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Hacking Kickstarter’s “Popular” Algorithm | How to Create a Wildly Successful Campaign - Prefundia Blog: Create a coming soon page in minutes

Hacking Kickstarter’s “Popular” Algorithm | How to Create a Wildly Successful Campaign

This post gets pretty granular and data heavy, so if that’s not your thing we’ve summarized actionable information here. To get into the popular section of a category on Kickstarter, the three biggest drivers are:

  1. Backers per day
  2. Percent funded
  3. Total raised

Backers per day is much more heavily weighted than the others, so you really want to blow up your backer-count, and you really want to do it early on, because 50 backers on day one is 50 backers per day, but 50 backers on day 10 is only 5 backers per day.

One easy way to pump up your backer count is to include a reward for $1 or some other nominal amount that allows people to become backers with minimal investment, and since backers are more heavily weighted than dollars, you’ll be handsomely rewarded for it in regards to the popular algorithm.

The best way to juice your backer count early on is to have huge hoards of people waiting to back your project so that when you launch, you can drop them all in at once, but that’s for another post.

Now for the full analysis.


As of today, the “popular this week” section of any given category on Kickstarter pulls six projects randomly from the top few projects of that section to display on that category’s front page. For product design, it pulls from the top 15. Theater pulls from the top 12.

Popular Screenshot


In order to figure out how Kickstarter decides what’s most popular, we took the top 15 projects in the Design category and analyzed their % funded, number of backers, dollars pledged, and days live.



Backers per day

The most heavily weighted metric within the “popular” algorithm is number of backers per day. A project that has 50 backers on the first day will typically out rank a project that has 50 backers on its second day, even if that project has raised more money and is funded to a higher percentage, as is the case with the number 1 and 2 spots in our analysis.

Following backers per day, percent funded and total dollars raised are the next drivers, though their impact is significantly less weighty.

Now, to hacking the algorithm. “Backers per day” is time-sensitive. 50 backers on day one equals 50 backers per day, but 50 backers on day five is only 10 backers per day. You’ll notice that of the top 15 projects in our analysis, only three have been live for 10 days or more, because with each day that passes, their “backers per day” number gets cut down and it becomes harder and harder to compete with the projects that have only been live for a few days.

Therefore, your best shot at getting into the popular list is on day one, while backers per day is still only divided by one. In the product design category, you don’t need to be number one – just top 15. At the time of our analysis, the project with the lowest backers per day had 44, meaning that if you had been able to drum up 45 backers on the first day, it’s very likely that you’d be in the top 15 and therefore the popular section of the design category home page.

Here’s the same data, sorted by backers per day:

backers per day

Total dollars and percent funded

You’ll notice that, when sorted by backers per day, the projects aren’t in perfect order. Somehow the number 11 position slipped in to the number 3 spot.

In reality, though, the number 3 position took number 11’s spot, because number 11 has more backers per day. However, the number 3 position has significantly more total funding ($230,592 vs. $85,133) and is funded to a higher percentage than number 11 (576% vs. 209%).

In addition, the number 5 position, when sorted by backers per day, is actually number 14. So why was it able to earn the number 5 spot? The total raised is below average for this group, but if sorted by percentage funded, it would be number two.

percent funded


If you want to be included in the most popular section on Kickstarter (which you definitely do), you need to blow up your project on day one. Build a following before you launch then dump everyone into your project as soon as you go live. If that propels your project into the most popular section, Kickstarter’s traffic is likely to drive success for the remainder of the project.

This is the best Kickstarter launch strategy, hands down.

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  • Prefundia

    Let us know if you have any thoughts or questions!

    • Bill Huston

      I have created a campaign on Prefundia and I can’t find a link to send out via my social channels. How do I drive traffic to my prefundia page?

  • David Lavensky

    Hello, i need some help, can you please send me an email to ?

  • Samuel Doualle

    ok. Thanks for the article. Very interesting!

    I have a question: Suppose I want to do a Kickstarter campaign above all to get some coverage, and not so much for the money.
    If I want to be listed on Popular Projects, it may be also relevant to minimize the amount of money I ask, to increase the ratio of %funded, and then play on the first 2 drivers you mention at the beginning of the post?

    • McCall

      While the Kickstarter Popular Projects page carries an enticing vibe, it’s probably not your best option for advertisement. Even if you were to MacGyver your way into it, the result would be a minimal and time-constricted audience which will more than likely top out at 500 people. Here’s what I’m going to suggest: use Kickstarter type antics to create a social media empire that will continue to grow exponentially after the 30 or 60 days are up. Use a reward system on easy share sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with the same personal touch that a Kickstarter campaign would provide. An example of this would be a promo-code for a free T-Shirt on your website in exchange for Sharing a post with a your site-link on Facebook as well as Liking your page. This strategy gives you exponential advertisement through sharing, a stable social media fan base through their Liking of your page, increased web traffic to your site and consequentially a higher rank in Google Search, an e-mail address and mailing address list through the ordering process, and on top of all that, the T-Shirt you just gave them is is a walking billboard. This is just one of many options which will far outweigh Kickstarter for an advertising only ideology. Hope I was of help to you! Good Luck!

      • Hurricaneonline

        That is amazing advice. Thanks for taking the time. This strategy is good to get users at low cost, slowly, and surely, but there is no clear opportunity to get online coverage by media, which is part of our goal. We want a before and after and kickstarter allows us this kind of hammer marketing.
        We are doing what you suggest to build a community before, then the kickstarter should generate some substantial (we hope) but short-term buzz, and then we can activate the same kind of strategy (that you suggest) after the kickstarter campaign. What do you think?
        Thanks again.

  • Melinda Restrepo

    Thank you Jeff, this is great! Does it matter where the backers come from, i.e. backer source, such as Kickstarter direct versus social media, or are these weighted equally? Also, you mentioned that to get to the popular section in product design, KS picks the top 15 versus only the top 12 in the theater category. Is this a function of volume in the product design section? Do you know how many are selected for the arts and/or publishing sections? Thanks a million for this! Loved your post 😀