5 Tips for Getting Funded on Kickstarter

Kickstarter is one of those ideas that grabs you by the lapels shoulders and makes you pay attention. That’s especially so now that Kickstarter boasts three projects that have raised over one million dollars (that’s $1,000,000+ for numerophiles). Of those three projects one is a video game, one is a design project and another a comic (seriously). A fourth, which is still in the funding phase, has already raised over $1M; it’s another video game.

Yesterday, we had a post about a CSUF Entrepreneurship alum who is trying to raise some money through Kickstarter. While doing some research for that post I was able to get a pretty good idea about what separates the ideas that get funded from those that do not. Here’s 5 tips on how to raise money off of Kickstarter:

1. Have a large network

According to the Kickstarter blog, the project that has raised the most money to date did so with 71% of the people being “first-time backers” of a project on Kickstarter. That seems to be the biggest hurdle because without a lot of people willing to put in a decent amount of money the project will never get funded. Sure, smaller projects in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 can get away with not having a large network backing it up but if you want more you have to have the manpower to back it up.

2. Give back

In this instance “giving back” doesn’t mean doing charitable work. In this instance giving back means you need to act like PBS and give awards for different levels of backing. And these awards have to be cool, useful and exclusive. For Double Fine Adventures, the game that raised over $3M, a $15 backer would get a computer version of the game while a $10,000 backer would get lunch with some of the creators, a tour of their offices and all of the other awards for different donation levels as well. It’s hard to get more exclusive than that.

3. Do an awesome project

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but awesome isn’t. The Elevation Dock, which is the design project that raised over $1M, is awesome. It’s a dock for your iPhone and all units “…are individually CNC machined from solid billets of aircraft grade aluminum, no expense spared.” Taking the ubiquitous iPhone/iPod dock and making it useful and a piece of art makes this project awesome. While something may be awesome for you please check with others to make sure that your awesome-meter isn’t in need of some adjusting before resting all of your dreams on funding from Kickstarter.

4. Be reasonable

One of the ingenious rules of Kickstarter is that if a project does not reach its funding goal at the end of the funding period then the project gets nothing. Conversely, you don’t want to put the goal really low and promise a lot of great gifts to your backers because then it surely will get funded but you will probably not have enough funding to do what you say you are going to do. Perhaps the best way to go is to plan out your project (including costs) and strip it down to the barest necessities (including costs). That would be a good amount to ask for on Kickstarter. If the community latches onto your idea there’s no rule against ratcheting up your idea later on, which is something the big projects have done.

5. Be compelling

Copy writing is boring but it’s absolutely necessary. Take a look at any of the big projects that I have linked to throughout this post and you will see that they have written some compelling stories. And that is probably the key: make your quest for funding a story. Double Fine Adventures made their pitch into an “us versus them” kind of scenario between independent publishers and the behemoth publishers. Being compelling means writing a great story. It also means making a great video. Tell your story well enough to make others believe in you and fund your project.

Bonus Tip: Get the word out

While I was working on the Kickstarter post from yesterday I ran into a major problem. I wanted to put the video into this WordPress blog but couldn’t (before you go on about how to embed videos into a WP blog let me stop you, it just wasn’t going to happen using my work computer). Here’s the point: put the word out there and make it easily embeddable. Put your video(s) on YouTube (which makes videos really easy to embed), give updates on your blog or company’s website, post these things on Facebook, link to it on Twitter, make a mention of it on LinkedIn. You should also run your idea by bloggers in your niche (or close enough to it) and try to get them to write a post or two about it. Kickstarter, like many other things, is a cold numbers game. Only a certain percentage of people interested in your idea will be willing to fund your project so the more people you can get interested in your project the better are your chances for getting funding.

There are a lot of other tips out there for Kickstarter. In fact, Kickstarter has a long list of posts regarding to tips. So, if you have a great idea that you need to get funded I have already put you on the right track, the left is up to you.

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