The video is perhaps the most important component to your Kickstarter project page. Before reading anything, the majority of your page’s visitors will hit play on the video posted at the top. If one doesn’t exist, the chances of your project being funded are reduced significantly.
This also means doing a bit more than just sitting in front of your webcam and telling you how great whatever it is you’re working on will be. You need to prove professionalism and make a first impression that encourages people to throw down money to see your project come to life.
One thing virtually every highly successful Kickstarter project has in common is a dynamic and engaging video. Those aren’t just buzzwords intended to make them sound better than they actually are. These videos really do accomplish the difficult task of hitting a specific set of key points that separates a half-baked idea from a professional and realistic goal.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in an environment where shooting video was a focal point of our business. Creating videos and regular updates while asking for audience funding is a challenge, but one that can be done.
So, what are these key points, and how can they improve your Kickstarter project video?
Focus on the Interests of the Audience
If you’re not focusing on points that matter to the audience, you shouldn’t expect them to respond well to your project. Finding out what those needs are is paramount to any successful Kickstarter project.
What am I getting out of your project? Why should I cough up X amount of dollars to help make your dreams a reality? Rewards are fine, but what makes this project as a whole worth funding?
Answer those questions, and you’ll be on the right track. Further to that, you want to follow up on the feedback you receive from your backers on Kickstarter with additional follow-up videos. Remember, you’re basically asking people you don’t know for a handout to make something great happen for you. The trick is producing videos that redirect this benefit to the audience. The more the project appears to be a service to the backers as opposed to a great deal for you, the better.
Just like a job interview, you’re selling yourself in this video. Choose appropriate backgrounds, dress in a manner you would expect someone to wear, and don’t forget to (directly or indirectly) point out why exactly you are the right person to receive this funding.
Don’t make yourself out to be something you’re not, unless it’s done in a way that brings humor or irony to the table in a very obvious way.
Think of your video as an admissions interview for a university, job interview, and a commercial for your product all wrapped in one. You have to show that you’re capable of achieving your goals, meeting the standards of your audience, and that your project is something people would want to buy after the fact.
Kickstarter isn’t just a method of funding your project, it could also be the biggest and cheapest method for marketing your project early on. There are plenty of products I would never have heard about had it not been for them being featured on Kickstarter.
Further to the point is the importance of being genuine. People don’t enjoy being spoken to from a podium, and it’s surprisingly easy to see through a sales pitch. If you’re genuine, it will convert to video very easily. Honesty is key.
Set realistic expectations, and explain why you decided to seek out funding from the crowd rather than from a major publisher.
Introduce the people you are working with. Most projects require a team to complete, and that team is every bit as important as the face of the project. Let people know who you’re bringing on board. That little tidbit of inside information does a lot to make the viewer feel as though they are a part of the team.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Humor
Below is an example of selling yourself through humor done in the right way by Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions.
He didn’t make himself out to be some amazing hero, capable of turning rocks into gold. What he did was introduce the project, his company, and himself in a way that made the viewer laugh. Laughter tends to open wallets.
Demonstrate the Prototype
Some Kickstarter projects opt to center the video on the prototype, and that’s fine. If your prototype isn’t very strong, or particularly good looking, you may want to opt to make it a smaller part of your pitch. Sell yourself, as we covered earlier, though the prototype is still absolutely key.
If you’re recording an album as your project, have your band play a song either going in or coming out of the video. Let people hear what they can expect from your band. If you’re an artist, show off some of your previous work or flash the outline of the piece you’re working on. Want to have a documentary funded? Record a scene and/or introduction before you seek out funding and let it stand as an example of what you’re capable of as a filmmaker.
Even video games can have one-room demos and/or concept art prior to funding. This lets your backers visualize what the game they’re paying for will look and feel like. After all, the majority of them are pre-ordering your product. Would you buy something you haven’t seen?
Consider Hiring a Media Company
Everyone and their dog has a camcorder these days. Whether it’s included in your smartphone or a consumer camcorder with decent video, you or someone you know has a camcorder. That doesn’t mean that they have what it takes to record the best video for your project. Audio is key, and video quality can leave a subliminal impression as to the quality of your work.
Look at commercials you see on television. None of these companies shoot or edit video as part of their company profile, and almost every commercial is recorded and edited by a production company that knows how to make things look and sound good.
Yes, it’s an investment, but one that could mean the difference between earning nothing and exceeding your goal. Let the experts do what they do, and you’ll be able to do what you do.