Bosavi is a blindingly bright, lightweight, ultra-compact headlamp designed by Dan Freschl. Freschl has years of experience developing batteries for pacemakers, defibrillators and electric vehicles, and he drew on this to make a pretty awesome headlamp. His project is currently on Kickstarter and he has shared some words of wisdom for other people who are interested in launching their projects using crowd-sourcing.
I am the creator of Bosavi. I wrote the following pearls of wisdom with Product Design projects in mind, because that is where my expertise lays, but much of the information is relevant across all Kickstarter categories.
First and foremost, you must create something you have a true passion for. Large corporations spend millions of dollars doing market tests. These tests are what help middle-aged men effectively sell products to 5-year-old girls. If you are starting a Kickstarter campaign, you probably don’t have that kind of money, so the best thing you can do is be your own target customer. This will not only help you make the best product possible, it will make your excitement a realistic element for donors to respond to.
Don’t launch too early
Give yourself twice as long as you think you’ll need to create your product before launching. If you waste all of your energy focusing on how to make a good Kickstarter campaign, the product itself won’t get the attention it deserves. Most successful Kickstarter campaigns have already finished many working prototypes and have made arrangements for manufacturing before they launch. Kickstarter should be reserved for raising capital for manufacturing, not development. (Also, if you don’t know how much manufacturing will cost, how are you going to pick a realistic fundraising target for your campaign?)
Create good-looking prototypes
You will need some really good-looking prototypes to show in the video and promotional images. Budget a couple extra hundred dollars to make a prototype that not only functions well, but also looks great. People can see right past 3D-rendered images, and if they don’t see the real product it will raise red flags.
Pick a stylish cover image
If the thumbnail for your project isn’t eye-catching, you will get over-looked. Don’t rush this step—you are competing for attention with a lot of projects. Bright colors and eye-grabbing imagery are very important for the thumbnail.
Focus on the video
Most people look at Kickstarter for the videos. They are like mini reality TV shows depicting people’s hopes and dreams, and they can be amazingly entertaining. Don’t skimp on the video. That isn’t to say that you need to spend a lot of money on the video, but it should take a significant amount of time. If a video looks too professional, it could give the impression that you’re already well-funded, so it is a fine balancing act. Tips on creating a good video could fill an entire post, so here are the big hitters:
- Keep shots short. Watch TV and count how long each shot is. It’s probably about three seconds. You should keep your shots short too.
- Don’t move the camera. If you are a professional videographer, you can move the camera, otherwise it will just make people sick. Don’t move the camera during a shot.
- Get good light. You can find some great lights on the Internet for cheap. Better yet, do as much shooting outdoors or near natural light as possible.
- Make a story board. Watch other videos you like and write down each shot and what they are saying. That will give you an idea of how you should lay your video out.
- Get a book on shooting video. They are all over the place and they are helpful.
You can see my video at (http://kck.st/ICxZbo)
Prep family and friends
Have a party before the launch and have all of your friends’ e-mail addresses and Facebook profiles primed and ready. Like it or not, most of your support will come from within your own network, especially at the beginning. If you start out slow you may never pick up steam.
No matter how much promoting you do yourself, for a successful campaign you are going to need some Internet buzz, and that means getting in blogs. I am sure bloggers are getting quite sick of random Kickstarter projects contacting them, so make sure your project is relevant to the blog you are targeting.
Keep backers involved
There is no better promoter than someone who has already decided to back you. They already love your project. Have them help spread the word by involving them in the decision-making. Have them vote on colors, sizes, mascots, whatever. And keep posting updates so backers don’t forget about you.
Attend real world demos
Print out some old fashioned hand-bills and get into some real world places that your product might be used. People will see your passion for your creation and get excited to be around it. You never know, one of the people you meet might be a journalist for The New York Times or a millionaire with money to burn.
Take a break
Turn your phone and computer off when you are ready to sleep. Kickstarter is a rollercoaster of emotions, and pledges seem to come in waves. If you are listening for your phone and computer to beep every time someone pledges, you aren’t going to sleep for the entire campaign.