Kickstarter Lesson #16: Launch Day

1 March 2013

Before we talk about launch day, two quick reminders from previous projects:

  • You can (and should) submit your project for Kickstarter approval as soon as it’s decent looking. After Kickstarter approves it, you can still make changes, and you choose whenever you want to actually click the launch button.
  • Launch your project mid-morning. See other guidelines about timing here.

Now it’s finally time to launch! Here’s what you need to know:

Take the day off work

  • As we discussed yesterday, you’re going to need to update your FAQ right away. You probably can’t do that at work.
  • Add Google Analytics via your dashboard (more on that here).
  • Your project is going to be on Kickstarter’s “recently launched” page, so as long as it’s decent looking and reasonably priced, you’re going to get a few backers right away and throughout the day. It will feel like magic (but don’t get spoiled by this–the rest of the magic takes a lot of hard work). You’re going to want to be there at your computer, thanking those backers individually and asking them if they have any questions (which could help augment your FAQ). You’re not going to be able to focus on your day job.
  • This is not a normal day. You just put your passion project out there for the world to see. You need to spend that day fretting that you won’t ever achieve your dream.

Reddit

I honestly don’t know much about Reddit. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the world’s largest forum. It’s the 126th-most visited website in the universe, so it’s worth getting your project on that…and it’s easy to do so! It’s against the rules to post your own project on Reddit or ask someone else to, so you just kind of have to hope that someone does it (as far as I can tell, “hope” isn’t a violation of Reddit’s rules). Then keep an eye on it so you can reply civilly to everyone who has something to say about your project. Do not under any circumstances get defensive.

Social Media

  • Don’t spam people on social media on day one of your project. Day 1 is going to be good. Day 15 will be less good. That’s not an excuse to spam on day 15 (or ever), but it’s moreso a reminder to use Facebook and Twitter sparingly and effectively.
  • If you have a Facebook page for your project, this would be a good day to make a sponsored post so that it appears in the feeds of everyone who has Liked your page.
  • If you blog, announce your project to the world on your blog.

Personal E-mails

There are people you want to tell about your Kickstarter project. Friends, family, colleagues, maybe people in the industry of your project. If this is your first project, don’t mass e-mail them.

This is one of my top Kickstarter principles. No mass e-mails. The only exception to this rule is if people have already opted in to some sort of mass e-mail list (that’s why I specified “first project” on the rule above–after your first Kickstarter project, you can ask people to opt into an e-newsletter list).

Why no mass e-mails?

  • It’s so quick and easy, right? Quick and easy they are, but those are the exact reasons why you don’t want to mass e-mail. Nothing great is built on quick and easy.
  • Most importantly, mass e-mails are never as effective as individual e-mails in getting people to do what you want. In this case, you want people to click through to your Kickstarter project. Depending on the quality and focus of your individual e-mails, I think you could achieve a 50-70% click-through rate. Compare that to 2-10% for a mass e-mail. No one is special on a mass e-mail–you want everyone to feel special that you took the time to e-mail them.
  • Kickstarter is all about engaging and connecting with people, whether you know them or if they’re complete strangers. E-mail blasts are the opposite of engaging and connecting–it’s one-way communication. Start off on the right foot by engaging the people who are important to you.
  • Kickstarter is for passion projects and lifelong dreams, right? If you’ve spent X years of your life dreaming about the day that you can finally do Y, can you really not take the extra hour to e-mail people individually to express that passion and that dream? Your project is better than that.

How to write your personal e-mails:

  • Write an e-mail template and customize it for each person. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.
  • As with anything marketing or Kickstarter related, your job here is to offer people something of value. Personal e-mails inherently do this, because you’re offering someone personal attention.
  • Ask them a question. Show them that this isn’t all about you.
  • Don’t ask them to back the project. Merely ask them to check out the project. If you ask them to back it, you’re putting up a barrier to entry right away. There’s literally no barrier to entry for someone to click on a link. Remember, the goal is to get them to look at your project. That’s it.
  • Tell the person why you thought to contact them. Basically, connect the project to them somehow by the way you frame it. Say you have a project for a new gardening tool made out of local, sustainable materials. For the people in your life who love gardening, tell them that’s why you thought to write them. For those who live locally or love the concept of local support, pitch that to them. Or maybe they love crowdfunding. Cater to the things that are important to that individual.
  • Keep it short and sweet, and explain what Kickstarter is in the post-script (unless you’re positive the other person already knows what Kickstarter is). Here’s my version:

PS. Just in case you’re not familiar with crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, crowdfunding is when you pool contributions from various people to support a project in exchange for various rewards. Kickstarter is the most widely used crowdfunding website—on Kickstarter, if the funding goal isn’t reached within a certain timeframe, no one is charged a cent, and no rewards are distributed.

End of Day

We’ll talk about project updates on a future post, but I think the end of Launch Day is a milestone worth celebrating. Send out a grateful update, sign off for the night, and try to get some sleep before starting all over again tomorrow.

Up Next: Kickstarter Lesson #17: Treat Your Backers as Individuals, Not Numbers

17 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #16: Launch Day

  1. Hi Jamey,

    Thanks for another great post. I am totally with you on the personal emails.

    However, I guess it could also be an idea to write to your network about before the campaign to start preparing and educating them. What is your view on that?

    I am thinking about sending out a mass email to my network one week before launch and then personal email when launched. However, I am also not sure that is a good idea…

    1. Hi Jess,

      That’s a great question. I completely agree–your network should be well aware that you’re launching a campaign. I like to announce a date at least a month in advance if possible, but that’s mostly because my games cost a fair amount of money, and some people need to budget for them. I think that two e-mails separated by a week might be a little too close, but if you use different mediums (i.e., announce on Facebook a week early and then personal e-mails on launch day), that should go over well.

      Good luck!
      Jamey

  2. Hey Jamey, concerning Reddit, it can be a FANTASTIC source of traffic, but they play a tough game. I’ve been a redditor for a few years, and I’m lucky enough to have built good rapport with them–this has helped enormously in terms of promoting my site, boardgameresource.com. Reddit doesn’t mind self-promotion; in fact, they (“they” being /r/boardgames, the biggest board game community on the site) recently changed one of their rules so that you’re now allowed to link to your own content. The key with them is that they like seeing members of the community promoting their stuff, so they usually don’t take too kindly to nobodies jumping in and saying, “hey, look at my thing!” when it’s clear that they registered and posted with the role reason of posting their stuff to reddit.

    On the other hand, if you’re an established member of the community, and you say something like, “hey reddit, I’ve been with you guys for a while and I love this community; I’d love your feedback on this thing I made,” they will take much more kindly to it (provided you’re not lying). Reddit has been the best source of traffic for my site, because I had the good fortune of already having a strong reddit account when I created it.

    Reddit also has a site-wide policy across ALL subreddits that says that self-promotion IS allowed, but once again, that you should be part of the community if you do it. The “official” stance is that one out of every ten posts or so should be self-promotion. Just thought I’d share that for any prospective Kickstarters! Reddit’s an AWESOME site that’s extremely useful in more ways than I can articulate here. /r/boardgames is also a wonderful, accepting community with 100,000+ subscribers, you can check it out here: http://www.reddit.com/r/boardgames

    1. Thanks for your comment about reddit. I would love to jump in and get feedback on reddit to rise fanbase for our game, but that self-promoting rules scares me, so idk how to aproach it kindly. Can you please share some more details hot to behave on reddit to be able to build community there for our rpg ?
      Thanks again

  3. Zach: Thanks for the very informative comment about Reddit! That clears up my misunderstanding about using Reddit to promote your work. It actually sounds pretty much how any online community should be–you can mention your work, but it shouldn’t be the primary reason you’re there (and especially not the first thing you mention).

  4. Hi Jamey,
    Tomorrow is launch day for us! Your site has been my go to source for all things Kickstarter and I wanted to thank you for all that you have shared and the time you have put in to this amazing list!
    Sarah

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