Learnings From Launching A Kickstarter Campaign
During the past four months, my co-host, Ella McFarland, and I worked zealously to put together a Kickstarter campaign for Highly Inspired Podcast. For those who aren’t already aware, Kickstarter is a leading crowdfunding website that startup businesses leverage for gaining support and funding projects. After doing a significant amount of research into what crowdfunding resources fit our needs, we concluded on launching our project on Kickstarter.
Some people may ask, “Is crowdfunding free money?” The short answer is no. Most startups are not non-profit fundraisers, and legally registered companies create the projects found on sites like Kickstarter. Although crowdfunding is a means of financing a new business venture, creators offer altruistic and equity opportunities for people to invest in depending on how their project is presented. In addition, most crowdfunding platforms, including Kickstarter, require fees for businesses in order to exit the site once their project campaign has finished. In other words, due to explicit fees, companies must develop a cost-effective plan with that information in mind.
I’ll admit, before beginning to work on our Kickstarter page, I thought the process of piecing it all together wouldn’t take very long. I figured that since we’ve been building Highly Inspired as a brand and media distributor for over two years now that we were bound to already have an inventory of usable digital assets to repurpose for our new Kickstarter page; those assets being: video footage, graphics, copy, and promotional materials. But, boy, was I wrong. We soon realized that it was essential to create all-new digital assets to achieve the most effective execution of our campaign.
Phase #1: Trailer
The first and arguably most important component of the Kickstarter page that we needed to create was a brand new trailer video. Knowing the trailer-producing process would suck up the most amount of time compared to the other aspects of the Kickstarter, we began knocking out tasks for it right away. Without going into too much detail, know that the evolution of strategizing, visualizing, scripting, recording, and editing was a process that extended throughout the majority of our overall Kickstarter construction timeline. In the end, the trailer we produced is just under 15 minutes long, roughly three times the length of most Kickstarter trailer videos, and we are incredibly proud of what we were able to throw together.
What We Learned:
- Clear your hard drive or purchase a brand new hard drive to store your entire video project. Ensure there is enough hard drive capacity to save your files, or you may lose footage and editing files.
- If you are filming outdoors, try to ensure you have enough time to record with natural daylight, especially if natural light is important to your vision for the visual appearance.
- Create a multitude of video editing files to efficiently organize all of your cuts, b-roll, and stylistic elements. This will expedite your workflow and allow you to manage all of your trailer content from one place.
Phase #2: Story
Kickstarter provides a limitless section for allowing creators to explain their project in however many words they would like. Having a seemingly-boundless area to articulate a brand, including images, graphics, testimonials, goals, links, etc., is tremendously contributive to the overall effectiveness of a crowdfunding page. Sometimes, people would rather read a long explanation than watch a 10-minute trailer. Similarly, there are moments where maybe viewers would have liked to play the trailer but were in a public place that wouldn’t allow them to play the video with sound. The story section is hugely supplemental to the trailer video and is a great space to sell your business, product, service, and mission.
The most profound takeaway from developing our story section on Kickstarter revolves around sufficiently articulating Highly Inspired. For any business or venture, narrowing down the right words to define your product or service is vital. Rule #1 about communication is that it’s not about how the speaker conveys their message, but what the receiver interprets FROM your message. I believe that is a crucial distinction to touch on. So often, people think they may have communicated what makes sense to them while failing to convey the message to their audience adequately.
What We Learned:
- Prioritize getting into the minds of anonymous viewers who have never before come across your business, brand, or product. It is better to be overly thorough than not to provide enough relevant detail about who you are.
- Place the essential components to your brand’s story at the top. People have short attention spans; therefore, don’t expect everyone to read every single word. The categories of your mission and values shouldn’t be placed all the way at the bottom of the section hierarchy.
- Similar to the trailer video component, reserve enough time to be able to finalize the story content. We found ourselves constantly going back to the copy and tweaking things, fine-tuning, and changing around the placement of sentences. The story section is undoubtedly not an hour-long final task to write out quickly and press "publish" without the ability to revisit. Allow yourself enough room to adjust and refine as you go along.
Phase #3: Administrative
The last key category of elements that needed to be finalized before launching our Kickstarter page included setting up rewards, writing out any risks & challenges, and importing all of the correct project settings. Especially when it came to pressing “save” on our funding goal, linking our banking details, and filtering all of our private LLC information into Kickstarter, we began to feel a bit more cautious, though excited. We realized how abundant Kickstarter really is; in terms of the amount of customization and integration available to creators. Ideally, it would’ve been nicer to know early on that they only accept trailer video files smaller than 5 MB; but, c’est la vie. In the end, we found a way to still feature our 4K-resolution trailer video by attaching an external link at the top of our story section. Hooray for loopholes and problem-solving!
What We Learned:
- Make sure not to accidentally set up your Kickstarter project without incorrectly filling out the country location. We accidentally set ours to “Australia” and the setting wasn’t able to be adjusted later on.
- Use the Kickstarter funding calculator to get a realistic estimate of how much money they will extract from your overall crowdfunding goal once your campaign ends. The calculator is a helpful tool and reminds you of how significant Kickstarter’s fees are.
- If you are backed by a legally-registered company, set the payout settings to a “business” account instead of an “individual”. As long as you are a traceable “member” correlated to the registered company name, any connected bank account with the same first and last name will work for linking to Kickstarter.
We thoroughly enjoyed putting together our Kickstarter page. We learned a lot along the way and are thrilled to have taken our time on it. Each phase deserved an individual allotment of time and attention, and I am glad we split the overall project into separate parts. For anyone considering launching a crowdfunding campaign or wanting to learn more information on the matter, I would recommend gaining insight from a multitude of third-party sources and reading many first-hand testimonials, such as this one. All crowdfunding projects are wildly different due to various industries, business models, international locations, and the many ways one can introduce a brand.
If you have any questions or would like to receive further information on our first-hand account, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.