After watching videos on Kickstarter, reading articles on crowdfunding and signing on with crowdfunding discussion forums, I started writing notes in a notebook to learn everything I could.
However, this was not enough. I needed to take a look at the first Kickstarter than I ran two years ago, review it and understand why I failed based on everything I’ve learned. It is my aim to learn from these mistakes and also share with everyone out there what I learn. Nobody else should make these same mistakes.
MISTAKE #1 – I went into my Kickstarter with the wrong state of mind. After seeing some of the success stories, I saw Kickstarter as this magical land with free money for the taking. IT IS NOT!! If anyone out there thinks that Kickstarter (or any crowdfunding platform) is easy money, do us all a favor – don’t do it. Don’t waste my time, your time, the time of the crowdfunding site’s administrative staff or anyone else’s. Kickstarter is NOT easy money.
MISTAKE #2 – There has to be outreach before a Kickstarter launches. I made a very feeble attempt at doing this. I actually did this; I contacted people, told them about the Kickstarter and asked them to donate to the campaign. The total number of people I reached out to? I could’ve counted them on one hand. Before launching a Kickstarter (both well in advance and just before it starts), you need to reach out to MANY people. This time, I’ve made a list of people and entities I aim to contact; this list is two pages long and will probably get longer in the coming months.
MISTAKE #3 – A Kickstarter has to be promoted well in advance. Promoting a few days in advance of the start or even a few weeks in advance (like I did) will not work. It has to be done months in advance! A good rule is that a Kickstarter should be promoted at least three to five months in advance!
MISTAKE #4 – As for your reward tiers, limit them and keep them simple. That’s something I learned in my note taking from Jason Brubaker. Reviewing my tiers of rewards, there were too many and too confusing. I was even offering art commissions when I should have stuck to either books or material related to that!
MISTAKE #5 – Successful Kickstarter campaigns will have regular updates to rally people to give to the campaign or to share progress on the product being funded. Did I do that on my own campaign? NO! Seriously, updates are important. I have learned that you need to do updates and show people how fired up you are about your own project. If you’re not the biggest cheerleader for your own work, then who else will be?
MISTAKE #6 – A Kickstarter needs to be properly promoted. While I did make an attempt, my promotion was disorganized and scattered. You not only need to promote aggressively but have a definite plan and get help. For the next project, I aim to have a unified plan; I aim to use social media, the blog, my mailing list and fans to spread the word.
MISTAKE #7 – I tried to do too much too fast. I had some sales in 2013 and even some good reviews. I thought that meant a Kickstarter would succeed. It’s important to take the time to cultivate fans and gather a sufficient following.
I’m learning from these mistakes and continue recording notes in my notebook. I don’t aim to make these again.