5 Things I Learned From My First Kickstarter Campaign

February 1, 2016 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Five weeks ago, I published a blog post announcing that I had created a Kickstarter project. I’m sure you’ll remember it.

Unfortunately, it finished as a total flop and I only ended up "raising" around $264 USD of my $50,000 USD goal. Since it wasn’t met, none of the backers will be charged though.

Now, I’m no Kickstarter expert. In fact, I actually knew very little of it apart from visiting the site on several occasions in the past. When I created my project on there, I thought that  there was maybe a 20% chance that I might hit my funding goal, so the results neither surprising nor devastating to me.

What did surprise me, though, was just how little interest there was in the campaign. I had thought that I could have raised at least a couple thousand dollars in interest.

Here then, are 5 things I learned from creating my first Kickstarter campaign:

1. Easy to Launch

Having never launched anything on Kickstarter before, I didn’t know what to expect in regards to actually setting up the campaign. I had seen established companies launch products there before, often with expensive professional video presentations, and so I didn’t know what to expect when creating my fundraiser, or if I’d even be allowed to create one.

Fortunately, I found the experience and process in creating the campaign to be relatively simple. You are guided step-by-step along the way in a wizard-type interface, and apart from having to submit proof of your identity, there is virtually nothing else standing between you and having your Kickstarter put up apart from a final manual approval from a Kickstarter staff member.

So, if any of you have been on the fence about launching something on Kickstarter, I’d recommend doing so as you have nothing to lose since it doesn’t cost you a penny.

2. Forced Currency Conversion

With the USD-CAD currency exchange rate being the highest its been in about 13 years, I was frustrated to learn that, being Canadian, my Kickstarter was forced to be made in CAD currency. I simply had no option to make it in USD currency.

What this meant was that both my fundraising goal and all backing dollar amounts were displayed in CAD currency, which may have had a very negative psychological effect on Americans.

For example, I had to make the campaign goal $68,000 since that was what $50,000 USD worked out to at the time. $68,000 sounds like a lot more than $50,000.

And since the backing dollar amounts were in CAD currency too, it meant that I couldn’t offer quite the right amount of backer rewards that I would if it was in USD funds.

Lastly, it would mean a lot of wasted funds in currency exchange conversion fees since even if the campaign was successful, Kickstarter would have send me the funds in CAD, which I would then have to convert back to USD since all my expenses are in USD.

So for any non-Americans dealing with Kickstarter, keep this fact in mind!

3. Spam, Spam, Spam

I was not expecting this.

Kickstarter has an absolute chronic spam problem.

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Within 30-minutes or so of launching my Kickstarter project, I received a notification e-mail from who I thought was a representative at Kickstarter, offering me Kickstarter marketing and promotion services to help spread word of my newly launched campaign.

I was actually strongly considering his proposal and even replied back before finally realizing that he actually, in fact, did not work for Kickstarter and was just a guy with some Kickstarter marketing service.

Although I was a bit annoyed at how he misrepresented himself, I shrugged it off and moved on. But then I received another e-mail from another Kickstarter marketing company. Then another, and another. And this was all in the first day! By the end of the week I had probably received at least 2 dozen such proposals… and not just by e-mail either – people were contacting me on Skype, Twitter, and on Facebook trying to hustle me with their promotion services.

Perhaps the most annoying part of all this was that most of those were sent to me via Kickstarter’s in-house messaging services (which e-mails me the same as well), meaning that Kickstarter isn’t cracking down on these spammers. It’s also why I was so confused with the first message I received, as I had thought it was sent from Kickstarter staff.

So if you launch a Kickstarter project, defend yourself with a shield to ward off the onslaught of inevitable spam you will receive.

4. Websites are Rare

I actually kind of knew this before I launched my campaign from the small amount of research I did prior to launching the campaign, but I think the fact that websites as Kickstarter campaigns are pretty rare is for a good reason – potential backers just don’t seem to be that willing to fund a website-based Kickstarter campaign.

In general, most Kickstarter campaigns are for physical products, games, comics, and film-related projects. This does make sense though – would you rather receive a free subscription or "thank you" on a webpage or be mailed a physical product that you backed? I think most people would choose the latter.

As a result, I think that getting Votesy funded was an uphill battle due to it being a free website. I bet it would have stood a better chance of getting funded if it was a SaaS-based website, where I could at least have offered free subscriptions.

5. Kickstarter is a Platform, Not a Community

I saved the most important thing I learned for last, and this is definitely something I had completely overlooked when deciding to launch a Kickstarter campaign: Kickstarter is a platform, not a community.

For some reason, I thought that once I created my Kickstarter campaign, that Kickstarter users would happen across my project and then decide whether or not to back it. I had imagined that there was this big group of Kickstarter users who just browse listings and back ones that interest them.

While there may be the odd few Kickstarter users who do in fact do this, the reality is that Kickstarter is simply a medium for entrepreneurs to fundraise money, and nothing else. It simply provides the platform for companies to raise and receive money. It doesn’t really have a user base that peruses its listings; it is up to the Kickstarter creator to drive traffic and promote his/her own listing.

Since I was not prepared for this, my Kickstarter campaign failed miserably. I had set a 20-day deadline on the campaign and didn’t fully realize that I had to promote it myself until there was no chance of meeting the $68,000 goal.

I knew that if Kickstarter had featured the campaign on its homepage that I would probably have stood a good chance of getting the project funded though, so in some ways it’s still worth launching a Kickstarter project for that very reason alone.

In any case, I can’t reemphasize this last fact enough. You need to have a strong promotion game plan in place if you plan on launching a Kickstarter campaign.

Once you have the ball rolling in terms of backers, then I imagine it’s likely to snowball from there (easier to get press to pick up on it, more likely for other backers to trust or be interested in it, and more likely for Kickstarter to feature it).

Anyhow, those are the five things I learned from launching my first Kickstarter campaign. I do recommend it for anyone trying to raise money for an entrepreneurial effort that could benefit backers, but just be prepared to market and promote your ass off (you should actually already have a good list of possibly-interested backers ready).

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Posted: February 1st, 2016 under Articles  

11 Responses to “5 Things I Learned From My First Kickstarter Campaign”

  1. Mateen says:

    Great post man.

    I think about putting business ideas on kickstarter but I just can’t deal with the pressure of having to succeed for others. I like doing things on my own and switching around my business model till I’m happy with it.

    Not sure if it’s the right mentality to have though.

    Anyway, I still love the app idea so don’t let all this bring you down.

    All the best!

    – Mateen

  2. Deron says:

    I had seen the original Kickstarter announcement and can provide my own feedback, for what it is worth 🙂

    While I think the concept of Votesy is pretty cool, and I could see myself using it – when I saw the Kickstarter I immediately came away thinking that you just wanted an easy (albeit creative) way to fund your project off other peoples dime. The rewards really didn’t have much value (for me), they were more token “thanks” items. In the end I don’t really walk away with anything of real value, “I’ll just wait for it to launch” was what I ended up saying.

    As a potential user, for this type of service, I don’t care about beta stuff, or behind the scenes stuff – I just want to use it. I certainly don’t want to “pay to play” if that makes sense.

    That was my thoughts on it, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I had a friend that tried something similar once with an online CD store he wanted to build (after his previous one closed). He was even giving free CDs away at a certain level, but in the end he was looking for others to fund his business project, that he stands to make all the $ from after it is built. There was no REAL value proposition for the user other than a couple CDs, but the level you had to donate to get that was absurd.

    Hope that helps dude! I do like the site idea, I just hope you’re able to monetize it well as I don’t think people will pay to use it (no matter how cool), they just want to consume these days.

  3. Seth says:

    #6) You should have learned that Kickstarter is not a place where you can successfully beg for free money….which is what you did.

  4. Great post, actually I m also planning to launch my 1st campign

  5. Arjun Sharma says:

    Great post, actually I m also planning to launch my 1st campign

  6. Amaze, great blog page construction! The way long are you currently blog to get? you’re making blogs glimpse effortless. The overall glance of this web site is good, . commodity tradingnot to say the content product!

  7. I once tried a Kickstarter campaign. No success. This would have been helpful. I didn’t think it through completely…

  8. opps, this might demotivate many. But read it till end you will come to know, how you can convert bad start to good end.

  9. Spam never leaves you..It’s always behind us..

  10. one day my brother told me about kickstarter campaign , Its world famous funding platform for creative Projects. I read more about it from your blog tyler cruz. One of my friends tell me about your blog , tHIS Is best blog for affiliate marketing too. really your blog is awesome and love it.

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