Lessons from my first Kickstarter campaign

I hit publish! I launched my first Kickstarter campaign. What a ride it was! Three weeks later, my Kickstarter campaign closed, reaching 566% of our funding goal.

Two months out

I had been thinking about launching a Kickstarter campaign for a while now. Especially after attending a workshop on how to launch a Kickstarter campaign by Pablo Farias Navarro, Founder of Zenva Academy, at Fishburners co-working space. I decided to do it. I wanted to convert our tutor-delivered Python program into an online course for 10-15 year olds.

I planned the next two months, designed our Kickstarter campaign page, and booked contractors to produce our video pitch. I had a tight schedule because I wanted to fit the Kickstarter campaign in between other product launches.

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Pre-launch marketing

The pre-launch period was more hectic than the actual Kickstarter campaign period. I was setting up the Kickstarter page, managing the development of the video pitch, which I had outsourced to contractors, and I was drumming up enthusiasm within our existing Coding Kids audience, as well as engaging new newsletter sign ups.

This was the first time I engaged contractors to deliver a video pitch for me. I learned a lot from this process and next time, I will be a more informed client and I hopefully I won’t blow out the budget. The original budget was based on delivery of a 60 second video. However, I was not ruthless enough to cut down my video script from 90 seconds to 60 seconds, so I ended up 50% over budget. Next time, I will be ruthless and cut it down. It is hard enough to get viewers’ attention for 60 seconds, let alone 90 seconds. It is not worth the additional 50% video budget blow out. There were 171 views of our Kickstarter video campaign in the end, but only 42% of views watched the full 90 second video.

The original timeframe for delivery of the video was 4 weeks, but it was delivered after 5 weeks. I did not realise that the contractor’s schedule was based on a 4-hour turnaround for my review and feedback. I should have identified this time requirement and scheduled it in because I was not able to stick to their schedule. I did have a one week buffer which I did not tell the contractor, but I had another time frame surprise.

I missed a little detail in my research and planning. I was caught unaware of Kickstarter’s 3-business-day review period to approve my campaign. I had planned on launching the campaign at 7am on Thursday 23 May, but I postponed it to Friday 24 May.

In hindsight, starting the campaign on a Friday was not a great idea because the campaign offered an early bird price of $79 for the first 48 hours. This 48 hour deadline fell on 7am Sunday 26 May. My gut feel is that it was probably not effective to end the early bird special on Sunday. Oh well, next time.

Hitting publish

Kickstarter approved our campaign. It was time to hit publish. It was nerve-wracking. I was now going to publish my work to the world for everyone’s judgement. Yikes!

Infringing trademark

Our product was originally called “Game Design Nano Degree.” After the campaign launch, I was informed that “Nano Degree” is trade marked by Udacity in Australia and USA. Udacity and Coding Kids both deliver online courses, ie we operate within the same goods and services trade mark category. So I updated the product to “Game Design Micro Degree” wherever I could. There were a few segments within the Kickstarter page where I could not edit text after launch, so the original name stayed. Now, all references are with the new product name.

The campaign

Upon launch, we enthusiastically engaged our audience via email newsletters and social media, including live videos. I was invited to pitch at the EduTech Pitch Night at Fishburners Brisbane, which was great timing.

Let’s take a dive into some of the data from the campaign. We can see here where backers come from.

  • The majority of backers come from our own audience via email newsletters and social media.

  • 3 backers out of 37 came from Kickstarter ie via the website search function.

Timeline of backers

  • We hit our funding goal of $850 within 8 hours.

  • In the end we received just over $4800. Here is the timeline of when we received pledges from our backers. Over the three week campaign, you can see that a bulk of our pledges occurred in the first 48 hours and in the last 24 hours.

    • 20% in first day

    • 20% in 2nd day

    • 20% in next 7 days

    • 20% in next 7 days

    • 20% in last day

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Within 8 hours we hit our funding goal. We were now committed to building our Game Design Micro Degree.

In the image below we can see the Kickstarter page views per day over the 3 week campaign period. There was a large spike on the first day and a secondary spike on the second day.

Publishing updates

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As the campaign we published a couple of updates:

  • Our first update we thanked our backers for their support.

  • We encouraged our backers to share our Kickstarter campaign with their family, friends, and colleagues so that we could achieve our stretch goals.

Campaign end

Our campaign ended 11.59pm AEST Thursday 13 June. We achieved $4814 in pledges, 566% of our funding goal, from 37 backers.

There were a few outstanding payments. So in the end only 34 backers. Something to note for the future that a tiny percentage of pledges may fall through post campaign.

We achieved our first stretch goal which allowed our backers to vote for their preferred additional product. We offered a free additional online course if we hit $4000, and then every $2000 after that. Our backers voted for our “Creating digital solutions with Micro:bit for 10-15 year olds”, which is a great pick as it is a complementary topic for the Game Design Micro Degree.

Game Design Micro Degree

Game Design Micro Degree

7 top tips

If you are interested in running your own Kickstarter campaign here are a few tips from me. I am not an expert, but I have learned a lot from this experience.

  1. Develop a realistic schedule:

    1. Our video production schedule was a bit tight, especially considering my availability to review drafts and my understanding of how videos are made.

    2. Include the Kickstarter review time.

  2. Pre-launch marketing is key. All but 3 of our backers were from our own audience. 3 backers found us via the Kickstarter network.

  3. All of our company marketing was focused on our Kickstarter campaign, our other products were not getting any airtime.

  4. All queries; via email, Facebook, Kickstarter, phone calls; were responded to immediately.

  5. A tiny handful of payments may not come through. One week after campaign close, 3 of my 37 backers’ payments did not come through. Keep this in mind when considering your funding goal.

  6. Check to make sure you are not infringing on trade marks.

  7. 30 minutes before the end of the campaign I added an “ICYMI segment” to my Kickstarter campaign page to forward readers to my website should they have missed the campaign.


What next?

For now, we are busy building our Game Design Micro Degree.

Perhaps we might do another Kickstarter campaign. We have so many in-person courses that we would love to offer as online courses.

Why not try it out yourself? There is a bit of magic that happens with Kickstarter.


See our original Kickstarter campaign here.

In case you missed our Kickstarter campaign, early access available for $119 until 4 July 2019.