piece that the after launch process is extremely nerve racking…..but we would say you need to keep the belief, or bust.
    Great tip about getting outside postings via newsletters and the like.
    Thank you for your inspiration. Sue and Chris

    • carltonreid / Reply January 26, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Mmm, olive oil!

      There was a TV ad, early in the days of e-commerce, showing a small olive oil producer selling direct to overseas. Seemed amazing at the time.
      Good luck! (I may just place an order, too).

  23. Andreea Columbu / Reply January 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Carlton, thank you for your useful article, I’ve learned a lot! We’ve released 2 weeks ago our kickstarter project : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1490421468/noble-rebels .

    At first we’ve got a lot of pledges, but after that pledges stopped coming our way. Maybe you have a few insights about that?

    • carltonreid / Reply January 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Yes. Standard.

      But there must be a ton of Christian blogs/news sites you could plug into and ask for mentions.

      • Andreea Columbu / Reply January 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        Well, I’ve contacted a lot of them. I’ve got some of them to write about it, but the rest only offers advertising solutions. I’ve even wanted to create the content of the article myself and offered to help the writing process.

        Can you give me some feedback for the t-shirt? What do you think about our design. I honestly don’t think that our designs are the problem.

        Did you know that from 14 Christian Clothing brands on Kickstarter, only one was successful?

        Thanks for your quick reply! Cheers!

        • carltonreid / Reply January 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm

          I’m a news journalist. This is a news story: “Did you know that from 14 Christian Clothing brands on Kickstarter, only one was successful?” That could be a lead in to Christian newspapers and even tech websites. No such thing as bad news! You might generate some publicity and a fraction of those going to the news stories could end up buying a tee.

          • Andreea Columbu / January 28, 2014 at 3:24 pm

            Already tried that, the response was that it’s not fit for their blog, their audience is used to a specific type of blog posts…
            That won’t stop me from contacting more of them. Thank you so much for your help and for replying back to my comment. I really appreciate that!

          • carltonreid / January 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm

            Send press releases to news sites, and not just Christian ones. Major on the 14/1 ratio not your brand in particular.

  24. Steven Weinzierl / Reply February 7, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Thanks so much for sharing. We too just launched our project. I’ll be sure to take note. Thanks again.
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/93422951/bear-a-short-film

    • carltonreid / Reply February 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Good to see you’re also backing the Kickstarter films others are proposing. No Facebook? (Can’t say I blame you).

  25. Bully For You!!! / Reply February 13, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    I’m baffled as I’ve done quite a bit of that preliminary broadcasting and my project is virtually stagnant with 17 days to go. Any suggestions? https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bully4umascots/bully-for-you-giving-birth-to-the-awww-factor

    • carltonreid / Reply February 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      How big an email list did you have?

      PS
      I like the bulldog in Crocs!

  26. Jordan / Reply February 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks for the great advice.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1875202093/hungry-bunnies-3d?ref=discovery

    • carltonreid / Reply February 28, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks, Gregory.

      A few points. You’ve not bought anybody other’s stuff on Kickstarter so it looks like you’re not playing a part in the community. Nor have you activated a Facebook page. These two things look negative on your Kickstarter profile.
      Lots of text about the game but there’s no text about you. It needs more personalisation.
      Also: how big an email list do you already have from a blog or similar? This is quite critical.

  27. Carjomaha / Reply March 24, 2014 at 10:46 am

    it’s harder than you think, Musiac has launched only a few days ago. Started off okay but slowing down considerably. What else can they do to boost without pestering on FB. ?https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1112831839/musaic-wireless-hifi-music-system-your-music-your

    • carltonreid / Reply March 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

      How big was the original email list? That’s one of the key’s to a successful Kickstarter. £12k is a great start but project will now need to be picked up by as many tech blogs as possible. No point doing much more Facebook badgering, if any. Audio and tech blogs and news sites have got to be the main badger points.

  28. Crowd Energy / Reply March 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Hi Carlton, we just launched a renewable energy kickstarter project http://kck.st/1gZQaY2 and hit 3k the first day but day 2 + 3 seem to have slowed down. We are at a disadvantage because we do not really have a deliverable product. Any advice? – Thanks Todd Janca

    • carltonreid / Reply March 26, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Toughie. I tweeted it.

      I like the “nerds in wetsuits” reference.

      Good luck.

  29. Barbara Zarek Gould / Reply April 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Carlton,

    Thank you for so many tips! I sure wish I’d found this before I launched our project, BEKK Blanklets! Although I have a lot of Facebook friends, I don’t feel I’m getting much traction there (not many have little babies, and the safety seat laws have changed so much in the last 15 years). I love your idea below about writing an article…may do one on car seat safety. That may be the edge for my product. What do you think? You have such a wonderful perspective! Any insight you could lend would be invaluable!!!

    Also, I think my campaign may be too short – I went with 2 weeks and maybe should’ve gone a month. Although, I’d underestimated what a nail biter life becomes once you hit the “launch” button…I may be 90 pounds before this is completed!

    Here is my project, if you have a moment to look: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bekk-blanklets/bekk-blanklets-revolutionizing-the-way-infants-tra

    • carltonreid / Reply April 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Barbara

      Yes, 14 days is kinda short; Kickstarter recommend 30.

      The key takeaway from my article, and my experience, is that before you launch you have to build up a stellar email list. I did this with a content-rich blog, leaking content from the book. Once you have a good email list, the moment your project goes live you can gain traction quickly.
      This is of no help to your launched project. Writing content for baby blogs would be a good way of generating views.
      I think an update on the reasons for going to Kickstarter would also be good. There’s not much meat on the reasons why you need $6000.
      Good luck.

  30. Sellus Wilder / Reply April 2, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a film project a couple of days ago (http://kck.st/1lyhobU). I timed my launch to coincide with an April Fool’s Day video that got decent play on social media and regional press, and I have a decent social media presence and profile in the immediate area (central KY). It’s become clear that I’m not driving nearly enough traffic to my sight though (or at least am not converting enough of that traffic into contributions). Any advice on adjustments I can make now that I’ve already launched?

    • carltonreid / Reply April 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      I can see that could go viral in the areas likely to be impacted by the pipeline. The ‘worst case scenario’ video was great.
      My experience is that an email list gets you over the initial hump. Without a strong initial email list you’re relying on social media, which isn’t always direct contacts.
      More spoof videos might help.

      Good luck.

  31. Anisa Wiseman / Reply June 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I am trying to see if I could possibly fit into a category on kickstarter but I am having a hard time, http://www.floatwise.com any advice would be amazingly appreciated.

    • carltonreid / Reply June 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      What would be the product you’re selling? Time in a float tank?

      • anisa / Reply June 18, 2014 at 12:33 am

        Yes along with workshops.. but that comes with the floating. I may have to go with indiegogo I think but I’ve had many people tell me to try and make it work with kickstarter.

        • carltonreid / Reply June 18, 2014 at 1:57 am

          I think Kickstarter works best for products; Indiegogo is better for “services”.

  32. Benjamin Mason / Reply July 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I have just started a kickstarter project to fund making a studio for my illustration work not expecting any pledges but if anyone wants to have a gander and let me know what you think https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1208659301/wouldnt-mind-starting-a-studio

    • carltonreid / Reply July 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Basic problem: you only have five £10 pledges available so you’re limited to raising only £50…
      Back to the drawing board, you could say …

  33. Michael Aiuto / Reply July 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I too recently started a kickstarter campaign about 2 days ago. I’ve been attempting to gather interest in the project (twitter, Facebook, website) but have not received much. Am I doing something incorrect? Germ Rush Puzzle Game by Syke Software LLC http://kck.st/1mK7EMD

    • carltonreid / Reply July 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Nothing wrong, but games is a very crowded market on Kickstarter.

      • Michael Aiuto / Reply July 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm

        Thanks for the reply! Just got to keep on trucking. 🙂

        • carltonreid / Reply July 11, 2014 at 6:32 pm

          You might want to tame down the “we have no money” angle! What’s in it for your consumers, not you!

          • Michael Aiuto / July 11, 2014 at 6:37 pm

            True… I guess that could seem a bit off putting. I will make the effort to refocus the project more toward the game and the consumers, and not as much focus on our lack of funds. Thanks!

  34. Ron / Reply July 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Carlton, thanks for this breakdown of your story. It’s
    helpful. You talk about self-doubt. I experienced that right after launching my
    project, but beforehand I was very much in a good fun mood. I also took a good
    amount of time (1 week, all day, every day) to craft my campaign.

    Since I do think my project is fun, but do have self-doubt
    about it, now that it’s live and for real, I’m interested in opinions outside
    my close circle.

    If you have the time, and motivation, perhaps you could
    tell me what your first impression is on my project. I’d really appreciate it.
    If not, still thank you for the article 🙂 I put the links below.

    Take care!

    Ron

    http://www.buildingthebricktower.com
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronvaessen/the-brick-tower

    • carltonreid / Reply July 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Ron – did you mean for your whole campaign to have a goal of just 10 Euros?

      • Ron / Reply July 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm

        Yes, my first guess was that it would be enough, a minimum. Now I just really want to build it, and 10 euros is enough to start for me. However, I obviously need way more people for it to be some succes, as a tower. The amount is somewhat weird then, hm..

      • Ron / Reply July 15, 2014 at 7:19 pm

        Thanks for the response, good point. I think my project is a sure fail. With or without a more realistic goal.

        I guess that counts for some learning experience.

  35. carltonreid / Reply July 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    $525,000 is quite a target! As your project is a local one I guess it will rely heavily on coverage in local media. How good are your contacts?

  36. Ed Bakhoum / Reply July 30, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Hi Carlton. Do you mind sharing your strategy for acquiring 2000 fans before launching your campaign? How did you reach / find those people?? Best wishes to you…. Ed

    • carltonreid / Reply July 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Blog article content.

      • Ed Bakhoum / Reply July 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        You say that you had a “email list of 2000”, but you didn’t give any details. How did you find all those fans before launching your campaign? Advertising on Facebook and Twitter simply doesn’t work (I did try that approach). Ed

        • carltonreid / Reply July 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm

          I wrote stuff; people liked that stuff; I asked for their emails. And that’s it.

          • Ezzat Bakhoum / July 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm

            Thank you very much Carlton. This is very helpful. Very best … Ed

  37. Liam Hooper / Reply August 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Carlton – your article was very engaging and informative. I’m curious as to how you actually got picked up for the kickstarter email and staff pick please?

    If you have any tips for my campaign please do let me know!

    http://www.strangerswithin.co.uk

    Cheers,
    Liam

    • carltonreid / Reply August 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      I have no idea! I suspect some staffers might be bike fans.

  38. MrInnovate / Reply August 23, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Carlton,

    How did you drive the traffic to your blog that got you the large email list? I have a blog, but building traffic is difficult. How long did you build the blog up for?

    Thanks,

    Mr. Innovate

    • carltonreid / Reply August 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

      It took about a year of writing stories that interested people.

      • MrInnovate / Reply August 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

        Thanks for the quick response! I have some work to do then!

  39. Cindy / Reply September 3, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Hi Carlton! Thanks for the tips…I´ve launched my project yesterday, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2090683903/vriie-cruelty-free-faux-fur-fashion-accessories-ma
    Hope you like it…it has nothing to do with cycling, but we have quite a concept 🙂 …We´ve spent a lot of time and effort doing the video, have email almost 400 editors and bloggers, but it seems people on the fashion industry are not so nice as in other industries, and nobody besides our friends have made a pledge. I was wondering if Google ads will work? If not, how do you get the buzz you mentioned on Google? Any other suggestion? I´m willing to be chosen staff pick…hope it happens 🙂
    Thanks again for your nice article!
    Please have a look at our project.
    Best!
    Cindy

    • carltonreid / Reply September 4, 2014 at 7:26 am

      Hi Cindy

      Actually, the worlds of cycling and faux fur *do* coincide at times, check out Philipe Starck’s new electric bike covering: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/technology/44108/philippe-starcks-mass-bikes.html

      From what I can gather, Kickstarter staff picks are reasonably random but at least one algorithm is for the editors to pick up on products going viral on the first day or two. And the way to do that is (a) having an email mailing list with people eager to buy in to your product as soon as they get the email or (b) by getting listed on some major sites and blogs (which is what you’ve been doing).

      Pester them a bit more, with personal reach-outs. They’ll likely get tons of emails a day but perhaps not that many phone calls or hand-written notes. You’ve still got a lot of time so time enough to reach out to the influencers in your space.

      Good luck.

      Carlton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *