It can be pretty challenging to drum up ideas for your Kickstarter campaign – especially if it’s your first one. There are questions like “what do I give away?” or “how do I conduct my campaign?” To answer these questions and more, sometimes the best way to start off is to be a fly on the wall. By taking a look at some of the worst Kickstarter campaigns, we can perhaps behind developing a plan for our own project – and perhaps even find some inspiration in some of these ill-fated stories.

Business Insider featured a great article on how “Ed Carter hoped to raise $21,000 to fund his board game [and] instead, he lost his house and job.” Here’s what happened. Carter promised to free shipping to each donor. Unfortunately he forgot to label the first set of shipments as ‘fragile’, resulting in the games getting crushed. He has to pay again for all orders, but it was the foreign orders that really racked up a bill. For example, “a large order to Australia cost Carter more to shop than the game itself.” Add to this the fact that Carter lost is day job and ran out of money; he began dipping into this savings to see this project through – and you’ve got a recipe for failure. He had succeeded initially but one small detail cost him everything.

A similar hiccup was found with two childhood friends that wanted to create Geneva-based eco-friendly sandals called ‘Vere flip-flop’. Despite raising four times their goal amount, they were overwhelmed with production details that kept backers waiting on awards and incentive promises for over a year. The two are finally on track and in hindsight recommend keeping a cap on how many awards are made available to backers. The rule of thumb here is that your biggest problem might not be that you didn’t get enough money, but that you got much more than you planned on and know what to do with.

Other doomed projects failed for no other reason than the fact that the campaign manager didn’t put enough thought into framing the project. Case in point, the project title would be obscure; the project profile would lack an image or an appropriate video (if at all); or campaign managers would set an unreasonably high fundraising goal. A string of failures often also lacked proper incentives to donate or the entire project proposal would be written like a crass Craig’s List ad.

The key takeaway here is to plan for every condition and factoring the logistics of favorable outcomes. For example, can you afford to deliver on your incentive promises should you receive a surplus of donations? You should also strongly consider taking the time to create a proper introductory video. People who underestimate the power of video (and of getting one made professionally) inevitably undersell or miscommunicate their project. There’s a lot of merit in harnessing that small window of opportunity where a potential donor is curious and willing to listen to you for 30 seconds before making a decision. While on the subject, you should also create tiers of incentives. Not only does this allow all interested parties to contribute within their means, it also allows some to earn an elite label for offering more while also putting a cap on what you’re promising people. And lastly, please speak or write like you’re talking to a good friend. Kickstarter isn’t the place to dump pretentious business terminology; it’s a place to share your passion for an idea.