Creating a Successful Kickstarter Campaign for Your Product – feat. Holly Goodman of Sablewood Paper Co.

November 2, 2021

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Have you ever thought about organizing a Kickstarter campaign? If so, today’s episode is for you! Meet our friend, Holly Goodman. Holly is the owner and designer of Sablewood Paper Company, which is a multi-award-winning custom wedding invitation design studio as well as a stationery and gift shop. In the last 2 years, Holly has developed a retail and wholesale addition to Sablewood, focusing on what she calls “gifts with meaning” (aka, gifting for special occasions). Her products have been sold worldwide and are carried in shops across the USA, with some of her favorite products being giftable items like keychains and enamel pins. In this episode, Holly is pulling back the curtain and chatting about her experience with getting her first Kickstarter campaign up-and-running and fully funded!

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You’ve launched so many beautiful products! Tell us why Kickstarter specifically caught your eye.

Holly 26:50

So I first discovered Kickstarter when Glowforge was on Kickstarter back in 2015. And I was like, Ooh, I really want to go for it. And I was like, but $3,000 is way too much, but how cool is it that they broke records on Kickstarter? And so I kind of dove into the company a little bit more to find out what Kickstarter was and, uh, you know, it’s a crowdfunding site. So basically you, um, like we’ll just use Glowforge as an example, they put their product on Kickstarter as a 30 day campaign.

Anybody can pledge for a reward, which basically would be like receiving a Glowforge at the end of that 30-day campaign. So it’s a crowdfunding website. That’s kind of like a no-pressure thing. If the campaign doesn’t reach a funding goal that the campaign owner sets at the beginning of the campaign, then you don’t get charged for anything.

And you’re not out any money as a backer, but if they do reach the campaign funding goal, then you do get charged and you also get a reward that’s set to ship, like whenever the creator sets that, that timeline. So it’s a really interesting way of pledging support for somebody without getting anything physical for months.

Um, I just found it really fascinating. And, but I didn’t really know how that could really apply to my business until last year. Um, when I was brainstorming new products with a friend of mine, um, we were talking about introducing enamel pins into our lines, and we were doing a bunch of research trying to figure out how much those cost.

And, um, you know, we were like, this is, this is going to get kind of expensive if we want to do several designs. Um, because the name elephants are not cheap. Um, especially when it comes to like all of the things, the packaging that goes into it and, and just the design time and everything. So I was like, you know, I’m going to do a Kickstarter for this and see if there’s even any like, desire for that out there, because nobody wants to launch a product that costs hundreds of dollars, and then nobody buys it.

And then you’re just sitting with inventory on your shelf for months and months, and then you put it on sale and then you don’t make any money. So, um, I looked into Kickstarter a little bit and I found that there’s like a huge community of enamel pin makers on Kickstarter. And so I backed a couple of projects to start with to see how the process worked and to do kind of like some recon work.

What are the first things you have to consider when organizing a Kickstarter? What are the pros and cons of the platform?

Holly 37:54

I mean pros and cons wise I would say like what you said, Elisabeth, the big con for me is that I’m not, I can’t be creative enough in Kickstarter.

It’s all very rigid. It just has to be just so it’s kind of like Facebook like you can add photos to Facebook and stuff, but you can’t change the layout. You can’t change the colors, you can’t change any of that. So you’re stuck with a very like black and white, you know, you got to, you have a header and you can make text bold and italicized and that’s it.

And it’s just like, that’s all you get. There’s nothing else. Uh, so it’s kind of bland, but you can dress it up with graphics and things like that. It just takes more time. So, yeah, it’s, it’s all in what you make of it and what you put into it.

Holly 39:08

A pro is that they have an incredible community on Kickstarter. People that kind of just live there, like myself included 40 projects.

I have the Kickstarter app on my phone. It alerts me when something new that I might like gets posted. And like, they’ve got my number and easily get my money. Cause I’m like, Ooh, a new enamel pen. Great. Um, but they do have an incredible, like the base of people that are always on, they’re always willing to support projects.

They have a bunch of backers that just pledge a dollar of support to kind of boost your campaign status a little bit, which is really awesome. And, um, and they also do like newsletters to kind of say, like, here’s a new fancy campaign that just got launched, check it out. It’s really cool. You’re going to love it.

Um, and then they also pick their favorite projects. So if you have something that’s just really cool, it’s got a great story, great graphics and things like that. They’ll promote it as a special, I think it’s called a Kickstarter favorite or something like that. And it’s just like a thing that gets boosted to the top of search results.

You don’t have to have an audience to really be successful on Kickstarter. I would say that actually 70% of the people that pledge for my campaigns come from Kickstarter, not from my direct traffic, but I, it would not hurt to have some sort of audience that you could, that you could share that with, for sure.

Is it hard to get a kickstarter campaign approved?

Holly 46:32

So they actually make it super easy. Like anybody can go in and do it. You don’t even have to really have an idea for a project. You can go into Kickstarter and create an account and say, I want to create a project.

And there are step-by-step instructions of like, here’s where you put in your like, profile information. Here’s where you put in your story of your campaign. Here’s your bank account details. Um, here’s how you’re going to fulfill rewards, things like that. They ask you about eight to 10 questions, uh, sections of questions.

And once those are all done, then you can officially submit to be approved for your launch. Um, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anybody not being approved. Oh, wait, I take that back. One person that I know of did not get approved because they were using Disney characters and she’s a big, no-no such a big no-no and a lot of times stuff like that will fly under the radar at Kickstarter.

So I think it’s all in how you present the ideas. So I don’t know, I don’t really know how the approval process works. Cause sometimes I look at things and I’m like, how did that get approved? That’s like clearer trademark violation. I don’t understand. But I think they’re really just kind of checking to make sure you have all your T’s crossed and your I’s dot dotted.

What did the behind-the-scenes look like now after your Kickstarter was fully funded and closed?

Elisabeth 51:26

Now that you know, your first Kickstarter was fully funded and you closed it, you wrapped it up, you shipped it, you shipped everything out the behind the scenes for that. Like now, how do the pins, I guess, continue to do in your shop? Do you feel like they still continue to perform really well? Like, was it worth the payoff of introducing a product that way?

And like, you feel like you had good momentum, like, can you shed some light on the behind-the-scenes of the product life for something after your Kickstarter is over? Yes. I’m so excited that you asked that because they’re like my number one seller. Now

I actually have a bunch sitting behind me right now ready to go out. So I, um, after I launched the celestial stamps Kickstarter, I made the extras live in my Etsy shop and, um, I’ve really. I’ve reordered all the pins once since then. So that was what was that January that I shipped out or February? I think so.

I mean, I think February is incredible, I order like 200 at a time. So like really great sales for just like these things that I came up with on a whim one day and said, I’m going to name making Hamilton’s. I’m like, what were you thinking? Um, but they do really, really well. And that’s why I decided to launch a couple that were self-funded.

So I have, you know, my, um, My poppies that I just came out with and then the lemons postage stamps, and those both do really well as well. So that’s kind of why I was like, all right, I really love the stamp design. I’m gonna put all my eggs in one basket and just go all in for these Kickstarter, um, birth month balloons stamps, because the other ones just do so well, everybody just loves them because they’re so small, they’re giftable items.

And they’re really easy to put in a stocking or wrap up in a gift to give, to like a bride or your bridesmaids as gifts, things like that. They’re just so fun and they’re having a moment right now to kind of like stickers. So I think that also has helped a lot. 

Obviously, you’re doing another Kickstarter right now so you must have liked it enough to come back! Is there anything you’re doing differently this time?

Holly 56:05

Yeah. So BackerKit is definitely the big thing. I also am not. Having so many options for reward pledged tiers, because the more pledged tiers you have, the more confusing it is in the back end, whenever you’re ready to fulfill orders, it just, it gets confusing for everybody. So my recommendation, if you’re doing a Kickstarter is to just have as few pledge tiers as possible, please.

You’re just going to save yourself so much time and grief. So that was how it was. Yeah. How many is too many, I guess like, when do you feel like you crossed the threshold of this is too confusing. I think it gets too confusing when you have too many different products. So right now for this current Kickstarter I’m working on, I have, I have 12 pins, but one product.

So they’re all just pins. But last, my first Kickstarter, I did, I had pins and I had stickers and then I had three different prints that you could choose from. And it was a nightmare. So I mean, what I would recommend if I were to do that again, I would probably bundle them and say, You don’t choose one pen, one sticker, one print, you get a bundle of a print, sticker and pen.

So like, instead of making them three separate pledge tiers, you make them one pledge tier. And I think that would help a lot because, and I can’t really like explain how confusing this is without showing you the CSV that Kickstarter sends you at the end, but it basically sends you everything like the, like the date and time these people pledged what they pledged for their address, any notes that they have, like everything.

And it’s just, it’s a lot to sift through. So the more simple you can make it, the more your sanity is going to be saved later. For sure. So those are two big changes. Other things are to just like smart reuse stuff that you’ve used before. So I reused a lot of graphics that in mock-ups that I use for my first campaign, I just tweaked them to kind of work with the current.

Design rather than it’s not celestial anymore. It’s florals. So I just changed that up a little bit, but yeah, it’s just like with anything else in your business, like reusing everything over and over again is just going to be your lifesaver. So your first campaign will take you a hundred hours. Your second one will be about 60.Your third one will be about 50.

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