Since its inception in the late 2000’s, crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to raise funds. Of all the platforms in the world, Kickstarter is the most popular choice.
If you’re looking for a way to test the market, raise funds quickly, and generate a lot of attention in the process, Kickstarter is a great place to start.
Or at least, it can be. While Kickstarter is an excellent choice for some businesses, it’s a poor choice for others. Being able to decide whether it’s a fit for you is essential before you put in the work making a campaign.
In this post, we’ll help you determine whether or not Kickstarter is a good fit for you. Then we’ll provide links to additional resources that can help you handle the complexities of creating a Kickstarter campaign, ranging from setting up a pledge manager to booking freight, and everything in between.
With that in mind, let’s start with the natural first question…
Why Choose Kickstarter?
If you’re considering crowdfunding, Kickstarter is likely the first platform that comes to mind. But even with its great name recognition, it’s still important to consider pros and cons before setting up your campaign.
Kickstarter comes to mind first for most crowdfunding hopefuls for a good reason. In terms of total backers, it’s easily the most popular crowdfunding platform out there. With its vast user base, high success rates, and user-friendly interface, Kickstarter has helped countless entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, and creatives bring their ideas to life.
Some products do better on Kickstarter than others. In particular, Kickstarter is known for being an excellent place to launch board games, serviceable products, and creative works.
Kickstarter boasts some of the best success rates among crowdfunding platforms. As of 2023, a little over 40% of Kickstarter campaigns have successfully funded. This is partly due to the platform’s name recognition and highly engaged community of backers. More than any other platform, Kickstarter seems to have “superbackers” who habitually check the website for something new to back.
Kickstarter is also famous for its all-or-nothing funding model. This can be both a blessing and a curse. If a campaign’s goal is not reached, no backers’ cards are charged. This means creators are never on the hook for manufacturing a product without enough funds to do so.
- Easily the most popular crowdfunding platform
- Extremely popular platform for new board games, serviceable products, and creative work
- Campaigns tend to succeed more on Kickstarter than other platforms (about 40% of campaigns succeed)
Kickstarter’s positive attributes are massive. It’s hard to beat Kickstarter’s engaged community, widespread recognition, and high success rates.
But it’s by no means a perfect platform, and a lot of creators don’t like using it.
One of the biggest downsides of Kickstarter comes from one of its greatest strengths – the all-or-nothing funding model. All-or-nothing funding creates urgency for backers to back. But if a creator can’t raise enough to reach the goal, they don’t raise anything at all.
It’s also notoriously difficult to collect shipping information, as well as sell add-ons and other products through the platform as well. This has led to the rise of pledge managers – such as BackerKit and CrowdOx – which Kickstarter creators set up after campaigns to raise more money and make up for functionality Kickstarter does not have. For creators, this is just one more software to have to juggle in order to follow best practices.
Kickstarter’s page builder is also notoriously hard to use. Many users report that the platform’s interface can be challenging to navigate, especially for those who are not particularly tech-savvy. The page builder has not been meaningfully updated since 2009, and it shows.
In addition, Kickstarter’s project review process is often stricter than that of other platforms. While this can help to maintain the platform’s reputation for high-quality and innovative projects, it can also mean that some legitimate projects may be rejected, delayed, or required to make significant changes in order to be approved. The list of Prohibited Items is fairly long.
Want to raise funds for charity? You’re out of luck.
Want to offer equity, revenue sharing, or other forms of investment as incentives for backing? You’re out of luck there too.
Finally, many users report that Kickstarter’s support team can be difficult (at best) to reach. If a campaign is incorrectly flagged as being for prohibited items or if there are technical issues and challenges, you are essentially on your own.
None of these qualities are dealbreakers, but you need to at least be aware of them.
- All-or-nothing funding means you receive no funds if you don’t hit your goal
- Kickstarter page builder is notoriously difficult to use
- Project review process is stricter than other platforms
- Does not allow fundraising for charity or certain prohibited items
- You cannot allow equity, revenue sharing, or other investments as incentives
- Support team is very difficult to reach
When is Kickstarter a good fit?
When in doubt, Kickstarter is usually a good fit for crowdfunding. Other platforms do specialize in certain niches, but Kickstarter is generally the place to start.
That said, Kickstarter is particularly well-suited for projects that fall under the categories of film and video, music, and games. These types of creative projects tend to be popular with Kickstarter’s user base, and the platform provides a range of features and tools that are specifically designed to help creators showcase their work and engage with their audience.
Another key advantage of Kickstarter is its massive audience. With millions of users from all over the world, Kickstarter can provide an unparalleled level of exposure for your project. If you’re looking to reach a large and diverse audience, Kickstarter can be an excellent choice.
Additionally, if you need all-or-nothing funding to protect against having to manufacture with insufficient capital, Kickstarter’s funding model will do the trick. You’re never on the hook to manufacture something for which there is insufficient demand.
Kickstarter is ideal for:
- Projects for film and video, music, and games
- Anyone who wants to crowdfund and needs to take advantage of Kickstarter’s massive audience
- Those who need all-or-nothing funding as a protection against having to manufacture with insufficient capital
- Creators comfortable setting up a separate pledge manager system after funding
Setting Up A Kickstarter Campaign
Setting up a Kickstarter campaign is a complex process, so we’ve included the following video. It will demonstrate step-by-step how to set up a Kickstarter campaign and avoid common mistakes.
It should be noted that every single Kickstarter campaign page needs to look different in order to reflect the nature of the project and its target audience. For that reason, the most reliable way to make sure you’re creating a great Kickstarter campaign is to look at 10-15 other successful ones in your niche and imitate the parts that are working.
Resources to help you set up your Kickstarter campaign
Setting up a Kickstarter campaign is tricky. Between supply chain management and software, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of helpful articles to help reduce some of the anxiety and frustration of launching your campaign!
3 common mistakes to avoid
Launching a Kickstarter campaign can be an exciting and effective way to fund your project. But, of course, funding a campaign is one thing – fulfilling it is another.
Most Kickstarters ship late. This has been true throughout the platform’s history, during good economic times and bad. It’s constant.
Ultimately, this comes down to three big reasons:
- Setting unrealistic expectations
- Mismanaging freight
- Order fulfillment issues
These mistakes can be easily avoided, and doing so can save you a ton of headaches later. Before you launch your Kickstarter, take a minute or two to learn from the mistakes of others.
Why pledge managers are useful
If you’ve backed multiple Kickstarter campaigns, you may have come across BackerKit or CrowdOx. There’s a good reason why Kickstarter creators use these sites, but it’s not always clear why if you’re not deeply involved in the community.
One of the main issues with Kickstarter is the lack of certain features, such as the ability to manage add-ons or cross-sell existing products. Additionally, if shipping costs are collected during the campaign, Kickstarter will take a cut of the profits. Pledge managers eliminate these issues.
This post explains what pledge managers are, why they’re useful, and which software is worth your consideration.
How to handle add-ons and stretch goals
One of the great things about Kickstarter is that you can make a lot more money than you need. With the right strategy, you can raise significantly more than your original goal, potentially even 10 or 100 times more!
But should you just pocket the extra money and call it a day? Probably not. That’s where stretch goals and add-ons come in.
Stretch goals are additional product improvements that are unlocked once a certain level of additional funds are raised. Add-ons are extra perks or features that are offered to backers who pledge additional money during or after the campaign.
There is a lot of nuance to add-ons and stretch goals. This post goes over the best practices for choosing the right ones.
How to write Kickstarter project updates
Consider a scenario where you’ve supported a Kickstarter campaign that you’re eagerly waiting for. However, after the campaign funds and ends, the creator goes silent for six months. You have no idea how your money is being used or when your reward will arrive.
Backers have been burned before. As a Kickstarter creator, you have to be aware of this, and provide reassurance that you’re not going to do that.
One way to do that is by making good use of project updates. This article explains how to keep your backers informed and engaged with frequent and informative updates.
How to find manufacturers
When it comes to selling products, there are generally three options: purchasing pre-made items, creating them yourself, or having them produced for you. If you choose the third option, you will need to find a suitable manufacturer, and this article can help with that.
If you’re not yet ready for a full manufacturing run, you probably need to create a sample or prototype first. Here is a helpful article on that topic as well.
No matter what, though, since crowdfunding is essentially a form of eCommerce, shipping costs are crucially important. That means manufacturing neds to be done with shipping in mind from the very beginning. This article will show you how you can manufacture products while factoring in shipping costs.
How to handle freight and customs
There’s a good chance your Kickstarter is going to require manufacturing goods overseas. This guide provides an introduction to how freight works. The video below can help step you through booking freight yourself, should you choose to do that.
Additionally, when importing items from other countries, you’ll need to navigate the customs process, which can be challenging. To help with this challenge, this article will help you learn what you need to know in order to clear customs.
When to hire help with order fulfillment
Fulfilling a Kickstarter campaign on your own is doable. It’s just tough and stressful. That’s why many Kickstarter creators choose to hire help instead of handling their own fulfillment.
This is something we can help you with at Fulfillrite, so if you need help shipping your Kickstarter orders, request a quote here.
How to migrate to eCommerce
While Kickstarter is a great way to get attention and generate a lot of money in a short period of time, it’s not a good foundation for long-term business successs. To achieve that, you’ll need a more complex setup, most likely using more traditional eCommerce methods.
In this post, you’ll learn about the natural fit between crowdfunding and eCommerce, and how transitioning to an eCommerce platform can help you build on your Kickstarter success.
You’ll also discover the specific benefits of Shopify, as well as the steps you need to take to get started in eCommerce after crowdfunding.
There’s a reason why people say “Kickstarter” when they actually mean “crowdfunding.” Kickstarter isn’t a perfect platform, but it’s definitely a good one.
If your product isn’t on the Prohibited Items list and you can handle quirks like a tough-to-use page builder and its lack of a built-in pledge manager, you’ll be able to take advantage of its huge community.
If you find that Kickstarter is a good match for your ambition, check out the guidelines and insights provided in the articles we’ve compiled above. They’ll be sure to put you on the path to successful crowdfunding!
You’ve done everything by the book. Your Kickstarter campaign is almost ready to launch.
You made a great product. Built an audience. Set up a campaign page.
But how do you ship it?
We put this checklist together to help you get started. It's free.