How to Create a Successfully Funded Kickstarter

Last night, Arts For Colorado hosted a Kickstarter workshop in Denver featuring Stephanie Pereira, Kickstarter’s International & Civic Partnerships Lead. Also presenting at the event were Brigid McAuliffe and Robert Rhu, two local artists who had successfully funded their Kickstarter campaigns. We had an overwhelming turnout, over 50 people in attendance! It looks like everyone wanted to know more about this amazing crowd funding website. We learned a ton from all of the speakers and the questions that were asked sparked great conversations during and after the event.

In order to continue hosting free workshops like these, it is crucial that Arts For Colorado gets the support it needs. If you can, please donate to our cause here or to become a member, visit us at our member page

To fill you in on some of the things we learned from Stephanie and the presenters, we’ve enlisted the help of professional blogger Monika McMahon who was in attendance, here’s what she had to say:

How to Create a Successfully Funded Kickstarter 

By: Monika McMahon

First off, let me say that while I have never launched my own personal Kickstarter (I’ve definitely thought about it), I have always been a supporter of local artists who have and I was excited at the opportunity to learn more about this platform. 

For those of you that don’t know anything (or much) about Kickstarter, I’ll start off with the basics and some rough statistics from Stephanie Pereira

What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is a platform that gives you the opportunity to bring a creative project to life by allowing friends, family, fans and others to fund your creative projects. While causes, charities and nonprofits are not allowed to use Kickstarter for donations, they can use Kickstarter to fund a creative project. Kickstarter has been around for 5 years and was developed by 3 creative guys – an artist, a musician and a designer. 

Steph rattled off a bunch of impressive, rough stats about Kickstarter at the beginning of her presentation:

  • Over the past 5 years there have been over 65,000 successfully funded Kickstarter projects.
  • Over 1 billon dollars has been raised since Kickstarter started.
  • 6.5 million people worldwide have donated to a Kickstarter!
  • Average amount raised based on the type of projects:
  • Average amount for an art project to raise: $5,000-$6,000.
  • Average amount for an music project to raise: $7,000-$8,000.
  • Average amount for an film project to raise: $9,000-$10,000.
  • Most projects see an average of 85 donors (a “huggable size” according to Steph).
  • Once you reach 20% of your goal, you are 80% likely to succeed.
  • Once you reach 30% of your goal, you are 90% likely to succeed.
  • 85% of the money raised gets to the Kickstarter creator, this is due to credit cards expiring, not having enough funds at the time of funding etc.
  • Only 17% of Kickstarters end with no pledged dollars at all (I’m guessing they could have used the tips below!).
  • Kickstarter takes a fee of 5%, while the credit card transactions are between 3%-5%, for a total of 8%-10% in fees per campaign.
  • 30% of Kickstarter campaigns are over funded.
  • For more statistics and to see up to the date numbers on what Kickstarter has raised, go to where they update those numbers daily.
As Steph rattled off stat after stat, she also included many tips for helping make a Kickstarter project a success:

Tips For a Successful Kickstarter from Steph

  • These are just a few general tips from what Steph has seen over the past few years from working at Kickstarter:
  • While a video is NOT required for each campaign, it is recommended and over 85% of Kickstarter campaigns have video.
  • As your campaign is progressing, keep your backers in the loop with blog updates, and emails. Did you know that you can email each reward group separately to notify them of updates? Use this to your advantage!
  • If your campaign is successful, you will receive the names and emails of your backers. Be aware that since you can log in with Facebook, the email addresses might be old or not checked often!
  • You can create a draft of your Kickstarter that isn’t live, or searchable to send to friends and family for a last look over before you hit publish.
  • Personal email is the number one traffic driver to Kickstarter that ends in funding. Number 2? Facebook! So share often!
  • $25 is the sweet spot for donations, so create a few different options in this range to appease many fans.
  • Don’t over inflate value and offer a t-shirt for $100. Be realistic.
  • Concerned about something in your campaign? Each Kickstarter department has their own email and will have someone review your campaign for you and answer any questions you have before going live!
Then Steph interviewed both Brigid and Robert about their projects, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

Brigid – Picture.Me.Here.
Brigid works with refugees here in Denver and a theme that kept coming up was that these refugees didn’t know how to use cameras as they didn’t have them in the refugee camps back in Nepal. She decided to take a trip down there with 2 other co-workers to give these camps cameras and teach them how to use them. Brigid was looking to raise $12,000 which would cover travel, lodging and cameras/supplies for these refugee camps. They raised over $12,000 and in April were able to go to Nepal for over 2 weeks to teach refugees how to use these cameras as well as how to tell a story using images. 

Tips and insight from Brigid

Since Brigid had a successful campaign, here are some great takeaways and tips from what she learned:

  • “We worked really hard. You really need to hustle when promoting your Kickstarter!”
  • “Our strategy was to have a great video and a compelling story which was easier for us to tell and create since we were videographers and photographers.”
  • Don’t stop communicating with your backers after you’ve reached funding! Continue to send them updates about your progress. “We had great success filming a short video in the refugee camps where the refugees held up the names of all of our backers. Everyone appreciated it so much!”
  • If she had to do it over again, Brigid would price their 15 reward tiers a bit higher than she did.
  • “It is like Christmas!” Brigid said regarding fulfilling her backers rewards.
  • “I loved feeling the love from our community. Honestly knowing that so many people believed in us was better than receiving the money.”

Robert – The Story Portal
Robert and his friends set out to build a Steam Punk style, portable game that looked similar to the Price is Right but instead landed on a theme that the person on stage then had to tell a story about. They created the campaign with the idea that they would travel with it to different festivals all over the US to play with their attendees.

Tips and Insight from Robert
And here is what Robert learned from his successful Kickstarter:

  • “Since we targeted festivals, I made a point to become friends with their supporters and attendees online before we launched.”
  • “If using friends and family to help with the rewards, be sure you lock down time for them to create the rewards before you launch. Dependencies on others can be a definitely downside to your campaign.”
  • “Create a budget for your rewards and add 10-15% to it so you are sure you covered your costs. Don’t forget about shipping and the time to create the rewards!”
  • “Be sure you are willing to send personal messages and treat this as your full time job after you launch, because that’s what it becomes.”

Of course this event took place the same week as the whole Potato Salad debacle, so there were quite a few references and questions about it directed toward Steph. The big question, how did Potato Salad get approved/launched? Last month Kickstarter updated their policies and decided they will no longer approve each campaign. With that change also came a change in language over what was allowed to launch: “Create something to share with others,” which technically Potato Salad dude isn’t violating, hence the reason it is still up and collecting funds.

Still have questions about Kickstarter or how to get started? Leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to answer, because believe it or not, this was only 1/2 of Monika’s notes on the event! If her notes don’t answer your question, we may have to email Steph for the answer, but we’re happy to help!
Monika McMahon is a professional blogger and music enthusiast. She is a Spokesbuzz board member and is actively involved in advocating for music and arts around the state. You can visit here blog here, or follow her on Twitter
In order to continue hosting free workshops like these, it is crucial that Arts For Colorado gets the support it needs. If you can, please donate to our cause here or to become a member, visit us at our member page. Thank you!