My First Kickstarter Experience

Setting up your first Kickstarter campaign can feel pretty scary, after all people are going to be funding a project you're promising them and you want to make sure you deliver exactly that. I'd seen Kickstarters floating around Instagram for months and noticed a lot of other small businesses used them as a way of getting new products into their shops with the help of their new and existing customers and after a while, I thought I'd give it a shot.

We've wanted tote bags for Pastel Elixir for years and despite looking into getting them many times, the price just wasn't affordable for us at the stage we're currently at within our small business career. If you've looked into merchandise yourself, you'll know things aren't cheap and as soon as you start looking into apparel style merch as opposed to stationery and giftware, things get even more expensive. I decided I would give a Kickstarter campaign a shot and chose a design to go ahead with.

These things take a lot of planning so once I'd got my design sorted, I started to think about what rewards I could offer my helpers and I wanted to give back as much as possible that also wasn't going to have a counter productive effect on my shop. I put some mini treat bags together for smaller pledges and then gave the option to have a bigger goodie bag option, as well as just pledging for a tote.

One thing that is really important is having good graphics for the campaign, so people can have an idea of what to expect from the project, any prototypes you might have and clear descriptions to show what you plan to do and how you're going to achieve it all with the help of your pledgers.

unicorn, unicorn tote bag, pastel elixir, kickstarter

The only thing that I majorly regret not doing was having some stretch goals in place and I think this was down to lack of faith to be quite honest and also not trying out different designs on bag images to see what they might look like. It wasn't until the final week of the campaign that I released another design to choose from and this sparked peoples interests again. It was then that I realised having more than one option would have been a brilliant idea from the start. Although I really want to push animal welfare and animal themed gifts in my shop, I also realise it's not to everyone's tastes. A few people even suggested having a word written alongside the animal design but I didn't go ahead with that in the fear that it might put people off for one reason or another, so I'm glad it's just animals. I added the coffee design and when we reached the first goal, I added a couple of stretch goals in place for two extra designs. The downside to not having done this to begin with was you can't alter the rewards descriptions once people have pledged, so I couldn't change the wording to say 'tote bag of your choice' rather than just 'animal tote'. I could add more rewards and did it this way, but it meant I had to go around my pledgers once the campaign had finished just double checking which design they wanted. Lesson learnt!

It took around 2 weeks for the funds to eventually be transferred and I'd made sure my goal included the fees which Kickstarter would take before transferring the money over. The only thing I wasn't a fan of was how Kickstarter will include the postage costs of shipping the product as part of the goal, so say postage per pledge is £2 and you get 50 pledges, you have to take £100 off the total of your final amount to ensure this is all covered, meaning £100 less to spend on the actual products so I had to be careful here too.

Overall I will definitely be using Kickstarter again because not only is it amazing for gathering some supporters and pennies for new products, it acts as a sort of pre order system and is another way to promote your business. It took a lot of hard work to spread the word and there were many moments where I didn't feel we would ever get to the goal in time, but I've learnt some valuable tips for our next one and won't let the challenge put me off trying again.

Thanks for reading!

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