Kickstarter Topic #3 – Getting Backers: How to Leverage Bloggers

One of the challenges most often faced by project creators during Kickstarter campaigns is how to get traffic (or potential backers) to your Kickstarter page. I only have a limited amount of friends on Facebook, and once I exhaust the list of Facebook friends who actually care about my project, I will need somewhere else to turn. Hence this blog post.

My goal here is to explain exactly how I reached out to bloggers to ask them to write about my Kickstarter project (which is now published and on Amazon.com) in the hopes of routing traffic my way. This also helped to keep buzz and momentum going and combat the notorious “mid-campaign slump” that usually occurs throughout the middle of a project.

Many Kickstarter project creators I talked to said that getting blogger coverage, and media coverage, is THE BEST way to route traffic to your project page, so it makes sense to start finding them early.

Here is How I Found and Reached Out to Bloggers

I am ran  a 42 day campaign (here’s why – Project Duration, Dates and Timeline) and my goal was to try and get one reference about my project made each day of the campaign.

Here is how I found and targeted these blogs. The process and steps may be a little different for others who have a very different type of product, but the fundamental points probably won’t change much.

Step One: Set-up Excel Spreadsheet

Setup an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all relevant information I find. This may sound like a stupid first step, but it will save you so much time in the future if you record all the searches in an excel spreadsheet (if you are working with multiple people on this project then working in an Google Sheet would allow all people to add information from multiple locations). A list of the relevant information is described below.

Step Two: Find Similar Products

Look for Kickstarter projects just like yours: Go to Kickstarter.com, search using EVERY combination of keywords that will bring up games like your. For mine I used “science”, “science game”, “DNA”, “DNA card game”, “science card game”,  “educational game”, “genetics”, “genetics game” …  you get the picture…

Then record all relevant data about these products into the spread sheet. The game’s name, the Kickstarter URL, the number of backers and the amount raised are all critical.

There are a lot of similar games to mine that were never on Kickstarter so I also did a Google search and recorded these product results as well.

Step Three: Find Blogs (Highly Effective Google Images Hack)

Go to Google Images and type in the name of one of the products from the list above. Then look for relevant pictures of the product. Then:

1. Click and drag that pictures into the Google search box at the top of the page where you would normally input text. Or,

2. RIGHT CLICK that image and select, “Copy image URL”. Now go back to Google Images and click the small camera icon on the right side of the search box. When the options bar opens up, make sure “Paste Image URL” is highltighted, and then paste the images URL in that search box (RIGHT CLICK inside the search box and then click on “Paste”).

This will bring up every website that currently uses this image. These will either be the product’s website, OR other blogs that wrote about the product – which is exactly what you are looking for!

Now, record the blog’s name, its URL, email address, Facebook and Twitter URLs, and the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers into your spreadsheet.

Step Four: Determine Blog Relevance

Now, you want to compare the traffic that each of these blogs receives. This way you can spend my time and effort on the most trafficked blogs.

Here are the five methods I will use to compare the traffic of the blogs found above.

(1)    Alexa Rank Plugin: Install the plugin and view the blog’s Alexa Ranking. The lower the Alexa rank the better. A rank below 2,000,000 means the website is at least relevant, while a rank below 1,000,000 means is good. A rank below 100,000 means the website is great, and a rank below 1,000 means they are probably too good for you!

  • The Alexa rank is very unreliable however and should only be used as a rough estimate. The Alexa plugin only tracks traffic from users who have the Alexa plugin so it can be easily manipulated.

(2)    Google Trends: http://www.google.com/trends/ : Type the blogs URL into the search bar on google trends. This only works for websites with HIGH traffic (100,000 visitors a month), however. You can also compare sites side-by-side using this tool.

(3)    The Comments Number in the URL – If you leave a comment on a blog or website the page will usually reload and the URL will show the number of total comments for the entire website at the very end the URL. Usually 75% are spam, and don’t show up on the website but are still counted in the total number. Comparing blogs side by side with this method does not yield flawless results, but it is another simple bootstrapping tool you can use to judge relevance.

(4)    Count Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers – Again, simple, but not very accurate. This method will give me a good comparison for multiple websites, but is not a very accurate measure of the site traffic. But as an estimate, a website with 10,000 followers is likely to have a much larger reach than a site with 1,000 followers.

(5)    Count the comments – Simplest and probably least accurate. It’s been estimated that 1 out of 200 visitors leaves a comment. Count the comments and multiply that by 200 and you have a bootstrapped method for identifying the number of visitors.

You should input every one of these metrics into your excel spreadsheet. Now you can compare the traffic estimates of all the relevant sites that blog about products similar to yours, side-by-side!

Step Five: Befriend the Blogger

Now that you have the URLs recorded in your spreadsheet for the top blogs, you can quickly go back to that blog site. Then, you will Identify the writer of that blog, and record all relevant information about this person into your spreadsheet (name and email are most important, Facebook account, twitter account, etc. could also be helpful).

Then, you should comment on some of their blogs, say nice things about them and their writing, retweet things they tweeted about, like articles on Facebook written by them, etc.

Help bloggers become more relevant because it’s not all about using them for their audience. Besides, if they are more relevant, then a review or article by them about your project will be more relevant as well! Social-media karma at its best!

And remember, a lot of bloggers are looking for cool things to write about anyway, so don’t be afraid to pitch your idea! Just make a point to explain why you think your project would be a good fit for them and their audience.

Now I email them and focus on two things – Being Personal and Being Succinct.

Here’s an example of an email I wrote to Jonathan Liu from GeekDad.com, which ended up being successful.

Hey Jonathan,

I read the article you wrote entitled, “Top 10 Reasons to Play Board Games with Your Kids”, about a month ago and absolutely loved what you had to say. If I ever get into an argument with my wife about how much time I spend playing games with our kids, I can justify it with your article!

I am contacting you to inquire if you would be interested in writing about a game I plan to launch on Kickstarter on April 16th. I saw another post you did on Robot Turtle, and think it’s pretty similar to my project in many ways. With this is mind, I thought I would reach out to you.

My game, “Linkage – A DNA Card Game” – is a Super Geeky card game where players mimic the process of DNA Transcription (commonly taught in high school biology) and compete to build the longest strand of RNA based upon a DNA template. I think that this would fit Geekdad.com’s audience of “both geeks and parents” as well as your gaming and Kickstarter blogging interests.

If you think this is the type of game you would like to write about, I would love to send you some more information, or help answer any questions you have to facilitate and simplify your writing process.

Look forward to reading more of your future Geekdad articles and thanks in advance for considering my inquiry.

Warm Regards,

John J. Coveyou (Genius Games)

I forgot to send him some pictures of my game when I sent this email, but I would highly recommend not making this same mistake.

Step Six: Log Positive Responses and Track Dates

Once you receive a positive response from a blogger, I think it would be a good idea to establish an agreed-upon date of the release of the article (but only if the blogger wants that time pressure).

At this point you should probably set up another spreadsheet to track each blog, article and review about your product and the projected day it should release. This way you can attempt to have one article or discussion about your product for each day of the Kickstarter campaign.

Step Seven: Ensure All Relevant Audiences are Covered

Next go back and make sure you thought of every possible relevant overlapping type of audience, not just the ones that are directly applicable. My campaign was intended to fund a card game with game play and mechanics based accurately on the actual function of DNA and RNA in a cell. Therefore, it has a game play component, an educational component, and a geeky science component.

With this is mind, I wanted to ensure I had bloggers with audiences in a few main areas:

(1)    Card games and game development

(2)    Educational games

(3)    Geeky science games and products

(4)    Homeschool groups – I won’t go into detail here but these groups are highly likely to be interested in this type of educational game product

(5) Science and genetics enthusiasts (This is the biggest audience of all of them but the least likely to care about it also)

Of course there are many other interested groups but I narrowed my focus on these because I was running on the assumption that these audiences were the most relevant to my project and they would hopefully yield the most “bang for my buck” as far as effort is concerned.

Since there are five different types of audiences here (with some overlap of course) and my goal was to get roughly forty blogs post, it makes sense to pursue getting highlighted by about 8 in each category.

But you probably won’t get a positive response from every blog you contact, so contact many more than that. I aimed for sending fifteen to twenty emails out for each of these four groups –  but this was a it low. We only receive a positive response from maybe 20% of the people we contacted

Please feel free to leave a comment!

How would you do it differently, or how HAVE YOU done it differently? Feel free to leave a comments so I could discuss it further with you!