How Does Kickstarter Work? How You Can Run a Succesful Campaign

kickstarter logo graphic

So, you’ve arrived at this article because you want to know how does Kickstarter works and what it takes to be successful when starting a campaign – right?

If you think Kickstarter is an easy way to get funding, stop reading now.

What is Kickstarter? Sure, Kickstarter sounds simple. You launch a Kickstarter campaign, then the public donates money to your idea. But, in reality, it’s not that easy. The startling fact is two-thirds of all Kickstarter campaigns fail.

But, why do they fail? I hear you ask.

It’s because not everybody realizes just how much work you need to put into your Kickstarter campaign to make it successful. Even if your idea is the bee’s knees, it’s not going to get noticed without an all-singing-all-dancing crowdfunding campaign.

Luckily for you, we’ve put together this guide on creating a Kickstarter campaign – so you’re no longer asking yourself, “how does Kickstarter work?” or “what do I need to do to be successful?” 

So, How Does Kickstarter work?

support us on kickstarter logo graphic

Kickstarter Basics:

You’re the creator – the person behind the campaign. Backers are people who pledge money to help bring your project to life.  As the campaign creator, you make a Kickstarter Campaign page that explains your project and your mission.

It’s up to you to share this page and get as many backers as you can.

Finding your target audience

man standing infront of a crowd giving a speech campaign

Each Kickstarter campaign has a funding goal that’s set in stone. It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if you don’t reach your target you don’t get a penny. So, set your goal to be an amount you feel you can actually achieve – don’t just pluck a figure out of the air!

Backers like transparency and they’ll smell a rat if you ask for more money than you need. Clearly plan what your budget needs to be.

Make sure you’re taking into account any manufacturing, labor, and shipping costs – plus, an amount that you’d like to be paid (it is your time they’re paying for after all).

Campaign length

alarm clock counting down the amount of time of the campaign length

There’s a finite amount of time for you to achieve all this in, too. Your campaign can be set to run from 1 – 60 days, it’s your choice.

However, your timeframe could make or break your campaign. Projects lasting 30 days or less have the highest success rate on Kickstarter. Generally, a successful Kickstarter campaign has lots of momentum at the beginning and very end. If your campaign is too long you might have a stagnant middle period that kills it.

Campaign rewards

win prizes sign on the side of a fairground stall

To encourage more backers, you need to offer rewards. When a backer pledges a certain amount, they get a reward. These are one-off prizes, limited editions, or experiences. They vary from campaign to campaign, but they need to offer a genuine incentive and are always related to the project.

The more money a backer pledges, the more exclusive the reward should be. For example, if you’re crowdfunding for a film, a basic reward could be tickets to the premiere. A more exclusive reward for a larger pledge could be a meet-and-greet with the director.

Rewards are limited in number too, with the more expensive rewards being rarer. For example, there may only be one meet-and-greet reward to give away, but 100 pairs of tickets for the screening.

Don’t place rewards out of the backers’ reach. Kickstarter shows the most popular pledge amount is $25, so make sure you have plenty of rewards around this price point. Vary your rewards to suit every budget.

How Much Will It Cost to Start a Kickstarter Campaign?

If successful, Kickstarter will charge a 5% commission fee from the funds that you raise – so bear this in mind during the production of your campaign.

Prepare Your Kickstarter Campaign

You’re no longer asking how does Kickstarter work, but watch out – we aren’t out of the woods just yet.

It’s time to prepare your Kickstarter campaign. Don’t rush – there are lots to take into consideration if you want to give it your best shot!

A Kickstarter campaign page with a campaign video

Kickstarter Campaign video

Kickstarter campaign pages with a video are much more likely to succeed than those without, so we’d say it’s pretty important for you to have one. Obviously, creating a killer video takes time, so get this prepared well before your launch.

Thankfully, Kickstarter offer some helpful Kickstarter video tips on their site:

  • Tell us who you are.
  • Tell us the story behind your project. Where’d you get the idea? What stage is it at now? How are you feeling about it?
  • Come out and ask for people’s support, explaining why you need it and what you’ll do with their money.
  • Talk about how awesome your rewards are, using any images you can.
  • Explain that if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll get nothing, and everyone will be sad.
  • Thank everyone!

Your video will be the first thing backers see when they visit your page, so it needs to look good. Poor quality or unprofessional video could really jeopardize your chances of success.

A screenshot from your video will be your campaign page cover image. It’ll be shown all over the Kickstarter site (in search results, featured pages, etc) so it’s important to choose something good.

Select a screenshot that shows off your project and catches people’s eyes. You’ll be competing against hundreds of other campaigns, so make sure yours stands out!

Elodie use graphics and illustrations to display their rewards.
Elodie uses graphics and illustrations to display their rewards.

Kickstarter Campaign Page

Your Kickstarter idea is merely just that, without a well-thought-out campaign page.

Your Kickstarter campaign page is your one shot at selling your project to backers. If you don’t capture their attention you’ve lost their money. Don’t rush it – think about how to tell your story, and how you’ll draw backers’ attention down the page. The way you layout your content here is crucial.

You should use a variety of media to get your message across, not just paragraphs of text. Large blocks of dense text will send backers to sleep.

Think about using graphics, photos, gifs, video clips, infographics, data and charts – anything to break it up and make it more interesting. Check out how one of the top Kickstarter projects, Elodie, uses a mix of product photography, graphics, and video to bring their page to life!

For more information, we wrote this article on what graphics to include in your crowdfunding campaign.

Become a storyteller

So, you’re an independent-trader hand-making felt slippers from your garden shed. So far, so dull.

What’s the real story behind your product that will get backers interested? Is the felt you use fair trade and hand-woven by Peruvian farmer’s wives? Were you inspired to start making slippers after your favorite brand was discontinued? Is it a family tradition dating back decades?

Most successful Kickstarters will tell the story behind what they’re doing and why – this will draw people in and help stir passion for your project.

Hit them with the FOMO. Why do they need to back your project right now? There’s nothing like creating a sense of urgency to bring in more donations.

Communicate with your backers

You wouldn’t donate money to a product you weren’t excited about. So, let your backers know why you and your project are so great!

Running a successful Kickstarter ultimately means, letting everyone know why are you the right person to see this project through. Backers need to have confidence in creators, after all, they want to buy the thing they’re funding.

Remember to be transparent, and explain the project scope: how you’ll achieve your goal and what exactly you plan to do with their money.

After the Kickstarter Campaign Launch

a rocket launch in the sky

Once your Kickstarter campaign is live, don’t sit back and relax. There’s still plenty of work to be done to ensure you reach your funding goal!

Update Your Kickstarter Campaign Regularly

Once backers have pledged, don’t just forget about them – they’re part of your team now, and expect regular updates on how things are going.

On Kickstarter, you can choose to make a public update or a private update that only backers will see. Either way, an email will get sent to all of your backers. Backers want to feel included in the process once they’ve pledged, so, you should let them know about any milestones you’ve hit and how progress is going. Think about sharing exclusive content with your backers, i.e. photos or videos.

Use every update as a tool to ask your backers to share your project. They’ve now got a vested interest in the project succeeding, so remind them that sharing your campaign will help you reach your funding goal!

Getting backers for your Kickstarter Campaign

small plant growing out of a pile of coins

Now you’ve launched your Kickstarter campaign, you need to work hard to get backers. There’s no magic wand you can wave to make this happen – it’s all down to pure, hard grafting – so, buckle up and get down to it!

Want more information? Check out our archive of Crowdfunding Campaign articles, written to help you get the best possible result from your campaign. 

Need some help with your campaign? Our marketplace of over 410,000+ freelancers have expertise in a variety of skills – find out how you can outsource top-quality specialists and skyrocket your campaign, today. 


After studying English Literature at university, Vicky decided she didn’t want to be either a teacher or whoever it is that writes those interminable mash-up novels about Jane Austen and pirates, so sensibly moved into graphic design.

She worked freelance for some time on various projects before starting at Twine and giving the site its unique, colourful look.

Despite having studied in Manchester and spent some years in Cheshire, she’s originally from Cumbria and stubbornly refuses to pick up a Mancunian accent. A keen hiker, Vicky also shows her geographic preferences by preferring the Cumbrian landscape to anything more local.