Kickstarter School: Learning to Connect

Kickstarter: "Bring Creative Projects to Life"On Monday, August 8th at 7pm EST, Kickstarter Director of Community Education Stephanie Pereira presents her “Kickstarter School” webinar, an invaluable primer on how to bring a Kickstarter project to life. Stephanie will take a look at some successful projects from across the site and explore what kind of rewards work best, how to spread the word about your project, and other helpful tips. Below, Stephanie shares a few of her notes on what makes a strong Kickstarter project, as well as examples of some successfully funded projects.
Kickstarter can be a powerful tool for artists and arts organizations. If used well, your Kickstarter project is not only an opportunity to raise money for an important project, but also a way to introduce a project to a new audience.
It is important to understand that the best Kickstarter projects create something to share with others. A common misstep in the arts community are projects that read like fundraisers rather than a story about new work, and an exciting opportunity for your community. A project should be an invitation to be a part of bringing something new to life, as well as offer special or exclusive access to what is being created.
In order to develop a Kickstarter project that will be truly rewarding for both project creators and backers, keep the following tips in mind:
Kickstarter is about people speaking to people.
Check out this montage of project videos to see what I mean. When you are coming up with your project idea, making your video, or defining your rewards it is essential to tell a story with your audience in mind.
The majority of support for your Kickstarter project will most likely come from your own outreach efforts. This means that for the most part, you know who will be visiting your project page, watching your video, and  pledging for your rewards. You should create your project with these people in mind. When making your video, you should imagine them sitting across from you. Who are they? What will they be excited about? What will they want to share with others? The pricing and content of each of your reward tiers should also be crafted with these people in mind — Who are your $5 backers? Your $50 backers? What will motivate them to pledge to your campaign?
Outreach is key.
While 11% of finished projects never received a single pledge, 79% of projects that raised more than 20% of their goal were successfully funded (via our live Stats page). Simply put, projects that aren’t promoted don’t get funded. When planning your project, you should spend a significant amount of pre-launch time on planning an outreach strategy.
The most impactful form of outreach for a Kickstarter project is direct, one-to-one messaging, usually via email. Facebook can be powerful as well. Your messages should be targeted and personal. Segment your audience, share content and make requests that are specific to that audience, and reach them through the channels through which they are most likely to respond. We have seen people make the mistake of overvaluing social media when their community wasn’t there, or expecting positive press to bring in pledges. Know who your people are, know how to find them, and have a plan for reaching them.
Unique and special rewards will take you the distance.
Your baseline reward should always be direct access to the thing you are creating — Whether it’s a film, a new production or an artwork. It could be an invite to opening night, an open edition of the artwork or a special screening just for your backers. The most common reward on Kickstarter is $25, so consider offering something meaningful at that level when possible.
Don’t feel obligated to offer swag rewards in your campaign. Experiential rewards like studio visits, open rehearsals, invites to private previews will go a long way towards building and engaging your community, and will save you from spending money on t-shirts and bumper-stickers. You can also think digital.
This documentary film project about American Ballet Theatre’s Marcelo Gomes, for example, only offered digital and experiential rewards, including downloads of pictures of Marcelo and invites to rehearsals and a special cast and crew party. If you do have swag rewards, take a page from Roman Mars’ book and invite people from your community to create one-of-a-kind designs based on themes in your work (or, for visual artists and designers, offer the work itself!)
Final thoughts.
Kickstarter is a 30-day storytelling project. It is a place where people come together to bring creative projects to life. It is a place where generosity begets generosity. If you keep these core values in mind, you succeed not only in reaching your funding goal and engaging your community, but also having fun while doing it.
Find more tips in our Creator Handbook and, if you’re a newbie, check out our FAQ to find answers to every single question you have. For project inspiration, check out our favorite art projects, and favorite projects by museums and institutions.
Need some more help launching a new Kickstarter project? Want more access to Stephanie’s crowdfunding expertise? Click here to register for her “Kickstarter School” webinar on Monday, August 8th at 7:00pm EST. Our webinars always include a live Q&A, so you’ll have the opportunity to engage in conversation with Stephanie about your own projects at the end of the session. 

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