Crowdfunding 102 : The Anatomy of a Great Crowdfunding Page

CROWDFUNDING 102 :
THE ANATOMY OF A GREAT CROWDFUNDING PAGE

TOP PROJECT PAGE MISTAKES

  1. wall of textToo much text. This usually falls into two categories:
    1. The balance between text and images is wrong. For every section of text, there should be an accompanying image to balance it out. People don’t like walls of text!  Break it up.
    2. The text is in big chunks, which is very difficult to read online. Most people encounter a big chunk of text and either skip it or skim it. No paragraph should be longer than 3 lines, and each item of a bulleted list should be no longer than 2 lines.  Again, walls of text are bad.  Break it up.
  2. Bad art and design. People only get one first impression of your project page. If that impression is of bad, placeholder, prototype art and design, they aren’t going to back your project. You’re probably on Kickstarter so you can raise the money to afford good art and design, but you need to spend at least a little something up front to have a few eye-catching, appealing images to give backers an idea of the quality and style of the project.  If all your backers see when they first  hit your project page is amateurish artwork, then they will assume you are an amateur and move on.
  3. Poorly constructed reward levels. As mentioned in Crowdfunding 101, your backers need to be able to quickly and easily find what they want. They need to be able to tell the difference between reward levels at a quick glance. If your reward level is more than 8 lines long, you’re doing it wrong. Reward levels should be clear, concise, and non-repetitive. List the most important/unique aspect at the beginning of each reward level’s description. If every reward level gets the same thing, you don’t need to say it over and over again. Either mention it on the project page or on the first reward level.  Keep it simple, keep it clean.

OVERARCHING PHILOSOPHIES

  1. enthusiasmShare your passion and personality. Your project page should be clear and succinct, but it doesn’t need to be dry. Give your project page a human side by adding small personal touches and flourishes, but don’t try to  tell backers how they should feel about the project. Let them decide on their own.  “This will be the best book you’ll ever read!” or “This is the most fun you’ll ever have playing a game!” are phrases that have no place on a project page and will turn people away. There’s a difference between enthusiasm for your project and projection. Let backers figure out for themselves how they feel about your project through your pictures, videos, reviews/previews and information you have provided them.
  2. Put the best selling points at the top of the page. What is the most effective pitch for your project? Is it a really compelling image? The huge number of components? Something unique among Kickstarter projects (like free shipping or a money-back guarantee)? A great third-party review? A new game mechanic? Whatever it is, it should be at the top of your project page. And then the second best selling point should be next. And so on. You may not even know the best selling point, so make sure to get feedback on this before you launch your project. Your top selling point may change over the course of the project, so feel free to shift things around whenever necessary!
  3. Only put what’s necessary on the main page. Sure, you want all the core questions answered up front on the project page – your potential backers shouldn’t have to hunt around for shipping subtleties, pledge levels and why you’re on Kickstarter in the first place. However, you have several resources at your disposal for linking to ancillary information elsewhere: The FAQ, your blog/website, and your project updates are all great places to link to with extra information for backers to check out.

VISUAL ASPECTS

  1. what-is-an-infographic1Spectacular Project Image. If you’re going to spend money on art before a project (which you should), this is one of the key places where it’s needed. The project image is used at the top of the page–it’s what you see when you’re not watching the video. It’s also used as the project thumbnail. It should be distinctive, iconic, and attractive. You can change it over the course of the project (you might want to use this space for special announcements), but keep the core image the same.
  2. Infographics. Infographics are often much better at explaining concepts than long lists. For example, instead of showing what’s in the box, show it on an infographic (there can be text on the infographic). Or if your project has a concept that would take paragraphs to explain, use an infographic.  You should still enable backers to search the page for certain words by typing out those words (i.e., “shipping”).
  3. Use a mix of real photos and digital renderings. Digital renderings often look sharper than photos of your prototype, but photos of games often look better than their digital counterparts. An actual photo gives a backer a feeling of the tangible aspect of the reward–“That’s something I’ll have in my house someday.”
  4. Landscape your images. If you put an image on your Kickstarter page, it will fill up the entire main column. Image width isn’t an issue, but if an image is too tall, it’ll take up too much precious real estate. Cut down the height in an image editor so it has a maximum of a 3:1 width to height ratio.
  5. Illustrated headers. Custom illustrated headers are much more thematic and visually compelling than standard text images. They’ll take a lot more work, but they’re worth it.
  6. No step-by-step reward level graphic. More often than not, this image is completely redundant. Backers know what it means to get two copies of a game–they don’t need an image to explain that to them.

CORE COMPONENTS EVERY GREAT PROJECT PAGE NEEDS

  1. Description: The three lines under the project video should tell backers exactly what the project is.
  2. What’s in the box: Tell backers what they’re getting. Use an infographic!
  3. Third-party reviews: Tell backers what unbiased professionals think about your project.
  4. What’s unique: 3-5 reasons your project is different from anything anyone has ever seen. If it’s a board game, link to the rules (having the rules ready before the project begins for a board game project is imperative. It’s ok if they will be finalized still and It’s okay if they’re in MSWord. They just need to be written).
  5. Explanatory video: Give backers an in-depth look at your project (much deeper than the 2-minute project video allows).  Link to a YouTube video you make to explain your project and its unique aspects.
  6. Why pledge now: List a few compelling reasons why backers should support you now on Kickstarter, including why you need the funds to make the project a reality, instead of waiting for retail.
  7. Stretch goals: List a few stretch goals to compel people to share your project. You can add more as the project continues to overfund, so don’t go overboard yet.  Give people a reason to continue coming back to your project page.
  8. Add-ons: People need to know how they can add multiple copies to their pledge (among other add-ons, which I recommend limiting to items that can be included in the game box by the manufacturer unless you really want to give people something “extra” that isn’t related to the product itself.  Those should be few and far between however).
  9. Risks and Challenges: Be real in this section. By giving examples of what could go wrong, you show that you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about.  Review other projects Risks and Challenges to get a good feel for what you need to know and what you need to inform your backers of.

Finally, there are some things you won’t realize about the project page until you actually start to make one or until it’s too late:

  1. The preview link to your project page will automatically forward to your final campaign page when you go live.
  2. You can’t create an FAQ before the campaign begins, so type out questions you anticipate or any you have received from other sources before the project so you can create the FAQ the minute you launch.
  3. You can revise the project page during and after the approval process before you launch, and any time during the campaign.
  4. You cannot revise the project page after the campaign is over.  Once it’s done, it’s done.
  5. The “Risks and Challenges” section is mandatory–it’s part of the project page template. It’s text only.