At the time of writing this, I have failed on two different occasions on kickstarter. My first attempt was in college, 2012. Me and my friend Brock had an idea that was basically the smartest collaborative photo sharing app imaginable.
Imagine taking a picture with some friends, having your phone automatically detect facial recognition, know based on your geo location and from your friends on Facebook who might be in that picture with you, and send all of them a notification with a copy of the photo. Plus, all the photos that you & your friends take will automatically be uploaded and available to each of you on a private album. No need to physically upload, no need to create the album first and invite people, just automatic based on time, location, and proximity of friends nearby. We called it skuddle, you can check out the original kickstarter page here.
Sounds amazing right? So why didn't it work? Everyone we talked to about it loved the idea. They said it was the coolest thing. So what happened?
"promoting it after posting it is already too late"
Does a tree falling in the woods make a sound if nobody is there to hear it? Perhaps, but in this case, a kickstarter idea doesn't make any money if nobody knows about it. Not to say we didn't promote the hell out of it, but promoting it after posting it is already too late.
Let me explain why. Kickstarter is a business, they want to make money. So if a kickstarter project is gaining traction, they are more likely to promote it themselves so they can cash in on the 8-10% fee for a successfully funded project.
Makes sense, but what does that have to do with promoting the project before going live? Well... Kickstarter's algorithm for their "Popular" section is believed to be based on how many donations you have vs how many days your project has been live. So let's say we have two projects, both with 30 donations. If Project A has been live for 3 days, and Project B has been live for 10 days, then Project A will be way higher in the list on the "Popular" section.
So.. if you start promoting your project before you even go live, once you go live you'll knock down several early donations on the first day, which will boost you to the top of the "Popular" section, which will drive organic traffic, which will get you more donations, which will alert the awesome people at kickstarter that they may want to promote your project on their email list so they can collect on your winning idea. Boom! Now you're a millionaire!
Well not quite. After learning about this on my first kickstarter project, I tried for my second attempt on another app called BriteSide. I was promoting the hell out of it months in advance, telling everyone I knew. Many of them said they were down for donating when the project went live. So what happened this time? Two things:
When it was finally time for the kickstarter project to go live, I was scrambling getting a hold of everyone. I posted an update to my followers on twitter and Facebook, but many of them didn't receive the message until days later or at all because of the social networks' algorithms. I scrambled sending text messages, getting a hold of people through Facebook messenger, it was a nightmare.
By that time, days had past and I had lost that critical moment of when the early donations would have helped me the most. If I had collected everyone's email address early on it would have been way easier to alert everyone when the project went live. Not only that, but I really should have went even further to grow an email list directly outside of my social circle. With something like that, I feel like BriteSide could have had a better chance.
Lessons are better learned the hard way, but I hope you will consider promoting your next kickstarter extremely early on and really building your email list before it launches. I know I will.