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How to Start a Kickstarter

Read this quick 8 minute article on planning your Kickstarter page.

How to Start a Kickstarter

Money Saving Tip: Spend your crowdfunding funds before the end of the year to save on taxes. Funds spent within the same year of launching the campaign won’t be taxed. Wait till the next year and you’ll be responsible for paying taxes on those funds as part of your income. Finished print files aren’t required to purchase your printing with PrintNinja, so don’t wait! Don’t just take our word for it. 

Have no clue how to start a Kickstarter campaign? Successfully funding your Kickstarter starts with strategic planning. The work you put in leading up to your campaign can mean the difference between getting funded and starting back at square one.

We talked to 15 creators who had successful Kickstarters and collectively raised $195,217 from a combined 3,858 backers.

We’ll introduce you to their strategies and tips on how they positioned their Kickstarter campaign page to achieve success, to help you create your own crowdfunding plan.

Map Out Your Kickstarter Timeline

On average our creators spent two and half months planning, but the most popular amount of time to plan was one month. The shortest amount of time spent planning was one week. This was done by a creator who had successfully run a campaign in the past. At $20,000, Liberty: Deception had the highest funding goal in our survey and spent the most time planning, around six months.

Determining a pre-campaign planning timeline is completely dependent on your experience and end goal. The bigger your target funding goal, the more time and effort you’ll need to devote to crafting an impressive page that converts backers. Straightforward campaigns with lower funding targets and uncomplicated reward tiers will require less planning.

If you’re new to crowdfunding, and have complicated ideas in mind for your reward tiers, you’ll want to budget two to three months to develop your tiers and figure out the math. You’ll also need to spend time crafting your page, ensuring it displays compelling graphics, video and well-written copy.

We’ll walk you through how our creators tackled each of these elements.

Map Out Your Kickstarter Timeline

Determine Your Kickstarter Pricing Strategy

Our creators had an average funding goal of $6,337. They first approached budget finalizing by saving a quote to determine printing and shipping costs.

“Using the PrintNinja calculator,” said Joey Spiotto, one of our creators, “determined how much money I would need for 2,000 books plus shipping.” Then he factored in how much rewards, shipping supplies, backer fulfillment shipping costs, taxes and fees would cost. He didn’t have to pay a dime; Spiotto made his funding goal cover all costs with padding for errors.

Ian Reed, the creator of the King of Pop comic, took a similar approach by adding up the “cost of printing, shipping, plus a little bit for art supplies. Vann the Artist also used their quote as a starting point, factoring in PrintNinja costs, packaging supplies, shipping costs and the cost of the rewards they wanted to offer.

We have created a Kickstarter Calculator that you can use to budget your own campaign and experiment with offering different reward tiers.

On average our creators offered nine reward tiers, ranging from four reward tiers to 27 reward tiers. For the most part, their combined 3,948 backers simply wanted a copy of the project, going for the lowest tier. It’s a good idea to offer a $1 reward tier to give backers a chance to donate without commitment and get something like a digital download.

If you’re struggling to think of reward tiers to offer, our specialty options can help you design cool features like glow-in-the dark varnish or a dust jacket. Another idea is to cater to retailers with a bulk order, allowing you to order several copies of the book.

Content Guidelines for Your Kickstarter Page Design

Your Kickstarter page is your one chance to make a good impression and clearly explain what your campaign goals and aims are.

You’ll need to budget time to write clear, persuasive copy, create a video explaining your product and plan for images and graphics that excite your backers. Planning a timeline will depend on your creative expertise and whether you plan to hire freelancers or not.

Writing Guidelines

    • Concise descriptions of rewards help backers understand what they’ll get by supporting your project.

“Make it simple. Clearly lay out what you want to accomplish, how much you need to accomplish, and what people will get for helping you accomplish that goal.” Storytime – a Little Art Book [Click to tweet]

    • A realistic budget and an honest assessment of risks show that you’ve put thought and effort into developing both your game and your campaign.
    • Grammatically correct, well-articulated copy describing who you are, your background, and your commitment to your project will instill confidence in your ability to deliver.

Don’t skimp -“use that space to give as much detail as possible. Start out top with the most important info, but don’t be afraid to use the page to give tons of detail for those people who really want that.”Our NICU Journey [Click to tweet]

  • Bold sub-headers should outline each section of your page and break up large blocks of text.
Writing Guidelines

Image Pointers

Our creators used images to paint a narrative of their project. The Inn at the Edge of the World used a lot of eye-catching artwork on their page, without giving too much of the story away. Likewise, as the creators behind Proactive Insurance: The Pros reminded us, the campaign page gives you very few options for formatting and coding, “images are your only shot to communicate your brand.”

Your cover image is what will be featured across Kickstarter and when anyone shares your project on social media. As Liberty: Deception told us, “the cover image sells your project. Period.”

It’s also fun to include a picture of you and your fellow creators to give backers a better sense of who you are. The creators behind King of Pop comics included pictures of themselves with odd-ball bios, making it fun and interesting, not just informative.

Do-it-Yourself Video Tips

All of creators made videos to directly speak to their backers. Here are few guidelines to get you started. Vann the Artist Paints A Necklace told us their number one tip was to “create a beautiful effective video for telling your story!”

  • The camera on the back of your phone or on your computer is perfectly acceptable to use. While filming, stabilize your elbow or use a tripod to ensure a smooth image.
  • An external audio-recording device can improve audio quality, but if you can”t afford one, just make sure you record indoors in a quiet room.
  • Good lighting makes your video look more professional, which in turn makes your project look trustworthy. If outside, film on a sunny day with the sun behind the camera. If indoors, try using the three-point lighting method with house lamps.
  • Choose a clean space with few distractions and tidy up before you hit record. A white background can work, but you may want to film in your creative workspace with some of your artwork or collectibles in the background to show off your passion and personality.
  • Keep your video to 1.5 to 2 minutes to increase the odds that someone browsing the page will watch the whole thing. You can always add a second video further down the page.
  • Edit your video using free programs like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and avoid using distracting cuts like dissolves or wipes. If your video shows photos of your artwork, make these more interesting by zooming in or out or panning across the image.
  • Music isn’t a necessity, but if you want to, consider adding music that matches the mood and message of your project and won’t be too distracting. Don’t use any songs that you don’t have the license for. Instead, use Creative Commons music or purchase stock music for your project.
  • Before you film, watch as many Kickstarter videos as possible. Pay attention to which ones you like and don’t like and apply what you learned to your efforts.
  • Get your face in front of the camera. It’s the easiest way to make an impression on the viewer. Introduce yourself and tell your story, describe gameplay and explain where the money will go. Most of all, be you!
Do-it-Yourself Video Tips

Kickstarter Enables Self-Publishing

If designing your page seems overwhelming, know that you’re not alone. Many of our first time creators have turned Kickstarter in order to make printing possible. Travis Vengroff behind Liberty: Deception told us he ran a Kickstarter because he “could not afford to print on [his] own.”

Besides capital, crowdfunding gave our creators the luxury of complete control over their vision. Self-publishing means cutting out the middle men and naysayers, from distributors to executives. Joey Spiotto, the artist and creator behind Storytime: A Little Art Book told us that Kickstarter enabled him “to self-publish a collection of [his] artwork [with] total creative control and sell directly to customers online and through conventions.”

Kickstarter is a robust platform with its own dedicated user base. Our creators recognized Kickstarter for its ability to boost their projects profile and attract new customers and audiences. Alongside increased exposure, Kickstarter makes it easy to walk away from failed concepts. If a project doesn’t meet its funding target, there’s no money lost printing a project that hasn’t yet found its customer.

However, if you don’t get your page design as best as you possibly can, you’ll be left wondering if it’s the project that people don’t like or if you didn’t invest enough time convincing people to pledge to your project. Have a tip of your own? Let us know in the comments.

With all these tips, you’re well on your way to starting a successful Kickstarter.

Need more help with your Kickstarter? Check out more info on Kickstarter Promotion here.