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I recently started buying into Kickstarters that are both done by authors and by small businesses. I have various reasons for doing this. First, I'm able to get product before it hits the shelves (and much of the time there's a discount and perks), and second, it feels like I'm a valued part of the process by contributing money early to a project. Out of the Kickstarters that I have chosen to give my money to, I've witnessed work being done behind the scenes that quite frankly leaves me breathless. For example, look at the videos. Many of them are high quality, involve scripting, and must convey a large amount of information. On top of that, there's putting together the pledge manager, and communicating with all of the people who chip-in on a project. That's why I think any really decent Kickstarter is going to be the result of a team of people working together. In other words, like many things in life, it takes a village.

If you don't know, Kickstarter has been around for a while. It's a crowd-sourced fund-raising platform that's much different from "GoFundMe," which (quite frankly) doesn't seem to demand any skill since it is just a platform where people go to beg for money. You need money for your healthcare bills? That's GoFundMe and not Kickstarter. Kickstarter is where professionals go who want to raise money for projects that they intend to fulfill. And I've been extremely pleased with the things I've chosen to back (some of which topped a million dollars in Kickstarter funds). While participating in these Kickstarters, I've also analyzed what exactly they are doing, and I've decided to break it down in a post because I find the whole thing fascinating.

First off, these really successful Kickstarters have a great landing page. The landing page already has carefully edited videos for you to watch with details regarding the product usually in prototype form. It tells about the campaign and the different reward levels. In the case of one author (who self-publishes) and runs AMAZING Kickstarters, he already has the book completely finished and in the hands of beta and maybe gamma readers before they even start a kickstarter campaign. I find that to be impressive.

Second, they have stretch goals, which are no small feat. Maybe the goal for the entire Kickstarter to be funded is modest, which seems to be the way most people are going with these things so that they can say the project is funded and begin work on manufacturing said product. But with a modest goal attained early in the process, how then do these Kickstarter operators get people to contribute more money? Well, it's through stretch goals: if we hit this target, then this product gets unlocked. And so on and so forth. The thing is, you've got to have that product ready to be shown and demonstrated and in most cases, you'll want a nice description of it and even a picture so that people can check it out. And the more stretch goals you have, the more marketing potential there is in these things.

Third, social media appears to play a really important role. In the Kickstarters I've been observing, there are already carefully curated Facebook fan pages and YouTube channels where people who are interested in just this product can go and talk about the product with other people. The best Kickstarters are ones that have a community that already participates and shares ideas on a particular thing (and uses said product) who can then talk about the new and different ideas that a company has come up with for their current Kickstarter.

Fourth, FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) is a big driver of Kickstarters. Basically, what I'm saying is that it's important for the consumer to realize how good a deal a Kickstarter actually is. It helps to have people lament that they missed a Kickstarter publicly online (a Facebook group works perfect for this) or to point to the aftermarket sales of the product on ebay and say, "Look at how much markup there is in this stuff? Do you really want to run the chance of missing out on such a great deal?"

Anyway, it's been really interesting to kind of study all of these things as I've been buying into Kickstarters. I don't think a single person could actually run a good one. There's just too much work to do, and it requires skill sets from people in social media, video editing, writing, and marketing. But if a team of people can somehow get together behind something, I've seen some really remarkable stuff come out of these things.

What about you? Have you ever contributed to a Kickstarter? If yes, what for?
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