This Spring we successfully hosted our crowdfunding campaign, The Swimsuit Every Mom Bod Needs, on Kickstarter. We learned so much from the experience and want to share the gems of knowledge we took away from it. We know asking for money can feel vulnerable. But funding support is often what sets apart a great idea and a great business. We hope sharing our kickstarter tips and learnings with our community will inspire more of you to take your great idea and ask for help to turn it into a great business!
So here it is, some common questions we received along our journey, our best answers, and some kickstarter tips we feel will make the biggest impact on your success.
Why did you decide to do a crowdfunding campaign?
You may have noticed that more established brands are launching new products on crowdfunding and wondered why. Whether you are an established business or looking to launch your business or product for the first time, there is a lot of financial risk involved. Bringing a new product to life can be a huge investment. Kickstarter alleviated some of that risk or us. It was a way to test the market to see if our audience loved our mom swimsuit idea as much as we did. We also had no idea what the demand would be like. Kickstarter provided a pre-sale opportunity, so we could take orders now and make exactly how many we needed to fulfill demand. We are a self-funded startup and every penny we have invested into our work since day one has come straight from our young families bank account. Every new collection we launch is a financial risk. Kickstarter was a great platform to share our creative ideas and get support from those around us up front.
Was it hard?
LOL. So hard. Seriously. It felt like starting a brand new business. Highly recommend giving yourself the time that is needed to put things together. Get your brand story, product story, and value proposition on point. Make sure it is cohesive and is something that people can connect with. For us, the hardest part was the video. More on that below.
How did you decide how much to raise?
We got a ton of conflicting advice around this topic. We heard you should pick a number you ideally need and then cut it in half. WHAT?! It was so confusing and we eventually decided not to strategize but to pick a number we felt was fair and necessary to deliver the best product possible. You do have to pay 10% of capital raised on the platform to Kickstarter. So keep that in mind when deciding how much to raise.
What kickstarter strategy tips do you have?
So many. But here are the absolute most important ones.
- Email addresses. Facebook and Instagram algorithms are more unreliable every day. People who have found your brand and chosen to follow you and engage with your posts about your new product - may never see when it actually launches. Devise a strategy for collecting as many emails of those interested in your campaign prior to launch. Then have an email campaign set up to reach them on a regular basis while your campaign is live. A good number of them will convert to customers on launch day, but many will take until the second or third email touch.
- The video is NOT EVERYTHING. Everyone told us this was the most important part. Which made sense to us and seems like a reasonable assumption. But honestly, the data told a different story. Very few people actually watch the video all the way through. Which I guess isn’t that surprising considering everyone’s short attention span these days. I am personally extremely uncomfortable on camera. I wrote the script and practiced and the day of the shoot when it came time to talk in front of the camera my mind went to mush. I couldn’t complete simple sentences and I started to panic. There were tears. But eventually, I pulled it off. Even now, I can’t watch it! It is just too painful. I wish I would have known that very few people would actually even see it! This is unpopular advice, but don’t spend all of your time and resources on the video. Use social media as a tool to tell your story and give thorough mission, product, and rewards details in the body of your kickstarter page.
- Hire PR. If it is within your budget, do it. We worked with a PR team for 3 months to help us get the word out. This made a huge impact in the form of eyeballs on our campaign and pre-launch email sign ups. Extending our organic brand reach from thousands to millions. When pitching PR outlets you never know when they are going to bite and share about your brand. Many of our PR pieces ended up happening before the campaign was actually live. Luckily, and back to our first tip, we had a strategy for collecting emails for those who wanted to be notified when the campaign launched. Make sure you have an email capture opportunity present before pitching. Just in case you get lucky!
- Be realistic about your delivery schedule. However long you think it will take to deliver, just add 6-weeks. Luckily, people are surprisingly chill about delivery times when it comes to a kickstarter campaign. We found them to be mostly empathetic to the fact that you are in the middle of trying to figure everything out. So don’t freak out too much when things get delayed. On that note, don’t share hard dates until you have the product physically in your hands and have examined it for quality. We learned this one the hard way.
- Hire a graphic designer. I was shocked to learn how little you can customize your campaign within the self-serve Kickstarter platform. If you have seen a pretty kickstarter, it’s because they had a graphic designer customize the look and feel. You can’t even change the fonts or colors. If you want it to be something more than plain text, you need custom graphics. In our experience more people read the Kickstarter body and product description than watch the video, by a long shot.
Think long term. Your Kickstarter URL exists forever. It can be a super great tool to drive traffic to your business once your kickstarter is over. So use this online real estate to tell your story, not just about the product you’re campaigning to make, but your brand as a whole.
- Do not depend on your families and friends. This one really surprised us and I wish we had forewarning. It’s a very common occurrence that for the most part, goes unspoken about. So we are going to talk with you about it! Even though it is a difficult topic. While many family and friends will contribute to your kickstarter, even more of them will not. It will hurt your feelings. No way around it. We have done a lot of thinking to try to understand why this happens. Here are a few of the instances we experienced: they will see you have raised a decent amount and think you don’t need their support (when you do - remember it is an all or nothing thing with these campaigns!), they won’t understand that they can make a pledge even if they don’t have a need for the product (just to support you!), or they will be unfamiliar with the kickstarter platform and not confident using it (the kickstarter user experience is not all that intuitive). Whatever the case, it will happen. So don’t rely on these people to necessarily come through for you. Everyone has a right to their own personal reasoning. Try, try, try not to take it personal and have a solid plan to market your campaign to people outside your social and family circle.
Was it worth it?
In a word, yes. Successfully funding it gave us the capital we needed to bring our Mom Bod One Piece to life. I don’t know that it would exist without Kickstarter. It was a tremendous amount of work. It was humbling and vulnerable. I struggled to get in a swimsuit after having my daughter. What I found interesting is even my “skinny” friends felt the same dread! It made me realize that all of our bodies change after having children and actual size is really relative. The feelings are universal and equally valid regardless of who you are or what your starting point was. Everyone struggles getting dressed after giving birth and getting a swimsuit is an event many make a negative milestone in their minds. We are slowly changing that. That makes all if worth it. Truly.
A little about our kickstarter campaign and the future of our mission...
There are a lot of swimwear brands out there, but none of them are designing with the unique needs of Moms post-baby in mind. We set out to change that. We designed the first swimsuit for Moms, that actually looks good! A nursing friendly swimsuit and so much more. Our Mom Bod One Piece is a wrap swimsuit with a modern take and functional design. We interviewed thousands of mother’s about their struggles when finding the right swimsuit and did our very best to design a swimsuit that solved many of the most common challenges. That being said, we know one swimsuit can’t solve all of them. So we are designing more! Sign up for our newsletter in our footer to be notified when we launch new styles, receive exclusive discounts, be the first to know about in-person shopping events, and learn about exciting new design collaborations coming soon!
If I didn’t answer your kickstarter questions, ask! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am more than happy to help.