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What have you learned from running a Kickstarter campaign?

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by inflexionUSA » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:30 pm

fvreeman wrote: One question for both Sal and James (others?) - How do you figure out this "Conversion"? It is pretty easy to get video views from Kickstarter - but how do you get total page views? Unless you have total page views how could you possibly know what your "conversion" is? Fred


Hi Fred,

I do not know the answer to your question, however I think you are "putting the cart before the horse". The presumption is that success will be determined by converting more of a lesser audience. This likely is not the case. The more important question is how do I get significantly more qualified viewers in the first place? Once answered the conversion question becomes more meaningful. In my opinion conversion is just one of many metrics to consider and in doing so one must be careful. As we have seen there is a wide range of conversion rates by KSF members reporting here. Conversion is influenced by many factors some of which, in the beginning, are more important than the underlying page, video or presentation itself. Often early backers are closely related to the project creator resulting in biased conversion rates that are disproportionately high.


Prelaunch preparation is the key. There is no "cookie cutter formula" and ideas like "have 25-30% of your funding secured and raised by the first day or two" is at best only partially true and is not a plan. A plan begins months before you launch and ends long after your funding period has finished. First spend time engaging, developing and courting followers before you launch. You are looking for early adopters. This includes groups, fans, forums, blogs and anyone else whom may be interested in your project. Ask their feedback, conduct surveys, use KS project link. Be specific. What do you think of my title? Would you click on my video? Is a $30 reward price too high? Are my reward descriptions clear and understandable? Would you buy it? Which reward tier? If not, why? What would you eliminate? These are the type of answers (data) which you can use to tweak both your product and positioning to an interested audience. Once done you should have an engaging cover page, title and video which will enhance the conversion process.

In the end your prelaunch strategy should answer this most important question: will my project succeed? If you cannot answer yes to that question, the answer is likely no. If so continue to work on prelaunch.
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by MichaelTumey » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:21 pm

I can say that a lot of my Kickstarter's success comes from intangible sources based on who I am, rather than how I presented my video, page, backer levels, or anything to do with the Kickstarter itself.

I'm no major figure in the RPG industry, however, I am a known factor. Having been a professional freelance cartographer since 2007, and having done map commissions for many publishers - including one of the biggest in the RPG industry, right now, Paizo Publishing. I not only have mapping credits with Paizo, but I am a contibuting author for their recent Jade Regent Adventure Path. Also, I am the primary developer of the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG), a popular small press adventure setting that uses Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder game system, which I've been doing since 2009. I have a history of involvement in the industry, as well as having released 14 products - many of my fans know that I will deliver upon my promises.

So, unlike many trying to develop a fanbase, I already have a solid reputation in my industry. The roleplaying game industry is rather small, as far as creators go, and the market is fairly small. While this sets obstacles to success based on limited size of the market, if you're actually working in the industry with any level of success, you'll be a known factor, which I am, and probably a good part of what drove so many contibutors to my Kickstarter and made it the success it had become.

Although I also did things like build up an audience specifically for my project through a Google+ community, I was already a known factor before I even created the community.

Of course, it wasn't all about "me". I happen to know that there are no Map Tutorials Guides of any kind prior to the start of my project. And I know that questions about how to create maps is a consistent question asked by many gamers on many of the RPG forums I visit. Every few months a new map related thread appears on every game forum and community out there. The fact that there are at least 4 different Google+ communities related to game maps, means that maps for the RPG industry is a concern for all active gamers. For this reason, I knew my project would get some level of backing - it was more than an educated guess.
25 Quick & Dirty Map Tutorials Guide Kickstarter - create stunning RPG maps using any standard graphics software.
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by drlouisechughes » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:06 pm

I would agree with Michael Tumey, a lot of my success was because I already had a reputation for my artwork online and in person. Although I managed to gain support from people who were not aware of me prior to this project, it was because people in my networks already knew me and were helping me to spread the word. I think that certainly contributed to getting my project to its goal.
Funded!!! Electron microscopy artwork http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/162 ... endar-2014

Funded!!! Human chromosome jewellery. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/162 ... collection
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by Wild Voices » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:35 pm

I'm wondering if there is a way around not using £'s for my pledge gifts, even though the project is based in the U.K.?

Am I correct in saying that funders from the U.S.A are not so supportive if £'s are used?

Thanks for your replies!
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by MichaelTumey » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:11 pm

Wild Voices wrote:I'm wondering if there is a way around not using £'s for my pledge gifts, even though the project is based in the U.K.?

Am I correct in saying that funders from the U.S.A are not so supportive if £'s are used?

Thanks for your replies!


I don't think KS has a work around for that (there are many small issues I have regarding KS and what it allows you to do and does not allow). I would think being able to show pledge levels in both dollars and pounds would be the best solution, but convincing KS to make such available might be problematic.

I'm guessing that US pledgers are hesitant about supporting pledges in pounds vs. dollars. I know it's a small thing to look up the current exchange rates, but the problem could be, I make a pledge based on today's exchange rate, but by the time of product release, the rates have changed so much that, that one's value per dollar/pound is different.

I've never really been a backer on any project, rather just the creator of 3 crowd-funded projects, so I can't offer a universal opinion from a backer's point of view, since I'm not really a "backer".
25 Quick & Dirty Map Tutorials Guide Kickstarter - create stunning RPG maps using any standard graphics software.
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by drlouisechughes » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:53 pm

Wild Voices wrote:I'm wondering if there is a way around not using £'s for my pledge gifts, even though the project is based in the U.K.?

Am I correct in saying that funders from the U.S.A are not so supportive if £'s are used?

Thanks for your replies!


The best way to get around this is to create an image of current exchange rates and make it clear that this is the cost at the time of putting up the project.

@Michael - I think that would be a problem if you paid when the product is ready (which could be months), but backers pay at the end of the funding period and it is unlikely that the exchange rate would alter that much over the course of a few weeks.
Funded!!! Electron microscopy artwork http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/162 ... endar-2014

Funded!!! Human chromosome jewellery. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/162 ... collection
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by TatumGames » Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:31 pm

Great post! It's posts like this that really help people like me who are new to starting Kickstarters gain a lot of helpful insight. My new Kickstarter for Heroes Vs Villains has been active for only a few days, and what I have learned so far is that connections is absolutely vital. You guys are all right about that, the pledges I have received are all from people I know!

As I continue with this process I am gaining more and more knowledge, and one thing I have learned is that I have to be transparent and open to comments and criticism. With that said, to you guys who have more experience and knowledge than me on this topic, do you mind giving me some pointers about my Kickstarter?

Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/423 ... s-villains

And of course any sort of support would be greatly appreciated!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLKxO06R9Mk
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by sssamcz » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:53 pm

Some really interesting stuff above. I guess I am coming at this from a somewhat different angle from many of the above projects. I already have an established business, with a range of products (bicycles in my instance), customer and fan base, and network of dealers. My reason for beginning a Kickstarter was to introduce a new model which - a. I was not certain would be popular and b. I didn't have enough cash on hand to develop on my own.

I can only agree with the notion that you really want to have everything as well set up as possible in advance of launching your funding project. Try to get as much of a buzz going as possible - teasers with prototypes/samples or whatever - try to build that up before you go live with the project. I had a lot of interest on my Facebook and Twitter pages in what I was developing before I even thought about Kickstarting it. Once I decided to do that I kept leaking out pictures and little tidbits to keep people engaged. I had people asking when it was going to start because they wanted to get on it. I launched it yesterday and as of right now I've reached 27% of the funding goal.

In the end your prelaunch strategy should answer this most important question: will my project succeed? If you cannot answer yes to that question, the answer is likely no. If so continue to work on prelaunch.


James, while I completely agree with a lot of what you have said - I am not so sure about this. While you clearly have a lot more experience in these types of crowdfunding schemes than I, my view would be that if you are that confident your project is going to succeed then you should be able to make it work without needing to give up 5% to the folks at Kickstarter in order to do so.

To me one of the primary benefits of Kickstarter is the mitigation of risk. You are able to just put something out there which is not that much more than idea and see if it is going to work. If enough people want it, great, they will back it, get what seems to be a good deal, and you make some money too. From there you have a proof of concept and you can take the product/service/whatever to the next phase with a degree of validation and therefore confidence that it has some mileage - without having to give up a significant chunk of margin. If it doesn't work out, that may be due to a lack of promotion or whatever, but it could just be that the world is not ready for your idea as it is. In which case it is an excellent and low cost way to test that without needing to order 100's or 1000's of whatever it is you are producing and hoping for the best.

Sam


My Project
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by inflexionUSA » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:37 pm

Hi Sam,

I agree with you that mitigation of risk is a very good reason to do a Kickstarter project. However, meaningful conclusions require sufficient data (clicks and visibility) which in turn requires promotion. Let's use your project as an example:

You have been in business for a number of years and have created a number of bicycles that people like and have purchased. You have an established fan base and want to introduce another interesting new bicycle. It makes sense to test the market with the KS community as a "proof of concept".

So you "kept leaking out pictures and little tidbits to keep people engaged".

That's the point. You must come to KS prepared if you want to get something meaningful out of it, whether it be backers, funding or mitigation of risk by way of proof of concept. Otherwise, you are not doing yourself or your project justice. I realize that you came to KS prepared as evidenced by your post, project, bio and such. However, too many people come here with the misguided notion that success is just a launch click away. Unfortunately, as a result, a lot of good ideas come to end.

In my opinion business opportunities today are unlike ever before. Today individuals and small businesses have amazingly powerful tools to compete with anyone-anywhere in the world. The key is to learn and master design, manufacturing, marketing, promotion and new ways of doing business. It's a lot to master, but if you do ...

Sam, I wish you continued success on your project. The Puffin really looks great and seems like it would be a lot of fun to ride. I hope you continue to share your interesting and valuable thoughts.

Good luck,

James
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by sssamcz » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:03 pm

Thanks for the reply James. I guess my point is that Kickstarter, while extremely useful for certain applications, is not a panacea. It is for initial projects, those for which there is sufficient uncertainty, to get off the ground - or not. That uncertainty can be on the side of the producer or the customer, or the investor - Kickstarter provides a mechanism for reducing that risk. If you are utterly, or at least reasonably convinced that ultimately your product or project will be successful you need to convince other people of that. Those people might be investors, or consumers. In Kickstarter's case those two things are one and the same. My point is that if your proposition and conviction is strong enough then you should have either the certainty to invest your own money or convince other people (whether that's a bank, investor, or family member) that they ought to invest theirs on the basis of future expected profit of the company - not on a short term physical reward.

A secondary point is that Kickstarter is (or in my mind should be) exactly that - something to provide an initial impetus to a concept. Unless you have a neverending stream of creative projects (which musicians, artists etc may do, but I don't) you can't expect to continue to build a business on the basis of Kickstarter - the clue is in the name!
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