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6 Secrets To A Successful Kickstarter Campaign

There’s a huge difference between writing about Kickstarter and actually doing it. My friend, Allan Karl vaulted over his goal after just 9 days!  IIn just 30 days he hit a whopping 186% of goal raising over $40k for his soon-to-be-published book entitled FORKS. A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection.

Here’s his insider scoop on how he did it and how you can too:

1. A Kickstarter Campaign Is A Full-Time Job – Any delusion you might have that once you post your video and rewards that pledges will soon be filling your coffers, you need to lose immediately. Regardless of the duration you choose for your campaign, plan on at least 4 months of work, plus full-time work of more than 12-hour days when the campaign is active.

2. Preparation Is Critical: Either Fail To Plan or Plan To Fail – I started work on my Kickstarter campaign nearly 6 months before I launched. This prep included researching similar crowdfunding campaigns, writing and editing the video script, compiling and cleaning lists of my personal contacts, colleagues, clients and business associates, and researching potential media outlets and blogs for possible publicity.

I approached this campaign as I would for any of my marketing and branding clients. I developed messaging, a marketing plan, a calendar of tactics and creation of content and support materials.

If you fail to put in the time, your chances of success are very low. The more you plan and prepare, the more likely you will exceed your funding goals. I hit my funding goal in just 9 days and nearly doubled it by the time the campaign ended.

3. Video Quality Matters – It Must Be Concise, Authentic and Tell a Compelling Story You don’t need to hire a professional video production company to produce your Kickstarter video. However, you do need to approach it professionally. Video starts with having a solid script and finishes with attention to the details like lighting and audio quality.

Your video must be short;  less than 4 minutes is best and you need to explain your project within the first 30 seconds and what you expect of the viewers in the next 60 seconds. You must be honest, look into the camera and be sincere. You don’t need to be on camera all 4 minutes, but you should be on camera in the first minute and as you close.

4. Pricing and Reward Options Must Be Well Thought Out – You need a solid reward strategy that offers a wide range of rewards and strategic price points. Furthermore, don’t forget your rewards must be relevant to your project. If you’re publishing a book, a T-shirt or bumper sticker just doesn’t make sense. Be creative and offer rewards that create more interest and buzz in your project and add to your story.

Furthermore, you don’t need a $1 reward if your funding goal is more than a few thousand dollars –  you probably shouldn’t have a reward level less than $10. Kickstarter provides backers the flexibility to pledge any amount. For those seriously capable of backing you, you don’t want to leave money on the table with a low cost reward that simply gives the backer a thank you, a link or an email as so many do.

Also, remember you need to fulfill and deliver these rewards. Don’t create more work and expense for you and your team that you’ll be whining about months after your campaign ended. That means don’t approach your awards with a laissez faire attitude. Be creative, but also strategic in your reward choices.

5. Audience. Build A Strong List Before You Start – You cannot depend on people browsing Kickstarter to find and back your project. Your backers are going to come from your contacts and their friends, followers and fans—and so on. So you must build a strong list months before you launch your campaign.

Divide this list into categories such as leaders, influencers, close friends, etc. Then plan to contact each group at least once before you launch the campaign, and some groups several times.

You might consider inviting your top tier contacts to preview your campaign before launching. Ask them for input and get them involved in the process.

You must convince everyone on your list to share your campaign through social media, email and blogs. The real momentum from any crowdfunding campaign comes from shares of your campaign that are two and three degrees away from your close contacts.

6. Publicity: You Must Connect and Engage Bloggers, Websites, Forums & Media – Besides building a list of contacts, you need to build a list of bloggers, websites, forums and other media that cover and are interested in projects like yours. Publicity is probably the most important element of your campaign;  It’s key to begin your research in this area many months before you launch.

You must become familiar with the bloggers and websites and engage with them early. You also need to identify areas in which you can help or support those bloggers or websites. If you’re going to ask for something, be sure you have something to offer in return.

On the day your campaign launches if you don’t have at least a half-dozen articles, interviews or podcasts going live, you are not ready to launch. Success in Kickstarter is about momentum and getting the word out beyond your core contacts. Don’t forget: You need the help of bloggers, websites and other media.

A Kickstarter campaign is difficult and takes a lot of work, but it can be done successfully if you are truly committed. Please look for Allan’s upcoming webinar series on secrets to successful crowdfunding campaigns, due in Spring 2014. Stay in touch with him here.


Allan Karl is an adventurer, professional keynote speaker, photographer, author and marketing entrepreneur. Allan is principal of WorldRider Productions where he focuses on speaking, publishing, coaching and producing content related to his experiences and the lessons he learned during his three year journey while riding around the world — alone on his motorcycle—and how they apply to business and personal success and well-being.

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