Mike Del Ponte co-founded Soma, which raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter using virtual assistants and free apps.
I first met Mike Del Ponte two years ago when he was running marketing at BranchOut, a startup I advise.
Before joining BranchOut, Mike had explored a variety of career paths, including preparing for the priesthood at Yale Divinity School and serving as a peacemaker in the West Bank.
Earlier this year, Mike came to me with a new product idea called Soma. Soma is, in its simplest form, a high-end competitor to Brita water filters. It combines Apple-inspired design (e.g. sleek glass carafe) with a subscription service that delivers the world’s first compostable water filter to your door. From form to function, from funding model to revenue model, Mike was eager to disrupt a sleepy but enormous market: water. I became an advisor.
To launch Soma on Kickstarter (and raise $100,000+ in just nine days), Mike and his team used some of the techniques that helped BranchOut grow to 25 million users in just 16 months.
You can replicate what he did.
This post includes all of their email templates, spreadsheets, open-source code to build landing pages, and even a custom dashboard Soma’s hacker Zach Allia built to monitor their Kickstarter data, social media, and press.
[12/06/18 Ed. Note: Some templates are currently unavailable. We have reached out to the author for new links.]
This post is as close to copy-and-paste Kickstarter success as you will find. And even if you have no interest in Kickstarter, Mike’s approach is a blueprint for launching nearly any product online for maximal impact and minimal cost.
UPDATE: Soma is offering a 7-course, private dinner with me at a historic mansion in San Francisco (travel included) as one of their Kickstarter prizes. At the time this post was published, there was still one spot left.
How many times have you dreamt of launching a new product, only to let your dream fall to the wayside?
I don’t have the money to even get started! What if it fails?
In the past, these excuses held some weight, as bringing a new product to market could be incredibly expensive. Oftentimes, you had to prototype, build, and then hope the world wanted what you were selling. If not, you could end up with a warehouse full of debt: unsellable inventory.
Now, there are new options. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGogo allow you to introduce (test) a new product before you start manufacturing, removing a huge amount of risk. If people like what you’re proposing, you can pull in thousands or even millions of dollars to fund your dream. At the very worst, you were able to test your idea without investing much time or money.
But planning and running a Kickstarter campaign is often done in a haphazard fashion.
To prepare for ours, we didn’t want to leave anything to chance, so we interviewed 15 of the top-earning Kickstarter creators. Their projects ranged from a grizzly bear jacket to a gaming console that raised nearly $8.6 million on Kickstarter. What we learned is that whether you’re successful or struggling, your Kickstarter campaign is often “40 days of chaos,” as one creator put it. Either you succeed beyond your wildest dreams and are overwhelmed with inquiries from backers, press, retailers and investors, or you struggle to achieve your goal and frantically beg bloggers and friends to spread the word. Either type of overwhelm can be a huge headache.
So, we got creative.
Using virtual assistants, growth hacking techniques, and principles from Tim’s books, we raised over $100,000 in less than 10 days. Having accomplished our goal with almost 30 days to spare, we are now relaxing for the holidays. The Kickstarter is behind us, allowing us to get back to product development as we get to know our new community of 1,600+ committed customers.
Here are the steps we used to do it…
Step 1: Start with principles that require less work and yield better results
We chose three core principles for our Kickstarter strategy. The hacks and tactics we’ll share with you are cool, but these principles were the foundation of our campaign. Make sure you understand them before moving forward.
- Minimum Effective Dose. MED is the smallest input needed to produce a desired outcome. For example, if you want to boil water, the MED is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasing the temperature above 212 degrees will not produce a better result, it will just waste resources. We wanted to focus on the 1-3 things that would allow us to raise $100,000 in 10 days, and eliminate everything else. MED is described in detail in The 4-Hour Body.
- Outsource and automate. These two steps allow you to get results by delegating tasks and setting up automated systems so you can focus your energy on more valuable projects. The #1 resource we found for outsourcing is Zirtual. Zirtual provides US-based virtual assistants (VAs) for as little as $399. Do not run a Kickstarter campaign (or your life) without VAs. They will save you countless hours of work. The 4-Hour Workweek is the best book on outsourcing and automating.
- Prep and pick up. Chef’s don’t prepare meals like you and me. They don’t start 15-60 minutes before dinner. Instead, they prep everything in advance (sometimes days before), so they can just heat the food and make it look nice when it’s time to eat. This concept was critical to our success. Our goal was to do 90% of the work in advance. For example, crafting emails 2-3 days early so we just needed to click “send” when we launched. We learned about prep and pick up in The 4-Hour Chef. It’s a game changer.
Step 2: Find the MED for Kickstarter traffic
If you want to raise a lot of money on Kickstarter, you need to drive a lot of traffic to your project. And you want that traffic to be comprised of prospective backers of your project. Applying the concept of MED, we knew we needed to discover and focus on the best traffic sources.
My friend, Clay Hebert, is a Kickstarter expert. One of the things he taught me is a simple trick using Bit.ly tracking. Bit.ly is a link shortening service used by millions of people…and Kickstarter. If you add a + to the end of any bit.ly URL, you can see stats about that link. For example: here are stats for the shortlink Kickstarter generated for our campaign http://kck.st/VjAFva+.
Click here for full size image
Click here for full size image
To discover the top referral sources, we gave our VA a list of Kickstarter projects similar to ours and asked her to list the referrers for each project. Almost without fail, the order of top referrers was:
- Direct traffic (primarily via email)
Based on this data, we decided to focus all of our attention on just two goals:
- Getting coverage on the right blogs
- Activating our networks to create buzz on Facebook, Twitter, and email
We knew that if we did this, we would be listed on Kickstarter’s “popular projects” sections, which is how you get people who are browsing Kickstarter to check out and back your project.
Step 3: Use the 80/20 rule to focus on the best media targets
At Soma, we were fortunate to get a ton of press in just 10 days (Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., Mashable, Cool Hunting, Business Insider, GOOD, Salon, Gear Patrol, Thrillist, The Huffington Post, and many more). We made mistakes and learned a lot. This section offers our best advice on how to get the MED of press and succeed on Kickstarter.
The 80/20 rule teaches us that 20% of stories will yield 80% of your press results. This was absolutely the case for us. One week into our Kickstarter campaign, we reviewed our press coverage. Surprisingly, the post that earned us the most money was on a site most people have never heard of: www.good.is, the online property of GOOD magazine.
We stopped and asked ourselves, “Why did good.is outperform bigger and more well-known media outlets?” We discovered that good.is was in some cases 10x more valuable than other press because the audience is relevant, the readership is substantial (400,000+ unique monthly visitors), we got an introduction to a writer at GOOD, and we reached prospective backers through GOOD’s daily email and its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Therefore, when making your media list, these are the four things to look for:
- Relevance – will their readers LOVE your project?
- Readership – how much traffic does their site get? [TIM: For a quick idea, I use the SEO for Chrome extension]
- Relationships – do you know at least one person who can make a strong introduction?
- Reach – will the blog reach prospective backers by promoting your post via email newsletter, RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, and other channels? [TIM: This is the most neglected checkbox. Blogs that expect you to drive all traffic to their posts are a waste of time. Remember: big site-wide traffic does not mean each post gets much (or any) traffic.]
What follows is a 5-step process for making the world’s greatest media list. Your VA will do 90% of the work. We’ve included email templates you can use to delegate these projects to your VA.
[12/06/18 Ed. Note: Templates are currently unavailable. We have reached out to the author for new links.]
I. Find relevant bloggers using Google Images
Start by looking at who covered Kickstarter projects similar to yours. You can do this by using a simple Google Images hack. If you drag and drop any image file into the search bar at images.google.com, you’ll be shown every website that has ever posted that image. Pretty cool, huh?
Click here for full size image. Below, the Porthole by Martin Kastner.
Here’s the process your VA will use:
- Find 10 Kickstarter projects similar to yours, and for each, do the following.
- Right-click and save-to-desktop 2-3 images.
- Drag and drop each image file from your desktop into the Google Images search bar.
- Review blogs listed on the results page to see which might be relevant to your project.
- Fill out the following fields in the attached “Media List” spreadsheet: Publication, URL, first and last name of the writer, and links to relevant posts by that writer.
You now have dozens of blogs that have a high probability of relevance, all neatly organized in a spreadsheet. Your VA can find more sites like the ones in your media list by searching SimilarSites.com.
II. Research site traffic on Compete.com
Bigger is not always better. But it is helpful to know the size of each blog’s readership. Have your VA research how many unique monthly visitors each blog has and add that data to your media list.
III. Identify relationships on Facebook
This may be the most important part of your PR efforts. For us, eight out of ten valuable blog posts resulted from relationships. Either we knew the blogger or got an introduction. When we pitched a blogger without a relationship, less than 1% even responded. With introductions, our success rate was over 50%.
How do you identify relationships? Facebook. Have your VA log in to your Facebook account, search for bloggers in your media list, and add mutual friends to your spreadsheet. You can also search on professional networks like BranchOut or LinkedIn.
IV. Discover each blog’s reach on email, social media, and RSS
After witnessing the value of good.is featuring Soma in their email newletter, we completely changed the way we thought about press coverage. A blog post is just the beginning. Once you get covered, you need distribution. You need to reach your prospective backers through email, RSS feeds, and social media.
To estimate a blog’s reach, have your VA research how many followers it has on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and RSS. Once you make your short list of media targets (see below), you should also sign up for each blog’s email newsletter.
You won’t really know what your reach will be until you’ve landed each story and received a commitment by each blog to promote your posts. But don’t worry, we’ll help you get both below. So keep reading.
V. Review your media list and turn it into a dossier fit for a Seal Team 6 secret mission
Ok. So now you have a really strong media list…and all you had to do is send four emails, which we wrote for you. Not bad. Now it’s time for you to double check your VA’s work and create your blogger shortlist.
- Open your media list spreadsheet and look at the mutual friends you share with each blogger. Delete the people you do not know well enough to ask for an introduction. Email the people who remain and say, “Hey ____, I saw you’re friends with [name of blogger] on Facebook. Do you know him well enough to make an intro next month? I think our Kickstarter project could be a good fit for [name of blog]. Thanks!” Based on the answers you get, rate how strong your relationship is for each blog (1 = strong, 3 = weak). If your VA didn’t find any mutual connections, tweet or post on Facebook: “Please message me if you know anyone at [name of blog]. I have a great story I’d like to share with them. Thanks!” I did this twice and immediately got introductions.
- Spend some time on each blog and judge for yourself how relevant it is. Rate relevance in the spreadsheet (1 = extremely relevant, 3 = not relevant).
- For each blog, research the writers your VA found. Based on their past posts, are they really the best bloggers to cover you? Is there anyone at the blog who is a better fit?
- Now, sort your spreadsheet by relevance, relationships, and readership (in that order) to prioritize your outreach. Have your VA find email addresses for the top ten bloggers in your spreadsheet. At this point, you should only focus on ten bloggers.
- Using this template, have your VA make a one-page brief for each of the top 10 bloggers. Print these out and hang them on the wall like wanted posters or put them in a top secret dossier. Whether you fancy yourself a bounty hunter or the next James Bond, your mission is to find, befriend, and get covered by these bloggers so the dream you’re launching on Kickstarter can become a reality.
Step 4: Turn bloggers into buddies
The only thing better than pitching a blogger through a friendly introduction is becoming friends with the blogger yourself.
If there’s one thing we learned from our Kickstarter campaign, it’s that friends are incredibly generous. They will go to great lengths to help you succeed. Blogger friends are no exception. Some of our blog posts came from close friends who offered to help before we even asked. For example, this Fast Company article by Amber Rae that got over 6,000 Facebook likes and 4,000 tweets in just 10 days.
The key is to genuinely form friendships with bloggers. They get pitched every day by strangers who don’t care about them and only want publicity. Do the exact opposite. Really care about them. Figure out ways to be helpful. Hang out. Even if they don’t end up covering you, at least you’ll have a new friend.
Step 5: Get the story and make specific requests to maximize your reach
Once you connect with a blogger that is interested in covering your project, your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to write a story that is valuable to their readers and to you. The benefit of starting with a shortlist of just 10 bloggers is that you can really get to know their blog and writing style. Armed with this information, you can tailor your pitch to their needs. For example, after receiving an email introduction to a blogger at Gear Patrol, the ultra cool men’s digital magazine, I sent over this pitch (to someone not named John):
It’s great to meet you. I’m a huge fan of Gear Patrol and wanted to pass on something new that could be a nice fit for your kitchen section. I’ve attached an image of the Soma glass carafe and our revolutionary water filter. Our Kickstarter page has a video and bullet points on why Soma is unique.
We think Soma could be a great story for Gear Patrol for these reasons:
Innovative gear – Soma is the world’s first compostable water filter: made of Malaysian coconut shells, vegan silk, and food-based plastic.
Sleek design – The Soma carafe is made of decanter-quality glass, in a world of plastic pitchers. The hour-glass shape is unprecedented in the industry.
Made for busy guys – Soma delivers your water filters right to your door so you never forget when to change it.
If you’re interested, please let me know how I can make the writing process easy for your team. I’m happy to send more hi-res photos. We launch Tuesday at 8am PST.
Thanks for taking the time to check us out,
The good thing about Kickstarter is that most of the information and assets bloggers need for a story can be found right on your Kickstarter page, including high resolution photos and the embed code for your video. We built a press page and wrote a press release. In retrospect, they may not have been worth it given the amount of time we spent on them. All you need is a DropBox folder with hi-res photos and 5-7 bullet points about your project that you can paste in an email. The key is to make sure you package everything in a way that’s convenient for bloggers.
[TIM: For more real-world successful pitches (e.g. Wired Magazine, Dr. Oz), see my post “From First TV to Dr. Oz – How to Get Local Media…Then National Media“]
Once you get the story, your work is far from over. Remember, you want to ensure each story reaches people who will back your project. So after a story is confirmed, make sure to ask the blogger the following questions, ideally in person or over the phone one week prior to launch.
- “We’re launching on Monday at 8am PST, can the story go live at that time?” If they say “no,” ask for the story to be published at another time on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday 8am-5pm PST, ideally in the morning. If they say, “I’ll try,” push for a confirmation of the date and time your story will go live. We missed out on a lot of valuable traffic because big blogs posted our story at night or on the weekend.
- “As a subscriber to your email newsletter, I always read the stories you curate and am sure others do, too. Can our story be featured in your newsletter?”
- “We’ve found that Facebook is the #1 source of traffic to Kickstarter. Can you post our story on your Facebook fan page the morning it goes live? Cool! And I’m assuming you’ll tweet it out, too, right? Awesome!”
- “I follow you on Pinterest and noticed you have like a gazillion followers. We pinned a new picture of our product. If I send you a link, would you mind repinning it?”
Once we realized how important timing and promotion were, we started making these requests. To be honest, initially I was nervous. I thought it would be more polite to not bother bloggers. But then I learned two important lessons. First, bloggers work hard to create content and they want it to be seen by as many people as possible. And second, bloggers won’t get annoyed by your requests if you’re polite, explain why timing and promotion are so important, and give them the time and help they need to work within the confines of a content calendar they may not control. The more you befriend bloggers and consider their fears and motivations, as well as your own, the better your results will be.
What I’ve just shared with you is a step-by-step approach to getting the most effective media coverage possible. I’ve worked with PR firms that charge $20,000 a month and spend three-months planning a launch. Follow our advice and there’s a good chance you’ll get better results without spending anything.
What I’m about to share, how to activate your network, is equally as important. In both cases you want to create what Tim calls “the surround sound effect.” Especially on the first few days of your launch, you want people to see your project everywhere – on blogs, Facebook, Twitter…everywhere. One tool that creates this surround sound effect is retargeting. For as little as $500, you can display banner ads on various sites to 10,000 people who have seen your project, but may not have backed it. I haven’t heard of many Kickstarter projects using retargeting, but it’s something worth investigating.
Step 6: Segment and activate your network
Someone recently asked us, “How did Soma raise $100,000 on Kickstarter in just nine days?” Our answer: friends. The secret to our success was leveraging our personal networks. Our friends introduced us to bloggers, were the first to back our project, and promoted Soma to their personal networks via email, social media, and word of mouth. Your friends are super heroes. Treat them as such.
The way to activate your network of friends is to give them a sense of ownership. Let them know they are part of the team. That way, they are working with you, rather than doing you favors.
Our Kickstarter launch team included three full-time teammates, two virtual assistants, one intern, and an army of friends. Our network of friends had a strong sense of ownership because we engaged them months before the Kickstarter launched. Here’s how.
- Ask for (and listen to) your friends’ advice. We asked for feedback on everything from our name to product design to pricing.
- Offer them “sneak peaks” that no one else gets. We showed our friends product renderings, pictures, and our Kickstarter video long before we released them to the public.
- Throw a launch party. Having a large group of people in one room, all excited about your project, creates a united energy you can’t create through emails, phone calls, or one-on-one meetings. Invite over 50 motivated and influential friends, show them your Kickstarter video and make a speech telling them why you need their help and exactly what you need them to do. The people who attended our launch party ended up being our first backers and our most passionate evangelists.
Segmenting friends to ensure appropriate messaging
I went through the tedious process of making segmented email lists for my personal network. Since this involved making decisions based on my personal relationships, it was impossible to outsource. It was annoying, but worth it. I exported all of my Gmail contacts, about 7,200 total, into an Excel spreadsheet. Then, I deleted 6,000 contacts I did not have a meaningful relationship with. The remaining 1,200 contacts were divided into three groups: influencers, in-the-know friends, and acquaintances.
- I identified my influencers using Klout, which measures online influence. Go to www.klout.com, connect with Facebook, select “friends” from the drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of the screen, then click on the “top klout score” tab half-way down the page on the right. This will show all of your Facebook friends, ranked by Klout score. Anyone with a Klout above 60 was put on my influencer list. Our goal for this group was for everyone to share Soma on Facebook and Twitter, right when we launched, to create the surround sound effect.
- My in-the-know friends were already aware of Soma. They knew about the Kickstarter campaign, and that we wanted them to back our project and spread the word. The people in this group, regardless of their Klout score or financial resources, were ready to hustle for us.
- Acquaintances were people I hadn’t spoken with in a while. They needed to be told what Soma is and why it’s important. This group was by far the largest, comprising at least 1,000 of the 1,200 people on my master list.
Each of these three groups received a different email when we launched, which you can see here. The acquaintances received a mass email sent via MailChimp. The influencers and in-the-know friends each received a personalized email, everyone was slightly different.
Personalized emails require much more time than one mass email, but we put in the extra hours to honor our friends and reinforce that they’re part of the team. One tool proved to be a huge time saver. TextExpander allows you to paste any saved message – whether it’s a phone number or a 2-page email – into any document or text field, simply by typing an abbreviation. For example, when I type “ppush”, a basic form of the email above appears with fields for me to fill in the name, in this case “Joe”. It’s a must have app that probably saved us 1-2 hours a day in typing.
One tool that we did not use, but should have, is Boomerang, a Gmail plug-in that allows you to schedule emails. We crafted emails to our influencers and in-the-know friends the day of our launch, using TextExpander, then slightly customized each one. What we should have done is write and save these personalized emails a few days before we launched. That way, we could have scheduled them to be automatically sent by Boomerang the second we launched. This would have freed up many valuable hours on launch day.
Step 7: Use landing pages to spark sharing
You’ll notice in our email templates that we often send people to landing pages we built for our Kickstarter launch (rather than to our Kickstarter page directly). We realized that most Kickstarter creators do one of two things:
- They ask for too many things (“Back us! Tweet! Like us on Facebook! Email friends!), which often results in people doing nothing at all.
- They ask for just one thing, which people do, but miss out on other actions their friends might do if asked the right way.
We wanted to have our cake and eat it, too. So we asked our friends to click just one link, which of course, had 3 ways to help! Then, when they returned to their email, we had a subsequent ask, which was to forward the email to others.
Why it worked: Essentially we were asking them to do just one thing at a time, typically just to click something.
Throughout the campaign we built two more landing pages. Each were meant to maximize sharing on social media, primarily Facebook. We included videos so our friends were incentivized to visit the landing page and got value. These videos were recorded on an iPhone. They were free to make and only took about an hour to shoot, edit, and upload. Highly recommended.
The emails and landing pages were sent out on days 1, 2 and 9, usually at 8am. We’ve left them up so you can check them out: Day 1, Day 2, Day 9. You can see the emails and Kickstarter updates here.
These landing pages were critical when it came to creating the surround sound effect. We know because every time we launched one, we got flooded with texts and emails saying, “Dude! I’m seeing you guys everywhere. Congrats!” When you get a lot of people sharing the same link on Facebook, it’s displayed to more people, who share it with even more people, and you get this virtuous viral burst that keeps growing.
You can make your own custom landing pages by using our opensource code.
If you look at our advice, it essentially boils down to empowering people and making it easy for them to contribute to a worthy cause. Always try to empathize with other people. And take the time to say, “Thank you.” It goes a long way.
The best story we heard about using Kickstarter to derisk a business was by the founders of Hidden Radio, which raised $938,000 on Kickstarter. Inspired by The 4-Hour Workweek, they wanted to test out ideas as much as possible. So before building a prototype, they submitted product renderings to a few design blogs. The response was positive, but they didn’t rush into manufacturing. Instead, they tested their idea again as a Kickstarter project, knowing it forces people to put their money where their mouth is. 5,300 people backed their project, which provided proof of concept, capital, and a big group of customers willing to provide free market research. To us, this is a great example of hacking Kickstarter. It’s about a mindset, not just tricks and technology.
Although we stopped marketing our Kickstarter on day 9 of the campaigin, our page is still up and you can reserve a Soma until January 11, 2013. If you’re fast, you may also get a private, 7-course dinner with Tim Ferriss, which is the last reward listed on our Kickstarter page.
Zirtual – US-based virtual assistants. ($399 and up)
TextExpander – Paste frequently used text and pictures into documents, emails, and text fields by simply typing an abbreviation. ($34.95)
Boomerang – A Gmail plug in that allows you to schedule emails. You can also receive reminders to follow up on an email you sent if the other person does not reply. (Free)
MailChimp – A service to design and send mass emails. (Free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 emails per month)
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – This book provides critical insights on how best to position your product amongst the competition. ($11)
Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing – A must read for anyone doing any form of marketing. The sections on pricing and copywriting will be incredibly helpful as you craft your emails, video script, and Kickstarter page. ($17)
Custom Kickstarter dashboard – We built this Chrome extension to manage our Kickstarter campaign. You can see your Kickstarter, Facebook and bit.ly metrics, as well as tweets and press. All updated in real time. You can even see Klout scores of people tweeting about you and reply right from the dashboard. (Free)
Click here for full size image
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556 Replies to “Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.)”
Great info thanks Tim!
I agree it’s outstanding info. My only quibble is sometimes there are links with affiliate codes. I’m fine with the author or Tim making some referral money, but they ought to disclose when they’re getting a cut. Full disclosure is helpful and forthright.
The only special links that I’m aware of this post are to Zirtual. I used them to track the # of referrals out of curiosity, but made it clear to Zirtual that it was not necessary to provide me with any form of compensation. My #1 goal for this article was simply to share everything we learned with Tim’s community.
I hope this helps to clarify!
Mike you’re a boss.
I’m about to launch a campaign myself and you’re stuff = huge help. I just moved down to CA from up in Canada (Vancouver, what!) to get closer to all the action… I find it super interesting how so many of you online/tech/marketing people are so closely connected. Few more of these weekend trips down to SF and Sillicon Valley and one of these days I’m buying your ass a drink for saving me all this money! #seeyalaterPRagencies #howyadoinFreeAdvicefromMike
Cheers to the success you deserve.
Mike, I would ADORE a referral invite to Zirtual. Pretty please?
I honestly don’t see what the problem would be if ALL the links had an affiliate code embedded…..Is it really a probelm for him to make a few bucks when he’s giving you extremely valuable information in the process?….When did people begin to expect others to help them get rich for free? SMH
Thanks Mike for an EXTREMELY informative and detailed post which I am positive will benefit me just from the inspiration it inspired if nothing else….
Full disclosure is nice but at the same time…does it really make a difference? If he was flogging something he didn’t approve of I understand but I don’t really think Tim is the type
Dear God, who cares if the man makes some money off a referral. Besides it’s probably pennies.
If it’s working for you does it matter if they get a cut or not? The issue is not if there getting a cut of there referrals but if there referrals can get us a cut of our own.
This is great guidance even if you’re not using kickstarter. Thanks for including the tool links, also!
I want to launch a kickstarter / indiegogo campaign
Is it advisable to use the 2 platform at a time
[Moderator: link removed]
I’m tempted to just donate the $5k for that dinner with you bro. I’ve been wanting to chat for a few years now. Hmmmm…
You sound like a real neat guy Farrell….Buddy
yes… i like it too bro
I’ve seen Mike in action and this is a perfect approach to raising money and attracting an audience to back your idea.
The 2 key takeaways for me are “becoming friends with bloggers”… because once you are friends with bloggers, they are much more likely to let you guest post or write something for you… and
“Segmenting friends to ensure appropriate messaging”… there’s nothing worse than getting a blanket email from someone pitching you something. but when it’s a personal email to you (a video to you gets the best response from me) then you are more likely to see results.
nice work here Mike.
Thanks, Lewis. I really appreciate the encouraging feedback, especially coming from you. It’s great to hear how much value people are getting from us sharing what we learned.
I agree! Segmenting is huge. Quick question on that: In the post you recommend to segment your mailing list into 3 groups:
How did you accomplish this? Were you able to do this manually with mailchimp? For some reason I’m only able to get automated segmentation options from MailChimp, which are listed here: https://blog.mailchimp.com/segmentation-seven-ways/
Let me know!
P.S. I have a friends who used your blog post to the T and they ended up getting 150% their crowdfunding goal. Great work!
I agree! Segmenting is huge. Quick question on that: In the post you recommend to segment your mailing list into 3 groups:
How did you accomplish this? Were you able to do this manually with mailchimp? For some reason I’m only able to get automated segmentation options from MailChimp, which are listed here: https://blog.mailchimp.com/segmentation-seven-ways/
Let me know!
P.S. I have a friends who used your blog post to the T and they ended up getting 150% their crowdfunding goal. Great work!
Thank you for the great article!
I’ve been unable to access the email templates. The links lead to an “error” page.
Spark sharing will be the future of landing pages partnered with premium quality content. Also Youtube’s hangouts on air will put Go2webinar out of business when 3rd party developers come up with a lead capture and chatroll integrated system.
Tim and Mike – great post! My business, the iFlip Wallet was a case study in your blog post Engineering a Muse Vol 4. We launched a Kickstarter campaign 2 days ago to introduce our new iPhone wallet case: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/896866588/iflipwallet-the-evolution-of-the-iphone-wallet-cas
Having run other successful Kickstarter campaigns and advised other start-ups that have used KS as a launching pad ,I would add one comment to Mike’s amazing roadmap.
Some of the best preforming Kickstarter projects have used tiered and capped prizes. For example: One iFlip for $25 for the first 200, followed by One iFlip for $29 for the next 1000. This incentivizes people to pledge early on. Kickstarter rewards projects with momentum and early pledges ensure that your project is featured throughout the site. The most successful projects hit their funding goals within 10 days and allow the Kickstarter community to run the rest of the campaign.
Vincent: good idea, get a better top photo. It looks like a used, beat-up wallet.
Thanks for this info Vincent! I think we will switch to capped levels in the next couple of days. The funding goal in 10 days seems daunting (according to your stats) but we will be pushing harder to reach our low level goal for our Hangover (and jet lag) Detox Tea in the next week and in time for Labor Day/official end of summer.
Check out our crowdfunding campaign at bit.ly/gomodetox
wow this article blew me away and I had interview 10 successful projects myself. Thanks for sharing and will be sure to use it in my future Kickstarter campaign!!
There is so much in the blog post to absorb, all I can say is brilliant. I look forward to implemented these techniques.
This is gold! I appreciate the fact that you share these things with others. Thanks also for taking the time to answer questions and chat with some of your fans recently at Samovar Tea Lounge – I really enjoyed it! (And I also feel the need to apologize for one guy who asked an incredibly stupid/insulting question)
Thanks, Chris! Hahaha… you mean the “why are you bald?” question? That was hysterical. He was genuinely asking, so I didn’t take it personally. Jason Statham makes it work. Since I’ve been shaving my head since 12 for wrestling, it’s not much of a transition 🙂
Yes, indeed! : )
Glad you didn’t let that get to you… The follow-up question was even worse: “Do you wonder what it’s like to have hair?” or some BS like that.. Since you mentioned the shaving, I wouldn’t even call you bald – it’s not like you’re Dr. Evil..
A wrestler since you were twelve? I’m even more impressed. Any medals?
This is an awesome post. Love the name Soma, named after the Hindu elixir…
The most important are the resources and connections you have. Of course if you live in SF or Silicon valley and are surrounded by bloggers and entrepreneurs and like minded people you will have no problem gaining the traction Soma had. However I doubt a start-up based out of Montana with no visibility to those kind of people could generate this kind of buzz.
Check out Shopify — Ottawa, Canada!
Or PitchEngine in Lander, Wyoming! http://www.pitchengine.com/
Or Swipely, from Rhode Island, which has processed $250M in merchant payments in the last six months.
This is a great article and I’m loving your blog. I heard your interview with Pat Flynn, but I’ve been a fan ever since I caught your TED talk on self-education.
My (small) game company is gearing up to launch a Kickstarter in September and I’m trying to soak up your hacks like a sponge. Granted, we’re probably on a much smaller scale than you can operate on, but just applying a few of your tricks we’ve hit 200 likes on Facebook in less than a month with 8-20% virality per post.
Virality, there’s a word I never imagined I’d be using in a positive sense. Anyhow, I’d be honored if you could take a look at what we’ve got so far and maybe shoot me some fearless feedback on anything you see us doing completely wrong.
Now I’m off to check your post on meeting influential bloggers. How can you give this stuff away for free??
Damien, what have you found to be the best way to gain follows and likes?
Great summary, Tim!
It really should be noted that these tactics are all great, but I that the reason this project was ultimately was successful had to do with the product. These guys did their homework, picked a good idea, put their time in, and relied on the network surrounding them.
People are buying into the project, because the project actually is awesome.
The product is not that important. Lots of successful campaigns (unfortunately) never delivered on what they promised. Emotional engagement is the crucial factor.
Wow. What a great post, Mike. A wealth of resources.
Thanks for the shout out.
You planned and executed your Kickstarter campaign perfectly. Thanks for letting me help and be a part of it.
Looking forward to getting my Soma pitcher!
Great article! Thanks for sharing this! There’s some great resources here I’m sure to start using!
This is a crazy Kickstarter hacking technique !! Will be using a lot of this stuff…on my other projects.
What happens if I don’t know influential bloggers ? Do I call Ryan Holiday ? 😉
I cover that in some of my other “Marketing” category posts. Look to the right sidebar!
Great advice. We just hit $100k in 2 weeks on our Kickstarter Campaign (http://ow.ly/hJlwf). I didn’t read this blog ahead of time, but we followed a lot of the same practices. Now, after reading this, we’re already planning to implement some of your other suggestions for the remainder of our campaign.
Thanks for the great info!!!
Quick question for you – did you find that using virtual assistants like the article suggests was helpful?
This is awesome! Thanks for posting Tim!
This is just what I needed!
I’m planning a Kickstarter campaign for February and I’ve been talking to a few people about this process.
Tim, have you done a Kickstarter campaign?…. do you want to 🙂
Wow, awesome approach, this is how effective marketing is done.
By the way: the link to Klout doesn’t work
Thanks so much for this.
We have been writing scripts for movies and filmed a few short movids in the past year or two. We were wondering if we would ever get to make some of the more ambitious ones…
Now we are thinking that Kickstarter may be an option, when we are ready to go for it.
I’m continuously impressed by the quality of the content you give away for free when so many would have turned this into yet another $2k marketing course. Absolutely fantastic resource that can be applied to any sort of launch, will be sending this to the team to review. The email template was a good addition, it seems so many “understand” what it takes to make it all come together but get deadlocked when it comes to pulling the trigger not wanting to make a bad impression. Exposing everything raw for the world to see (as you always do as well Tim) makes it all “click”, it’s all quite doable and simple with the right initiative.
Agree with you Josh! The fact that Tim gives this info away is so amazing!
And I’ll say it as well Tim. Phenomenal blog with high value, real-time insights. Your free sharing versus direct commercial offering is what keeps me a fan. Originally bought ‘Workweek’ and continue to follow your blogs and look for opportunities to buy your lifehacks. Call it karma, or a really unique freemium plan, but the free sharing keeps me engaged and wanting to buy your next pub. Thanks.
Josh, couldn’t have said it better! I’m so impressed and continually grateful for the pay-it-forwardness of Tim’s regular blog entries. The 4HWW changed the way I think about many things, and I only wish I’d had such a book 20 years ago. Tim, thank you a million times for your generosity of spirit and content, and Mike Del Ponte, thank you so much for sharing as well! This Kickstarter information is so helpful as I prep my first Kickstarter campaign ever. It’s for an indie film I’m producing called “Mercenary Opus.” We’re launching the campaign next week, and I’ve been mining this thread constantly. Our team has already made some changes to things in our efforts that I think that would have tripped us up, had we not seen this blog first. So so grateful for this! Thank you!
Wow, great post. Quite substantial and shows how involved the process of raising money, even on kickstarter, truly is. To pursue your dream and to give it the possible chance, attempting and making the effort by following this example would make it well worth it.
Great post Mike!
Tim- Very impressed with this post. I’ve, for a long time, thought someone needs to do better job explaining how to “kill it ” on your first run with a Kickstarter Campaign.
You’re post does a great job at identifying how to Hack traffic and create buzz(and rightfully so). I’d like to know if you did testing on what works for either Video Presentation/Pitch and Reward Creation. Is this something you researched, tracked or tested?
We did research on reward levels to find which levels were most popular. $50 was our sweet spot. Only $25 and $30 were more popular, but too low for our product. We also interviewed a lot of people and found that the common practice of offering products that are not core to your project (t-shirts, stickers, etc.) was just a distraction that did not generate substantially more backers or revenue. The best book on pricing we found is Brainfluence. Highly recommended.
Awesome, thanks Tim. You’re a champ.
Super dope article. Would this kind of process work with “intangible” products — such as events, etc.?
Been looking at Kickstarter blogs a lot lately, wondering what makes a successful campaign. Amazing how almost every topic I’m interested in ends up here or in one of your books at some point.
Killer! The personal connections are worth their weight in gold with Kickstarter.
We’re writing a series called “100 Music Kickstarters to Learn From” and for newer bands our best advice is that your Circle of Influence buys *why* you are doing it, not *what* you’re making.
When getting your friends on board prior to launch, this is certainly the force that drives them to help you.
Interesting to compare notes with the design category of Kickstarter. Thanks so much for putting this together!
Tim, You are a rockstar! Thanks for sharing such an invaluable resource. I have helped several projects get funded on Kickstarter including WineHive, Bird Photo Booth, AppTag Laser Blaster among others. You are 100% right on all the steps needed. Another great tip for people who dont have a direct relationship to bloggers and writers would be Twitter. Once you have the Media List of Top bloggers a technique that works out wonders is to start following them on twitter, mentioning them, RT their tweets and replying to tweets related to your project. We got Robert Scoble to notice us this way and RT our post earning $15K just from this post!
I would like to know if you are interested to help us with the Kickstarter project?
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Having recently done a successful $400K+ Kickstarter for the game Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, I think there is one simple, yet critically important, piece to a successful Kickstarter:
Timing Makes a Huge Difference
The Kickstarter needs to start between Monday – Wednesday. There are two reasons for this:
1) You need to take into consideration the press cycle. When your Kickstarter launches it’s topical and much easier to get press write-ups. Most blogs/reporters find their next article’s content by reading other blogs. If you launch Friday or Saturday they don’t have enough office time to write an article on your project, and are unlikely to write anything after it’s no longer topical.
2) We found out that weekends performed significantly worse than weekdays consistently throughout our project.
You also want to make sure you Kickstarter ends Wednesday to Friday as that is your second largest period for getting press and social media shout outs. You want your final project days to be when everyone is at their computers and can rally around your project.
With our project we launched as possibly the worst timing – Friday midday.
We didn’t account for the final approval period by Kickstarter, which took 12 hours (we finalized the Kickstarter page at midnight at the beginning of Friday). We still performed very well ($62.4K), but there is no question we would have performed much better based on the press spread we saw from articles that were ran pre-Kickstarter launch.
During are our pre-launch press period we had scheduled articles on sites like Mashable driving 5 – 10 additional articles from other websites that get content/inspiration from Mashable. The same scheduled articles on major sites like Mashable were unable to drive additional articles on the actual project launch due to our poor timing.
Michael, this is a great point. Timing is crucial for your launch and related press. We found the same trends. Thanks for sharing your lessons learned. Very helpful!
Mike, thanks for your insight! I knew I had to start monday (or tuesday, as I just found out) but finishing wednesday to friday wasn’t something I had considered. Thanks again for that.
Mashable is great, but I haven’t found the way to ideally approach them with my project yet. Do you have any specific advice? As I don’t have contacts there.
Fantastic job. That is awesome that you had such a great run. If you can find the time, can you email me privately? Being brand new to this, it sure would be awesome to get some tips from someone who has been successful. Most appreciated.
How did Soma get all of the press attention it did?? I’m not talking about blog coverage. You wrote: we were fortunate to get a ton of press in just 10 days (Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., Mashable, Cool Hunting, Business Insider, GOOD, Salon, Gear Patrol, Thrillist, The Huffington Post, and many more).
How was this accomplished? Did the founders pitch each of these publications individually? I think the fact that you omit such information is a major flaw in this blog post of yours, Tim.
Blog coverage or not, companies KILL for this type of media coverage.
When I say “press” and “blog”, I mean the same thing: online publication. Bloggers are very powerful, whether they write for their own site or a larger site like The Huffington Post. For example, I consider Gear Patrol to be a blog (they called it a “digital magazine”). Gear Patrol isn’t as well known or prestigious as the print edition of Forbes, which we were in, but it drove considerably more traffic and money to our Kickstarter project.
We got a good amount of media coverage by using the process above, which boils down to finding the best media targets, getting a warm introduction when possible, and making it easy for the writer to cover you. Thanks for asking!
To funny that you posted this just two days after I started to make a Kickstarter campaign. I ran into a wall though. My business I think may get rejected by Kickstarter because it’s charity minded. It’s a for profit clothing company for athletes, but we donate portions of each sale to the athletes charity.
Any ideas of how to get around Kickstarters “no charity minded businesses” clause? If not, then any other ideas for a campaign similar to Kickstarter? Kickstarter also doesn’t allow ecommerce stores, so I’m having to leave that part out of my campaign, and it just so happens to make up for 3/4’s of the business.
kyle use indie gogo instead….heres a well done campaign for ideas of how tying product into charity…i have no affiliation with them but they KILLED IT!
http://www.indiegogo.com/1facewatch hope this doesnt violate Fonzi’s keepin it cool with a web link…if so MY BAD TIM…if link gets removed the product is facewatch on indie gogo
Hope this helps Kyle
Awesome thanks for the heads up Jared I’ll check it out!
Kyle, I wondered whether you did submit to kickstarter in the end and what the outcome was? I’m supporting a UK-based medical appiance delivery company which aims for a portion of its sale to go relevant charities. The organisation I work for has a curated area on Kickstarter (which we encourage the members of our charity to visit on a regular basis) so would be great if they did get approval. Thanks, Alex
WOW!!!!! I feel like a 12 yr old reading nintendo power zelda walk thrus………….I almost feel dirty like I’m cheating…almost!!!
I’ve been on pins and needles waiting for this post to go up since the Q&A at Samovar! Great read, tons of value, now time to action it all. Side bar: Loving 4 Hour Chef Double Side Bar: That bald question was an all time classic moment.
Great article, Mike! And thanks so much, Tim, for sharing this valuable information with us.
It seems to me that one of the absolute and most important elements of a project such as this (or any other, for that matter) is using networking to get the word out. It is even mentioned in this article, Mike saw a 50%+ success rate in pitching to bloggers when he either knew the blogger or had a friend who knew the blogger.
Do either of you have any insight into how one might approach things if he or she does not have many or any friends who could make this sort of introduction?
Thanks again for the great post!
Thanks for your kind words. First off, you’d be surprised by who if your network can help you connect with press. The most helpful introductions didn’t always come from the “most connected” or “high profile” people I know. Use Facebook, BranchOut or LinkedIn to find connections that already exist in your network. Secondly, if you are finding that you can’t get introductions, get on the radar of writers by commenting on their posts (as you did here), interacting on Twitter, introducing yourself at conferences or their speaking gigs, etc.
Damn, this is just what I was looking for when I was looking for it. You are the BEST!!!
Awesome. Thank you Thank you Thank you. Awesome – now torn between the need for rest and the fire within to change the world!
Big love, and don’t let your lady give birth without your own midwife or Doula!
Great article. Could easily be an info product. I’m about to launch a campaign myself so couldn’t be timed better!
This is some straight up evil genius ish! I’m curious why you chose MailChimp over AWeber. Isn’t the $30/mo. worth the great deliverability rate especially for this kind of thing?
Hey Victor, could you give a breif breakdown of the differences between the two? I have never heard of AWeber why is it better. Thanks
I really want to give you a big hug for the information. what an eye opener. Thanks a lot.
Tim, inspired a lot. how long it takes to write this article?
So I just heard back from one of the media targets that featured coverage of Soma. And surprise, surprise, the writer knows one of the founders.
You see how small a world this is?? When the founder of a company knows the writer at a publication, you’re just about guaranteed media coverage.
A word to the wise: The more people you know, the faster you’ll get out of the starting gates.
Great info Mike and Tim – appreciate the level of detail. It was an awesome campaign and will be an even better product and business. Full support!
I have a friend who is wanting to do a kickstarter for an awesome project but is very against social networking. It’s so frustrating because I feel like the project could really take off, but I don’t think he will bend on the facebook issue. I feel like he’s dooming his project to failure before it even starts. Do you think it’s a possibility to have a successful kickstarter without the aid of social media?
I just LOVE case studies and templates… and since my business is growing so fast, it’s often difficult to see the forest from the trees! I have wanted to put together a crowdfunding project to add capacity to my young company. Knowing what, where, and how to get started is challenging when multitasking on so many other fronts! Tim, thank you for this resource… and thanks for the digital kick in the butt. I enjoyed working with you on the 4-hour Launch several years ago. Business has been growing steady, now needing more equipment and web-help…. good thing because there are MANY more wine gifts needing personalized presentations!
Although this was a fantastic post, I have one concern.
I already thought of using Kickstarter as a testing tool for ideas that I have, but after looking through their application process, they CLEARLY state that no “designs” are allowed, only functioning prototypes. Not to mention, Soma actually had a prototype for the video they made. For just the design of a prototype I’ve been quoted a couple thousand dollars.
So even though you may be saving by testing before manufacturing, it is still very costly to have a custom object made, even from designs a freelancer made.
As usual Tim, this article came at the perfect time. Mike, thanks for the hack and wish me luck.
You mentioned that Zirtual was a very useful tool in your campaign. What did you use Zirtual for? Sending/replying to emails, contacting blogs etc.?
Also if anyone uses virtual assistants, I would love to hear how long you have been using them, and how they have improved your life / helped you save time.
Awesome post, hopefully I will reference this in the future.
Jonas – Zirtual has been one of the greatest resources I’ve found, for my business and my personal life. I use VAs for everything from scheduling to online research to managing social media accounts to calling customer service to sending emails on my behalf and MUCH more. I can’t recommend Zirtual enough.
I read this article with great interest and there are three small questions I have:
01) For all the steps that involved your VAs at Zirtual, do you have a rough idea of how many hours your VAs devoted to researching for your Kickstarter campaign?
02) What physical time span was all these prep work done by the VAs?
For example, a task might take me 50 hours to do but from start date to end date, two months could have transpired.
03) Would you have a rough idea how many hours and time span you and your two full-time teammates worked on this campaign?
Looking forward to your response and thanks again for this insightful article.
@Chris, you’re right this is gold– Tim’s blog is a gold mine.
I’m still chewing all the info, pretty overwhelming- thank you so much.
This content is the GOLD that is soooo freaking hard to find anywhere online, at any price (let alone gratis) ! So,my personal thanks to you, Tim.
Certainly, I will take action and update this string as progress is made.
Many well wishes for the holidays.
Tim/Mike, backed Soma on Kickstarter, absolutely love the product & philosophy of the company. Your filter + Tkaro Inc.’s Water Bottle are a match made in heaven, both are ‘best of breed’ products and meant to be together!
Thanks for backing Soma! Welcome to the family. We have a lot of surprises planned for 2013. We can’t wait to share them with you.
Perfect timing, Tim, thank you.
Thanks Mike, and Tim, for sharing. An unbelievably valuable post for someone (such as myself :)) with an impending Kickstarter launch. This blog is just the gift that keeps giving….
How incredibly timely and relevant! We are launching our crowdfunding effort on Feb 1. It’s not a product, but a movie with some incredible artists co-writing the music, and Matt Damon’s charity water.org will be promoting the movie once it’s finished because a part of the revenue goes to help drill water wells in places where children die by the hundreds of thousands because of the lack of pure drinking water. Thanks a million for this info.! Signed, Best Pecs
Todd, I’d love to be part of your email list when this is launched!
Excellent advice and well documented. Using alot of the free tools out there to increase profit, what more could you ask for, maybe some pre-wrote templates…. Seems you have even helped with that. Good work.
Love the case studies, Tim. Doesn’t matter if they are about successful muses, ao kickstarter, real worl examples are great. Will put to use as I continue to grow my business
Awesome post, deconstructing kickstarted is something I was working on myself. This has a load of new ideas though!
Also, your post didn’t show up in my rss feed (google reader). Normally the posts appear, so perhaps there’s a problem on your end.
Brilliant! Thanks for sharing this, Tim!
Perfect timing Tim!
I’ll be updating on here once the project is live. Wearable sensors for exercise. Get ready for it. 🙂
Fantastic article made better by the resources you have so kindly shared. Congratulations and thank you for opening the kimono.
WOW, Mike and Tim, this is such a great resource. While I have no experience with Kickstarter, I have had my share of launches with new bag styles at Live Well 360, and I can say for sure, these same tactics would be helpful for anyone looking to launch a new product.
One thing I can add, (not Kickstarter related but maybe helpful) that was successful for us when we launched our first fitness bag in our line, was doing giveaways with influential health and fitness bloggers. This really helped to create the surround sound effect, which lead to bigger media/magazine attention.
We also had a big giveaway on our site, which we called the “What’s In Your Bag Giveway” and we filled the bag with all kinds of cool health and fitness goodies. One of the ways to enter was to tweet/FB about the giveaway, which was an easy way for people to spread the word about us.
Love the idea of the landing pages. I am going to brainstorm ways we can incorporate something similar into our next launch.
Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to put this together.
What a wonderful resource for folks preparing to launch Kickstarter campaigns or launching products independently. Thanks for sharing your lessons with the world so generously and transparently, Mike.
Best of success to those who about to launch their own campaigns and products!
Can’t wait for my pitcher to arrive.
This is the one of the most valuable posts ever posted on this blog. Thanks guys!
Oh and I just bought two books from this post. I have been devouring kindle books lately! No TV = getting smarter every day 🙂
… Plus learned about some really cool services through the zirtual plus link.
My vote is for just one post per decade to be as valuable to entrepreneurs as this. Muitobrigado!
Agree with you Jeff! No Tv also = Getting shit done!
4hb was my last hope. I’ve been trying for almost 3 months. spinach refried beans sausage or chicken. 2 times a day, egg stuff with whole egg and spinach if I need something more after the wake up protein. water is 1/2 gallon a day. cheat day as well. started icepack at night and working out 5 days a week out of desperation. my body must be fighting me. I am so upset and messed up metabolically I think. I’ve lost about 10 lbs. rapid what? rapid where? rapid who? I don’t get why its not working. I’m disgusted and i enjoyed the book so much. it revitalized my mind into thinking I can master my body with your blueprint. I either need help, or it’s not gonna work. I am soooo mad about all the emotion I put into believing this. just knocks the life out of me. I hate this feeling of failure. if u read his cool. if not, maybe someone else will feel they’re not the only one who feels like banging their head against a wall. your writing and research is absolutely fantastic. I just wish it were true, for me.
4HB does work. I am living proof. The issue could be the hormones added to the animals that were the source of the sausage, the chicken, the eggs etc. I eat a lot of meat, but I have to be obsessive about the ‘no hormones added’ aspect. Further, the pleasure of having a new body which has enhanced life is greater than the pleasure any particular food brings. Here’s the fast track: Repeat the section the research done by RAY CRONISE. I applied this knowledge to lose the fat and to look ripped for my show. (From 4HB) “Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories per day.” “Running a marathon might burn 2600 calories, but working out in an 82 F pool for four hours could burn up to an extra 4,000 (up to 6600) calories, if one considered thermal load.” Switching from running to swimming was key to rapid fat loss. Oh, and don’t ignore the supplements in 4HB. Sadly, it would seem that most food lacks the nutrients these days for whatever reason. TV shows dedicated to food 24/7, but my focus is on nutrition, especially the supplements in 4HB. The MOST important ones in the book (for my fat loss) are ALA, CLA and NAC (find these names in the brand Jarrow and things should change for you). http://bit.ly/WkXxeN – These are the Jarrow supplements I take. You can find them at Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Earth Fare, etc. I was > 230 and now maintain <155.
Thanks a lot, Tim. Just shared this with a friend trying to create a standing desk. I think it could help him (and me) in the future with a product. Bookmarked!
WOW!! This was the most useful article I have ever read! Sharing immediately! Thanks Tim!
Brilliant post. Insanely useful. I’d also recommend Craig Mod’s essay ‘KickStartup’ here –> http://craigmod.com/journal/kickstartup/
Absolutely awesome. You can certainly use the same method not just for KS, but general product and service launches. Thanks a lot.
Great stuff, you guys are genious. I’m sure this blog post will get you that bit of extra traffic to your kickstarter page to leverage even more backers. Good luck!!
This is a truly amazing post, and one of the best examples of Tim’s ‘break it down, step by step’ approach that he’s become known for. I’m going to implement as much of it as I can in a few months’ time.
Results of the competitions?! 😉
I like the case studies. Very usefull and real case. I will try and I think I will follow the same way for a SEO strategy 🙂
Great post Tim (as per usual).
We’ve followed quite a number of your tips (you’ve alluded to many of these before).
Our current project http://www.indiegogo.com/RaceCapture/x/686407 (up now) is coming along, but we’ve seen very little traction with fairly similar intro/PR techniques. I’ve heard a lot of blogs are treating indeigogo/kickstarter projects in the “Advertising” category and seem to have their hand out rather than be excited about something in their niche.
Have you noticed this much or is it possibly a factor due to the market sector we’re in (automotive). I’d love to hear your two cents on it.
Keep up the great stuff man!
Do you realize that kickstarter image is 3MB in size (2083px × 1249px (scaled to 500px × 300px))?
thanks a lot for the posting and the mention, we’re big fans, you’ve really inspired us over the years. It was really wonderful to meet Mike for this article, really great guy. Wish SomaWater all the best.
It’s Vitor and John from HiddenRadio BTW 🙂
Awesome guide. It is amazing just how wonderful mutual friendship can be in helping any endeavor. I wish I had this guide back when I use Indiegogo!
Thanks Tim! This is by far your most useful and detailed post yet for startups or any new business venture. I’m looking forward to using the principals to help promote our new site Man of Many (http://manofmany.com). Season’s Greetings and all the best for 2013!
Thank you so much for sharing so much valuable information and so many helpful tools! My partner and I are in the early stages of designing our own Kickstarter campaign, and we will definitely benefit from your experience and wisdom. And just because you’re so friggin’ awesome for sharing all of your knowledge for free, I’m gonna go back Soma now. It’ll make a nice gift for my parents 🙂
This post is awesome. This is enough to make one succeed with Kickstarter projects. And this post could also be sold on Warriorforum for at least $27.
Where in the world did you get that T-shirt? It’s so neat!
This is the best and most informative article about a product launch I have ever read. I am obsessed with Tim at the moment (in a non creepy way of course) and have been following his advice for months now.
It’s posts like this that prove why he has such a engaging audience. Excellent work, Tim. Now I must take some of these tips and apply them to my own project. Huzzah!
This is a wonderful concept: Open source promotional techniques. I love how it all comes back to genuine trusting relationships.
I came here to say something about “Oh, look, Tim the Hack is teaching people how to hack again” in some cynical fashion, but damn, Tim, you really got your shit covered. Respect.
Wow, this is brilliant! we might not use the exact approach and just modify it to suit our needs according to our product(s) and target market(s), still the principles behind them are exceptionally valuable and useful. great post!
Tim and Mike,
Awesome article! Thanks so much for posting this.
TextExpander sounds like a helpful tool, but I wanted to share a free option for Gmail users: look in Gmail Labs (in ‘Settings’) for one called Canned Responses. Like TextExpander, you can save blocks of text and easily drop it into your email. It just doesn’t have the cool type-to-activate thing that TE has. (Then again it’s free, not $39.95).
Cant find the attached media list spreadshit…can anybody help?
Thank you Tim and Mike for this post. It is awesome!
Even though I’m not American and I’m outside the US (actually I’m from Vietnam), I think I’d still be able to apply a lot of the insights you shared here. I really like the 6th step (segment & activate ur network) as well as the tools at the end of the article. Thanks again. 😀
I will try to utilize all the help I have been given for my next try to raise funds. My only thing is I’m NOT raising funds for a business, or something people can use in everyday life. What I offer is culture in the form of a film project on interviewing and learning about modern art in this modern age. I’m trying to do what the art books don’t do. Which is give you a REAL insight into the art world, and not colored by a historians ideals.
I’ve watched so many things on KS and other pages get so much money for little electronics gadgets, and it just lowers my spirits because I can’t get $2K for a historic film project I have put my hard earned time and money into to even get it to this point.
Cheers, and Thanks for the 4HWW, it’s been one of the best things to ever happen for me.
This is some NEXT LEVEL SH*$£
I’ve really gotten a lot of value out of this post, motivated to get out there and get it done!
Thank’s a lot Tim, This was very refreshing. I found your blog due to your MUSE posts. You do not write about these things any more, but this helped me to remember, why did I got here for the first tiem.
I love and enjoy reading this information! The only thing I was hoping for was I wish Soma’s offer on Kickstarter to dine with Tim was not just limited to 3 and offered at a more affordable figure. I do see the thought behind it. More intimate to get the biggest bang for the buck!
Tim, thanks for the fantastically helpful resources you continue to put out.
Mike, I have a question that I consider to be quite important in the pre-launch process.
In the article, you did not make mention of the stage at which you determined the launch date, or how you determined the launch date. (Not saying this is a bad thing, as you provided a wealth of information already).
Did you have a launch date in mind (or a rough date) prior to forming the above mentioned ‘army of friends,’ or did you determine a launch date upon receiving confirmed stories from bloggers? Was the date you chose of particular importance? Or was it simply the time that fit the best with the progression of the project?
I am working on my own project and don’t know whether to set an intended launch date, or just determine it as I move along in the process.
Any input regarding this would be particularly helpful for myself and other readers as well.
Nick – You’re right to point out that launch date is important. To determine when to launch, we asked two questions. Which day of the week is best? What will we be vying with to get the attention and action from consumers?
In general, Tuesdays are considered great days to launch. Monday would be my second choice. I wouldn’t launch on any other days for Kickstarter.
In terms of competition, we were mindful of the Presidential election in early November, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. That’s why we launched on 12/4 (a Tuesday right between the major holidays).
I thought monday morning was best, why would tuesday (morning?) be better?
Thanks again for the insightful post!
I think this post should be filed under “No Excuses Anymore”. With this template and some tenacity, anyone should be able to assess whether their campaign/project has potential, without signifcant financial risk or complication. Great post and great value. I think there is some interesting crossover between launching a great Kickstarter campaign and developing you 1000 True Fan’s base as Tim has mentioned elsewhere.
Mike, I’m curious if you would mind commenting on whether you schedule updates/emails for your backers? And if so, what sort of schedule do you maintain in terms of contact? I’ve backed two campaigns on Kickstarter, one with monthly updates and a second with almost zero contact. I feel more involved and part of the process with the first and am interested as to how you feel about this.
Thanks for the kind words and questions. You’re right that it’s important for the creators of a Kickstarter project to send regular updates so backers know they are part of the team. We did not schedule these in advance. Instead, we tied them to major milestones. For example, when we hit $50,000 in 36 hours, we sent out an update thanking our backers (see above on how we used this update to spark sharing with a custom landing page). Use updates to build momentum and engage your 1,000 true fans (great post, BTW!).
Tim, I know you don’t take direct pitches but this post has triggered my enthusiasm. I am currently rigorously road testing Rescuetime and have an idea for a potential product related to this kind of tracking software. It’s very much my “own itch” but It would be great to get your opinion on it. I am talking to Matt and Joe at rescuetime about it and have Pitched the idea to a few trusted people and the response has been great so far. Happy Xmas to one and all at the fourhourworkweek!
Totally disappointing, Mike you have made a great product but you have to have a marketing liar to seduce a reader to give people a hope to make $100 k in $10 days, when your preparation took a lot more than 10 days. Blogs like this make me sick. But, before get caught up in this mental frustrations, nothing made more successful is your Idea of solving the problem and your network of people and relationship you had built over years. 4 hour work week is a pure hype, when you realize the time it took to build the relationship with other bloggers, 4 hour work week was not possible. When we get caught up in marketing messages, and lose sight of the true value you had, you cared for people, Mike. Tim is amazing writer who can create amazing details to back up what happened. But Mike, you did not have this data up front, you took your ideas and went ahead without it. I totally disagree with the headline. and I happy for your product idea Mike. I wish there are more Mike in the world than ton of hype filled writers.
Thanks Robert for the insight. I was wondering if it really was possible to do all of this in less than 10 days. But I understood.
Mike I am starting a project to share my progress in college. Its to raise money for but I want to be the one raising the money and publicly showing my progress just for support but to a broader audience. I hope I am not confusing you. Do you have any tips on how I could go about doing this??
I am about to start a new Kickstarter and need a little help from you. I was wondering if I should hire a free lance videographer. I am also based in SF bay area and was wondering who made your video for SOMA. If you don’t mind sending me contact info or any other info that would be great!
Tim and others on this site – Im curious if this approach to fundraising, business expansion and startups applies to services (community based health and safety training). We have a 6 year old service based busines that we are interested in expanding to “move to the next level”.
Make sure to check out some of the projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo that have used crowdfunding to expand their service businesses. Also, you might be interested to have a listen to Seth Godin’s Startup School podcast episodes. You can download them for free on iTunes.
Maximizing the potential of the online marketing is definitely very rewarding. It may not be a walk in the park, but still, when you know what you are doing-you will be reaping its reward.
Thank you for very good advice. I need one more, how / where I should start finding a plant which produce my product I created?
Not only was this article fantastic, but the fact that Tim and Mike have been answering questions throughout this comment stream is note worthy! I think all of my questions have been answered, I can’t wait to start implementing!
Thank you guys for being so awesome and taking the time to share this!
Much love and I’ll see you at the top!
I agree with Monika. Nice blog.