Continuing our three part series of lessons we learned from our Kickstarter project, let’s dive in to part 2 - During Campaign.
Don’t fear the middle
Here’s one you’ll hear a lot, but it’s really hard to believe when you’re in the middle of it, so let us say it again: Don’t expect much to happen in the middle of your campaign. We made it to $30k within the first 24 hours. We then grew matching ulcers as the firehouse died down to a trickle. It took us another 21 days to bring in the next $30k.
There is this distinct moment we remember when we were just a few days away from the deadline and looking at this insurmountable wall of $40k to go, knowing that it had taken everything in us to raise the last $30k. Then something magical happened. Just as everyone who had been there before had predicted, we saw a large spike at the end of the campaign and blew past our goal—all thanks to the efforts of our backers. If you’ve laid the groundwork, if you’ve connected with people and inspired them with your idea, they will be there at the end to carry you over the line and beyond.
We’re glad we did the work to grind out that middle $30k, but in retrospect the work would have been much more enjoyable without the impending sense of doom and futility that accompanied it. If you are fortunate enough to have a strong launch, run a good campaign knowing that there’s some help waiting for you at the end of the marathon.
Big Media Is Not Your Only Hope
We were very excited to receive coverage from some major news outlets throughout our campaign. But the data proves out that the majority of our funding came from word of mouth via Twitter and independent blogs. The larger outlets have a lot of eyeballs (which certainly helps) but the indie bloggers have a dedicated audience. An example: as development blogs go, Furbo.org is not one of the largest, but when Craig Hockenberry wrote about what the project meant to him, his readers got on board wholeheartedly.
Never count the indies out.
Press Releases are Hard
If you’ve never written a press release, be warned, they’re tough. We took a few days trying to write a usable one. We were really fortunate that some friends at the Silver Telegram extend their help with its composition and send it out to their email list of tech reporters resulting in a story on Engadget.
Overall, press releases are hard to write because they’re not formatted in normal human communication. Pair this with media outlets relying less and less on them for stories and in our limited opinion they’re not really worth your time.
On the flip side, there was a tinge of nostalgia as we posted our press release to PRmac knowing that so many great creators in the Mac space had gone before us.
Not all interested reporters are very interested
Over the course of the campaign, we received a number of inquiries from tech journalists asking to interview us. We spent many hours gathering content, replying to emails, and talking on the phone. Of the several reporters who engaged us, only one or two wrote a story on the project. That’s not to say that the time wasn’t well spent. But we thought it worth sharing. If you’re otherwise swamped, it may be worthwhile to vet the seriousness of the inquiries before you spend a lot of time replying to interview questions.
Embrace super backers
A handful of backers contacted us early on in the campaign to express their excitement about the project and willingness to help out in any way they could. These super backers offered advice and encouragement throughout the campaign, and also helped get the word out. We're still very thankful for them. If you're fortunate enough to get some super backers, do everything you can to empower and embrace them.
Make compelling upgrade rewards (put people within $5-$10 of the next reward)
We got a lot of backers at the $25 level, which was expected as that's the most common pledge on Kickstarter. However, we realized that if we could offer something of sufficient value, many of the $25 backers may be willing to increase their pledge. We added a $15 upgrade reward. This worked out well because it put the $25 backers at $40—just $10 away from the $50 reward level. As a result, we saw many people jump from $25 to $50 to take advantage of the next reward tier. A caution: be sure to reward your backers for digging deep. To thank ours, we started piling on stretch rewards as soon as we could.
Run a good, clean campaign. Stay away from gimmicks, which can become very tempting when the end is in sight and you haven’t reached your goal yet. Stick to your values.
Your Kickstarter backers will be with you for a long time. Work hard to make sure they still like you when the journey’s over.