Entrepreneurship, Guest post, Tips for Success

A Kickstarter success story (and how you can do it, too)!

This is a guest post by Kristen Williams, creator of  Spanish is Your Amigo.

Fear is often what stands in the way of executing an idea.

Great ideas may come to you in a fleeting thought, as you quickly convince yourself that “you don’t have the time or resources to do them right. Then they stay around in your head like braincrack. Some people get addicted to braincrack. And the longer they wait the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. No matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. Someone who does something bad three times still has three times the experience.”

That quote comes from Ze Frank. If you don’t know who Ze is, go here to watch him talk about beginnings.

In the same breath of the quote above, he goes on to say that, “when I have an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible because I certainly don’t want to be addicted to braincrack.”

Maybe you’re out there thinking, “I do have a great idea but I truly don’t have the resources to make it happen.

Thanks to Kickstarter, you no longer have the luxury of indulging yourself in that excuse. If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter, let me break it down:

Step 1: You have an idea.

Step 2: You research the amount of time and money it would take to make that idea a reality.

Step 3: You post your idea, a funding goal, and a deadline on Kickstarter.

Step 4: People love your idea and commit to one of your tiered pledge amounts to get a cool reward upon your idea’s completion.

Step 5: If you meet your all-or-nothing funding goal, you keep 90% of the money raised to fund your idea. (5% goes to Kickstarter, 5% to Amazon)

Step 6: You make your idea a reality and distribute your rewards all while connecting with people who are truly interested in what you’re doing.

Step 7: If you can complete steps 1 through 6 and you still love your idea, my personal thought is that step number 7 is to start and run a successful business based around your idea and the people you’ve connected with.

Kickstarter is in the business of “crowdfunding.”  And when you raise funding through the crowd, it means you no longer need a record label, a publisher, a factory, etc. All you need is a little ingenuity and people who love your idea and are excited to support it. [Tweet this]

How I made my Kickstarter project a success

Entrepreneur rule #1 – Dream big. This also means acknowledging that there are people in the world who love what you’re doing and will want to see your project come to life.

When I launched my Kickstarter project, I had just left a job that paid $12/hour and moved back in with my parents. I was in scarcity mode. I knew I had a great idea with Spanish Is Your Amigo, and I was already devoting all of my time and energy to it. But I didn’t know how everything was going to come together.

After hearing John Green of the Vlogbrothers talk about Kickstarter in one of his videos, I checked it out and launched my project on the same day. (How’s that for resisting braincrack)?

I shot and posted a short one-take video, and  I set a goal of $500, thinking I wouldn’t reach it. Here’s an excerpt from my project page:

“I took Spanish classes for 10 years, I studied abroad, and I received a Spanish minor in 2010. Throughout the years, I searched in vain for a completely condensed and updated Spanish textbook. I decided to create the textbook I always wish I had.  The vision is an all-in-one beginners, intermediate, and advanced textbook written in clear, plain English.  Each bite-sized “teach yourself” chapter will be packed with only the most important Spanish grammar, verbs, and vocabulary.  Also, each chapter will have practice worksheets to solidify the material.”

I obviously didn’t account for entrepreneur rule #1, because I raised $1862, which was 372% of my original goal amount. 69 people thought my idea was worth both their time and money. This is the type of stuff that can turn any cynic into a believer in humankind.

To me, Kickstarter is not about the funds. It’s a marketing tool that helps you start new projects and build a community of followers. Backers are pledging because they not only believe in your idea; they believe in you.

It’s about taking that first leap. Thanks to Kickstarter, I have an awareness that people around the world share my same interests, goals, and desires. I have the knowledge of a purpose greater than myself. I have a stronger belief in my abilities and I will not settle for mediocre. I will use my talents to make the world a better place, and I won’t take no for an answer.

If you feel like you’re stuck, this is your kick start. Take an idea and put it out into the world. You might be the only person to ever have that idea. Don’t you think it deserves a chance? [Tweet this]

By far, the best lesson I’ve learned is to “ship,” which is something I learned from Kickstarter, Ze Frank, and Seth Godin. This applies to all aspects of life. Stop being a perfectionist. At some point, you have to take your idea and make it a reality. Your creation will never be finished, but you have to have the guts to ship version .9 instead of waiting until version 1.0.

For my next Kickstarter project, I will take everything I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey to reach my new goals, including providing free Spanish lessons, interviews, and bonus videos on the Spanish Is Your Amigo YouTube channel.

Thinking about starting your own Kickstarter project?

5 Parts of a successful Kickstarter project [Tweet this]:

1. Vision

  • Research and convey in what way your idea is meaningful or answers the question, “is there a better way?”

2. Rewards

  • Offer unique rewards to generate discussion and interest.
  • Give backers a sense of ownership.
  • Utilize a limited reward to give special recognition higher donors.

3. Communication

  • Communication goes a long way.
  • Keep your backers updated.
  • Be honest to a fault.

4. Video

  • Make it amazing, engaging, honest, passionate, enthusiastic.
  • Make your video short and sweet. Under 4 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
  • Let your personality and excitement shine through. Backers want to love you.
  • Show your reliability and convince people that you will get the job done.
  • Get the attention of the Kickstarter staff. If you can become a staff-pick project, you have higher chances for success.

5. Marketing

  • Promote your project through social media, message boards, email updates, advertisements on your website.
  • Ask your followers to repost and get their friends involved.

¡Buena Suerte! / Good luck!

Follow Spanish Is Your Amigo on:

How have you used Kickstarter or any other source of crowdfunding to turn your idea into a reality? Share in the comments below!

Kristen and I graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University together. When I recently found out about what she’s been working on and how she has successfully started and launched her own business, I was so excited to ask her to write a post (and even more excited when she said yes!) about how she used Kickstarter to help fund her project. If you’re interested in learning Spanish, or if you’ve got any questions about how crowdfunding works, she’s a great resource to ask. Good luck, and happy Kickstarting! – Jessie






3 thoughts on “A Kickstarter success story (and how you can do it, too)!”

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