We launched our first line of textiles through Kickstarter in May 2016. Thanks to old friends and new friends, we hit our goal and raised over $20,000. With that support were able to put together a cohesive F/W Collection and jumpstart business development in collaboration with our weaving collective, Waraniéné.
The entire experience was exhilarating. Not only was it one of the most stressful months of my life, it was certainly one of the most encouraging. It brought together one of the most special groups of people from all facets of Laine’s and my life. There are endless blogs about how to build a successful campaign (as well as how to support those close to you during their kickstarter), but for anyone considering doing a Kickstarter - or any other crowdfunding platform - here are some lessons we learned launching our socially conscious brand campaign.
Start with an idea you would want to back.
Crowdfunding is an amazing way to build a community and find out if your idea is something people will actually pay money for. The most effective Kickstarters are ones where you can believe in the person behind the project. You should be passionate about what you have crafted and that needs to come through no matter what. It took us almost a year to put together our campaign. We spent time researching and crafting our pitch and prototyping/testing our product to make sure it was something people were actually interested in. We really believed in our story and our product was beautiful and that is what people responded to.
Over-prepare for the nuts and bolts of the campaign.
Carefully pick your category. Kickstarter has 15 different categories and each is curated by a different department. Many projects can fit into multiple categories, the trick is to find one that fits your campaign the best.
Coming up with an accurate funding goal is tough. You can find endless thoughts on how to come up with that figure. We recommend that you keep in mind full production and shipping costs. Shipping product can be costly, especially internationally. Furthermore, approximately 8% of your goal will be taken out for fees. Factor that in as well.
Ship dates are another beast. It is OK if your ship date falls months after your campaign ends. The most important part is that you share an accurate estimate with backers. Find a reasonable ship date for your timeline, then add 2 months. If you can ship earlier GREAT! If not, remember things happen, production deadlines are missed, or in our case a festival can completely halt work for the weavers for a full week! Give yourself wiggle room. If you can’t meet your projected ship date, don’t sweat it, just be upfront, honest, and inform your backers.
Kickstarting a project is hard work.
Don’t be fooled by the lists of successfully funded projects. Many projects put forward by established brands or ones with celebrity attached that raise 125% of their goal usually have teams behind them doing all the work. But for the rest of us, running a Kickstarter is a full-time job with no guarantee of reaching our goal (60% of projects fail to meet their goals). Expect long nights and working all weekend. There is no end to the list of things you need to do to make sure your campaign goes successfully. Here are our top three suggestions and we would recommend doing a combination of each everyday your campaign is live:
1. Stay in touch with contacts.
Reach out to EVERY SINGLE PERSON you know. Yes, you are asking for money, but you are also giving people an opportunity to come along for the ride. Once someone backs you they are immediately part of your community and invested in your project. Word of mouth is powerful and encouraging your followers to share your posts and network for you will expand your potential backer pool. Send out regular updates and don’t be afraid to follow up with people.
One of the most common phrases I heard was - “I watched your Kickstarter to make sure you reached your goal” - so if you getting close, tell people about it! Emails, direct tweets, Facebook/Instagram messaging, reach out to anyone you can. When reaching out to people, use “we” as much as possible. Everyone is a potential backer and together you will reach your goal.
2. Leverage social media.
This is an obvious no-brainer but you need to get creative. People will get bored quickly with a picture and a “14 days left to contribute post”. Use social media to broaden your story.
It is getting increasingly more difficult to find press outlets that cover crowdfunding campaigns. Journalists, bloggers, influences are inundated with requests to post and cover projects. Don’t let that stop you. Find people you admire and who are in the same industry as you. Find common ground and pitch them everything from emails to direct tweets.
Content is King
Remember when I said you should encourage your backers to share your posts? Well make content that they will want to share. Keep in mind what kind of posts you would likely share and make it easy for them.
Message your backers personally. Kickstarter has an easy feature for contacting those who backed you. Thank them for their contribution. A quick note to say thanks is so important and proves to your backers that not only are they now apart of something great but that YOU appreciate them. We direct messaged everyone who contributed to our Kickstarter. This is the same with press and people who post about you. Thank them as well.
At the end of the day, a successful Kickstarter is up to you. This is your project, your voice - people will react to that. Your are building a network around your project. Your backers are part of the journey and making them feel that way is essential to getting them talking about it outside of your network. Remember, it takes a village. ✌🏼