Today we are going to review the tools needed to launch a successful Kickstarter. I have categorized the tools by the different functions below.
You will find a link to their website and a short description of the pros and cons.
The categories include Kickstarter, social media, project management tools, design, email, PR, website, store, fulfillment, accounting, and product development tools.
It’s a huge list so enjoy!
This section is surprisingly light as many tools fall under another category. If you have an application that would fit well here, please let me know in the comments section below, and I will update.
KickTraq has both a mobile website and Chrome extension. They offer advanced analytics of Kickstarter campaigns. It is a good way to do research on other campaigns and track your own. Probably the most beneficial feature is the success projection. It allows you to see the probability that your campaign will get funded based on past funding performance.
Social Media Tools
Managing social media can be a full-time job. Luckily there is a set of tools that can help you automate and safe time. You should look to set up all major social media platforms for your campaign. I have particularly found Instagram as a great marketing tool for crowdfunding.
Buffer is one of the easiest ways to manage your social media presence. There are many alternatives for scheduling your post, but I find buffered to be one of the simplest platforms. For this reason, I am not going to recommend other platforms, but if you are interested in using a more advanced platform just search on Google alternatives to Buffer.
We wrote a whole post about how to get more social shares for your Kickstarter campaign. Shareaholic was one of the applications which we recommended. It makes it easy for others to share your campaign on social media. They make it easy to quickly add “share and follow buttons” to your website.
I believe that Instagram is an untapped resource for crowdfunding campaigns. When you start to use Instagram to market your crowdfunding project, you will immediately see results. I have seen it generate hundreds of pre-launch emails in a very short time. It has the most engagement of any social media platform making it a necessity for your campaign.
Don’t expect to get the same level of engagement on Twitter that you do on Instagram. Many influential writers and bloggers still use the platform. If you want to reach out to them on Twitter is often a great way.
Facebook is another great social media platform. You can run ads on Facebook which will target your perfect audience. This will help drive traffic to your campaign. If your campaign is viral, you will find that many people share on Facebook. It can be an excellent way to get organic growth.
Reddit it is a very influential social media site. It is often called “the front page of the internet.” It has a very exclusive member base. Make sure to do your research before posting your link on Reddit.
If This Then That (IFTT) is one of my favorite applications for easy automation of applications. Even though it is not a social media tool directly, I thought it fit best in this category. It allows you to automate actions between different applications. For example, you can set it up to automatically post your Instagram post to Facebook. This can save you a ton of time with IFTT
Project Management Tools
If you are managing a team, or just yourself, it’s a very good idea to have project management software. Below I have listed my three favorite and easiest to use project management tools.
Trello is an easy-to-use and free project management software tool. It utilizes boards which allow you to be flexible in the organization of your tasks. The best part is that it is free to use for unlimited users.
Basecamp is a slightly more robust project management tool. It allows you to communicate with team members, create a to-do list, post document, send messages, and create a calendar. Basecamp has hundreds and thousands of organizations would use it and a great support team. There is no free plan for Basecamp.
Many small to medium-size teams fight over what is better, Basecamp or Asana. I like Trello and BaseCamp better, but the Asana has some very powerful tools which Basecamp does not currently have. Like many of the applications I recommend that you try them all out and decide which one works best for your organization. Asana also has a free tier.
Canva is an easy-to-use design tool. It can help you create beautiful graphics for your Kickstarter campaign. It also has easy to use templates and a stock image Library. If you don’t know how to use Photoshop, or don’t have a designer on your project we recommend using Canva.
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop
If you are a professional designer or have one on the team then you probably already have the Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe Illustrator and photoshop on the most used graphic design tools. There is quite a learning curve but if you know how to use them they will be indispensable and creating campaign graphics.
I have personally tried out over 20 email clients. I know that sounds crazy, but every time I find one, it seems like it is missing one feature. For that reason, I am only going to recommend a few email tools which have robust features and yet manageable costs.
MailerLite is my new favorite email tool. It is free to use up to 1,000 contacts and give you a ton of great options for free. This includes being able to build landing pages and opt-in forms that look beautiful. You can also create automation sequences (where emails are sent automatically). These are features that you usually very expensive. MailerLite is also easy to use and has great support. I would try them out first!
MailChimp it is probably the most popular email sending tool. They offer paid automation options. It is also relatively affordable compared to larger platforms. The only downside is that contacts are sometimes hard to manage if you do not understand how to segment them. They also required double opt-in, this means that when someone signs up for your website, they need to click the confirmation email after.
Send In Blue
Send In Blue we tried first and then decided to use MailerLite. They offer a different pricing model than the other options. They charge you by the number of emails you send each month compared to the number of contacts. This means you can have a big contact list that you only email a few times a month and pay a much lower pay than you would with MailChimp.
Dripp a slightly more advanced email tool which allows you to create automated work for us. all of the email providers on this list allow you to send automated emails, but drifp is focused on email workflows. It is slightly more expensive than the other options starting at $49 a month.
Aweber also has a full suite of email tools. They allow you to create emails from beautiful templates. They have an easy to use mobile app and a high deliverability rate. Their plans start at $19 a month which is slightly more affordable than Drip.
PR Tools or Crowdfunding
Doing PR outreach is a ton of work. For that reason, it is totally okay to hire a PR agency. But if your budget is tight or you’re interested in learning there are many DIY options for getting press. Below is a set of new services and applications which promise to make it easier to get press. if you are looking to pitch the press, I recommend checking out our list of the best Kickstarter press releases.
Just Reach Out
Just Reach Out is a platform which allows you to find and reach out to journalists and bloggers in your space. It helps you search for and pitch stories that are relevant to the journalist. They also allow you to scan through Quora and Reddit posts to find the most relevant threads. When you do send an email they are all tracks so you can see if the contact has opened the email or not. They make it easy to organize your media contacts into lists.
BuzzSumo allows you to find the most popular content on the internet after putting in a keyword. You can use this tool to find reporters who have written about similar topics before. Then you can contact them directly and pitch your campaign.
Pitchbox offers an outreach platform similar to Just Reach Out and BuzzSumo. They have easy to use tools for finding and contacting new influencers. They provide powerful tracking and statistics which help to see what pitch is working best. They are not cheap starting at $195 a month.
If your Kickstarter is successful, it is only a matter of time before you want to create a website . If you have yet to launch I recommend you create a website before you launch your campaign.
If you do not already have a website here are some recommendations for how to quickly create a website for your crowdfunding project.
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world today. Setting up WordPress is easy with every major hosting provider supporting the platform. It is an open-source platform, so you will have to purchase hosting and install a theme on your own. This may sound daunting, but there are many easy-to-follow tutorials online. I wrote an article with a great collection of WordPress themes for crowdfunding projects.
If WordPress seems a little daunting to you then using Squarespace might be a great fit! They allow you to create a spiffy looking website easily. They also take care of hosting and registering the domain name making it easy for you to set up a site in less than a day. All the themes are very modern looking.
Shopify is an online e-commerce website builder. If you plan on selling products after your campaign is finished, it might be good to start with a Shopify site. They allow you to build an e-commerce store and create a beautiful online store. It is easy to setup, and you can start with a free trial to start.
Strikingly is the most basic of all the website building options above. It also makes it the easiest to set up. You can create a Strikingly site in less than an hour. I actually used Strikingly to show how to create a create a landing page for your Kickstarter campaign. These sites are fast to put together but have the most limitations.
Prefundia allows you to create a pre-launch page easily. It also focuses on collecting emails so you can email your supporters when your campaign goes live. Prefundia helps to get feedback and suggestions to improve your project. It has a very impressive list of success stories. Over 68 million dollars has been raised by projects that were pre-launched on Prefundi.
Post Campaign Stores (how to raise money after a crowdfunding campaign has ended)
After your campaign is over, you may still want to collect funds. These options allow you to do just that!
Indiegogo is unique as you can continue to fundraise or sell your product after the campaign is over. I have seen successful Kickstarters which then launched on Indiegogo Marketplace so they could continue to raise funds through crowdfunding. Indiegogo is a very easy method to sell after your campaign.
Celery is an app which allows you to collect presale orders before your campaign launches. You also can use it for orders after the campaign is done. It allows you to keep more of the money only taking 2% per transaction plus fees to Stripe. There is no monthly cost, you only get charged when you make a sale. This makes it a great alternative to a more feature rich platform like Shopify which has a monthly subscription.
If you want to know what fees you will pay to Kickstarter check out this handy calculator I built.
Jumpstart by Shopify
I mention Shopify above, and I wanted to talk about the Jumpstart Theme. It is the perfect theme for any crowdfunding campaign. It makes it easy to collect money after your campaign has launched. You can check out a demo of the store here.
Survey Tools For Crowdfunding
There are many reasons you would want to run a survey during your crowdfunding campaign. One of the main reasons is to collect addresses from your backers after the campaign or ask for feedback. Below are two simple tools to collect this information.
Google Forms is first because it is free to use! You can easily make a survey and send it to many users. The added benefit is that the answers are all sent to Google Sheets where you can organize them and run crazy excel-like statistical analyisis.
SurveyMonkey gives you a deeper level of customization then Google forms. If you do not have many backers to survey you could use their free here. Otherwise, their services are paid. Their surveys are going to look a lot more polished.
Video Editing Programs
If you are creating a great DIY Kickstarter video, you are going to need to edit the video! Here are some video editors which we recommend for beginners. If you are an expert videographer then you already have a video editor of your choice.
iMovie is a popular choice because it is easy to use and comes pre-loaded on every Apple computer. If you already have a Mac, it is probably enough for you to create a great campaign video. If you are looking for something more than to check out the next recommendations.
Adobe Premiere is a video editing app that is part of the Adobe’s Creative Cloud. If you know how to use adobe’s tools, it is easy to add to your work flow. You can purchase it through Adobe’s website. It takes a bit more time to learn than iMovie.
Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is the big brother of iMovie. It is Apple’s paid “pro-level” video editing tool. Many professionals have been frustrated as features have been removed over the years. It allows you more customization and advanced tools then iMovie 8. If you are looking for a video editor which is easy-to-use and also powerful Final Cut Pro is a great solution.
Windows Movie Maker
Windows Movie Maker is the free video editor that comes with Windows computers. It makes it easy to create and edit videos. If you do not have a Mac it is basically the alternative to iMovie. It has all the basic features you need to edit a video.
If you are shipping a physical product then you have to fulfill the orders. This is one of the parts of crowdfunding that people think is a lot easier than it is in reality. Below are a few popular options for managing the logistics of campaign furfilment.
Backerkit is a full software suite which makes it easy to collect data and pre-orders. You also can run surveys and manage support. It is built specifically for crowdfunding campaigns. Thousands of projects have used backward it to help fulfill their project. They have integrations with many shipping platforms such as Ship Station, Shopify, and Amplifier.
Shipstation bills itself as the number one choice of online sellers looking to manage shipping. They have a 30-day free trial where you are able to setup an account. They allow you to connect multiple shipping software tools together. This includes things like Amazon, Squarespace, Shopify, FedEx, ups, and many other tools. They also have many tools which will make things like printing shipping labels much easier.
Shipwire is a competitor to Shipstation. They allow you to fill orders using your own shipping service or their warehouses. They offer solutions for larger brands looking to streamline their global logistics. If you have run a huge Kickstarter this is probably a great solution as you continue to expand.
Run Your Own Campaign
Each week we got questions about how you start your own crowdfunding site or use an open-source platform. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to not using a popular platform like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.
Self Starter is a free and open source crowdfunding platform. You are able to download the code directly from Github. It uses Amazon payments to collect reservations for your campaign. You also have the option to setup your own payment processor if you want.
Thrinacia is a crowdfunding platform which allows you to deploy the software through a widget or website. It allows you to create a completely white labeled crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfund HQ allows you to create a custom campaign. They allow you to easily customize almost every portion on the page including the front-end CSS, HTML and Java Script. They also support multiple payment gateways which allow you to get the lowest possible fees.
CrowdForce.co gives you tools to create your own crowdfunding campaign. They offer the ability to setup a traditional crowdfunding campaign using a “Kickstarter style”. They also have tools that allow peer to peer lending and realty investing. The platform is comprehensive meeting SEC / FINRA regulations and running on dedicated PCI complient servers.
If you are launching a physical product you may still need to do some sourcing. Below is listed directories which can help you find manufacturers to create your product.
Maker’s Row helps companies source and manufacture their products. They have helped over a hundred thousand businesses create their product. Maker’s row is focused on products that are made in America. They can connect you with knowledgeable partners based in the United States. They are able to help you every step of the way, from pre-production, production, and shipping. To access the database it does cost $35 a month.
Alibaba is a well-known directory of international manufacturers. On their website, you can search for specific capabilities and contact them through the app. There are both horror and success stories with Alibaba. I recommend checking out a detailed article on how to source and manufacture products through Alibaba.
Accounting might be the last thing that you think of when you think of launching a crowdfunding campaign. But once you start collecting money, it will be important to record all financial transactions. It will make it a lot easier when it comes time to pay taxes at the end of the year.
Xero is an accounting app that lets you track expenses using its web and mobile app. It allows you to reconcile muli-currencies, invoice clients, and claim expenses. It is a good option if you are looking to build a small business from your campaign.
Freshbooks is another accounting software product. It is focused slightly more on freelancers and agencies who managed client. For this reason it may not be the best solution for your crowdfunding campaign.
QuickBooks is the oldest of these three options. It is one of the most popular small business accounting platform. For a small campaign, it may be overkill. Yet for a larger company you may want to use Quickbooks.
Online Store After Kickstarter
If your campaign continues to sell products after the initial campaign is finished you will need to setup an online store. I already mentioned Celery to collect information before and after the campaign. There are also multiple options for setting up an online store. We recommend one of the two options below.
Shopify the popular e-commerce store provider. Like Big Commerce they offer a full suite of e-commerce solutions. They also have a free trial in which you can setup a store before deciding if you want to purchase the softwear. They offer a full website builder with many great theme options.
Bigcommerce is like Shopify but they have a slightly smaller customer base. They offer almost identical pricing. They do have less options in their theme store. They both offer free trials so we recommend trying them both out and choosing the one you like best.
So that is the list! A complete roundup of tools to help your crowdfunding campaign. Let us know if you have a favorite that we have missed in the comments section below. Happy to update with your favorites!