Kickstarter: Little Things To Do
Updated: Feb 10
I wrote recently about a few things that don’t seem to help your Kickstarter anything like as regularly or as much as some people would suggest, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of little things that do contribute towards your Kickstarter being successful and that mentioning them might be helpful. The single thing that you can get right that will determine the success or failure of your Kickstarter will be the presentation of your page, it is that which will sell your project. There are several big things you can do here which I’ve written about as have others, but I’ll list here because you can never say them too many times:
Have a sensible goal for what you want to do
Have a base pledge level that provides commensurate value to backers
Have at least rules and preferably a print and play
Have clear and reasonable shipping charges
Those aside, these are a few things that you can do to improve the appearance of your Kickstarter page without needing to hire someone to set up the page for you or spending extra money on graphic designers.
First Created, Zero Backed
There is much said about the 1C0B badge on Kickstarter, and just to make clear, it’s not the first created part that people really judge. For one, more than one created does not mean more than one created successfully and for two, while it can increase confidence to see a higher first number some backers are actively attracted to supporting projects by first time creators. The zero backed badge is another matter.
The often-given excuse for a zero backed badge is that a creator who is active on Kickstarter might create an account just in order to launch a particular project, as such zero backed is not necessarily a badge of ignorance to the ways of Kickstarter. While it does not follow that zero backed on a campaign profile means zero backed by the creator its more often true than not. The zero backed marker is a significant signal to many backers, it shows a lack of interaction with a community before asking for something from it. When someone avoids any interaction or communication with a community until they want to take something from it that is technically exploitation of that community, and that is something that people do not react to well. Zero backed costs $1 to remove and every dollar that you pledge to projects, good and bad, will be worth every penny you get in a lesson of what a well run (or badly run) Kickstarter looks like. Never mind that if you’re creating something within a field you should be a fan of that field, and maybe actually want some of the things being created in it. If your feeling is that there’s literally nothing on Kickstarter that you would ever back for even a dollar, that’s not a good sign for your entering into the market place yourself. Remove your zero backed as soon as possible.
Format The Page
For some reason the Kickstarter interface inserts line returns on the creator’s side of the page that it doesn’t show in the final page and spaces on those line returns that it does, I don’t know why, maybe it was programmed by a psychopath. The important upshot is that if you delete a line return your paragraph will have two spaces at the start of it like this:
Unless you’ve happened to delete line returns on all your paragraphs, you’ll then have the spaces on some paragraphs and not others. So, go around and delete those spaces because, frankly it looks untidy to everyone and to those that know what you did makes you look like an amateur. When you do this, check your spellings and read the page out loud as you do, again.
Firstly, there is such a thing as too many images on a page, despite what some people may say. As a creator you will have paid a lot of money for the artwork and will no doubt want to see that money up on the page, but simply slapping them up there doesn’t necessarily help your case. For one thing, however interesting your page is there is a limit to how often people will turn their mouse wheels before they feel like they should have gotten what they need and if they haven’t they’ll most likely leave without backing, if that space is taken up with twenty pictures you’ve wasted your shot. Additionally, if you have solid art design it should only take one or two pictures before backers have the general idea of your style, pick your most striking four or five images and use them.
Secondly, the Kickstarter image captions are in an ugly grey italic, auto center justify and only ever float just below the image. I don’t know why, probably the same reason it dumps in spaces on every line return. But in short, don’t use those captions, they’re ugly and they look lazy. Also, Kickstarter will automatically set your images in the middle of the screen and gives you no way of arranging those images on the page for some reason, probably the same reason that they have such ugly captions. The easiest way of regaining control of your image formats is to add white blocks to the left or right of the image in some image manipulation software, this will also allow you to control the size of the image since Kickstarter tends to zoom all images to fit the screen. When you add those white blocks, why not fill them with whatever caption you were going to use the Kickstarter captions for? With a few white boxes and some text you can make your page look ten times slicker and more professional than with straight images and text boxes.
It helps to have titles on a Kickstarter page, there are several things you need to have but that not every backer cares about and helping your backers find what they care about matters, you’re on a clock to get them to back. So create some title banners for your page sections, there are multiple lists out there but some you certainly want to include should be (rephrase these to fit your campaign):
What is X?
How to play X
What you get in the base level box
What the pledge levels are
Public access (to rules, PnP etc)
That’s probably not far off the order they should be on the page. You might want to include other sections, some people like to include sections such as why they’re using Kickstarter (I think that’s more important for larger companies than independents), why people should back as opposed to waiting for retail (although if you haven’t convinced people to back anyway I’m not sure how many that claim they’re waiting for retail aren’t actually letting you down easy) and how to use Kickstarter (this one is a good idea if you’re bringing in a significant crowd of your own, although personally I’m not confident of my skills in describing how to use Kickstarter from the outside anyway).
Once you have your titles and possibly sub titles, make them bigger in font and preferably wider than everything else in the page, particularly try to make images with text narrower by adding on a sliver of white to them, and make sub headings narrower than main headings. I have been told by people who know more about this than me, and I also agree from looking, that titles look better when they are not in a clean rectangle. Again, since the Kickstarter page background is white you can use that to break that rectangle, either having something coming up from your title, or using a white background so your title, while an image, appears to be a fancy ornate font straight on the page.
The three most important things for your Kickstarter are to make sure the page has the right content, to make sure that the page looks professional and to make sure that the product you’re selling is worth having. Everything else is secondary, making your page look at least decent is worth more than any size of mailing list, so spend more time on the things that matter, even if they are small things.