If you want to start a business, it seems the ideal way to get started would be to have people give you their money solely on the basis of your idea.
This is, essentially, how Kickstarter works. Seems too good to be true? In most cases, it probably is.
Unless you’re campaigning for a revival of Reading Rainbow, you’re not going to raise $1 million in one day. But even if you’re not LeVar Burton, there are many ways to run a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Here are six tips for using a Kickstarter campaign to help you get your company off the ground.
1. Have an idea worth selling
This may seem like an obvious tip, but make sure you really believe in your project before starting a campaign.
You need a compelling reason why someone should help you out. Remember, you’re not only selling your idea, you are also selling your story. People might like what the end result of your project will be, but they may be even more interested in just being a part of creating something new. If you have a strong story, it is more likely that people will want to play a part in it.
Keep in mind too that even if you have a good idea, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for Kickstarter. For example, make sure you don’t pull a Zach Braff and ask for money for something people will be inclined to think you have the resources to make happen yourself.
2. Be in constant contact with your backers
Posting frequent updates and sharing your progress not only satisfies those who have already helped you out, but it might convince others to contribute as well. If it seems to people like you don’t care about how the Kickstarter is going, then why should they?
Make it clear you care about those supporting you by answering as many comments and messages as you can, and keeping your backers in the loop.
3. Reward your supporters
This tip goes along with the previous point, since it is a great way to engage your backers.
Consider setting up rewards for people who make a donation higher than a certain amount. Throw your new company’s logo on some hats, t-shirts, or other merchandise, and hand these out to donors who give, for example, more than $25. This not only gives people an immediate, concrete reason to donate, but also fosters a sense of community along with some cheap advertising.
Depending on what your product is, you can really have some fun with this. For example, parts supplier CJ Pony Parts would offer their major donors a free day with a new 2015 Mustang. That’s something to get excited about.
Just make sure your rewards are realistic and you can pay for them. John Campbell, creator of the webcomic “Pictures for Sad Children” ran out of money and then videotaped himself burning all of his donors’ rewards and vowing not to send anything to anyone else. It’s safe to say behavior like that tends to slow down donations.
4. Set deadlines
Think of showing supporters that you’re meeting deadlines as another way of handing out rewards.
Novelty shirts and trinkets are nice, but demonstrating that your project—the thing they’re actually paying for—is on track fosters more trust. It also shows other potential contributors that you are serious about getting your project done.
If you do choose to set deadlines, make sure you create ones you know you are capable of reaching. Missing deadlines can create a nagging feeling in the minds of donors that you’re never going to finish your project, which will kill any buzz you’ve built up.
5. Remain professional
This means keeping your campaign organized, on track, and frequently updated. You’ll need to treat your contributors with as much respect as you would any large investor.
If you present a professional page, donors will have more faith you know what you’re doing. This confidence will speak for itself with their wallets. Stand out from the crowd by showing how seriously you take their investment.
6. Throw yourself into marketing the project
A good idea alone will not be enough to make your campaign a success. It’s up to you to make sure people know about it. This means you have to walk the fine line between getting the word out and annoying everyone on your social media feeds.
If you’re truly passionate about what you’re trying to create, it’s got to be at least a little bit shameless. Remember, no one will care about your Kickstarter if they can’t tell that you do.
Show your passion—it could prove to be contagious.