Kickstarter lab for writers: stretch goals

laboratory blog

If backers want to get their hands on your project then they will be motivated to increase their pledge, boost the signal, and spread the word… up until it hits the funding goal. Then they’re guaranteed what they ordered, and their work is done. But you can keep the momentum going through the magic of stretch goals!

Stretch goals are an unofficial part of Kickstarter but many, many campaigns use them to great effect. The idea is simple: if you hit a certain number of supporters or dollars beyond the minimum, then you’ll add something extra to the project.

Of course, most projects that get funded do so by only a small margin, so stretch goals may never become important. Still, it’s a good idea to think about them ahead of time because you wouldn’t want to miss out on the potential momentum they can create in certain situations.

The best stretch rewards are those that improve the product for everyone. If all your backers have some stake in getting to the next stretch goal, then they’ll be more motivated to help find other backers or even raise their own pledge levels.

Some stretch goal ideas include:

  • Extra Content. This bonus is probably the writer’s best friend, because you can add your short stories. If you offer them electronically rather than on paper, there will be minimal or no production cost. If you have several short stories to put together into a paper anthology, it will have an even a wider appeal. For my first Kickstarter, I did an anthology called THREE WEEKS BEFORE DOOMSDAY, and I made it a limited edition collector’s item that readers can only get directly from me and not through stores. This worked well.
  • Bonus Art. If you have the ability to create alternate covers or extra interior illustrations, then those could make great stretch goals. If not, with very little effort you can transform your cover image into a desktop screen or some other easily-emailed perk. See my previous post on ways to design the visuals for your project.
  • New reward option. Many project offer a new backer level and/or add-on. You might consider setting this to trigger if the project funding has reached a critical mass where it would be worth ordering the minimum amount of a certain item. Beware that most people aren’t going to be motivated to get you to the next level just for some coffee mug or t-shirt that they would have to pay for anyway. If you’re going to have a new add-on, make sure it’s something totally awesome that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

It’s important to plan several stretch goals in advance, although you can always keep a few hidden to reveal at a dramatic moment part way through the campaign.

For my experiment this time around, I decided to have two tracks of stretch goals, one for total money raised and one for total backers pledged. I anticipate that this will work because this project basically offers two main products (the new novel and an audio book of the original novel). For the backer’s track, I will start reaching those goals before the project is funded, but that’s okay because I’m hoping to use that to create excitement and encourage backers to boost the signal.

I also wanted to do something visual and interesting, so I decided to illustrate my stretch goals as if the pledges are filling up flasks. As we hit stretch goals, I’ll fill them in with color to show progress:

stretch goalsWe’ll see if these two stretch goal tracks complement each other or get in each other’s way. That’s why I’m calling this blog a laboratory—you get to see the results of my experiment!


About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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