Kickstarter is Awesome, But Not Miraculous
If you have a product you want to sell, Kickstarter is a great place to start. Maybe you need funds for the initial production run, or maybe you just want to test your concept – either way it’s a great platform. There are lots of posts and books about how to run a successful Kickstarter project, but after doubling our targeted goal for SnapLaces we did a few things a bit different than what others have recommended. Obviously every project is unique, but some of the principals we used should still be valuable.
3 Simple Lessons for A Successful Kickstarter Project
- First and foremost, we worked our asses off. Running a campaign is more than a full time job, and even with people splitting the work there was still a lot to get done.
- We didn’t discount our product. Kickstarter is the one time in a products lifecycle where people might be willing to pay more just to help you out. Don’t make the mistake of discounting just to get backers. Most people underestimate what it will take to get a product to market, and even if you don’t, unexpected things can crop up.
- We contacted everyone that backed us. Literally everyone. Their responses to our questions ultimately led to valuable insights and shaped both the tone of our campaign and the direction of our company.
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A Successful Kickstarter Project is A LOT of Work
The amount of work a successful Kickstarter project requires is probably the biggest reason for failure. Having successfully managed a campaign and backed several others that were not successful, I can confidently state that there is a high correlation between the effort and result. The ones that didn’t interact with backers or actively engage, didn’t meet their funding goals.
We Didn’t Discount Our Product
Many Kickstarter projects offer discounts on the product being funded. We felt like that was a bad idea, especially at the under $50 price point we were in. We knew that we’d need over 1000 backers to be successful and lowering an already small price point would add to that number. More importantly the purpose of the campaign was to raise funds to pay for a new plastic injection mold, so we reasoned that backers would be preordering our product and helping us bootstrap the effort.
One thing we did do was offer a significant discount to a limit number of early backers to gain momentum. Your first week on Kickstarter is crucial because new projects are featured and people are much more likely to discover them. The “early adopter” reward allowed us to get the required momentum to become one on the top projects on Kickstarter which led to additional backers, but the limit made sure that we weren’t sacrificing our overall funding objectives.
Communication is Key
Prior to launching we studied other successful projects and one data point stuck out. Successful projects updated an average of 1.8 times PER DAY! This is where the bulk of the work came in. In addition to sending messages to every backer and responding to their questions, we tried to post 2-3 times every day on Kickstarter, as well as maintaining an active social media presence (active as in cultivating relationships, not just carpet bombing posts) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Communication is the key to success on Kickstarter.
Engage and communicate relevant information to people who have helped you (or would likely help you if only they knew you existed) is the most reliable way to have a successful Kickstarter project.
The next project will definitely be better run and more organized, but if we can save you some time and misery by sharing than it will have been worth the time invested in reading.
As always, if you have a question or comment – just ask!
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How to Pick Your Next Blog Post Topic for Financial Advisers
Writing a blog post with any regularity is challenging. Writing for your business needs to generate results in order to justify the investment in time and effort. A few years ago one of the companies in my portfolio was in the news and I wrote a post about my thoughts on the potential consequences. Mainly I did it because I was sick of repeating myself to clients on the phone so I thought that writing a blog post about it would save me some time. While it may have saved me a little time and prevented some boredom, it wasn’t until several months later that I discovered the real benefit.
The Long Tail
One afternoon while I was checking my blog stats instead of making calls, I noticed some search traffic related to the investment I had written about months before. It wasn’t much, but it was the first time I’d noticed organic traffic for something so specific. For months I’d get a hit or two every few days, nothing significant, but it was consistent. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d stumbled on to what’s now commonly referred to as “long tail keywords.”
By this time I’d already read Chris Anderson’s book, “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,” but I didn’t connect the dots between selling things and search terms. Essentially its the same thing. People are searching for something they want, be it products or information. Similar to the way you can find almost any product on Amazon…Google does the same for information.
Why It Matters
Google has an army of brilliant engineers trying to make sure you get good information when using their search engine. If you write something that is relevant to a question someone asks in Google you stand a good chance of getting found…assuming the question they are asking is specific enough IE a long tail question. In the example I used earlier, the particular investment I wrote about wasn’t well known, and when people started searching about it, there wasn’t much information available so my blog post was ranked high enough in the search results to get read.
Leveraging the Long Tail
I blogged sporadically over the next few years, but in 2013 I put what I learned about long tails to good use. An investment in my portfolio was making plans to go public and the information they were providing was vague and confusing. Recalling what I had observed a few years prior, I tried to identify questions people would be asking about the investment. Whenever the company released new information, I’d write a blog post. Eventually I created a special page on my website so people could easily read through all the information I’d collected.
At one point in my little experiment, I was ranked on the first page in the search results and I was getting over 500 page views a day. I realize that this isn’t much traffic in the grand scheme of things, but these were people who had no idea who I was…and they were asking me for advice. Some of my posts from that period had dozens of comments which led to multiple phone conversations with people who needed my help.
The next time you are trying to pick your next blog post topic, be sure to check your analytics to see if there are any search terms you can use as a starting point. If you don’t have that kind of data (contact me), try to recall recent questions from clients. Is there something there you can write about?
Let me know how it works for you, I’d love to hear your stories or answer any questions.
If writing blog posts isn’t your thing that’s cool too, we’d be happy to do it for you! Email us at email@example.com and we can set up a time to talk.
Nothing taxing today, just some links I find either helpful, interesting, or informative. Do with them what you will.
- Pixlr www.pixlr.com It’s like Photoshop, but free…and online.
- Lifehacker www.lifehacker.com Tips and shortcuts for making life easier.
- DuoLingo www.duolingo.com Learn a new language, translate the web.
- Code Academy www.codecademy.com HTML, CSS, PHP Learn how to build websites and apps are built, then build your own
- 750 Words www.750words.com That little extra motivation you need to write everyday.
- Medium www.medium.com Share and exchange ideas, the inline commenting is wonderful.
- Dafont www.dafont.com Because sometimes Arial isn’t enough.
- Lynda www.lynda.com Online instruction and tutorials for almost anything.
- TED www.ted.com Ideas worth sharing…and listening to.
- Fora www.fora.tv Like TED, but with greater depth.
What sites (besides Facebook) do you regularly use?
One of the things that really drew me to design was my love for typography. I want to share why typography is such an important part of Workshed‘s design style. While this may be mostly interesting to people who are design professionals, I think it will also give our friends and clients a glimpse into the “Workshed Aesthetic” that I’ve been following for the last 10 years.
I would really love for the world to gain an appreciation for typography and aside from embarking on a life of typographical evangelism, the best I can do is to explain what it is and all of its intricacies. It’s much more than just selecting a font or two for a project. It’s much more than picking some colors and placing those fonts — it’s about manipulating the fonts to expose their strengths, hide their weaknesses or even to completely deconstruct or manipulate the font into oblivion so it’s something entirely new.
I grew up with a big sister who is a talented artist and calligrapher. I grew up appreciating poster and album art. I spent a fair amount of time as a journalism major, designing pages that were largely comprised of type. I also grew up in the era where Generic brands were all about fascistic typefaces written in black on stark white packaging. A world without strong typography is a dull, sad, depressing world. Without typography, design would not exist in its current form — and dare I say, communication would not exist in its current form. Type can communicate so many things depending on how it is used. Using Times New Roman at 12 points, with default letter spacing communicates a completely different message than using it at 32 points with tight letter spacing. Type is emotion. Type is a grid. Type is nice, mean, sexy, angry, happy, sad or silly. It is a tool, and aside from photography, the most powerful tool in the designer’s arsenal. Type is not to be underestimated. Type is an art unto itself. And, each typeface has a distinct personality.
In recent years, exploration of typography seems to have waned in the hip design circles. Perhaps it is a kickback to the desktop publishing revolution, in which Microsoft decided to punish us all with the birth of Comic Sans. Perhaps it is the supremacy cry of professional designers promoting a “less is more” approach by proving they can MacGyver an award-winning masterpiece with the smallest selection of typefaces in their design palette. Or, perhaps it is the logical backlash of designers trying to undo the chaotic and highly-revolutionary typographical treatments Neville Brody, David Carson and the entire grunge font movement exposed us all to in the 1990s. The fact is, many designers have opted for a minimalist approach in recent years, embracing Helvetica Neue Light as the cheerleader of this movement. While elegant, sparse and airy type has its place, it can also lack that distinguishing character that a design can cry out for and fails to differentiate one euro-influenced design from the next. This is what so excites me about the new Workshed logo. It has type with personality. There is a definite character to it and the usage of the typeface (Brothers, for those of you playing along) exploits its strengths — it is a display font to the core and should be used accordingly.
With any design project, typography must be kept in mind at each step. Don’t just choose typefaces — use them, work them. Make them work for you. Play with different angles, grid patterns, size relationships, play words off one-another, make them look like they are moving, worn down, hurting, happy, sad. Give them personality. Instead of starting with a layout, start with type. Work it. Own that type, y’all!
I’m going to close this one out with some reference links. These are examples of, and educational pieces about, typography. I encourage everyone who reads this to ask questions, try some experiments with type and learn.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syf8olcM0z4 (Warning: Strong Language)