It can be easy to think that launching a crowdfunding campaign is a quick way to fund just about anything, but according to Kickstarter, more than 63% of all projects fail.
That’s more than 270,000 unsuccessful projects. Of that amount over 55,000 never had a single pledge.
While the platform may encompass everything from technology to theater, many projects fail for similar reasons: They’re ignored and quickly dismissed. We’ve broken down the ten most common reasons a crowdfunding campaign is ignored, and what you can do about it.
Bad campaign video/photos/writing
On Kickstarter the average successful campaign reaches a goal under $10,000. If you’re going to ask for $10k from strangers on the internet there are certain things they’ll expect regardless of what you’re selling:
Clear, grammatically correct text and spelling
High resolution, quality photos
Brief descriptive video of the project and goals
As familiar and precious as your project may seem to you, it’s important to remember you’re marketing to an audience that’s never heard of it before. You’ll only have a few seconds to make a good impression and capture their attention, which is why quality photos and copywriting on your campaign page is so crucial.
Expect to spend at least 10 hours on your campaign photos, copyediting and video before publishing.
Also, if you need to translate your campaign copy, avoid using auto-translators like Google. There are many qualified translators on places like Fiverr and Upwork that can help your copy look much more professional.
Technology that requires magic
They say that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. However, the more high-tech the product the more wary backers will be of its claims. Multi-billion dollar conglomerates have buildings full of R&D people, so you might forgive people for being suspicious of a 5 person startup that’s out-innovated them.
This is an area where a lot of people have been burned in the past. Make sure any amazing technology claims in your campaign are completely proven and can be fully demonstrated.
Kickstarter is pretty much the opposite of instant-gratification. Rewards can take months to ship out after backing, and that’s only if the project reaches its goal. To counter the wait, it’s important that backers are excited about their rewards.
Unfortunately, most people don’t want a Twitter shoutout from a startup or a postcard from strangers.
That’s not to say all rewards need to be expensive, or even include the central product. Something unique, quirky or funny gets people a lot more excited than a pin or t-shirt.
If you frequent Kickstarter enough you start to notice patterns. Every few months a project will launch that’s the perfect mixture of innovation, accessibility and appeal. The project will of course be wildly overfunded and a huge success.
Then you’ll see another campaign with perhaps a slightly different color or material. This one will also get funded. Then there’s another. And another, until the product oversaturates the marketplace.
This has happened with things like wallets, backpacks, smartwatches and earbuds. When you’re the seventh “world’s thinnest wallet” of the year, it becomes really hard to build hype.
There’s a fine line between market research of successful products, and jumping headfirst into a crowded pool.
Unauthorized lawsuit magnet
Are major franchises like Star Wars, Game of Thrones etc. popular? Yes. Does merchandise related to those franchises sell like hot-cakes? Of course! Can you sell said merchandise? Absolutely not.
Any goods you see that use branded characters on them, even if it’s nothing more than a font type, signed licensing agreements with those brands. Unless you’ve received explicit, in-writing approval to make a buck off Dumbledore, you can not sell merchandise with those assets on them.
At best you’ll receive a big scary cease-and-desist order. At worst you’ll be handed a lawsuit.
The chances of unauthorized campaigns like this being shut down is high, which is why backers tend to avoid them.
Reselling existing product
Companies like Alibaba have made it easier than ever to import products from overseas. Little more than a credit card number grants you access to thousands of items that would have a required your own distribution company a few years ago.
However, that doesn’t mean you should whip-up a new brand name and sell those products as your own. While marketplaces like Amazon might be flooded with white-labeled goods, crowdfunding is not the place for reselling.
Backers want to see unique and innovative products that they can’t pickup from AliExpress for a fraction the price.
Kickstarter isn’t Etsy. It also isn’t GoFundMe or Patreon.
Handmade items, crisis fundraising and artist support all have their own places and audiences on the internet. Make sure you’re using the right platform before launching your campaign.
Low value product
Not all junk is cheap, and not everything cheap is junk.
You might have a perfectly good idea that also happens to be super affordable. The problem is that a lot of people associate low price with low quality and might not back something that looks like it costs under $10.
There is a solution to this that infomercials have mastered. Bundling. If you have an item that might seem cheap on its own, consider bundling in a set of two or three.
Bank-breaking pledge levels
At the opposite end of weak rewards, we find the wallet-busters. This is typically the result of a product that is inherently expensive like gadgets or high-fashion accessories. It’s not to say people won’t pledge for a pricey item, but it’s important to offer rewards for the widest group of people.
If you have a project that’s in the hundreds of dollars, spend some time thinking of rewards in the $10, $20 and $50 dollar range. Seeing cheaper pledge levels will lessen the initial recoil of a high-dollar item.
Simply a bad idea
Sometimes despite your best efforts, people simply aren’t interested in your project. The nature of crowdfunding is that the community will make or break an idea, and sometimes their silence speaks louder than words.
Don’t get discouraged. There’s a lot you can learn from a failed Kickstarter campaign. Even successes usually have something they tweak next time.
Thomas Edison said it best when asked about his many failed inventions and prototypes before the lightbulb:
“I’ve not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
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