How to Run a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

By Becca Caddy on at

If you have a brilliant idea, a smart strategy to get it out into the real world and a burning desire to raise cash to turn it all into a money-making, ground-breaking reality, then Kickstarter is a brilliant platform. It enables you to connect with early adopters on the lookout for bright sparks and “the next big thing”, chat with big-bod investors and potentially share your story with millions of people across the planet.

But to run a successful Kickstarter campaign you can’t just go in all guns blazing with a cool idea and a tonne of enthusiasm, even though many people try to. You have to know who to talk to in order to turn your dreams into a reality, you have to know how to talk to them and you need to make a kick-ass Kickstarter page that people just can’t resist taking a punt on.

Here’s out step-by-step guide to running a successful Kickstarter campaign, from making sure your initial idea is really up to scratch through to how to talk to some of the most influential journalists in the business to get your story out into the world.

Figure Out if Your Idea is Robust Enough

It sounds like a simple one, but how many times have you had a few too many drinks and dreamed up the best idea ever in your head that’ll change everything only to wake up the next morning feeling embarrassed and hungover after you told everyone in the pub about it? We all know the feeling.

Well, we don’t want your Kickstarter campaign to end up the same way. Test the waters. Ask for honest feedback from you nearest and dearest, from your colleagues, your old acquaintances and even contact key industry players.

Got a great idea for a new smartwatch? Get in touch with a journalist you admire at a tech publication or the CEO of a company that you think is totally owning a similar space. The worst-case scenario is they might not get back in touch, the best case scenario is you might get a new mentor who can help you along the way and give you honest feedback about your idea and your brand.

If you don’t ask you’ll never get. And the first step is all about asking and getting all of those brilliant ideas out of your head and into the real world.

Develop a Solid Plan

Image credit: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

Creative types are notoriously good at dreaming and blue-sky thinking and not so good at planning and turning their visions into a reality. In most cases, you have to be good at both (or have a team that’s good at both) to be successful on Kickstarter.

You need to plan what story you want to tell, the images you’ll use, the rewards you’ll offer, who you’ll tell about the campaign before it launches, who you want to tell all about it after, what happens if you hit your target and what happens if you don’t.

This isn’t a process in obsessing over the 'what ifs' and doing away with creative thinking. This is about getting real and ensuring your Kickstarter campaign is built on a solid foundation.

Build a Brand and a Story

There are a few Kickstarter campaigns that have proved to be a huge success with a small, awesome idea and little else. But many of the most noteworthy crowdfunding campaigns developed a brand around their idea and told a simple but great story about why people should care about it. People invest in stories, in other people who make them feel excited and uplifted. They rarely invest in an idea all on its own.

Think about the story you can tell around your idea, consider how it can help people and tell everyone how you dreamed it up, your process and your visions for the future. Do you want to flog a few e-bikes or do you want to change the shape of personal transportation to save the planet? OK, so that might be a bit OTT. But you can see the difference.

You can use a number of tools to do this, like setting up a separate blog or Twitter page to share insights, stories and past experiences. Or even taking your steps offline and running events, workshops and speaking at conferences to prove there’s a person, a vision and a great story behind the Kickstarter page.

Get Real With Your Goal

If you fail to hit your target on Kickstarter you won’t walk away with anything. Sometimes dreaming big works, a high target can make people think you have huge ambitions and you can hit it easily. But if there’s a chance you won’t reach those lofty heights, all of your hard work will be wasted. Now is the time to get real about your goal. Set a target that feels big and ambitious, yet achievable based on the feedback you’ve had, as well as similar past campaigns and the press coverage you’re aiming to secure.

Talk to the Press and Influential Contacts (Before, During and After)

Image credit: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

A key part of telling people all about the story behind your brand is getting in touch with the press. From small bloggers through to some of the biggest print publications in the world, if your idea is smart and your story is interesting there’s a good chance someone will want to write about it and sing your praises.

The challenge is there are so many Kickstarter campaigns launched nowadays that many bloggers and journalists are a little wary when it comes to writing about them. Don’t see this as a setback, see it as an opportunity to really hammer out your USP, figure out a unique voice and prove just why your product, service or idea is so important.

You don’t need a six-figure PR budget to get the word out either, approach people on Twitter, send them a sneak peek of your product or idea, invite them to take a look at what you’re up to, give them press shots and any important info they might need to write about you, talk to them with respect and make sure you’re sending them to a brilliant Kickstarter page...

Build a Brilliant Kickstarter Page

Your Kickstarter page is the shop-front to all of your hard work. It’s the face of your brand, your crowdfunding and your idea for the next 30 (or 60) days. It really matters.

This is where you can get your idea onto paper (alright, onto the screen) and make your brand’s story come to life. But remember there’s such a high bounce-rate online nowadays, so you need to catch people’s attention within a matter of seconds.

There’s a lot to consider, but keep things simple, tell your story in a way that’s accessible, inspiring and authentic, get visual with product shots and infographics to ensure everyone clicks with your idea and keep updating it every step of the way as you get more interest, feedback and insights.

Create Killer Copy and Enticing Images

You need to invest time, energy and possibly even money into making the words you use, the images you pick and the videos you shoot really spot on, because most people only really get one first impression of your page. You need to make that first impression count.

First up there’s the opening project video. This takes such a prime spot on your Kickstarter page that you need to make sure it communicates your idea, your story and why people should give you their cash. The challenge is you’ve only got people’s attention for a few minutes (or often a few seconds) so you need to make every single moment count. Many Kickstarter projects include a second, longer video further down on the page for those who are interested and want to know about your idea in more depth; save all of the technical details, harder to explain concepts and wider stories for this one.

You need to keep the general text on your page accessible. So this means if your story is around charitable causes and really making the world a better place, don’t use technical jargon or super formal language. In the same vein, make sure paragraphs are no more than three or four lines. You don’t want to put people off with the wrong tone, but you also don’t want to put people off with huge, boring chunks of text.

You have the opportunity to put your short description under your product video and your key selling points under that. Really prioritise here and focus on what makes your idea different, worth investing in or worth writing about. These top sections really count as so few people tend to scroll down to find out more if they’re not tantalised from the get-go. Really hone this section.

Break everything up with images or initial sketches of your product or service. You can also use infographics as a way to explain long or complicated ideas without relying on hefty blocks of text. If it feels right you can also put an image of you and the team on there, so people can see who they’re giving their cash to.

If you’ve got the budget don’t be shy to really invest in good quality words, images and videos. If people see you’ve put money into your offering they’re more likely to put money into you and your idea.

Offer Tantalising Rewards

Image taken from Kickstarter

Rewards are a big part of any crowdfunding campaign. Even if you’re selling a product people can eventually own or an idea people already feel passionate about, it’s the smaller funding you’ll garner from rewards that can really build up and make a huge difference to your final funding figure.

Think about the kind of rewards people who care about your idea would like to own, consider how they fit into the big picture of your story and most importantly, make sure you’re going to have enough of them and be able to deliver them, too.

When you’re communicating the rewards, make it easy to understand what your backers will actually get. If you’re writing more than five or six lines to explain, you should probably take them back to the drawing board. Simplicity here is paramount.

Have Fun and Let Your Personality Shine

It’s important you have fun with the process; that you stay true to your ideas and dreams and that you speak, write and communicate with passion and personality. Sure that may sound a little cheesy and like it should be on a Pinterest tile, but the more authentic you are with everything you do the more that’ll come across to the public. More authenticity, passion and belief in your idea will translate into more conversations about you, more press coverage and more funding in the long-run.

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Top image credit: Shutterstock/sasaperic (edited)