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As I type this, our Kickstarter campaign is currently funding at $131,641 with over 2,100 backers and 7 days left on the 28-day campaign.
In this article, I’m going to break down the exact ideas and systems that have allowed our team to create this level of funding and success. We will dive into the importance of traffic, conversions, copy, design, prelaunch, and more!
While we have also found incredible fortune in creating businesses around Online Arbitrage and Amazon Merch, we have recently become deeply intrigued with the power and capability of kickstarting a brand or private label product through crowdfunding as opposed to traditional product launch on standard marketplaces.
This article is intended to be simple to digest but also informative. Let us know if you have any questions!
How Does Kickstarter Work?
Kickstarter is a simple crowdfunding platform that allows users to launch physical products in a “presale” type format to raise money for bringing the product to life. When creating a Kickstarter campaign, you set a “goal” that you need to manufacture and fulfill your first run of products. If enough backers sign up to support your project or campaign and you hit your goal, your campaign is then considered a success. Backers are signing up to fund your product in exchange for “rewards” which are usually copies of your product or other bonus items.
If you launch a project but do not meet your goal within the campaign’s time frame (you can set them to run up to 60 days) then you will not receive any funding, the project will be canceled, and the users who did back your campaign will be refunded.
It’s becoming more and more common for brands to use crowdfunding platforms to blow up product launches to 5, 6, and even 7-figures. But why?
- Crowdfunding allows the presale of a product, thus eliminating the overhead and risk of estimating how many units you will need to manufacture. This is a massive solution for the hardships of bootstrapping enough money to manufacture thousands of units when you aren’t even sure if the product will sell yet.
- Consumers on crowdfunding websites are helping bring a product to life. When your customer gets to be included in the initial launch of a product that has never before been created or offered, it feels like being a part of the team. They help you raise enough money to bring the product to life, and in return they get the product before anyone else, with discounts, and with other bonus material exclusive to backers of the project only.
- Crowdfunding creates easy market validation.
- You have direct access to your customers’ contact information, thus allowing you to market future offers and products to them as well. This is huge, as one successful Kickstarter campaign can create a list of hot customers who will enjoy other things you make and offer. The domino effect over time can be massive for building a brand.
- Pre-selling items can offset future costs of production and create a huge revenue bang. If you raise $5,000 and have a manufacturing plan for producing units at $5 each, that $5,000 can help you manufacture 1,000 units. If you raise $5,000 but are offering each unit as a reward for $30 on your campaign, you will only owe about 166 units to your backers. In other words, if 166 people fund your campaign at $30 each to raise a total of $5,000, that money is enough to print 1,000 units. That leaves another 834 units (which are already paid for) that can then be launched and sold on marketplaces to bring in even more revenue. If you end up selling all 834 items at say $40 each, you generate another $33,360 in revenue. You can start to see how valuable this system can be for launching a brand.
- Kickstarting a product will steamroll your Amazon (and other marketplace) launches. When you create a successful crowdfunding campaign, you also create a large audience for sharing all at once. When you fulfill all of your orders to your backers after your campaign with incentive for sharing, that sharing can create viral success in your marketplace launches that follow.
This is our second Kickstarter project. We created our first one in 2018 and raised just under $9,000 which was also a huge win for us. However, we have learned so much along the way which we will share in this article.
When our original Kickstarter was over and the 450 units were shipped out all at once, people started sharing and it skyrocketed our new product launch sales on Amazon. Three years later, that product still ranks in the top 1% in it’s category, has over 260 reviews, and generates passive income. We’ve never once run any ads to boost reviews or sales on it, although it’s probably not a bad idea.
1 – Get Familiar with the Layout of Successful Kickstarter Projects
Before I start with tips, take a moment to review the video, copy, and layout of our Kickstarter project here. (And if you dig it, grab a few rewards!)
Before our team creates or launches anything, we spend a good amount of time analyzing other successful product designs, layouts, marketing materials, and copy. Not only does this help us generate ideas for our own projects, but it gives us a good guideline for what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t currently have a product in mind, it can also give you ideas on types of products with real market validation.
Spend some time surfing around Kickstarter, Indigogo, and other platforms and get a feel for what is working and what isn’t. Copy and design are important for making conversions, but they aren’t going to fund your campaign for you. More on that below…
2 – Set a Reasonable Goal You Can Hit Quickly
This may sound weird, but ideally, you should have two goals in mind for your Kickstarter campaign. Goal #1: What is the minimum amount you need to raise in order to manufacture and fulfill a certain quantity of orders to get started? Goal #2: What is your ideal goal that would make this a success for you?
Kickstarter runs on algorithms just like most e-commerce platforms these days. It’s better to set a low, reasonable goal and prove to Kickstarter that you can hit your goal quickly than it is to set a larger goal and barely make it until the end of your campaign.
If you can drive traffic and fund the goal you have set within 24-72 hours, Kickstarter is likely to start favoring your project and maybe even slap a “projects we love” banner on it. That’s when you will start to get higher numbers of internal search pledges that could carry your project to a much larger funding amount. This technique isn’t absolute, but we’ve had success with it.
Our initial goal was set at $5,555 because it was the amount we needed to fund the first round of production for our decks. We ended up hitting this goal in 12 hours and blasted way beyond over the next 7 days. Our real ultimate goal was around $22,000, but we have 5x’d that at this point too.
We will dive more into the importance of traffic and how we did this in a little bit.
3 – Optimize Your Copy and Design on Kickstarter
It’s important to optimize copy and design on Kickstarter to maximize conversions. Here are some quick tips:
- Solve a problem. As with any type of commerce, you have to express to the consumer that they will love, benefit from, alleviate hardships, or have fun with your product. The best way to do this is to make a product that solves a problem or peaks curiosity and excitement, that way it’s much easier to write copy.
- Create a feel-good experience. The Sweet-Ass Affirmations 2.0 Deck that we launched helps remind you of your inner power and focus in just seconds, as opposed to most things in the world that distract you from your inner power and focus. It helps you uncover and release your creative inner child again. We are very clear on this messaging, and we also included lots of humor throughout the video, copy, and product itself. People love to laugh and feel excited. If you can help people feel good, they will likely support you and your products.
- Identify your target audience immediately and let them know the product is for them. If you can, try to include keywords or relatable language to your target audience within your title, subtitle, and throughout your copy. I know that most people who are into affirmations decks are also into oracle and tarot decks. I also know that our product is designed to help people expand their creativity in an unfiltered, gritty way. Therefore I included all of these personas in my title and subtitle which also helps with searchability within Kickstarter too.
- Keep your headlines and copy short. In today’s world, nobody has an attention span that lasts longer than a few seconds unless you can peak their interest immediately. When writing copy and creating headlines, make sure you are direct, brief, and to the point. Most people make a decision to be interested or not within 3 seconds, so create headlines and images that stand out and keep their attention long enough to discover how the product will truly help.
- Fill in by sharing features and exactly how the product will help. Create small sections that list out the product features and how it can be used. Infographics are also incredibly helpful, as eyes usually get caught by images before they get caught by text.
- Use a featured image that pops and stands out. Make sure to spend diligent time in creating a featured image (and all supporting images) for your campaign. You can find cheap and talented graphic designers on fiverr, as well as other exchange marketplaces. You want your image to stand out to the maniac who is scrolling Kickstarter at 3 am in their undies. If you are at the point of designing your campaign page, you should already be talking with manufacturers to get samples made for your product, so you’ll need product designers to help create the printing blueprints for the manufacturers. They might be able to help with your featured graphics too. Sometimes manufacturing plants have built-in design teams. Canva is another great tool for throwing together quick designs for your page.
- Create infographics outlining your rewards. We’ve found it helpful to create an easy-to-navigate graphic version of our reward tiers on our copy page. These help people easily identify the rewards that are offered and also instigate the sign-up process. You can highlight discounts and specials you are offering on these graphics.
- Remove half of what you just wrote. The first draft of your copy and design will most likely be way too long. Do your best to cut out about half of your original draft and really dial it down to quick, clear, and easy messaging and images. The longer the copy, the more the confusion and overwhelm. It’s best to keep it short and simple on crowdfunding campaigns. The more images that can replace text, the better. Let your product speak for itself if possible.
4 – Drive Traffic or You Won’t Be Successful
You must drive traffic to your Kickstarter campaign before you can have a chance to convert a sale. The copy and design are only there to sell the conversion.
Sometimes projects with excellent design and copy launch and don’t hit their goals, and other times products with shitty design and copy hit their goals. While optimized design and copy will always help raise more money toward your goal, they are only the driving factor of a successful conversion, not successful campaigns.
This is one of the biggest mistakes made when launching on Kickstarter. It doesn’t matter how great your video, copy, or product is if you don’t have traffic. If you cannot get interested eyeballs on your campaign, it will not be successful. Kickstarter will not promote your project to appear on the main pages of the search index if it has low traffic and low funding. You have to prove to Kickstarter that there is a demand for the product first and then the Kickstarter algorithm will kick in and help you along the way.
4a – Set Up Pre-Launch Traffic with Lead Magnets and Giveaways
There is nothing that will help you hit your initial goal early like creating a pre-launch email and contact list of those who are interested in funding your campaign. If you have a list of hyped people to contact the day your project goes live, you are setting yourself up for success. Here are a few ideas:
- Set up a simple landing page that shows a preview of your project and campaign before it launches 6 months ahead of time.
- Include an email opt-in with a relatable freebie or lead magnet. You are basically trading some sort of exciting or valuable digital item in exchange for an email address.
- Create a giveaway bundle to drive traffic with software like Gleam or Woorise and share it leading up to the campaign. You can set them up so that people get extra entries for sharing on social media, following your Kickstarter pre-launch page, and lots of other custom things.
- Get featured on podcasts, publications, or anywhere else with audiences to try and drive traffic to your pre-launch page. We have some in-depth systems on this that we will share in future blogs.
- Notify list when the project goes live. Keeping the list warm leading up to your launch is smart, but at the very least notify your pre-launch list the morning your project goes live. You can create an email to announce that the winners of the giveaway were selected, and then encourage anyone who didn’t win to grab the rewards from the campaign instead.
4b – Drive Traffic with Influencer Audiences
Driving traffic with influencer audiences can take a lot of time and effort, but it can really pay off if executed correctly. There are so many creators on youtube, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, podcasts, TikTok, and more that have audiences that may be filled with potential customers for you. Here are some ideas:
- Find the ones that are relatable to the type of product you are launching and offer them a free sample in exchange for a review of your product on their platform when you launch. You can manually search or hire a virtual assistant to do data research for you. Look at micro-influencers in the 10k-30k follower range with good engagement on their posts and see if you can get in contact.
- Use Loom to record personal videos to send to influencers, as opposed to cold emails. Relate to them in your videos and let them feel your personality. Loom has an option where you can copy/paste a giphy sample of your video into an email to send. This will grab attention and help you stand out.
- Use Podcast Hawk to run data searches on podcasts and get booked on shows that are relatable to your product. If you have a message to share or something to teach, pitch the shows and try to get booked on as many as possible leading up to your launch.
4c – Drive Traffic to Your Kickstarter with Ads
Ads are without a doubt the most powerful and effective way to drive traffic and grow your campaign on Kickstarter. We did not run ads on our first campaign, and we have been running ads for the entirety of our second campaign. The difference has been bananas. Our ads have driven over 66% of our conversions. The effect of the ads has also created much more success for the ranking in the Kickstarter algorithm, driving even more conversions via internal search and placement. I don’t think we will ever run a Kickstarter again without using ads.
There are a few key things to know about running Ads:
- Don’t try to run ads yourself unless you are an ads expert. You’ll most likely lose a shitload of money and get really angry. We’ve done it before. It sucks. Don’t do it.
- Use a professional ads company and contact them months before you launch to discuss your project goals, margins, and budget. We have been using Jellop and they are incredibly professional, direct, and supportive. They run Facebook and Google Ads. They even have a free page analyzer that will scan your Kickstarter page and give you tips on how you can optimize it better.
- Know your margins including product cost, shipping, fulfillment, and all other expenses before you contact or set up ads. You’ll want to set a minimum daily ad budget and ROA (return on ads) that will allow you to be successful and not lose money. We decided to go with a minimum ROA of 2.5, but our ideal ROA is above 3.5. Early in the campaign your ROA’s will be much higher (3-7ish) and then usually flatline a bit in the middle before a big spike again at the end.
- Don’t fear ad spend if you can blow your brand value up, but do your homework first. We have definitely spent a good chunk of money on ads for this campaign, but the value of our brand, customer acquisition, and email list will skyrocket because of it. Make sure you analyze your own situation and decide if ads are right for you before diving in head-first. They aren’t a great fit for everyone, and it’s really easy to lose your ass if you don’t pay attention.
You can see here that over 66% of our conversations were imitated by a mixture of Facebook and Google ads. Our average pledge amount is $62.11.
Here is an example of one of our ads:
5 – Create Simple Reward Tiers with Discounted Multipacks
Make sure you create rewards that are simple, clear, and not confusing to your potential customers. It’s common on Kickstarter to see a scramble of offerings in rewards on top of the main product itself. This can be really confusing and overwhelming to the common person who is browsing your page. When a buyer feels overwhelmed, they bail. It’s best to make it clean, simple, and easy for them to understand. The only time I’ve seen this work well is with artists who offer special prints and paintings for extra money.
Our first campaign was really confusing, as we included a bunch of merchandise offerings and random items that people could add on. We lost a bunch of conversions because of it, and it made fulfillment a super pain in the ass. Kickstarter now has an “add-on” feature that is really helpful if you want to offer other related items to your supporters when they checkout.
After studying a bunch of successful campaigns and launching our current one, we have found great success in offering a solo pack, twin pack, and then maybe one or two larger pack offerings. You might also want to include a note about wholesale for those interested in larger orders.
It helps to offer discounts for multipacks and encourage your audience to buy an extra for sharing with their friends, family, or other loved ones. If your product is solving a problem for them, it can be a solution for someone they love too. If it makes them feel good, they will most likely want to share that feeling with someone else.
We offer our two-pack for $44, just 25% more than our solo pack at $33. This discount alone has driven more than double the amount of supporters from the solo to the twin.
6 – Offer Early-Bird Rewards and Expand Them if Working
One common technique for creating urgency is offering early-bird discounts to a limited number of supporters. You can do this by duplicating one or more of your rewards and offering a discounted price for a limited number of users who sign up first.
You can add more available spots to your early-bird campaign as the project is live, so you don’t have to worry about picking the perfect amount before launch. As you gain more supporters, you may find that your budget allows for the release of more and more spots.
We’ve been releasing extra spots way longer than we anticipated because our campaign has grown so big. Early birds encourage people to sign up immediately, as there is a sense of urgency to reserve one of the spots before they run out. You can definitely use this method in a grey-hat way throughout the campaign too, but ultimately more people getting discounts isn’t a bad thing.
7 – Create Higher Margins with Add-Ons
As briefly mentioned above, you can now create add-on items that are offered to your supporters when they checkout on Kickstarter. We have seen massive success with this in offering our first Sweet-Ass Affirmation deck as an add-on. Over 700 people of the 2,000 that have funded us have added on an original affirmation deck. That came as a massive surprise for us. The traffic also overflowed to Amazon, and we unexpectedly sold out there too. This has been a great method for adding extra revenue and creating higher margins. Good problems.
This is what the add-on offer looks like:
8 – Fund and Co-share Other Successful Projects via Updates
If your project is doing well, it’s always fun to collaborate and share with other projects that are also doing well. Try and find a few similar projects that look relatable and cool that also have success and do the following:
- Back the other project
- Message the project creator and let them know you backed it and are also running a similar campaign.
- Ask the other creator if they would be interested in sharing your project via an update in exchange for you sharing theirs. This will help you both get more eyeballs with targeted audiences since your projects are similar.
- Share their featured image, a brief description of why you like the project, and a link to their project in one of your updates and wait for them to do the same. Watch the new support roll in! Sharing is a great thing to do on a supportive platform like Kickstarter.
9 – Use Kickbooster to Offer Cash-back to Affiliates or Fans for Sharing Your Project
Kickbooster is a really helpful tool that allows anyone to easily create their own affiliate link to your Kickstarter project. You can set each user who signs up to a custom affiliate %, or just set a default for everyone to use. Once they create their account, they can share their links anywhere and drive traffic to your page, earning cash-back for everyone who converts.
This can be a great offering if you find some affiliates or influencers who want to share. It can also be great to offer to backers or fans who may want to earn some cash-back also.
This is what our booster landing page looks like:
10 – Create an Engaging Video
On our first Kickstarter, we had a hilariously bad video that we threw together with some janky cameras in the Philippines with our team at the last second. We were still able to raise $9k, but we saw how un-engaged the video was to the user (Kickstarter provides these stats) and as a consequence, a super low rate of conversions.
If you can budget some time and money to make your video, I highly recommend it. We spent a good amount of time on the video for this campaign, and our engagement stats and conversion rates are out of the roof.
We’ve had just over 4,000 plays on our video, and 30% of those viewers finished the entire video. Over 2100 have funded the campaign!
If our video wasn’t as good, that conversion rate would be so much lower. If you are going to spend money on ads, make sure you are setting yourself up for success by creating good copy, graphics, and videos to help the conversation rate of the traffic from the ads. Otherwise, you may blow your budget and end up face-down-pants-down in the bushes.
11 – Play Around With Categories and Party
You can switch your product category at any time during your campaign. We started in Illustration and are now in Product Design. Some categories are much larger with higher competition and higher traffic. Others are smaller with less competition and less traffic. It may help to start in a smaller category where you have a better shot of showing up on the featured sections, and then move to a bigger category once you have some juice.
You may also get fresh eyeballs if you switch from one category to another, as you’ll be reaching a new audience with different interests most likely. If you switch your category at midnight, you can compare full days of tracking with google analytics and see what is working best for you. We were able to land into the featured area on the home page and multiple category pages.
No matter what category you are in, always remember to party and have fun with your campaign. It’s pretty wild we get to create things and share them with people all over the world!
We hope this post has helped you gain some insight on how to create a successful crowdfunding campaign and use it to boost your brand long-term. If you create one successful Kickstarter, it’s easy to roll your momentum into a second, then third, and so on!
Look for crowdfunding to start taking over a big part of the launch market in the near future.
Let us know if you have any questions!
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