Geek Insider FYI: The Secret to a Successful Kickstarter

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Kickstarter has opened up an opportunity to any and all aspiring creators, artists, directors, and people who need crowd-funding to push their project from dream to reality. Since launching in 2009, over 6 million people have joined this popular crowd-funding site, pledging over a billion to 67,000 projects. In 2012, it expanded to cover the UK as well.

What does this mean for you? Can you put up your project and find your dreams being crowd-funded into success? Statistically, your project has a 56% chance of failing. Pretty miserable. But if your project manages to get 20% funding, its chances of failing drop to 11.3%. It all depends on your dedication, organization, and, of course; your campaign. Always a faithful companion, Geek Insider has the tips to help you succeed. We’re cool like that.

The Basics

First, you’ll need an account on Kickstarter. This takes all of ten seconds, requiring an email, your name, and a password.

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Next, make sure your project meets Kickstarter requirements. They have thirteen categories; Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater. They have a list of prohibited items, as well as three rules;

  1. Projects must create something to share with others. This means that the creator must have a project that, when it is finished, it can be enjoyed/bought/used by the public.
  2. Projects must be honest and clearly presented. The creator cannot misrepresent the facts about their project or lie to their backers.
  3. Projects can’t fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives, or involve prohibited items. This is pretty straight forward. Kickstarter doesn’t permit charities or people trying to get backers to help them get a new 3D TV.

Creating Your Kickstarter

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After determining if you can meet these three rules, then there are a few steps to take for creating your Kickstarter.

  1. Pick a project image. First impressions mean everything, especially if you want people to give you money for your project. It must catch the eye and interest them enough to read your pitch, watch your video, and back your project. Make sure its clear, focused, and professional looking.
  2. Choose your project title. It’s important to pick keywords that will spark interest in people.
  3. Set your funding goal. This can be difficult. Over shoot and you might not make your goal. Kickstarter is all or nothing so if you don’t meet your goal, you get nothing. However, if your goal is too low, you are stuck with not enough funding and a whole lot of backers who want their rewards and to see your project completed. Remember, you can always go over your goal. Make sure to set a cushion. Kickstarter takes 5%, then credit card processing fees cost up to 3-5% of your total funding.
  4. Set a deadline. Kickstarter allows up to 60 days for your project. However, longer doesn’t mean better. If your deadline is shorter, it makes you seem more confident in your product’s success, it adds urgency and can get backers excited.
  5. Make a video. This can be tough for some people because you have to put yourself out there. Your video doesn’t have to be perfect but it should be short, concise, and clear. Kickstarter has some tips on what to include in your video; which include an introduction of yourself and your team (if you have one), the story behind your project, a clear timeline, and your budget. According to Kickstarter; “projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without (50% vs. 30%).”
  6. Include a description. This is your chance to go into detail about your project. Think of this as a sales letter, so include features, options, and anything that might set your project apart. Include all the little details, its progress, and your plan to bringing your dream to life. Make sure to explain why you need the money and where it’s going to go. Make sure to address any concerns or objections your backers might have.
  7. Set up the rewards. This is crucial. Backers won’t donate out of the goodness of their hearts. They expect something in return. Rewards are given to backers depending on how much they give to your project. Rewards can include copies of the product (like a CD of your music, a copy of your book etc), limited editions (backers love to get something no one else will), collaborations (backers are included in the project, like maybe being painted into the mural, included as a character in the comic or story), experiences (backers get to visit the set, receive a phone call from the author, get to enjoy a concert in your backyard), and mementos (which can be photos from the movie set, thanks in the credits). The average amount pledged is $25 but can be as high as $1000 or more, so you really need to price your rewards accordingly. Don’t forget the smaller pledges though, because that’s where you might lose a majority of backers.

Once you have all this set up, you can submit it for Kickstarter to review. If approved, then your project will go live. About 1 in 4 projects are rejected

Top Ten Tips

  1. Make sure your format is clean and clear. You need to design so your page is easy to read. If it’s messy, your project will seem poorly planned and not to mention; unprofessional.
  2. Rewards can be key. While Kickstarter mentions that the average backing amount is $25, it’s important to think of those who might be interested in your project but don’t have that to spare. Include a reward less than $20 for them. In fact, projects with a reward that’s less than $20 succeed 54% of the time, while those that don’t, succeed only 35% of the time. That’s a big difference. Think of rewards that will really entice backers, like if they pledge $100 for your product (which retails at $125), they get a copy of the product. This gives them a savings that no one else can get. You can also offer discounts or custom designs that are only available for backers.
  3. Don’t forget shipping costs. This seems like an obvious thing but people forget it all the time. Make sure to be open and honest and include these costs as part of your rewards description.
  4. Reach out to your backers. You can do this through personalized emails, newsletters, and events. Your backers are your friends in your dream; make sure they feel like a part of it. Mass emails and constant call to actions are a big turn off when you’re trying to get money from people.
  5. Budget like there’s no tomorrow. Budget everything. Budget shipping, stamps, cost of supplies, time, even gas, and especially the fees that Kickstarter will take. Make sure you’re not taken by surprise by something you’ve forgotten about!
  6. Spark early momentum. There is one great way to do this; the “early bird reward.” This can be a special reward for your first 200 backers; like a chance to vote on a new color for your product, a choice of character name, etc. This can spark interest in your Kickstarter, create a sense of excitement and urgency, and get you over that crucial 20% threshold.
  7. Tell your story. No one wants to back a faceless company. Tell your story, your dream, why art/movies/painting is your passion. Do this in your video and your description. Infect your backers with your enthusiasm.
  8. Keep organized. Ah, the life’s blood of any project; good organization. You’ll need to keep track of when and who to email, keep your budget updated and in order, plan ways to boost awareness of your project, and plan ways to increase backer funding. Everything and anything. You need to keep an iron hold over your project and be the driving force behind it.
  9. Get out into the community. Your main supporters will probably be your friends and family. But if you plan events (like a concert in your backyard, a bake sale, a party etc), get yourself in the local paper, in niche blogs that relate to your product, and create a buzz; your project is more likely to succeed.
  10. Keep your backers updated. It’s important to make sure your backers feel like they’re truly involved in the project. Updates can also get them talking to their friends about their project, which in turn, gets you more backers. Updates can be added to your Kickstarter page and emailed to your backers. Kickstarter lists three types of updates; updates that build momentum (let your backers know about new developments/product colors/features), updates that share process (let your backers know about your creative decisions), and updates that celebrate success (share press news, reviews, and photos after your project has been successfully funded and created).

The (Ten) Million Dollar Project

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Let’s look at the one and only Kickstarter project that got ten million dollars in crowdsourced funding. In 2012, Eric Migicovsky had a prototype of the “first watch built for the 21st century” called the Pebble, which is “infinitely customizable, with beautiful downloadable watchfaces and useful internet-connected apps.” Unfortunately, he was finding that private investors and venture capital firms were reluctant to invest in his project. Migicovsky had to take matters into his own hands and he did this by launching a Kickstarter campaign. His goal? Raising $100,000 in 38 days. What happened? It took just two hours to meet that goal.

Six days later, backers had pledged another $4.7 million. After the 38 days was up, the amazing Pebble watch had gotten $10.2 million in funding, making it the most successful campaign in Kickstarter history.

What made the Pebble E-Watch so successful? The product itself wad sleek, innovative, and useful. But Migicovsky and his dream team also did an amazing job shaping and crafting their Kickstarter.

An In Depth Look

Let’s look at Migicovsky’s Kickstarter and why it was successful.

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To begin with, they have a short description and then it directs you to watch their video. Their video is professional, personal, and ends with a call to action. It also offers a mailing list to keep backers up-to-date and in the loop.


Next, it gets into the nitty gritty. It talks about what features the Pebble watch has, with eye-catching pictures.


They address common questions and concerns in their FAQs.

How does it work

They explain how the product works in clear terms so anyone can understand.


Backers are told where the project is at and what the goal is, along with a call to action.


The awards are clearly set up, including a small one for only $1 pledges. The smaller pledge also builds a massive network for when the Pebble finally debuts by getting people to sign up for the newsletter. An early bird award is also included to spark interest and a boost in initial funding. All rewards include an estimated time of delivery, should the project succeed in funding.


Reward descriptions are clearly set up; all caps draw the eye to what the reward is, a brief description is included afterward. Shipping costs are included in every award description.


Backers are constantly updated with the Pebble’s progress and success.

Voters choice

Backers who pledge a certain amount get to vote on a fourth color. This involves backers in the creation and design of the product, making them feel like a part of the team and can really stir up some excitement.

Obviously, Migicovsky and his team made the perfect Kickstarter campaign.


Want more? Check out Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook for more tips on perfecting your Kickstarter project.