Three years ago, a friend received the perfect home remedy for her cold. That passing of a time-tested cure sparked an idea—she wanted to create a book of home remedies. Knowing I could design and had an affinity for anything that can be whipped up in the kitchen, she came to me to see if I’d be up for a collaboration. We were soon bouncing ideas off one another and landed on something a little different from that original kernel of idea. We loved the community cookbooks that our grandmothers contributed to and decided that we should create a modern version—one that included the stories behind the recipes. Instead of simply remedies, we’d share stories inspired by recipes for both home remedies and food; instead of a book, we decided on something that could be more of an ongoing conversation like a quarterly magazine.
With our idea in hand, we researched the market to make sure we were in fact creating something unique. We soon came the realization that even with a brilliant concept, we needed a way to fund this little endeavor. After working on the bringing the idea to life for months, we came across a new platform to raise money for creative projects called Kickstarter. It was exactly what we needed to make our project a reality… (read more)
In November 2009 we posted a homemade slideshow, complete with a mock-up of the magazine we hoped to launch, provided a variety of compelling incentives that people would receive once they donated and crossed our fingers. In less than a month our project was nearly triple-funded and our magazine, Remedy Quarterly, was born.
In the three years since we successfully got our project off the ground, Kickstarter has continued to be the birthplace of creative endeavors that need a little support and a lot of exposure. Here are a few tips to create your very own killer Kickstarter campaign.
1. Know your project/product and clearly describe it to your audience.
With Remedy Quarterly, we spoke about our love of food, handwritten recipes and community cookbooks—basically our inspiration for the project—and how we would bring our idea to life.
Do your research. Why is your product so awesome and why should other people want it? Is your idea similar to what you’re doing? It’s ok if it is, but there’s got to be a good reason why someone will choose yours over the existing. Why is your product better?
2. Be passionate and create a connection.
To ensure that we clearly communicated our idea, we created an outline for a script that clearly described our reasoning behind our project. Once we had our ideas defined, we aimed to engage our audience by inviting them to participate in our project by submitting their own stories and recipes for future issues.
People are drawn to projects with passion behind them. Describe what you’ve done thus far, why you want this project to be funded, and what it will mean to you and your audience. In this campaign for an American-made leather goods company, the creator clearly states his inspiration and his passion is clear.
3. Create an awesome slideshow or video.
With our outline ready, we created a voiceover using iTunes that described our project. We paired that with compelling photographs of our inspiration and mock-ups of our magazine. With the photos and voiceover, people were able to connect with us and actually see the work we’d done to bring our project to life.
Videos can get pretty fancy on kickstarter—if you know someone who’s familiar with creating videos, chat with them and see if they’d be interested in teaming up. You can also hire people to create videos. Sometimes it’s just not possible to create a video, so think about a slide show instead. This can easily be done with programs like iPhoto that come on your computer. You can include sound by recording a voiceover to tell your story, along with some fun music and sync it with the slideshow.
Whichever route you take, use the highest quality photography that you can create and/or afford. Remember to show off your product/project. Even if it hasn’t been produced, create a mock-up to show people what they’re helping to create.
This slideshow for the Proper Pie Co. is simple but unique and tells a compelling story.
4. Provide incentives that you’d want to get but that are also easy to fulfill.
Since we were creating a product that would be sold, we had an easy starting point for incentives. We offered single issues and subscriptions to our magazine, but we also wanted to provide something unique for the people who helped us get our project off the ground. We came up with a range of incentives from a screen printed tote bag to a limited edition print to homemade cookies sent straight to your door (for a limited amount of donors).
Kickstarter is about more than helping people fund a project, it’s also about getting something in return. Come up with a collection of rewards that people will look forward to receiving. Keep in mind the cost of providing and sending out the rewards and include that in your overall price.
Remember as you’re creating your incentives that you’ll also have to fulfill them—so you don’t want 30 different reward levels that you’ll have to go back through and sort out in the end. Keep it to around 10 levels, making sure to provide options for small and large amounts—chances are people will donate in the $15-$50 amount.
This campaign for a Food Atlas creates a structure within the incentives, some of which include user participation in the final product.
5. Network, network, network.
With our slideshow and project posted, we sent emails out to all of our friends and family, urging them to share it with their friends and family. Beyond that, we also emailed people we admire—bloggers, writers, radio personalities. Our biggest tip—aim high. The backing of one prominent blogger provided us with a surge of new backers that put us over the finish line.
Once you’ve got your slideshow or video ready and your kickstarter page is up, share it with the world. Don’t be timid—send a well-crafted email to your favorite bloggers and websites to help get the word out. Tweet and Facebook about it and have your friends do the same. Remember no one is going to work as hard as you to get this project off the ground.
Good luck! It’s going to be awesome!