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10 Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Launched My Kickstarter Campaign

For our series College Treps, entrepreneur Dwight Peters gets 10 successful Kickstarter creators to open up about what made their campaign a hit.
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In June of 2012, I launched my first Kickstarter campaign for a previous startup I was involved in -- iPad-case company Origami Slate. Though we reached our goal, there were a lot of hurdles we went through to accomplish our success – everything from dealing with late manufacturers, crabby customers and being clueless on shipping.

These struggles inspired me to launch my latest venture BackersHub, a startup that provides tools for crowdfunding-campaign creators. While our company helps provide support for crowdfunding campaigns by assisting in managing various elements, like rewards, shipping and marketing, we realize creators are going to need a roadmap for launching a successful campaign.

Here are our top tips for executing a stellar campaign from 10 Kickstarter campaign creators:

1. Be the driving force behind your project.
The founders need to be the face of the campaign: They need to think of themselves as the engine behind their projects. Being at the center, they should have a say over every aspect --from promotional buttons to television interviews. Backers are more willing to contribute to a project if they know that the creators are genuine and passionate about it.
Stacy Hummel of comic-book campaign The Acryden 
Goal: $1,000, Raised: $1,236

Related: Crowdfunding Hall of Fame: 9 Successful Crowdfunded Startups

2. Give people a reason to help.
When you are launching a crowdfunding campaign, you aren't just selling a product. You are also selling yourself, your story and the excitement of being part of a new endeavor. Some people are more interested in helping launching something great than actually receiving a cool product. Remember this, and capitalize on telling a compelling story and offering up reasons to support your venture.
-Brian John Mitchell of a mini-comic book campaign
Goal: $250, Raised: $2,115

3. Engage your community.
Your community is your greatest resource, so it’s important to create a good relationship with them. Be honest and upfront about everything. Show your trust by sharing details about the project -- what it is you are doing and why. Engage them with frequent updates and responding to comments and messages.
-Matt Gilgenbach of horror-game campaign Neverending Nightmares
Goal: $99,000, Raised: $106,722

4. Utilize newsletters.
Take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing tactics. One reason for our successful campaign is we focused our efforts on email marketing by sending newsletters to our subscribers. We made sure they were compelling by including graphics, ensuring key information was at the top, and there was quick access to all our rewards. Every time we sent out a newsletter, our success would peak. We received 91 percent of our funding through our email campaign and only nine percent directly through Kickstarter.
-Kevin Peeples of graphic-novel campaign Fighter 
Goal: $2,500, Raised: $3,400

Related: Top 100 Crowdfunded Companies

5. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
Leave your comfort zone in the dust. As an introvert, exposing myself was the most difficult part. Asking family, friends and strangers for help, making a video and repeatedly reminding people how much of a difference this could make was a little intimidating for me.

I found once people understand what Kickstarter is all about, they were happy to help. Having worthwhile rewards is crucial but having that level of transparency and putting yourself out there is what connects people to your project. You quickly find how much people want you to succeed when you declare you're passionate about a venture.
-Nick Seluk of book campaign  The Awkward Yeti 
Goal: $6,000, Raised: $8,220

6. Make friends with your backers.
Use your campaign as an opportunity to become better friends with your audience. Be open, sincere and generous with them. By doing so, backers could be more compelled to spread the word about your campaign and get others on board.
-Cory McAbee of graphic-novel campaign Rabbit 
Goal: $6,000, Raised $17,005

7. Create enticing rewards for donors.
Remember when you do a crowdfunding campaign, you aren't asking for donations. You are selling a product, and it needs to be competitively priced. It isn't reasonable to expect people to pledge $50 to receive a DVD that will sell for $10. Yet, it happens all the time. Don't fall into that trap.

The trick is to design your rewards and price points, so you can hit your goal, while giving your fans the best deal. The transaction needs to be a win-win.
-Shawn French of comic-book campaign Escape From Jesus Island 
Goal: $8,000, Raised: $15,899

8. Quality matters.
Look, people don't like to part with their money and don't do so for any campaign. Quality matters. The presentation has to have a certain level of professionalism associated with it, so potential supporters have confidence you will achieve your goals.
-Steve Townsend of graphic-novel campaign The Hood 
Goal: $4,000, Raised: $4,747

9. Be a ruthless organizer.
You can't run a campaign in your head, so make sure you are organized. Have everything written down and accounted for. Store this information in one place -- be it a folder on your desk or a file on your computer. Also, organize campaign emails so you can keep track of information going back and forth, as you want to stay up-to-date on correspondences.

Related: 5 Lessons I Learned From My Failed Kickstarter Campaign

Just remember, there's going to be a lot of information coming your way, and if you are not on top of it, you're going to have problems.
-Tom Dell'Aringa of graphic-novel campaign Marooned 
Goal: $5,250, Raised: $13,249

10. Do not send mass messages.
While utilizing newsletters and corresponding with donors is a must, make sure you do so correctly. If you want people to support you and fork over their hard-earned money on your project, take the time to write every contact a personalized email. 

If you think you are going to be swamped composing emails when the campaign is in full swing, try writing the emails out in advance and have them ready to go before you even launch your project.
-Ryan Colucci of graphic-novel campaign R.E.M 
Goal: $7,000, Raised: $17,569

Let us know in the comments below.