5 Tips For Kickstarter Participants

Note: Since posting this I’ve been getting a lot of emails from Kickstarter users who want me to review their projects. Sorry, while I’d love to help I don’t have time for that. There are countless Kickstarter consultants out there who you can happily pay. (Keyword: pay them. Stop asking for handouts.)

I back a lot of Kickstarter projects. It’s a fun way to help people and see the direct impact. Sometimes I get cool things in return (music downloads, for example) and sometimes I don’t get anything (by choice).

After 70+ backed projects – and countless others I would have backed if they were set up differently – here is what I’ve observed. If you’re thinking about doing a Kickstarter campaign take this as you will from someone who has never launched their own Kickstarter campaign, but has only participated as a backer.

1) E-mail backers personally. Especially the early backers.

Out of the 70+ projects I’ve backed I think I’ve received 2 notes of “thanks!”

Are you kidding? Unless your project has thousands of backers (rare) a simple “Thanks so much!” will go a long way.

And, if nothing else, e-mail the early backers. They’re the ones who really got your projected kickstarted.

2) Make sure backer rewards are in line with dollars pledged.

$100 to get your completed film? Fuck off. $50 for a download of your new album? Eat shit.

I understand you’re raising money for a project and you’ve gotta keep your reward costs down so this is how I look at it. If the going rate for an album is $10 I’ll happily support your project with $10 to get the download. It’s going to cost you 50 cents tops (bandwidth) to send a download. $50-$100? You’re an idiot. Keep your rewards in line with reality.

I’ve often felt cheated when, after backing a project for $X, the final release price was $(X-Y). It’s a scammy thing to do and does not build goodwill for your future. If anything you should offer a discount for the people who are helping you with your project. But exact retail price is fine too.

I’ve seen a lot of projects never get funded because of ridiculous monetary requests. We want to help. We don’t want to feel taken advantage of.

In line with this, if you’re raising money for X, make X one of the rewards. I often see campaigns raising money for something, but backers have no options for getting the finished product. That’s absurd.

3) In your description get to the point quickly, but then go deep for those who want more info.

Pretend you’re writing a school essay and you need to get to your thesis on sentence five. Then take however much space you need to explain the details of the project.

4) Video is king.

(EDIT: This was originally written in February of 2012. I haven’t seen a project without video for a long time.)

I’ve seen a lot of projects that don’t include video. You’ll see these projects don’t get funded as often as projects with video. You don’t have to be a great video editor either. Speak from your heart into the camera and that will be perfect. We just want to know a little about the person behind the campaign.

5) Include at least one reward level that’s $10 or less.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a new piece of electronics equipment that will cost $150. Some people will connect with your project, but maybe they can’t afford more. Or maybe they like your project, but don’t want whatever you’re offering. They just want to help with something small. Make it easy.

6) Use the Updates feature.

People who back your project want to know what’s up. So let them know what’s up. Kickstarter makes this easy so you’re just silly if you don’t take advantage.

If you frequently use Kickstarter I’d love to see your ideas below.


Two examples more that come to my mind:

- If you are making a movie, pass a projection! You know, in the physical world!

- If you are making a restaurant give value coupons for the same money backed! It is true it will feel like a loss but I am sure the math will give me the reason if you take into account that: a) the will probably overspend, b) traction and physical linking is the best investment.


I usually see movies with DVD options.

As for restaurants: they usually include some kind of food in their bonuses. Although sometimes it gets ridiculous ($50 reward level = a sandwich) a lot of the time they’re in line ($10 for a sandwich, for example).

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