We are so thrilled that our fundraising effort on Kickstarter was a success! We're now entering the pre-production phase, which means tons of meetings, trying to get everything lined up and ready to go. We will keep you posted on our progress! In the meantime, a lot of people have asked us about crowd funding and how we raised the money, so we thought we'd share our thoughts on it.
1) First, do tons of reasearch on Kickstarter. Find projects similar to yours, and study what is working for others, and what's not working. Contribute to other projects, see how they keep their backers updated on their progress.
2) Read Kickstarter's advice on how to set up a project. They know what they're talking about, they are the experts. One thing we took to heart was keeping our fundraising period relatively short. Plus, as they say on Kickstarter, people make their decisions quickly on the internet, so more time doesn't necessarily mean a greater chance of success.
3) Make a project video. You have to do this. People won't emotionally connect to your project if you don't show them what you're all about. Keep the video length short. If people can't get through the whole video, they might feel like they're not passionate enough about your project to contribute. Keep in my mind that after they watch the video, they're going to have to spend their time signing up for Kickstarter in order to pledge to your project.
4) Our most successful rewards incentives were at the $20 and $100 levels. From observation, this seems to be a common trend. Make sure your rewards at that level are really good!
5) Our project would not have been successful without facebook and twitter. If you are not on these, then sign up now before you launch your project! With the help of hundreds of people sharing our project on facebook and twitter, we reached our goal. It would not have happened otherwise.
6) Email blasts. When you first launch your project you want to inform everyone you know, but we've all gotten mass emails that we sort of ignore. A month before our project launched, I started writing personal emails to everyone I knew and saved them until launch day. Of course, you will sometimes have to mass email, but the more personal you can be, the better.
7) Before you launch, create a plan and schedule for your fundraising period. How will continue to promote this after week 1? Week 2? Essentially, try to create a roll-out plan, new things to announce, special limited incentives, new information. We did not exactly do this, but I really wish we had because once the fundraising starts, it feels like you're under water and you can't think as clearly! We were lucky that we had interviews come our way, so we were able to share those on a regular basis.
8) Try to write each of your backers a personal thank-you note when they contribute. I fell behind at a certain point, but I did write about 700 notes.
9) An observation: We were very lucky to have some extraordinarily generous donors contribute very large sums of money. We also had the experience of a donor fall through during the fundraising period. What we realized when this happened was that one person had a lot of power in our project and that was a very vulnerable position to be in. As you know, anyone can drop out at any point in fundraising (even after your fundraising is successful, people can still fall through, although it is a very low percentage, like 1%!), just be aware of this and perhaps choose your rewards levels with this in mind. You are more protected if you have many smaller donations than just one large donation.
10) If your project is socially-minded, try to find organizations with similar goals and see if they will promote your project on their website or with an email blast.
Those are the top ten things which come to mind, but if anyone has any questions, please feel free to post a comment!