Whether you're just starting out or looking for a boost to take your crafting business to the next level, Kickstarter is a fantastic resource to help get both exposure and funds. I won't lie or sugar coat, because if you've ever begun the process of a Kickstarter campaign you already know it's true: launching a Kickstarter is awesome and amazing and wonderful...and terrifying as hell.
What's more, there's very limited resources for advice on craft projects. Writing a book? Awesome. Making a movie? Even better. Trying to sell some mugs you painted? Good luck with that. Comparing yourself or trying to follow advice tailored to other categories (cough, cough movies) can just lead to unnecessary stress in an already stressful time. So, without further ado, here's a giant list of all the stuff you need to launch a successful craft project on Kickstarter...
Six things I wish I knew BEFORE I launched:
- Build up connections with popular bloggers long before you pitch your project. When I read this article the advice was great, but I was already two weeks in, and while I'd been following and reading particular blogs for awhile (in some cases, YEARS!), I had never commented or really participated in the blog in a way that made me stand out. Like a post? Comment on it! See something you can relate to? Say why! It can make a big difference when it's time to ask for crowdfunding support.
- An emotional roller coaster is even worse than it sounds. Say goodbye to a good night sleep, because it's going to get REAL (and that's ok!). When you're awake at midnight thinking about all the things you COULD be doing to push your campaign, don't fret! We all did it!
- People will hound you and try to convince you that without paying hundreds of dollars for their service, you will fail. The first few I gave some hard eye rolls, but after my campaign hit a lull, these vultures started to get under my already stress induced, sleep deprived skin. Could these services help? Maybe. Do you need them to succeed? Not at all. Will you still get emails and messages from them months after your campaign ended with some stranger telling you how you'll fail without them (even though you already totally kicked butt)? Yup.
- Your video is super important, but it's OK if it's not professional. I repeat, IT'S OK! I'm a perfectionist, so looking at the videos promoted for inspiration left me more freaked out than motivated. That being said, I used elements from other videos that I liked, and tried my darndest to make it work for me. My whole video (which can you still find here) was made entirely by yours truly and my trusty Mac. Do I have any experience with videography? Nope. Is it all I hoped and dreamed it would be? Hell no. Did I fake it til I made it? You betcha.
- Start campaigning before you actually start campaigning. I made sure everyone and their mother knew my Kickstarter was launching in March, from social media to small promotional cards I handed out at craft fairs and events. If you don't already have social media accounts for your business, get those ducks in a row! Friends and family are super helpful, but there's nothing like getting hundreds of dollars from total strangers who saw an ad you ran on Facebook (true story!).
- Asking people sounds weird and uncomfortable because it is. Strangers, friends, mom and dad, doesn't matter. Asking for money makes you uncomfortable. Learn to just own it and realize it's part of the ride. Get your Kickstarter spiel ready, because you're going to use it! Expect people will have no idea what you're talking about, think you're crazy for trying to make a living off of soap or sweaters or whatever it is you craft. Approach the dreaded "give me money" conversation like a two sided coin - ooze confidence and pride to convince them you're product (and you!) are worthy of their money, and emphasize the awesome things THEY get. People might shy away from words like "donate" or "give" but boy do they love STUFF. Make the "stuff" front and center and the money will roll in.
Resources to fake it til you make it:
- Uprinting - A great resource for business cards and general branding goodness, I used Uprinting to make up small promotional cards that I could hand out like candy on Halloween. You can design a template any way you like, but I like Fotor the best (see below).
- Fotor - I will probably rave about Fotor a million more times on this blog. I use it for EVERYTHING photo related. For my Kickstarter campaign, this meant the cards pictured above (the first is just text and a "transparent" shape laid over my own picture; the second is text over a "white box" I snagged off of Google to give me a plain background to work with). I also used Fotor to enhance or add text to photos on my project's page.
- MailChimp - It took some getting used to, but once I played around with the layout and templates, I used MailChimp to send out email newsletters to people who otherwise might not see my campaign. It's ok if your list isn't that big, it's still a great way to reach people! I encouraged those who signed up and received the email to forward it to everyone they know, since you never know who secretly has a thing for hand painted mugs (or whatever your craft may be).
Rewards will probably be a betch.
Kickstarter is really good about compiling backer's "Reward Survey" answers into a handy spreadsheet, but actually sorting through everything can be a bit of a mess. The above picture is what just HALF of my office looked like when I was getting rewards out. I had to tip toe for a week straight. Yikes. Take things like time commitment and space when thinking of rewards.
Shipping is another iffy item. On the one hand, shipping became my arch nemesis because I offered prints at lower rewards tiers to avoid the high shipping costs of mugs, but even then it was an easy $3 between a small envelope and shipping throughout the US. That adds up quick! On the other hand, USPS offers label printing right from your computer and picks up boxes at your house. If you've never done this before, check it out. It's AWESOME, and saved me so much aggravation.
Work your butt off, but don't let it rule you.
People aren't lying when they say Kickstarter can easily be like another full time job. Brace yourself for it, and then just try to go with the flow. Be prepared to set aside some serious Kickstarter time, but don't go to the point of giving up your sanity (well, entirely - you'll definitely lose some sanity regardless).
Once you've reached that goal, you'll feel like you just got to the top of a mountain. I personally did a happy dance all by myself, called my mom, and then jump danced some more while my dog gave me some side eye. It was one of the proudest moments of my life because I know I poured my heart and soul into it.
Have any questions, or even your own tips / tricks to share? Leave a comment below!
You can check out the original post on Brittany's blog HERE.
Glitter & Bold. She's a glitter-loving coffee addict with a penchant for crafty things, long bus rides through foreign countries, and really big books, and who's been in the handmade business since 4th grade (no, really - her parents were even nice enough to buy it all). Contact her anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.