The Low-Budget Guide to Launching A Successful Kickstarter
My business partner Kristi and I wanted to launch a Kickstarter in early 2016 but at the time weren't quite ready to launch a campaign knowing the amount of the work that would be required to be successful. Neither of us was afraid of a "little" hard work. The timing just wasn't wasn't right.
Fast forward to 2017. We were ready to make it happen.
We put in some serious work. We set out to raise $10,000 to meet our manufacturer's minimum order for our brand, Sittin Pretty Still.
It’s a high-quality, star-shaped meditation cushion that is filled with heavy grounding materials. We fill it with buckwheat, rice hulls and dried lavender as opposed to cotton that loses it shape quickly and is usually really light in weight. Our shape gives you support for your hips, knees and spine while giving your pelvis a tilt forward eliminating stress off your lower back. Plus, the cushion is beautiful and made with upholstery fabrics for durability, brightness and serves as a simple reminder to return to your meditation practice daily. It’s one of the best meditation cushion out there for your practice if I must say so myself.
Your success on Kickstarter, in a lot of ways, is determined by how much time you spend in preparation. Just like a sou chef prepares for the evening dinner rush and an athlete gets ready for the big game, there is always a ton of practice leading up to the big event.
With little to no budget for paid advertising, we created our first Kickstarter campaign, reaching our goal in just 62 hours and bringing in $27,123 in revenue. Not bad for a young company with only two female entrepreneurs at the helm.
The purpose of this blog is to uncover what we learned, share our biggest lessons and victories, as well as the exact steps we took to create our Kickstarter.
If you’re interested in creating a Kickstarter or launching a product with confidence, I suggest you keep reading.
PHASE 1: PRE PRE-LAUNCH
1. Establish Your Why
Start talking about it well before you plan to launch. We asked ourselves the question, “WHY do we want to launch this Kickstarter campaign?” over and over again, like a broken record.
Author Simon Sinek, states in his famous TED talk the importance of starting with your why. Because when things get tough, and they will get tough, if your WHY is strong enough it will pull you out of the problem and get you focused on creating a solution. It also serves as the powerful reminder of truly why you are doing what you are doing.
2. Do Your Homework
Listen here. There are so many resources out there that are available to you. Books, podcasts, webinars, Youtube videos and Udemy were the resources we chose to study. Kristi and I took courses together to get familiar with what needed to be done. We spent several hours watching Kickstarter videos of all shapes and sizes. Some were amazing and others needed some work.
Watching the unsuccessful videos gave us plenty of ideas on what NOT to do and we were able to pinpoint mistakes made often. The biggest mistake we observed was the call to action (CTA). Hardly any of the campaigns we watched actually ASKED for the pledge. Words like “Support us now”, “Click to pledge” or “Please pledge now” we’re completely absent from the video.
If you’re lucky enough to get someone to actually watch your video, that’s incredible, but you need to determine a clear Call to Action and tell people what you want them to do at the end.
You are responsible for guiding them to the next step. We learned that it was important to include a Call to Action. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale!
I mean let's be honest, the only reason you're considering Kickstarter is that you want someone to support your campaign.
3. Get Experience
Another method we took that wasn't entirely necessary but it beat any course or self-studying we did was getting hands-on experience. Volunteer and work on a Kickstarter campaign for free.
I volunteered 10 hours a week (you can always do less) with a successful Kickstarter entrepreneur and in exchange, he taught me everything he knew. I got real life experience and saw how much emphasis was put on the strategy or ‘Master Plan’.
4. Pick the Date
Without a due date, you’ll push it off and never end up clicking that launch button. Set a date and try your best to stick to it. We initially set our due date for April 20th and then it got pushed to May 1st because the script wasn’t ready but finally, on May 15th we launched our campaign. While we had to move the date for some unseen hiccups, having that date in mind kept us moving forward with our eye on the prize.
Bonus Points: Tell people ahead of time what you’re doing! Peer pressure is a big motivator to get your project done.
PHASE 2: PRE-LAUNCH
1. Delegate & Use A Project Management System
I can't say enough how crucial it was for us to delegate and use a project management system as we created or Kickstarter.
We hired three apprentices. (If they are in college they are called interns in California). One was a friend and the other two were loyal fans of the Sittin’ Pretty Still brand. We knew how much they believed in our mission.
"To help heal the world one meditation at a time."
We laid out clear expectations, tasks they were interested in and gave them our success master plan. Being prepared before hiring support not only made delegating easier, but they also appreciated how organized we were and how we could stay on task much easier with a game plan to follow.
We hired a virtual assistant on UpWork to help us create a media list of bloggers & media in the health & wellness space. We didn’t have time to do this research on our own and it was worth the $90 investment to get the information in our hands of the specific writers we were wanting to reach out to.
2. Write the Script
It took us 18 revisions of our script to get it just right but it was worth the time. If you have a crappy script, nobody is going to listen or want your product.
Luckily, we were able to leverage the relationship of three incredible individuals for support. We had the wisdom of a producer/writer, a beautiful yoga writer and a successful Kickstarter entrepreneur to provide the critical feedback we needed to take our video script to the next level. As hard as it is to hear sometimes, just be quiet and listen to the experts.
Recently, I’ve noticed a huge “laziness” in the Kickstarter community where they just post a video with music and text overlay. I thought Kickstarter was meant as community platform so you can get to know who is behind these products and become real true fans. It does seem to be working though but we didn’t want to go this new route. We stuck to our own path.
3. Create the video
We knew we wanted our video to be different. We had noticed many in the Kickstarter community were simply posting videos with music and text overlay. We wanted to stick to our value of sharing our story as co-founders and really help people get to know the people behind the brand and built a solid relationship.
4. Prep your shot list ahead of time
Ask yourself these questions:
What do you want to capture?
What mood are you going for?
How do you want your audience to feel while watching?
You can use YouTube as inspiration and bookmark the commercials you enjoyed and find the vibe that you are hoping to emulate.
Many people complimented us on how professional our video looked and how it makes us stand out. With my background in production, I knew I wanted to produce a quality video. A well thought out video is a key to being successful online.
We decided to invest and hire a videographer.
We had one mistake/lesson happen during the video shoot. The audio during our direct to camera shot, which in my opinion is very important was poor quality and sounded like we were in a vacuum. Sadly, it pushed our launch date back by 2 weeks since we had to re-shoot, edit and place it in the video but in the end, it all worked out.
The universe has our back!
5. Notify Your Audience
We decided to try out the Jeff Walker Product Launch Formula (PLF). This formula suggests releasing 3-4 videos with valuable content letting your customer know that something exciting is about to happen. Every week we shared a guided meditation, story or some other valuable content with our small but intimate email list.
We also started a Facebook group for Sittin’ Pretty Still comprised of our launch team of 15 raving fans. Each fan functioned as a promoter, sharing our campaign and supporting in other ways in exchange for some awesome freebies.
PHASE 3: LAUNCH IT
This is the day you’ve been waiting for but before you push LAUNCH, make sure you have the following things done and you'll be ready to go.
1.Set up your tracking pixel
We set up a separate link from our website directing it to the Kickstarter. For example, www.sittinprettystill.com/kickstarter
We linked the site with a tracking pixel so when we started FB ads we could create a lookalike audience and retarget these people.
2. Test your tech
Make sure everything is talking to each other. Test. Test. Test.
3. Push the LAUNCH button
Hooray! The day has arrived and the launch jitters are real. Embrace them and try your best to avoid caffeine. I was a bit crazy on launch day but I think people liked it when I was on FB live.
4. Announce via email & social media.
Create all your promotional images well before launch day, so you’re not forced to be creative and risk losing quality. Have it all planned out ahead of time with images, text, and copy. You’ll be so focused on other things when you launch that having this all planned will make you feel so much lighter and more prepared.
Send out that “WE ARE LIVE” email to your list.
Phase 4: SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE
Once a few days or maybe a week has gone by and hopefully you have already reached your campaign goal and gotten your funding, it’s time to get external referrals to your campaign. This is where the campaign gets interesting, slightly intense and you’ll need to access your creativity. Because you’ve exhausted your whole email list, social media following, and friends, now it's time to get people that don’t know you to pledge for your campaign.
1. Get some PR
I’ll be honest with you on this one, I really dislike PR. Maybe it was that internship I did in college that jaded me. The PR girl was so mean to me and said horrible things about my first press release. Psh. HOW RUDE!?
It’s so much work to get PR and if you don’t have the contacts at your disposal it can be even more work. We saw little to no results close to 95% of the time. We learned very quickly from this. Next time we'll hire a PR company to handle this.
One win is that ladies of that’s so retrograde sat on our cushions, posted it on Instagram and will be giving it a shout out a future episode.
All it takes is one.
2. Cross promote
Cross promote with other similar Kickstarter campaigns that are live. Contact them via Kickstarter or email them on their website or social media. Whatever method you use to contact them, just make it happen. We saw about 20-30 pledges come through cross promotions which really helps boost our total.
3. Create a Sweepstake
This is something new that I don’t see other campaigns do. We ran a sweepstake for the meditation cushion and promised they would receive it before people that pledge do. We used 22 Social to get it up and running. It was a HUGE success. We had over 500+ people enter. That's 500 warm leads that we were encouraging to invite their friends. We didn’t pay for these leads, they were brought to us by others. Once we announced the winner the people that didn't win ended up heading straight over to our Kickstarter to pledge because at the end of they day, they wanted a meditation cushion.
Phase 5: Wrap it up
Note: We’re currently in the praise, so I’ll be sure to revisit this blog and update it.
1.Send updates to your email list & backers
Keep in communication with you backers, invite them to the FB group so they can get updates from you on a more regular basis.
2. Rest & Celebrate - Burnt out is real
Allow yourself to rest. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back because launching a Kickstarter is no joke. Go to the beach or some body of water and just unwind. (Sighs.)
We used several resources and tools to help prep, create and optimize our Kickstarter. Here are some software and specific tools we used during the creation of our campaign.
Gadget Flow - Paid $238 for a spot on their page
Facebook Ads - $400
Pinterest Ad for testing $180
Get response email marketing $15/Monthly
Udemy for Kickstarter courses $20
Upwork for VA Hire $95
Thanks for reading and good luck with your future launch and/or Kickstarter campaign.
Are you planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign? Tell us what worked and didn't work for yours!