Two people working on project on laptop in a home
A Kickstarter campaign can allow you to test a new product idea, supplement extra funding and formalize fundraising to friends and family. — Getty Images/ FG Trade

Data shows that only 37% of business owners who launch a Kickstarter campaign reach their funding goal. If you’re seeking to raise funding for a big purchase, like expanding to a new location or launching a new business, crowdfunding can be a tough grind. But, Kickstarter offers more than just a space to raise money.

The true value in a Kickstarter campaign lies in the platform’s ability to gain publicity, reach new customers and fund a specific project. A Kickstarter campaign can allow you to test a new product idea, supplement extra funding and formalize fundraising to friends and family. Here are some steps to start a Kickstarter campaign and make the platform work for you.

[Read more: How Do I Raise Money Crowdfunding?]

Define your goals

Before you put the time and effort into setting up your Kickstarter, make sure to set realistic expectations for what you can achieve on the platform. Remember, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, meaning that if you don’t reach your funding goal, you won’t get anything.

“The best way to estimate how much you could raise is to count the people you know who are likely to donate. Go through your phone and email contacts, tally up an estimate of likely backers, guesstimate that they’ll give $25 each, and calculate your possible total. Then drop that total by 15-20%,” Kira Simon-Kennedy, a filmmaker and Kickstarter veteran, told The Muse.

Ludenso, another company that has successfully executed Kickstarter fundraisers, suggested building an audience before going to Kickstarter. That way, you’ll have a strong community backing your campaign, helping it gain visibility on the platform and reach your goal faster.

The best way to estimate how much you could raise is to count the people you know who are likely to donate. Go through your phone and email contacts, tally up an estimate of likely backers, guesstimate that they’ll give $25 each, and calculate your possible total. Then drop that total by 15-20%.

Kira Simon-Kennedy, filmmaker and Kickstarter veteran

Set up your campaign

To start setting up your campaign, you will need to create a free account on Kickstarter with a username and password. Then, you will start a new project, which is the same as a fundraising campaign. This includes:

  • Write a project description.
  • Set your rewards.
  • Connect a bank account to your project.

Writing your project description is perhaps the most important aspect of your Kickstarter. Adding a video to your page is optional, but projects with videos tend to get funding more often than those without.

“Your video is basically an audio-visual summary of your whole campaign, and you want it to be an introduction that incites viewers to pledge right away. Of course, you also want viewers to read the rest of the page and see how funny you are, what wonderful prizes you have to offer, and all that jazz — but people are busy. If you can sell your story in under a minute, you’ll be much better off,” wrote Simon-Kennedy.

If you choose not to use a video, use the space to describe why you’re asking for money, the difference it will make to your business and what crowd-funders can expect to receive in return.

These rewards are also key: Your rewards should be exciting enough to pique interest and make backers feel like they are part of your project. Create reward tiers to incentivize higher contributions. Use yourself or your staff as a metric. If you want the rewards you’re offering, there’s a good chance others will too.

Advertise your campaign far and wide

Before you press launch, have a marketing plan in place. Some experts say that timing is everything: “In most cases, campaigns that last 30 or fewer days are most successful because they create a sense of urgency among backers. You’ll also have to provide an estimated delivery timeline on rewards and provide regular updates to your backers on how you’re progressing.” It’s best to prepare your outreach before you publish your project to make the most of your condensed timeline.

Remember, Kickstarter is full of great ideas competing for attention. Don’t rely on the platform only to publicize your project. Post your crowdfunding campaign on social media and your website, and send it to people on your email list. Reach out to influencers and micro-influencers who write for a blog, website or news outlet who might be interested in talking about your project.

[Read more: 6 Crowdfunding Mistakes to Avoid]

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Published September 20, 2021