The Kickstarter potato salad project, run in 2014, was a crazy viral sensation. Although it’ll be impossible to directly copy it, there is plenty we can learn and put in to our own campaigns.

If you’re a crowdfunding enthusiast (or really were just online at all in 2014) you’ll almost certainly have heard of the Kickstarter potato salad project that raised around $55,000 on Kickstarter. If you’ve not seen it before, check out this campaign page:

Kickstarter potato salad project screenshot
Kickstarter potato salad project screenshot – yes, that is the whole campaign page!

At a first glance, this just seems annoying. Some of us are putting in hundreds of hours preparing our campaign pages, then along comes Zack “Danger” Brown and seemingly launches a $55,000 project with 5 minutes of work!

But there is plenty here we can learn from.

Be yourself. While product is of course usually critical, on Kickstarter your backers are supporting you almost as much as they are backing the specific project. If they like and trust you, you’ll find that you earn the trust of people who will then be far more willing to support your projects.

The trick here is that Zack has created a seemingly silly project, but done with humour and charm. If he’d launched a serious project aimed at making high quality potato salad I think he’d have completely failed. He might not even have made the £10 goal! Instead, he acknowledges that the project is silly and plays on that.

Get to the point. The original campaign page, before he started adding project updates, was “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet” and then the list of rewards.

While I’d advise against going quite that minimal for a serious project, getting to the point in the fewest possible words means your backers have no confusion at all about what they are backing. There are hundreds of projects live at any one time, so you need to quickly capture the attention of potential backers or they will just move on to the next campaign in the list.

Have rewards at every price point. The potato salad project had rewards starting at $1 and going right through to $110.

The $1 reward was just a “thanks” message on the website, yet it had over 2000 backers! That’s over $2000 for doing nothing, just because people wanted to be involved. Finding a reward you can offer at a very low price point is a great way to encourage people to back your project.

But I don’t have a Kickstarter potato salad project to launch!

Well no, but that’s for the best. This is one of those projects that will probably never be repeated and you’ll be wasting your time trying. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the lessons you’ve learned here and apply them to your project. Use your sense of humour (if you have one), get to the point, and make sure you’ve got a reward that is suitable for as many people as possible.

If you’re an individual or a small business, don’t try to present yourself as something you’re not. The more human and real you appear, the more you’ll find that the Kickstarter community will respond to you. At some point in the future of your business you may want to present a “big company” image, but Kickstarter isn’t the place for that.

If you’re thinking of starting a project of your own, make sure you’re checking out my resources pages for building an email list and running a Kickstarter campaign where you’ll find loads of articles (with more being added all the time) that will guide you through the process.