I am not what you would call an early adopter. I love technology and gadgets, but I tend to be behind the times when it comes to actually owning or using them. I am perpetually two generations behind on things and am always fearful of being the guy who bough a laser disc player just was the DVD came on to the market.
Kickstarter has been around for a while now. It seems like everyone and their brother has either backed a Kickstarter project or has had a Kickstarter project of their own. So, yeah, it was time for me to take a closer look at it.
I attended the Kickstarter panel at SDCC. The genial Jimmy Palmiotti moderated a panel which consisted of Cindy Au (director of community, Kickstarter), Vijaya Iver (publisher, Cartoon Books) and Batton Lash (writer/artist, Supernatural Law). for the most part, everyone had something to say, although it looked a bit like Iver was not really sure what to make of it all since Cartoon Books has managed to fund all of its publication through sales of previous books, licensing, and, in the early years, through small business loans.
Palmiotti told anecdotes about his two successful Kickstarter campaigns. Lash talked about his most recent campaign. Au filled in gaps with important bits of data. It was quite informative.
What I learned was that the sweet spot for Kickstarters (according to Au) is between $4,000 and $7,000. THe average donation is $70. And, according to all the panelists, the secret is to have multiple and creative rewards.
There were plenty of questions from the audience, but most of them settled in to the categories of “what works?” (see above) and “will I still have to pay of it does not get funded?” (The answer is no).
All of this seemed pretty reassuring.
I checked with Thor. He has funded several Kickstarters. He says that in every case, the reward has been late (more on that in a moment), but he generally felt like there were some really creative ideas out there and he wanted to be a part of bringing them to light.
Everything seemed pretty rosy. Aside from a few spectacular and well-publicized failures, according to everyone involved, Kickstarter seemed like a great place where everybody won.
Then I saw this piece over on Comics Worth Reading.
Did you get all that? Let me hit the high points.
Fewer than half of the projects get funded.
25% of projects/rewards are delivered on time.
25% of delayed projects are still not delivered after 8 months.
The more Facebook friends you have, the greater chance you have of funding your project (something echoed by the panelists)
The longer you give people to fund your project, the less chance there is of your project being funded.
It looks like it all goes back to the basics of marketing. The more people you can reach, the better chance you have. Kickstarter will not reach the people for you. You have to reach the people and send them to your Kickstarter. And, if you are like me and are a funder of a Kickstarter, you have to be prepared to wait for your reward for a long time.
So, go out there. take a look. But go in with eyes wide open. Just because your project is on Kickstarter does not mean it will actually be funded.