Kickstarter First Aid: Diagnosis

Help! My Kickstarter Campaign needs first aid!
I’ve run several successful crowd funding campaigns, and learned a lot from my successes (both of the “over the top 1000 percent funding” and the “just narrowly reaching the goal” varieties) and all together, I’ve helped raise over $70k via crowd-funding. Because of this, sometimes creators come to me for advice about a Kickstarter in trouble.

Of course, the best way to have a great campaign is doing lots of work before the campaign, but often people don’t come to me before the campaign, they come to me in the middle, when funding has hit a snag. Usually the story is something like this: They launch, they get a decent start, and then things trail off, and people stop donating. Or very few people donate in the first place.

When I help a creator in the middle of a campaign, I have  five steps I consider. In the posts this week, I’ll be going through these steps, and the common protests I hear from creators about why they are unable or unwilling to do these things.

In this post, I’m covering Step 1: Diagnosis: Evaluating Your Existing Campaign.  This post covers how to evaluate your existing campaign page, and what you could do in order to make it look more professional and attract backers.

1. Diagnosis: Evaluate Your Existing Campaign

Step One is all about looking at your current campaign: Your Video, Your Text and Your Rewards. You don’t need to have a professional videographer, writer and graphic designer put together your Kickstarter but you do have to show that you care. Showing you care means doing the best you can.

MAKE A DECENT VIDEO

Your video is an opportunity to connect with your backers, to tell them who you are and what you are doing.  A decent video is one that clearly expresses what your project is and who you are. A great video is one that people will want to share.

How is your video? Easy to understand? Clear audio and visuals? Does it say what your project is? Who you are? Are you in the video? How do you look? Do you look professional? Trustworthy? Competent?

What is important for your video is dependent on what type of project you are doing. A video for a band does not need to have perfect visuals, but it does need to have great audio. A video for a fiction project doesn’t need perfect audio or visuals, but the explanation of the project should be clear and the words exciting. A project that supports a movie? That video should be amazing.

Here’s a common statement I hear about video: “I didn’t make a video because I don’t know video stuff”

I understand that video is hard, and that the easiest thing is to open the laptop, turn on the video recording and just throw that up. But that doesn’t show that you care.

Here are a couple tips for making a simple video better.

  • Write out what you are going to say.
  • Keep it simple and short
  • Make sure your video is well lit. (Outside in the daytime or a brightly lit room)
  • Dress professionally, whatever that means to you and your profession.
  • Shoot your video at eye-level. This may mean elevating your laptop. Do not look down at your backers. It is A. Unflattering B. Rude
  • Talk about your project.
  • Talk about your qualifications to do your project.

If you cannot make a video, considering hiring someone to help you. The more effort you put into your campaign, the more you are likely to get out of it.

WRITE CLEARLY ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

When you write about your campaign, you must imagine yourself as the backer who just landed on your page. What do you want to know? What do you want to see? What information should be readily available?

The first thing you must write is a clear sentence about your project. What is it, in the smallest, easiest to read sentence you can possibly put together. If a backer was only going to read one sentence about your project, what would that be? Put that sentence first.

Then you can describe your project in more depth. Elaborate on your first sentence. Write what you are planning to do and how you plan to do it.

Write about yourself. How are you qualified to do this project? Have you done previous work like this? How did that turn out? Why are you passionate about this project?

Show examples of what the project currently looks like. If there are any visual examples of what you’ve done, show them.

What will rewards look like? If you have any visuals of rewards, show them, or at least, a selection of them.

Here’s another common excuse I hear from Kickstarter creators:

“I just threw something together. After all, it didn’t look like INSERT CELEBRITY HERE put in much work.”

Copying celebrity campaigns, even successful celebrity campaigns, is not a model for success for a non-celebrity. Sure, you can learn great things from successful people, but don’t neglect the successful campaigns of non-celebrities, first time artists, and people who have a small following.

The truth is, the less famous you are, the more work you have to put in to convince people you are competent.
“I have to talk about MYSELF? I thought this was about the project!”

It IS about the project.The project YOU are doing. You are part of your project, and therefore, people need to know about you. Who are you? What are your qualifications? How did you become passionate about this project?
“I told them this wasn’t like Twilight, Guy Fiarri or Justin Beiber, shouldn’t that be enough?”
No. First of all, like it or not, those things are SUCCESSFUL. Sure, some people may love to hate them, but they are SUCCESSFUL MONEY MAKING ENTERPRISES. Do not hate on them – you are just turning off the people for whom these things are genuine pleasures.

Don’t tell us what you aren’t. Tell us what you ARE.
If you are a musician, and you say that you are nothing like “Justin Beiber” that really doesn’t tell us who you ARE like. I see lots of writers say that they “Aren’t like Twilight.” Okay, but so is War and Peace. So is To Kill A Mockingbird. This doesn’t tell us what you ARE writing. Try to avoiding speaking in negatives. Instead of telling us who you are not, try telling us who you ARE.
Sometimes people will say “But I don’t want anyone thinking I’m like Twilight.
And I’m like “What, a successful franchise with legions of fans? Yeah. I bet that would be THE WORST.”

If you don’t want to be like Twilight, then don’t make it like Twilight. Seriously. But also, don’t alienate potential fans. It gets you nowhere and tells people nothing.

TEMPTING REWARDS

Rewards are important. Do you have affordable rewards that you can deliver? If you were supporting your campaign, what reward level would you give to? Imagine you are a stranger who is interested in your project – what would make you open your wallet? If none of the rewards seem tempting to you, how would they be tempting to someone else?

Look at the rewards of successful campaigns like yours. Is there a popular reward level? What about that reward makes it appealing?

Rewards levels will vary greatly depending on what you are offering. Some campaigns will do best with higher than average numbers, while some will rely on low number rewards with many backers. Research your area to see what works best for your type of campaign.

Tomorrow: Social Media

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