19 December 2012 | 62 Comments
Update 6/3/2014: Most of this entry is still true, but Kickstarter has also rolled out a “Launch Now” feature that allows most projects to launch whenever you’re ready (instead of waiting for approval). In this notice, Kickstarter says their metric for determining if a project is eligible for launch now is based on “the project’s description, rewards, funding goal, and whether the creator has previously launched a project.”
Update 11/2/2015: I’ve found that Kickstarter took about 2-3 days to approve my Scythe Kickstarter project a few months ago. I’m noting this because (a) it was my 8th project, but Kickstarter’s algorithm still decided they needed to review it first and (b) they reviewed and approved it pretty quickly, but not instantly.
Update 7/16/2016: Kickstarter now has an extensive blog post about exactly how the submission process works.
Okay, so you have your passion project in the works. You’ve shared it with people, tested it, solicited some quality art and graphic design. You’ve researched other related Kickstarter campaigns. You’ve corresponded with your manufacturer so you know what you can make, how many you need to make, and what you can add onto the product to make it extra special. You’ve read all of Kickstarter’s rules and guidelines.
You have a rough idea of when you want to launch your Kickstarter campaign, but you’re not exactly sure when all the various pieces will come together. You haven’t even finished editing the video. So should you wait until you have everything together to start working on your project page?
Absolutely not. Make the roughest possible version of the project page and submit it to Kickstarter for approval today.
Why should you do this? Well, let’s assume you don’t take this advice. You agonize over every detail of your project page (as you should at some point, just not now), and you pick the perfect day to launch (I’ll talk about that in Lesson 2). You add your final reward level and submit the project to Kickstarter.
Then you wait.
Not that Kickstarter is particularly slow–2-5 days isn’t a long time to wait for approval. But by that point when you’re mentally prepared to launch, those 2-5 days can feel like eternity.
Here’s first dirty little secret about getting approval for and launching a Kickstarter project page: They are two separate steps. After Kickstarter approves your project, you still have to click “launch” to launch your project.
Here’s the second dirty little secret: Kickstarter doesn’t seem to care at all about when you launch the project after they approve it. You could sit on a project for months after approval if you wanted to. During that time you can privately share the project page in preview mode to get feedback about it.
Here’s the third: Not only can you edit your project while you’re waiting for approval, but you can completely revamp it afterwards too. All you really need to submit it for approval is a rough framework that shows them what the project is about and the type of rewards you’re offering.
Here’s the fourth (and last): Kickstarter only gives your project a cursory look to make sure it meets their guidelines. They retain the right to discover new elements of your project after you’ve launched, and potentially use that new information to temporarily shut down your project.
This actually happened to me. I had a reward level that allowed for 16 people to participate in a Viticulture tournament with a cash prize. I thought it would be okay, but it was red-flagged within hours of launch. My project page remained live, but Kickstarter removed it from their “Recently Launched” page for a little bit until I fixed it. The point is that they don’t read every word of every project–they rely on the wisdom of crowds to discover various issues.
Conclusion: If you think you’ll launch a Kickstarter project in the next month or so, spend one hour creating your project page today and submit it for approval. Then you’ll have plenty of time to perfect it, and when the day comes that you’re ready to launch, you can rest assured that your project will launch instantly (actually, I think that Kickstarter prompts you with a dialogue box that says, “Are you sure you want to launch?” After that it’s officially launched.)
Anything to add, fellow Kickstarter creators?