I’ve got a lot to learn about crowdfunding. While I’ve been fortunate enough to have two successful campaigns, and now a third that is following the same track, I’m always surprised by something I hadn’t expected. There are so many factors to a good campaign, and an endless list of possibilities for how to help one take off. Every project is different and requires its own creative attention, but I’ve learned there is also a bit of a science to any successful campaign.
My first project, concluding in September 2014, brought in $66,000 for a product that had virtually no variable cost. I launched the project to pre-sell what would become my second online class hosted on Udemy: “How to Make a Freaking iPhone App with iOS 8 & Swift”. I spent around $200 in creating the project and had it up in less than two weeks of preparation. It was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attempt and I learned a lot from it.
I wouldn’t suggest that everyone create their project in so short a time or with so little money. I was in a position that I happened to have a prior online class with 8,000 students that taught about a very relevant subject: Swift for iOS programming. I was able to announce my new Kickstarter project to this class, along with a list of family and friends, so that the project received a powerful boost on the first day. That’s the first lesson; you always, always, always want some source of outside traffic to boost your project and get it off the ground. Otherwise you’re probably wasting your time.
I was also able to set a low goal ($1,000) due to the fact that the product had low variable cost, and I knew I’d be putting the effort in to make the class regardless of how much the project was funded. This meant low risk of failure and another benefit: reaching the goal on the first day. When you reach the goal on the first day, everyone else that sees your project knows it’s already a success. They have fewer reservations in pledging to your project to pre-order your product.
However what was equally influential was timing. Swift had been released by Apple as a new programming language just a couple months prior. It was the hot topic and it was kind of like a programming gold rush where everyone wanted to be one of the first to learn the new language. I’ve learned that the timing behind whatever product you’re launching is huge. Think about your target customer, their state of mind, their emotions, and what it is they’re passionate about. Think about supply and demand. The product you have and the timing of the campaign will have the greatest say in the outcome of your project.
Since then I’ve launched 2 more campaigns and had to learn new lessons. My second campaign was for my third online class: “Apple Watch: Go From Newbie to Pro by Building 15 Apps”. Launched in November 2014, the campaign timed perfectly with the release of Apple’s WatchKit, prior to the release of the watch. It concluded with just over $21,000 raised, which was great but not quite as magical as the first campaign. I think it came down to the fact that there had been a lot more hype about Swift than there had been about WatchKit, and the fact that we’d rushed our video together so fast that we’d moved forward despite it not being what it could have been.
My third campaign was done in conjunction with my new co-instructor Jenna to launch our new class: “Rick & Jenna’s iOS 9 Adventure with Swift 2 and XCode 7.” As with the prior campaigns, we’ve invested little in the project and got everything together in less than 2 weeks.
This project is probably my favorite. It hasn’t been quite so much of a grand slam as the first, but I’m happy about the video and overall style we went with. I’ve told my friends that regardless if they care about making apps they should watch the video and none of them have regretted it, haha.
The greatest thing about this particular campaign is that backers can get all 3 classes for an extremely low price. The 3 classes range from $99 to $299 each on Udemy, but can be rewarded all together for a $49 pledge on Kickstarter. In other words, what would normally cost roughly $599 costs only $49. The new iOS 9 class can be rewarded for just $29. Oh, the beauty of Kickstarter!
One trend I’ve recently caught on to is the fact that all of my projects have made it on to the Popular Page of the project’s specific category. We all like to focus on how Kickstarter’s primary popular page works wonders, but it’s also very competitive. It’s much easier to make it onto a specific category’s popular page. My projects have been in the “TechnologyàApps” category. In general there are fewer “Apps” projects, and most of them are for a specific mobile app, rather than an online class. So it helps my project to stand out.
I’m sure there’s a ton more for me to learn but I hope my experience and insights can be of use to someone out there!