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Wed, Oct 17 2012 19:17:43 UTC

How to run a successful Kickstarter campaign

Kickstarter has become a very popular way to finance projects, especially in the art and content creation areas, where other types of financing may not be available to you. But not all projects get funded. There are things you need to keep in mind about using Kickstarter, and tips that may improve your chances to run a successful campaign.

The first thing to keep in mind is having realistic expectations. Even if you've heard about some people raising millions of dollars through the site, like the Pebble E-Paper Watch, chances of you doing the same are slim to none, unless you're already a well known celebrity in your particular niche. In fact, most art projects who get successfully funded seem to raise around $5,000 to $25,000. Remember that you only receive the money if you reach your goal, so that goal should be realistic.

You also need to be careful not to over-promise. When you create your project, you can offer incentives to backers, based on the amount of money they put in. But if you start offering swag like t-shirts or mugs, then remember that you may end up being stuck creating and shipping hundreds of shirts and mouse pads instead of working on your main project. Shipping them internationally can also cost a lot. The trend lately has been to keep offerings to just your actual finished products, with maybe a few simple extra items, like signed copies, or maybe even a few posters.

Another tip is to clearly explain on your campaign page why people should be interested in backing you. Remember that there are thousands of projects appearing on Kickstarter, so anyone going there will have a vast selection to choose from. If you're creating something new, tell them why the world needs what you intend to make. Let them know how they will personally benefit. Post as much information and work-in-progress pictures as you can. Incentives can be a great start, but a lot of people back projects based on what they think is most worthy, not so much for the physical goods.

One tradition with Kickstarter projects is that people expect regular updates about your project. It's important that you always keep your backers informed as to how the campaign is doing, when you get funded, and what's happening with your project afterward. Most people are fairly flexible if, for example, your project ends up taking more time than expected, but you should let them know at every step of the way. Be transparent and provide constant updates.

If you browse the site for various projects, you may notice almost all of them provide a video. Your Kickstarter video is the most important piece for your campaign. It's what people look at to decide if they want to give you money, before even reading the description. So you need to make sure it looks professional, and conveys your message clearly. Some people decide to do a funny video, while others keep it serious. That's completely up to you, depending on the type of project you're doing. You should keep it fairly short at around 3 minutes, and you should take the time needed to do the post-production work to make it look great.

Finally, even if you're an artist or content creator, you need to remember to treat your Kickstarter campaign like a business. Just because you think it's a good idea, that doesn't mean others will just flock to your page. You need to market your idea, send targeted pitches, tell others in your niche about it, buy ads, and so on. You have to do everything you can to make your project known to others, and be prepared to get feedback. A lot of people will respond negatively to any new creative idea, that's just the way it is. But if you took the time needed before starting your project to make sure you're doing things the right way, then you should feel confident enough not to let them get to you.

In the end, the most important goal is whether or not you reach your financial goal, which then allows you to create your project.

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