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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is Your Project Right for Kickstarter?



As much as I love Kickstarter and crowdfunding, not every business and creative project is right for the medium.

 You’ll need to go through a few different decision points to determine whether or not your project is a good fit for Kickstarter.

First, does your project fit into a specific category on the Kickstarter website?

 According to the Kickstarter guidelines on the company website, every project must fit into one of their categories:

Art, Comics, Crafts, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.

Second, your project must result in a product or experience that can be shared with your backers in some way.

This means that you can’t use Kickstarter to raise money for “fund my life” type of projects, like you can with GoFundMe or other websites.

If you’re raising money for a nonprofit organization, that campaign has to result in a product or experience that the backers can consume or enjoy.

You can’t just donate the funds to your non-profit organization.

As I pointed out earlier, Kickstarter is not a something for nothing transaction.

Your backers should get access to perks and rewards when they pledge money to your campaign.

Third, you can’t offer any prohibited items as rewards or perks.

You can check out the entire list of prohibited items on the Kickstarter website.

The list below may change, but at the time of writing, you can’t offer: Any item claiming to cure, treat, or prevent an illness or condition (whether via a device, app, book, nutritional supplement, or other means). Contests, coupons, gambling, and raffles Energy food and drinks. Offensive material (e.g., hate speech, encouraging violence against others, etc). Offering a genetically modified organism as a reward. Offering alcohol as a reward. Offering financial, money-processing, or credit services; financial intermediaries or cash-equivalent instruments; travel services (e.g., vacation packages); phone services (e.g., prepaid phone services, 900 numbers); and business marketing services. Political fundraising. Pornographic material. Projects that share things that already exist, or repackage a previously-created product, without adding anything new or aiming to iterate on the idea in any way. Resale.

All rewards must have been produced or designed by the project or one of its creators — no reselling things from elsewhere.

Drugs, nicotine, tobacco, vaporizers and related paraphernalia. Weapons, replicas of weapons, and weapon accessories.

I think that many of these guidelines are common sense.

I do tend to get a lot of questions as to whether or not you can re-sell products on Kickstarter.

The answer to that is no.

You can also only offer rewards that have been designed or produced by you or a teammate.

The fourth consideration is that you must have a prototype if you expect to raise money through crowdfunding.

This applies to both technology and creative projects.

If you’re going to be raising money for a comic book, you better have at least sketches, a compelling story, and artwork that you can show your backers.

You won’t be successful if you’re trying to raise money for an idea using Kickstarter.

The further along you are with your prototype, the better.

This way, backers will have more confidence that you can make good on your promises, actually finish the creation, and mass produce it.

Finally, you need to put in the work to build up a small crowd before launching a crowdfunding campaign.

But wait, aren’t you going to Kickstarter to connect with strangers that are interested in your project?

I know that building a crowd before crowdfunding sounds counterintuitive, but you absolutely must to do it.

A small crowd will give you the early boost that you need to trend well in the Kickstarter algorithm, create social proof, and attract regular backers on the platform.

 I’ll discuss this more in-depth in future post's. It’s extremely rare that I see a creator do well when they did 0 preparation and had 0 early backers.

Usually, even in those cases, they wish they had done more preparation, because they’d be an even bigger success story.

In order to get familiar with how Kickstarter works, I recommend backing a few projects on the platform.

You don’t have to back up the upper tiers.

You could even back them for only $1 if you really wanted.

By backing a bunch of trending and new projects, you’ll quickly get to see how creators communicate with their backers.

 Pay attention to the emotions you feel as you come across the various projects, how their pages are laid out, and what backers are saying in the comments section of each project.

This will be a great learning experience that you’ll draw from as you put together your own campaign.

At the end of the day, Kickstarter is a community.

This is one of the huge reasons it works so well as a platform to fund your creative project, tech gadget, or cool new ecommerce product.

The basic campaign format also triggers many of the core human emotions that turns visitors into buyers or supporters of your crowdfunding campaign.

Rather than pleading for money, you’re providing value in return.

Rather than hoping that people engage with your campaign when it’s convenient for them, you give them a limited 30-day fundraising period where they can get their pledge in.

Many of the assets of a well-crafted Kickstarter campaign, like an engaging video and high quality product photos, are the same marketing assets that work well for other types of product launches.

In future post's, I’ll be going into the nitty gritty of launching a great campaign, along with the best practices to get the word out and stand out above the pack.

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