How to Run a Kickstarter Campaign and Not Go Crazy
It’s hard to appreciate how labor-intensive running a Kickstarter campaign is until you do it yourself. The biggest question: how does one not go crazy during their 30-day campaigning marathon?
There are a lot of great articles out there about how to have a successful Kickstarter campaign. I won’t bother repeating their sage advice. What I will add are a few thoughts on staying healthy, sane, and Dr. Jekyll, not Mr. Hyde.
Gratitude. Never underestimate the power of gratitude. Here’s a glimpse at the backend of a campaign: The campaigner will receive an email every time someone pledges, with a subject line of the pledger’s name and the amount of money they pledged.
For any normal human being, what’s the first reaction when you see someone’s name next to that number? Judgment. Comparison. Vetting pledgers against each other, incredulous someone would give only one dollar instead of five, where they’d get a reward.
As soon as I saw this tendency in myself, I had a major WHOOOOA NELLY! moment. I didn’t want to judge people, these gracious people who were willing to give me even one dollar of their hard-earned money. Heck, I can’t afford to support all the efforts I want to help in this world! And here they chose me. I wanted to be grateful. Ecstatic. I wanted to fly to their doorstep dressed as cupid with chocolates and flowers, and give them a hug.
Here’s the gratitude practice I implemented on campaign Day One: Every time one of those emails arrives, I look at the name without looking at the number (it’s possible) and say a big internal “Thank you.” Thank you for taking the time to explore what I’m offering, for I know you’re bombarded with stimulus; thank you for believing in me enough to find me worthy of your money; and thank you for foregoing however many lattes at Starbucks to help. Truly, it’s phenomenal.
Routine. The email-for-every-pledger thing freaked me out at first. There might be a way to stop it, but I haven’t investigated, and I do want to keep a pulse on my progress. How, then, does one not sit in front of the computer all day long, refreshing the backend data page?
Create a daily routine around your campaign. Follow your routine more strictly than any other routine in your life. Your sanity is on the line. Plan on checking your email only during designated periods, as well as your social media and Kickstarter pages. It’s easy to flip between three or four tabs, our brains hungry for a shot of adrenaline (one more person liked my post!), but it’s not worth your time or energy when you’ve got plenty of others things to do. During your designated times you’ll be able to answer questions, respond to feedback, and continue sharing updates. For the love of Pete, during your un-designated times, leave it be.
Breaks. It might feel like you could campaign all day and all night and still not accomplish everything you want. It’s probably true. Taking breaks will be imperative for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Campaigning can be stressful, especially on an “all-or-nothing” platform like Kickstarter.
Schedule your breaks (as strictly as your scheduled email times); get outside for some fresh air and movement, cook yourself a nice meal, engage with your loved ones. It will help you unwind from the day’s activity and sleep at night so you can start again. I downloaded a pomodoro timer on my computer that counts down a five-minute break every 25 minutes; it’s a great way to stretch, give my eyes a rest, and remember to go to the bathroom.
A personal preference: I didn’t download the Kickstarter app on my phone. I felt like I was engaged enough without it, and wanted to preserve my breaks so I wasn’t checking updates on a hike. That’s just me.
Remember why you’re doing it. Lastly, but certainly not least, remember the motives behind your campaign. Sure, you might need money for the first production round of your new product. But is that really why you’re doing it? No. You want is to share an AMAZING idea, or a story, or a solution to everyone’s problem. You want to share all the hard work you’ve put into your prototype/art/movie/etc. that’s going to improve people’s lives. You want to share your excitement; you want to share you.
If you were only looking for one giant investment, you could have gone to an investor. But you didn’t. You went to a crowd-funding platform, where people you’ve never met you will find your campaign. They will listen to your story, give you their precious money, and await the fruition of your product with giddy anticipation. These people are your angel investors, emphasis on angel. Treat them well, love them, tell them how amazing they are. Because they aren’t only investing in a product: they’re investing in you. There’s no need to feel guilty, and there’s every opportunity to feel grateful.
Bonus practice: Journal about your journey. It’s not every day your success or failure is publically visible. This is an exciting road; you’ll appreciate looking back on your reflections to reminisce about your gumption. At that point you’ll know: no matter the outcome, you were successful.