Anne Belov, Oct. 19, 2012
Thanks to Patricia Duff and “the Dragons” for inviting me to become a guest blogger for Whidbey Life Magazine.
Having just completed the second of my successful Kickstarter campaigns, I thought it would make a good topic for this post. Wait a minute, hold the phone…just what in the heck is Kickstarter?
If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter, it’s possible you may have lost your radio’s remote or forgotten your computer’s password. Kickstarter is the hottest thing in project funding since sliced bread: A crowd sourced funding platform available to you through the magic of the internet.
A person creates a project, determines a monetary goal, sets a time limit to raise funds, submits the idea to the Kickstarter powers that be, and once approved, lets the good times roll.
If only it were that simple.
The far reaches of cyber-space are strewn with the carcasses of unsuccessful Kickstarter projects. There are rules to be followed, types of projects that Kickstarter will and won’t fund, as well as rewards that you can and can’t offer. Oh, did I forget to mention the rewards? In return for backing a project, the project creator must offer his/her supporters rewards, at levels depending on pledge amount.
My recent project was publishing a book with my Panda Chronicles cartoons. While I raised the amount needed in order to do a creditable job on the book, I did not exceed my goal by much.
Did I mention the fact that unless you meet your goal amount in the time period available (usually 30-60 days) you don’t get zip? The reasoning behind Kickstarter’s prohibition on incomplete funding is that if you don’t get the full amount, it is possible that you will not be able to complete your project, your backers won’t get their rewards (especially those that are dependent on completing your project) and the next thing you know, Kickstarter’s offices are crawling with lawyers. There are several other crowd source funding sites, some of which let you keep what you raise whether or not you reach your goal. One is at slushpub.com, which is solely for book publishing projects and the other is indiegogo.com, which supports a wider range of projects than Kickstarter.
The Kindness of Strangers
Most of your support is going to come from people you know. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. Both of my projects were primarily funded by people I knew in real life or from Facebook.
I have to offer a word of caution here. My virtual FB friends were willing to support my project because I interact with them regularly. They read my cartoons; we have conversations about real pandas and life events. My personal connection with them transcends this project. Your friends may see to it that you make your goal.. They want your project to succeed. They don’t want to finance your trip to Aruba next winter. If you join Facebook with the sole intention of gathering project supporters, you will be disappointed. Not to mention, annoy the heck out of a lot of people.
To go over the top, your project must have viral potential.
You want to attract the attention of the Kickstarter staff right away: they send out weekly newsletters featuring favorite projects. My second project was featured in their blog, but while I did get some new people supporting me, it was not enough to make my project go viral. If there is a formula for viral success, I wish I knew it.
I have supported several wildly successful projects. Ukiyo-e Heroes was finishing just as mine was starting; a joint project by Jed Henry, illustrator and Dave Bull, wood-block artist. Their project goal of $10,400 ballooned to just over $313,000. The other project, which is still in play as I write this, is the Kerfuffles Marshmallow project that Spring Barnickle started with a goal of just $2023 and is now funding at $60,000 with seven days to go. Both the what of their projects, as well as the how of the presentations are outstanding. Check them out, especially if you are thinking of launching a project of your own.
A Kickstarter project is a wild ride, whether it goes through the roof or down to the wire.
If you want to launch your own project, you should follow and back a few projects, to see how it all works. All it takes is $1 and an Amazon account. I warn you: supporting Kickstarter projects can be addictive. There is a new project that I must support…oh, sorry.
Next time, I’ll get into more specifics about creating a project, contacting supporters, and what happens when your project funds. (Um…there will be a next time, won’t there?)