Studies in Kickstarter

I recently had the opportunity to study with Clay Herbert, creator of Kickstarter Hacks. Clay taught a class on Kickstarter at CreativeLIVE and I’m excited to share what I learned.

I have been interested in Kickstarter for more than year and have actively been building my own campaign over the last few months. I have been at times overwhelmed, determined and delighted. Studying with Clay at CreativeLIVE put everything I’ve done into perspective and showed me that building, managing and successfully running a Kickstarter campaign is manageable and something that anyone can do.

He did this by breaking down every step of running a campaign into it’s component parts. By only trying to accomplish one small step at a time, I realized I was better able to focus on keeping one foot in front of the other and not stumbling along the way.

In what follows I will share some of my take-aways from Clay’s workshop. At least as interesting to me, though, is how these same holdups and breakthroughs transfer into a larger learning process. Increasingly, I recognize patterns in my own learning. As I discussed in my study of the Gymnastics Giant there are predictable periods in any learning process of inactivity or overwhelm. As I’ve encountered these periods in building my own Kickstarter, I have been learning to plan for them and make progress when I am at my most energetic.


I began dreaming about using Kickstarter to leverage people I’ve met to test, market and raise money for a project in early 2012. The idea of harnessing the popular power of my peers to build a project that I could not build without their help, and in return to give back to them the product of the project at less cost than I would sell it eventually, was very appealing.

How Readers View Kickstarter

An important aspect of Kickstarter that I had not previously considered is how a viewer sees any given Kickstarter page. Most viewers start at the top of the page, in the middle – which is where creators display their video. The video is the single biggest deciding factor on whether a viewer will back a project. Along the right-hand column of any Kickstarter page are the rewards. The rewards are the offerings given to contributors for a specific project. While many projects only offer “high fives” and thank yous for contributions at the $5 and $10 levels, it is actually very important to give enormous value at each of these stages to motivate potential backs to give something. While some percentage of viewers may donate out of the goodness of their hearts, most people are more motivated by “What’s In It For Me.” 

The Sales Funnel

Clay argued for treating the rewards levels like a sales funnel. By choosing a target number and providing just ridiculous value at that level, it is possible to channel audience towards that end goal.

Building Momentum

As with any learning process, a Kickstarter campaign has an ebb and flow. This begins with a peak (or potential peak) at the onset – which can be made bigger by using the old bartender’s trick of filling the pot in advance with known donations from family and friends. During the middle of the campaign this peak and momentum may level off. That’s fine and normal. But it is important to organize for a couple of big wins in the last week of a Kickstarter campaign, as well. Thus, despite the slump in the middle, there is the

A Few Kickstarter Hacking Resources:

Kickstarter Hacks
How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days on Tim Ferriss’ Blog
Google Image Hack – under the title “Find Relevant Bloggers Using Google Images” on the above blog post.
How to Contact Reporters
1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly

The Belief: This is Hard

So often with a new project I have held the belief that “This is hard!”. Studying with Clay removed this obstacle and I now see running a successful Kickstarter as the well-ordered running of a series of logical next steps. Where else do we regularly make difficult a process that, broken into its component parts, can be successfully executed without stress?

And keep an eye out for my Kickstarter campaign, launching this November!

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