As a creative professional, your work is rewarding on its own. Still, it can be tough to generate enough income to pay your bills. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Kickstarter funding could be your solution.
Kickstarter has become the most recognized crowdfunding platform for a reason. Creatives have figured out how to be strategic with their Kickstarter campaigns, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in pledges.
Should you seek Kickstarter funding?
If you have a creative project that needs capital, Kickstarter funding might be a strong option. Types of accepted projects include Art, Comics & Illustrations, Design & Tech, Film, Food & Craft, Games, Music, and Publishing.
Start by setting up a campaign for your creative project. Creators offer rewards at various prices, which backers receive if the campaign is successful. This tier system allows backers the flexibility to pledge as much as they are willing and able.
You’ll have a limited amount of time (usually 30 to 60 days) to reach your pledge goal. If you reach the goal, you receive the entire amount of pledged money — no matter how far it exceeds the original pledge amount.
If you don’t reach your pledge goal, you get nothing.
Unfortunately, only about 36 percent of campaigns reach their goal.
A successful Kickstarter campaign depends upon many interworking factors:
- You need a clear, concise plan to connect with backers and promote your project. Check out these tips from some of the best Kickstarter campaigns.
- Successful campaigns focus on connecting the creators’ stories to their audience.
One example is the Miguel Zenon Quartet based out of New York.
This successful Kickstarter funding campaign was nominated for a Grammy as Best Latin Jazz Album of 2018. As you can see on their Kickstarter profile, they use their story to promote the album, including how their music changed over time. It is compelling, heartfelt, and enticing for potential backers to see the magic behind the music.
Even Kickstarter emphasizes telling your story and sharing your passion. Why is your project worth crowdfunding? What personal meaning does it hold for you?
Tie the story of your creative work into the rest of your campaign planning.
Genuine connectivity with your backers is the best way to ensure you will reach your pledge goal.
Kickstarter project rules
Kickstarter funding has rules every campaign needs to follow. It starts with whether or not a project fits within one of Kickstarter’s project categories.
Kickstarter requests creators be ethical and straightforward when offering rewards to their backers. If available, projects should have a prototype on display. No matter why someone wants to fund your project, they deserve to know exactly what they are paying for.
The Kickstarter community is a platform built upon trusted communication.
Each project page requires a detailed description and photos or video of the project. Throughout the entire campaign, creators need to update their audience and be honest as things change or mistakenly become unavailable.
Are you writing a book? Are you creating a fancy gadget? Kickstarter projects have to offer valuable rewards for their backers. This can look like offering exclusive content or brand merchandise. Get creative here — consider offering something at an affordable level like stickers or keychains.
Kickstarter also doesn’t allow projects to offer equity or investments in a company.
The last rule is this list of prohibited items. Kickstarter doesn’t want to be involved with dangerous or inappropriate materials.
Tips and tools for your Kickstarter funding campaign
If you’re ready to launch a Kickstarter funding campaign, start with the Creator Handbook. Kickstarter has compiled their most recommended guidelines for running a successful campaign.
Kickstarter has reported successful campaigns are often only 30 days long — not 60 (the maximum allowed campaign length).
Don’t think that having more time means you will reach more backers.
People tend to appreciate a sense of urgency when they’re considering Kickstarter funding and are therefore more likely to back a short-lived campaign.
For any business or financial venture, you should definitely stick to the budget your project requires. Make a thorough list of even the smallest expenses. “Give yourself a cushion,” Kickstarter suggests — but don’t overdo it. Planning ahead of time will minimize the risk of either overfunding and underfunding your project.
When building your tiers of rewards, Kickstarter suggest you offer a wide range of prices. Some backers can only afford inexpensive rewards, but even those small amounts can really add up. If you’re having trouble coming up with rewards, check out this list of 96 ideas.
Kickstarter also has a discussion forum on their site to encourage and guide creators on the best funding practices. You can ask questions and seek counsel on Campus, where Kickstarter employees and successful creators can respond with their stories and tips.
Build your community of backers
Telling your story is essentially selling your story. Think of your campaign as a continuous sales pitch.
All of your promotional material should be just as compelling and creative as your project itself!
Strategize about how to reach your target audience with specifically tailored messages. Talk to your audience conversationally, and ensure them that their support is appreciated and valuable.
Having a strong community of support is crucial for your Kickstarter funding campaign. Networking within your local community is a great way to engage with potential backers face-to-face. Attend meetups or events that pertain to your project, and show off your passion to everyone you meet.
Developing high-quality, curated social media content is a surefire way to spread the word about your awesome project. It is a lot of work, though. To help, consider using a social media management platform like Hootsuite that allows you to schedule your strategic content in advance.
Your Kickstarter funding campaign has the best chance of reaching its pledge goal if you plan ahead, promote strategically, and develop genuine connections with your backers. Don’t underestimate the power of loyalty.