Quickstarter Shorty Squad Title Image


There’s a new crowdfunding method in town and its name is Quickstarter. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Or maybe the title had you wondering what in the world is that? Either way, you’ve come to the right place.


What is a Quickstarter?

A Quickstarter is…*drumroll please*…a very short Kickstarter. That’s all. It’s not a new platform at all. But before you leave with a “psshaw!”, you should know Quickstarters are an actual thing that the Kickstarter team acknowledges and encourages.

Kickstarter had humble beginnings, intended to support small creative projects. But now you can find anything from art zines to large-scale corporate endeavors. Companies and startups are using Kickstarter to fund everything from robots to ramen.

Giant, large-scale Kickstarter projects take on a different look. Most include press releases, endorsements from big names in their respective industries, and several “stretch goal” extensions.

To give you an idea of the scale of these projects, here are some highlights:

While impressive, these projects are a vast departure from what Kickstarter founders Peter Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler intended. While Kickstarter’s mission is focused on creative projects, the most revenue has come from their games, design, and technology categories.

In response, they’ve launched the “Quickstarter,” described on their site as “an invitation to create small projects.” The idea is credited to Oscar Lhermitte, a designer based in London.


What’s Considered a Quickstarter?

There are 9 qualifying “rules” for running a Quickstarter. Like the whole concept of a Quickstarter, these rules are informal and not enforced in any way. Following these “rules” is entirely up to the project creator:

  1. Planned in 3 months or less.
  2. Runs for 20 days or less.
  3. Goal is under $1000.
  4. Backer rewards are under $50.
  5. Video (if used) shot in a single day.
  6. No creator-initiated media or PR.
  7. No paid ads.
  8. No stretch goals.
  9. The term “Quickstarter” is in your project name.

The rules are simple. In short, Kickstarter is telling creators to think small, spend less, and do less. Maybe I’m not the target audience for this initiative since anything I would put on Kickstarter would meet most, if not all, of these rules. Or maybe this is a roundabout way of telling individual creators like myself that there’s still a place for my kind of project.


Quickstarter Examples

There are a surprising number of Quickstarter projects already. Some of the most popular ones that articles have mentioned are the envelope bag, which is just a really strong bag that’s foldable…



…and the lazy postcard, which are postcards with cutouts so you have an excuse to write a really short (or not) message.


As a writer, that’s not really my thing, but 141 people were into it.


Personally, I liked Stami Studios‘s Sleeping Luna Pin Quickstarter.

Screenshot of Stami's Sleeping Luna Pin Quickstarter



So Why Do a Quickstarter?

Are there any special benefits to running a Quickstarter? Is there a good reason for big companies to start trying smaller projects or for small businesses to jump on board and label their projects “Quickstarters”?

I have no idea.

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any particular benefit to running a Quickstarter over an ordinary Kickstarter. But I’m going to try one and here’s why:


It Can’t Hurt

I don’t know if there are any benefits to running a Quickstarter, but since the idea has been so highly promoted by Kickstarter, there can’t be any penalties either.


Rule Breaker? Not Me.

The project I’m drafting already meets all 9 Quickstarter rules. It’s a single enamel pin and I don’t plan to add any stretch goals. I suppose I can resist my urge to reach out to news outlets and my PR connections for this one.



If running a business on Instagram has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a LOT going on at the backend of any platform. Instagram is notorious for its confusing algorithm, which determines which posts you actually see on your feed.

So could jumping on the Quickstarter bandwagon get my project more traffic? Possibly. But I’m sure Kickstarter would never reveal if and how they prioritize projects on their platform, other than the blatant “Projects We Love” category.

Will running a Quickstarter get my campaign featured on the Quickstarter page? Again, it’s not clear. But currently, the most visible projects displayed are already listed as “Projects We Love.” You have to hit the “Load More” button several times to even see ordinary projects.


Still, I do think there are a couple reasons why “Quickstarter” is a nice thought:


  1. It communicates to creators that small projects are okay and relieves the pressure to promote your campaign like it’s a second job.
  2. It communicates to potential backers that this is a simple project with a quick turnaround.


In the end, I don’t expect much from running a Quickstarter, but I’m curious enough to try it.


My Quickstarter Plans

I’ll be holding a Quickstarter for *surprise surprise* an enamel pin! If you follow me on Instagram or this blog, you may know that I’ve been venturing into the world of fan art. I have two Ghibli pins up for sale now, but anyone could make Ghibli pins. Who doesn’t like Ghibli?

But the fandom I’m really obsessed with is Steven Universe. If you haven’t seen this cartoon, I’m sorry. I can’t even explain to you why it’s the best because that would take a 5-part blog series. Although if you’re interested, I could take a month to write about Steven. I’ll just say that in our currently-especially-crummy world, I fully endorse the use of uplifting cartoons as self-care.

But back to Quickstarter.

I’d love for my first Steven Universe pin to be this “Shorty Squad” design!

SU Shorty Squad Pin mockup

I absolutely love Shorty Squad and being vertically challenged, I can relate. Peridot is also my favorite.

I’ve never seen a Shorty Squad pin (but if you’re aware of one out there, please send a link my way!) so I would be thrilled to bring this cute crew to life.


Why a Kickstarter for One Pin?

SU Shorty Squad Pin Gold Mockup

I realize this is a single pin, so you might be wondering why I’m running a Kickstarter for it. The main issues are that this is pin has to be big enough to preserve all the details and has a lot of different colors to stay true to the characters.

Naturally, the larger and more detailed a pin is, the most costly it is to produce. A standard price for enamel pins usually includes 4 to 5 colors. This Shorty Squad pin would have 15 COLORS. Here are the specs I have planned so far:

  • hard enamel
  • gold plating
  • 2 inches wide
  • 15 colors
  • 2 pin posts
  • Monicartsy back stamp

There’s quite a bit going on for one pin. That’s why I’m launching a Quickstarter on July 15th. The campaign will last two weeks and end on July 29th.

The circumstances of this project are a bit different than my Seasonal Succulents Kickstarter. I was determined to make the entire set of four succulent pins even if the campaign didn’t cover all the costs. I successfully funded two of the pins and released the remaining pins later. But the Shorty Squad pin will truly be all-or-nothing.

If the pin isn’t fully funded through Kickstarter, I’ll take it as a sign that there isn’t enough interest in the design and leave it on the drawing board. I’ve rushed into some of my previous pin designs without gauging interest, so this time I’m trying to be more mindful of what people want and are actually willing to buy.

In personal news, I’ll be moving across the country to start graduate school soon. So unfortunately, I’ll need to buy boring things like furniture before producing new pins. Although I’m nervous and weirdly worried about failing with this Kickstarter, I’m looking forward to just giving it a shot!

I hope you look forward to seeing this project go live soon! Keep up with updates on my Instagram or Facebook page.

Shorty Squad Title Image for Kickstarter



Kickstarter isn’t always convenient. It takes a lot of time. The funding isn’t guaranteed. You need to follow the Kickstarter’s requirements to get approved and pull off a successful campaign. And then you need to give Kickstarter their cut. It’s not surprising that many creators would rather stay away.


Preorders as a Way to Fund

Many artists in the enamel pin community open preorders. But generally, preorders don’t perform well unless the artist is well-known and/or there’s a good discount included. From what I’ve seen, preorders aren’t a good way to gather funding for production.

But there’s another beast known as “necessary preorders.”


What is a Necessary Preorder?

I’ve only seen necessary preorders pop up in artists’ shops recently.

Necessary preorders require a certain number of orders before the project can go into production. The seller will only run necessary preorders for a set period of time. If they don’t receive enough orders by the deadline, the project will not be made and all customers will have their orders refunded.

It’s essentially an independently run Kickstarter. For many products, Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms act as preorder facilitators. Yes, backers may help bring a product to life, but in most cases, they expect to receive the product as well.

A necessary preorder is arguably more transparent in being all about the product. Naturally, there are several reasons why you might consider a necessary preorder and several reasons you might not.


Benefits of a Necessary Preorder


You retain control.

On your shop website, you run the preorder campaign any way you want. There are no limitations to the rewards you can offer to customers, no set formula to follow, nor any obligations to continually update your project.


No fees.

Because you manage the entire process yourself, you don’t owe fees to anyone. Every cent you make can go directly into your project. Plain and simple.



On a crowdfunding platform, you’re tied to a specific funding goal and deadline. But on your website, funding a project quickly means you can access your funds immediately and get your product into production faster.

Timing is also up to you. If you don’t quite meet your goal by the deadline, you might choose to wait a day, make a final promotional push, and encourage a few more preorders. Or you might decide to foot the rest of the bill yourself and start production. While having this flexibility is nice, be sure to communicate clearly with your customers so you don’t come across as unreliable. This leads in nicely to the potential drawbacks of running necessary preorders.


Drawbacks of a Necessary Preorder


No established platform to drive traffic to your preorder campaign.

Whenever you fundraise on a platform, you benefit from the built-in audience that comes with it. My Seasonal Succulents Kickstarter received 46% of its pledges from people who discovered me through Kickstarter. If you choose to run a preorder campaign on your own, you don’t receive the perks of additional traffic from a platform.


More marketing required for you.

You need to put more effort into two levels of your marketing efforts: design and traffic. Naturally, you need to do extra promotion to get the same amount of visibility that your project would have received on a crowdfunding platform.

But you also need to consider the layout of your preorder page. Kickstarter comes with a pre-built structure designed to lay out the details of your project clearly and concisely. Backers are usually familiar with Kickstarter’s layout too, so they can quickly find the information they need.

Your necessary preorders need to be displayed prominently and made distinct from any regular products. If your preorder is listed just like any other product, you risk visitors glossing over it or misunderstanding its purpose.


You have the burden of more perceived risk.

Crowdfunding platforms don’t just come with an audience. They’ve also established trust with consumers. Most online consumers have heard of sites like Kickstarter, Indigogo or GoFundMe. If your project doesn’t get funded, visitors know the site is reputable and can count on receiving their money back.

When purchasing a necessary preorder, the consumer has to trust you as an individual business. This is an additional and perhaps the most significant barrier to a purchase. Ways you can reduce this barrier include showing a clear track record with positive reviews, similar products, and successfully funded projects in the past.


Tips for Running a Necessary Preorder


  1. Be crystal clear.

Necessary Preorders Water Drop Crystal on a rock

Ensure everything is crystal clear from the start. There are many opportunities for visitors to misunderstand or misinterpret your project. Necessary preorders simply aren’t very well-known. If you don’t believe me, just do a Google search. Marketers aren’t even talking about necessary preorders yet (or if they are, their SEO is too low to show up in search engine results).

You don’t want users misunderstanding and expecting your preorder product to be sent out immediately. Take care to also explain that the project is not guaranteed to be funded. Customers should be sad, but not shocked if your project doesn’t make it.

Regardless of the outcome, the most important point you’ll want to stress is what happens with their money. Clearly state that if a project isn’t funded, you’ll completely refund everyone’s orders. It wouldn’t hurt to mention this multiple times. You want to emphasize that funding this project carries no risk for your customers.


  1. Consider your timing.

Necessary Preorders old antique clock on rocky ground

Choose the right length of time. This is easier said than done. You’ll want to choose a time frame that isn’t so long that your customers get sick of waiting and pull out. But your preorder period can’t be so short that you don’t have enough time to promote your project. Give people time to find your project and be clear about your deadline.

There’s no single “best” length of time for a necessary preorder. This will vary by the nature of your project and your reputation as an artist. Do you already have an extensive network and social media following? Or will you need more time to reach enough members of your target audience? Expect some trial and error. The default for Kickstarter projects is about one month.


  1. Social media is your friend.

Necessary Preorders: Smartphone that has blue screen with the word Social on it, faces, and various social media icons, laid on top of a white keyboard

Since you need to promote your preorders even more than you would on a crowdfunding platform, use social media to your advantage. You can find just about any audience on social media. Even businesses who target consumers aged 65+ use Facebook.

Connect with your following. Ask them to support your project, if it’s of interest to them and ask them to share for a snowball effect. While you could do extensive research into what makes for effective social media marketing, here’s a crash course.

  • Create fun, interesting, and relevant
  • Use images and video.
  • Post consistently.
  • Craft attractive headlines.
  • Don’t forget to include an ask (CTA) in your posts.


  1. Create a community.

Necessary Preorders: Light and dark blue speech bubbles in a cluster

People enjoy the community aspect of crowdfunding projects, but you don’t need to use a platform to encourage community. On social media, email lists, or in-person, communicate with your customers and followers. Although you’re not obligated to provide updates, your customers will appreciate being kept in the loop. There’s a sense of progress that comes with project updates. They can also double as promotion opportunities to remind people about your project and generate more excitement.


  1. Give evidence of past success.

Necessary Preorders: magnifying glass on old book

We touched on this when we talked about risk, but don’t be shy about showing off your past successes. A strong track record goes a long way, whether in the form of concrete numbers or social proof. Numbers you can highlight include number of sales, past projects you’ve successfully funded, or existing products that are similar to your necessary preorder.

Social proof brings in others and has more weight than your own word. You’ll want to provide evidence of satisfied customers in the form of positive ratings and reviews. Another powerful way to accumulate social proof is by partnering with bloggers, social media influencers, or media outlets. Coverage of your product, specific project, or business as a whole builds trust with your target audience.



Necessary preorders can be a helpful, independent way to fund your projects. But they require a lot of groundwork and additional promotion, particularly for small businesses. Have you tried necessary preorders for yourself? If so, what was your experience?



Kickstarter projects are all or nothing. If a project doesn’t reach its funding goal, it’s canceled and backers never see pledges taken out of their account. But in my first Kickstarter, I received funding for 2 out of 4 pin designs. How?

I used stretch goals, but perhaps not in the way Kickstarter intended.

The crowdfunding venue distances itself from stretch goals as not being an official part of the platform, but acknowledges their existence and value. But now creators are using stretch goals differently.


What is a Stretch Goal?

Kickstarter defines a stretch goal as “a funding target set by the project creator beyond the original Kickstarter goal.” These additional funds often add perks or upgrades to the existing project, like improving binding on a self-published zine or higher quality game pieces for a board game. They may also be separate from the project. Extra stickers, a free pin, or a bonus comic strip are all stretch goals I’ve seen creators offer.

That’s not the kind of stretch goal I used. I’m talking about stretch goals as a way of running a Kickstarter project.

Most projects on Kickstarter have one clear goal. They either get enough to print 500 copies of that comic book, record and produce that album, produce a revolutionary new type of ramen…or not.

Smaller projects are different. If your goal is to produce a set of 10 enamel pins, you could take the all-or-nothing route too. All 10 pins or nothing! Risky, but that’s the nature of Kickstarter.

But what if instead, you could collect funding for just some of the pins? And you didn’t have to meet your end goal to put some pins into production?

That’s the mindset behind using stretch goals for your entire campaign strategy, rather than just the extras.


How Does a Stretch Goal Based Campaign Work?

Rather than just write about it, let’s look at two examples. First, take my finished campaign.


A screenshot of my completed Kickstarter campaign, featuring an image of my 4 succulents in cups designs (with 2 additional color variations for a total of 6 pins)
My Completed Kickstarter Campaign

I planned to create a set of four succulent pins based on seasons. I set my initial goal at $200 to cover the cost of a single pin. Being my first Kickstarter project, I wasn’t confident that I could get all four pins funded. Setting the official funding goal for only my first pin design was less risky. Nothing is guaranteed in a Kickstarter campaign of course, but I was much more likely to raise $200 than $1000.

I launched my project on March 5th and successfully funded the first pin March 12th – in exactly one week. And it turns out, stretch goals were the right call. The second pin design was barely funded – right before the project ended on March 28th.


A screenshot of Reboops' Kickstarter project for 20 Overwatch-inspired enamel pins
Reboops’ Overwatch Pins Kickstarter

Now let’s look at a couple of on-going projects. My good friend Reboops just launched her third (!!!) Kickstarter campaign. She’s aiming for a massive set of 20 pins based on characters from the game Overwatch.

As of this writing, she’s funded 11 pins (out of 20). Like my campaign, her initial goal was only set for a single pin. In this case, she isn’t planning any stretch goals beyond the set of 20, but has added extra pin designs to previous Kickstarter campaigns as she met her original goals.


A screenshot of Shirley Jackson's Chinese Zodiac Animal Kickstarter, featuring an image of 3 pins: Horse, Sheep, and Monkey
Shirley Jackson (Lioninthetrees)’s Zodiac Animal Pin Kickstarter

Do all pin Kickstarter projects work this way then? No, and Shirley Jackson’s Chinese Zodiac enamel pins are a great example of a more traditional approach to a project. In this series, she aims to fund three pin designs and 12 zodiac animal screen prints.

Her stretch goals include two different color variants and an extra enamel pin (related to the Chinese Zodiac story). Although these are “stretch goals,” they’ll definitely get funded. This project was just released this morning but has already met its main goal! But I absolutely love Shirley’s work, so I can see why.

Update: A couple hours later and all but the final stretch goal has been funded. Woah.

Update #2: All stretch goals funded before I could get this post online!


Full Funding Goals vs. Stretch Goals

While traditional campaigns aim to fully fund a project, stretch goal-based campaigns fund a project in steps. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but naturally, they both have pros and cons.

Full Goal Pros:

  • Crystal clear goal
  • Easy to understand
  • Less likely to have unexpected costs/insufficient funds


Full Goal Cons:

  • Higher risk
  • Greater possibility of no funding

Running your campaign with your full goal as your official goal doesn’t have any significant advantages or disadvantages. It’s simply the default. Your audience will see exactly what your goal is, with no opportunity for confusion. You also inherit the all-or-nothing risk that’s inherent to the Kickstarter platform.

If you truly need the full amount of funding for your project, or you aren’t willing to create only a part of your project, use full goal funding.


Stretch Goal Pros:

  • Higher chance of success
  • Less risk
  • Good for risky or less popular projects
  • Generates excitement throughout the campaign

A stretch goal set-up is perfect if your project is flexible and you’re unsure about your chances of success. A project targeted to a very niche audience, a relatively new creator, or a project where the first goal really is your primary goal are all good candidates for stretch goals.

With your initial amount set far lower than your full project goal, you’re far more likely to guarantee some amount of funding.

But one of the most notable but overlooked benefits of running a stretch goal-based campaign is excitement. Traditional projects have two high points: when your project is fully funded and when the campaign ends (and the project begins).

Stretch goals create several high points throughout your campaign. After meeting your first goal, backers can still look forward to the next goal or their favorite one. But note that this only works if you’re consistently meeting stretch goals throughout the campaign.


Stretch Goal Cons:

  • Less urgency once you’ve met your official goal
  • Partial funding may not be enough for actual costs

When planning a campaign based on stretch goals, not getting fully funded is a definite possibility. So be sure to set each goal high enough for each additional reward. When I give this warning the example I have in mind is my own campaign.

Because my campaign barely hit my second goal before it ended, I was able to offer that my second pin design to backers. I’m really glad I could. But on that last day, one person canceled their pledge. Kickstarter didn’t change the total amount to reflect that dropped pledge, so in reality, when funds came through, I’d actually raised a total of $389 and after Kickstarter fees, received $353.

On one hand, I’m glad my second design was “officially” unlocked and I could but it into production right away. But the funds just covered manufacturing costs, and I was left to cover remaining expenses like shipping myself. That’s the kind of oversight that I expect would be less likely with a full goal Kickstarter.


In the end, one type of campaign isn’t better than the other, but they suit different needs.

If you have a project (like enamel pins) that can be broken up into smaller goals and don’t necessarily need to be released as a complete set, a stretch goal-based project will work just fine.

But if your project needs the total amount of funding to be successful, can’t or shouldn’t be split into parts, or you want to manage a simpler campaign, full goal funding is the way to go.


Banner of 7 plant pin designs. From left to right: zebra plant in a red pot, golden sedums in blue and pink teacups, sedum in a glass, sedum in a paper coffee cup, and 2 sedums in blue and purple mugs

Last month I started my first Kickstarter campaign. I shared, promoted, and actually created a content strategy to get the word out. And it was successful!

Last week, I finished shipping out Kickstarter rewards. Unless there’s a problem with any orders, the process is over. That batch of 20-some Kickstarter rewards was technically my second art sale. Thinking about it that way, a Kickstarter may have been a bit premature. But I’m glad I tried it and naturally, I learned a lot.

There were several little moments of excitement and accomplishment throughout the process: getting my first backer, getting more backers, anytime I got a backer actually, and then figuring out and successfully accomplishing the logistics.

Before I address what I learned from running a Kickstarter, I thought I’d go into why I decided to start a Kickstarter project in the first place.


Why Start a Kickstarter?

Other than for the money? I decided to venture into the world of crowdfunding because:

  • Pins are expensive
  • Pin makers run successful Kickstarter campaigns all the time
  • Pin sets are far easier to produce at once with some support

Kickstarters are common in the pin creator community. First, seeing all these pin makers on Instagram showed me it was possible. For me, this occurred at two levels: in the abstract, seeing pin makers I follow online, and in person, as one of my dear friends successfully ran two massive (and massively successful) Kickstarter campaigns.

Crowdfunding also felt like the best way to produce a set of pins. But there’s another benefit that I didn’t know about at the time.

Kickstarter projects generate excitement and urgency. I’ve experienced this as a backer, but there’s a sense of pride in being able to bring a project to life with your purchase or donation. Kickstarter creates a community in a way that preorders in a shop cannot. As a backer, or someone on the fence about backing, you can follow along with a project’s progress and if it’s successful, feel like you too had a role in that success. Which, well, if you backed it, you did.

While running a Kickstarter was fun and exciting and new, I definitely feel a sense of relief now that it’s over. My campaign funded two out of four pins in the series. I’m satisfied, but looking back, there are certainly things I would have done differently.

6 succulent pin designs on a purple gradient background. Designs feature succulents in different cups: teacup, glass, paper coffee cup, and mug

Lessons from My First Kickstarter

Remember how I said this Kickstarter was only my second art sale? Yeah. In retrospect, I might have told myself, hey, isn’t it a bit soon to be running a Kickstarter? Maybe it was. But it also turned out fine.

That doesn’t mean I would repeat the process as is. Here’s what I learned:

1. Build Your Audience First!

Here’s how I began my campaign. I created my Kickstarter project and set my campaign period shorter than the default amount (because I’d read/heard that shorter campaigns tended to do better and I was impatient). Then after the project was already underway, I began reading up on how to run a successful campaign. And the one thing all experienced creators were saying was to build up your audience first.

Whoops. I suppose I’d been trying to do a little network-building by creating and building up an art Instagram account. But my following was and still is moderate. If I’d heard this bit of advice first, I would have waited before starting a campaign. Or worked harder to build a large following.

2. Set Higher Funding Goals.

I remember once finding a Kickstarter project to fund a single pin that was listed at $900. $900?! I could produce at least four pins at that price! I set my own project goals at $200 per pin, a very reasonable amount, I thought.

Reasonable, but maybe not for Kickstarter. While I knew about Kickstarter’s fees and thought I’d factored them into account, other costs added up too. In case you’re wondering, Kickstarter charges a 5% fee plus payment processing fees (3% + $0.20 per payment). I didn’t make the mistake of not charging for shipping, but I severely underpriced international shipping costs. This one’s (halfway) on me, international buyers!

There were also multiple components of the packaging that I hadn’t considered. Bubble mailers, individual pin packaging, backing cards, business cards, label sticker paper, and shipping labels all cost something. I haven’t calculated what the actual cost per person came out to yet, but I know it was more than what I charged.

Moral of the story: $900 for a one-pin Kickstarter project isn’t so unreasonable after all.

3. Get Your Packaging Ready Early.

I started out with a rough idea of how I wanted my packaging to look. But I was slow to actually purchase the supplies. This was a mistake because I couldn’t just go out and buy everything in a single afternoon. Everything is cheaper and comes in more colors online. I wasn’t even able to find all the parts I wanted for packaging at local stores. So when my pins arrived a little early, I was still waiting on pieces of my packaging.

While my orders didn’t experience a delay because the pins arrived earlier than expected, it would have been much easier to get everything together early.

4.. There’s a Payment Processing Period.

Bonus tip! After your Kickstarter project is successfully funded, there’s a 14-day payment processing period. Fortunately, I learned about this through a friend before my campaign ended. Because my project was relatively small, I ordered from my manufacturer before receiving my Kickstarter funds so it wouldn’t be as long of a wait.


Kickstarter has its place, but I don’t plan to run another campaign anytime soon. But creating a Ghibli pin set does look like fun…