Kickstarter and What It's For

All about the creative crowdfunding platform that's taken the web by storm

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Kickstarter is a funding platform where creators can share and gather interest on a particular creative project they'd like to launch.

It's entirely driven by crowdfunding, meaning that the general public (and their money) is what sends these projects into production. Every project is independently crafted while friends, fans and total strangers offer to fund them in return for rewards or the finished product itself.

How Kickstarter Works

Kickstarter is driven by two types of users: creators and backers. As you might have guessed, creators are the ones who present creative project ideas and backers are the ones who fund them.

Creators can set up a page to display all the details of their project and prototypes using text, video, and photos to tell viewers about it. Project creators set a funding goal and a deadline, plus different levels of rewards backers can receive by pledging specific amounts. (The more they pledge, the bigger the reward.)

Once enough backers have funded the project by pledging a small or large amount of money to meet the creators' goal by the deadline, development, and production of those projects can be carried out. Depending on the complexity of the project, backers who pledged money may have to wait months before they receive or get access to the finished the product.

Starting a Kickstarter Project

Although Kickstarter is a great platform for exposure, not everyone gets their projects approved. To start, every creator needs to review the Project Guidelines before submitting a project. About 75 percent of projects make it through while the remaining 25 percent get rejected usually because they don’t comply with the guidelines.

Projects don’t just have to fall into the technology category, although many often do. Kickstarter is a place for creators of all kinds — including filmmakers, artists, musicians, designers, writers, illustrators, explorers, curators, performers and other creative individuals with great ideas.

Kickstarter also has a number of general rules that creators must abide by for their projects. They must:

  • create something that can be shared with others;
  • be honest and clearly presented;
  • not be fundraising for charity;
  • not be offering equity; and
  • not involve prohibited items.

Kickstarter’s 'All or Nothing' Rule

A creator can only collect the funds if the funding goal has been reached by the deadline. If the goal is not reached in time, no money changes hands.

Kickstarter has put this rule in place to minimize the risk for everyone. If a project can’t generate enough funds and is stuck trying to deliver to current backers when there wasn’t money raised, it can be tough on everyone, but creators can always try again at a later time.

All Backers Have the Opportunity to Receive Rewards

Kickstarter requires its creators to offer some kind of reward to their backers, no matter how simple or elaborate. When people fund a project, they can choose one of the predetermined funding amounts that the creators have laid out.

Once a project has successfully reached its goal funding amount, it is entirely up to the creators to send out surveys or any other information requesting backer details like name, address, T-shirt size, color preference or whatever else is necessarily needed. From there, creators will send out the rewards.

All Kickstarter pages have an “Estimated Delivery Date” section to specify when you can expect to receive your rewards as a backer. It can take several months before anything is delivered if the reward is the product itself.

Backing a Project

Pledging money to a project is easy. All you have to do is click the green “Back this Project” button on any project page of your choice. Backers are then asked to select an amount and a reward. All your information gets filled out through Amazon’s checkout system.

Credit cards are never charged until after the deadline for the project has passed. If the project doesn’t reach its funding goal, your credit card is never charged. Whatever the outcome, Kickstarter sends all backers an email right after the project end date.

Browsing Projects

Browsing through projects has never been easier. You can simply browse the Kickstarter homepage to see featured projects, what's recommended, fresh favorites and more. Or use the search button at the top to search for something specific by name or keyword.

You can also take a look through the categories at the top if there’s a particular type of project you’re looking for. Categories include arts, comics & illustration, design & tech, film, food & craft, games, music and publishing.

Patreon is a similar site that is geared specifically for people who create art, music, writing, or other types of creative services. If Kickstarter doesn't seem to offer you the creative category you need, check Patreon.