Crowdfunding is an extra bigass topic to wrap your extra bigass noodle around. Reading about how to run a campaign alone is full of shoulds, shouldn'ts, must, and maybes, so it's easy to lose sight of what's important.
But, just like recipes for Gnocchi with Pesto, not all ingredients are equally as important. You can skip the pine nuts (not worth the cost IMO), but you sure as hell can’t forget about adding in the gnocchi because, well, that’s the damn point.
Here’s the gnocchi of crowdfunding:
The seven things you NEED to know before you launch your Kickstarter.
- How big is your launch audience?
- How did five campaigns similar to yours run and market their campaign?
- Have you finalized every single one of your costs, including product, stretch goals, fulfillment, shipping, taxes, and certifications?
- Who will be on your campaign team and what will everyone’s jobs be?
- Have completed the Campaign Page Audit?
- Are your trademarks, copyright, and legal issues sorted?
- How will you track the performance of your marketing?
Let’s go through these one by one.
1. How big is your launch audience?
There is no factor that contributes to the success of your campaign more than the pledges you earn in the first 72 hours of launch. There are, at any time, between 3,000 - 4,000 live Kickstarter campaigns, roughly 63% of which will fail. If you're launching without knowing who exactly to market and sell to, you're sunk.
Launching a campaign without a ready list of backers, press, influencers, friends, family, enemies, bounty hunters, and partners is a sure way to set yourself up for failure.
If you can’t guarantee you’ll reach at least 40% of your goal within the first 72 hours of launch using your current email list, your campaign isn’t ready to launch. (The 40-72 rule)
2. How did five campaigns similar to yours run and market their campaign?
No matter how unique your idea is, someone else has done something similar before.
This is good.
One of the advantages of Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that the campaign pages are public, so it’s incredibly easy to study nearly every part of the product’s messaging, marketing, management, and marinara.
Learn from other’s mistakes.
3. Have you finalized every single one of your costs, including product, stretch goals, fulfillment, shipping, taxes, and certifications?
Once a single pledge hits one of your rewards, pricing and product are locked. Before you smash that mf’n launch button, you need to verify directly with your partners:
- Complete production cost for every reward
- Shipping costs for every reward (domestic and intl for EVERY country you choose to sell to)
- Sales Tax / VAT for every reward
- Fulfillment company costs
- Pledge manager costs (if you’re using one)
- Certifications costs for your product
Knowing your costs not only helps ensure that your rewards are all profitable, but it prevents you from common campaign illnesses such as getting stretch-goal drunk (like I did once).
Or you could say fuck it all and spend it all on liquor and strippers like Ant Simulator did.
Hey it’s your life.
4. Who will be on your campaign team and what will everyone’s jobs be?
With (hopefully) hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line on a live campaign, things get heated and murky real fast.
Before starting a campaign, ensure that you know who will be handling every single task before they begin to stack up and overwhelm you (because that’s what happens).
You’ll need someone on your team to handle:
- Customer service on social media, email, and the crowdfunding platform
- Creating art assets
- Legal issues
- Press / interviews
- Accounting / taxes
- Fulfill your campaign’s rewards
- Ship your product
- Production of your product
“Figuring it out as we go” is a quick way for your team to step all over each other and/or get stabby with each other.
Oh, and kind of important, maybe, sort of: You need to figure out who is getting paid what and put it in writing.
It’s easy to be friends when there’s no money.
5. Have you completed the Campaign Page Audit?
Your campaign page is your primary way backers will judge your product and decide whether or not to buy, so it better look damn good to stand a chance at hitting your goal, much less Super Crowdfunding.
If you haven’t already grabbed your copy, you can swipe your copy here.
6. Are your trademarks, copyright, and legal issues sorted?
There are companies dedicated to stealing unprotected ideas on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Protect yourself before you wreck yourself. Or more correctly, someone else wrecks you. But, in a way, you're the one who enabled being wrecked.
Additionally, make sure any art, audio, and video you use is either royalty free, or property licensed. The last thing you want to deal with after your campaign successfully funds is someone sending your business a Cease and Desist for using their photo of lasagna without license.
7. How will you track the performance of your marketing?
Once your campaign is live, you need to know everything you can about how people are coming to your page and what they do when they get there.
Focus on what’s working, ignore everything else.
One of the most important ways to know this is to have effective link tracking set up for every one of your marketing sources so you can tell whether Linguini Illustrated’s post is driving all the traffic to your campaign, or if it’s your Facebook Ads that are the real money maker.
The simplest way to do this is through Kickstarter’s custom referral link feature (located on the dashboard). This will allow you to see how many sales you earn from every one of your different referral sources, whether it be from email marketing, an influencer, press articles, or other sources. (Google Analytics has far more in-depth tracking, but we’ll dig into that in another article)
8. Oh wait I only said seven. That’s it then. You’re set.
I think I may be hungry for pasta.