Two Good Thoughts on Kickstarter: A Letter and Dork Tower

In response to a letter complaining about how Kickstarter is biased and “playing favorites” because they feature only some projects on their front page, Joseph Bloch at ICv2 makes some great points.

…a project should not rely on that sort of “walk-by” traffic for success. The key is to get the word out among your target audience, get them talking about it and running up interest, and make your project such that your backers are also your evangelists. If you’re relying on Kickstarter itself to generate backers, you’re going to be disappointed.

…Waiting for Kickstarter itself to provide a host of backers isn’t a winning strategy, and if you bring enough of your own backers to the table, you won’t miss the casual browsers who are swayed by what’s featured on the front page.

Dork Tower panel on Kickstarter

That first complaint letter, by the way, also says, “Very often ‘creators’ are not in the business of marketing or PR.” Perhaps, but if you’re going to try and fund something yourself using the Kickstarter site as a tool, you’d better be ready to market and promote it, or you’re going to fail. If you don’t want to handle all the aspects of a creative business, concentrate on finding a publisher, rare as that is these days, and resign yourself to getting less control and less of a cut. Blaming the tool just tells me 1) you’re not ready to be running a business and 2) you didn’t understand what Kickstarter offered and what it didn’t promise. (And also maybe 3) you read the stories about million-dollar Kickstarters and got so starry-eyed over the numbers you didn’t realize you don’t have thousands of existing fans already like they did.)

On another note, since it’s more fun to read comics than letters, today’s Dork Tower strip has some Kickstarter wisdom. Click the panel to read the whole thing.


One Response to “Two Good Thoughts on Kickstarter: A Letter and Dork Tower”

  1. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    the letter from icv2 also says: “I have pledged to sponsor a project and since doing so have had no other projects presented to me by Kickstarter themselves.”

    again – unrealistic expectations. Every time I’ve backed a Kickstarter campaign (I think I’m up to about 90 now), after I finish setting up the payment, Kickstarter takes me to a page that makes recommendations (usually in the same medium, but I don’t think that’s always true). Now, given that I’ve done so many Kickstarter, it’s got some solid data on what I’m probably going to be willing to support, and somebody who by their own admission has only done ONE is not going to get as good of recommendations, but what is this guy expecting from Kickstarter exactly?

    I see this in my students all the time – they expect things to be handed to them on the web. Why doesn’t Kickstarter automatically just show me what I want to see? Why am I expected to sell MY project instead of having Kickstarter do it for me?

    there is a potentially interesting question in terms of the projects that Kickstarter chooses to promote – I wonder if any project put up in a mass email or on the front page has not made its goal. I’m sure the percentage is higher than the ones that are not put there, but the items that Amazon puts first in the results page are going to sell more too. The items that a store puts on its end-cap are going to sell better than the ones hidden in the middle of the aisle. That’s part of business.

    Kickstarter pretty specifically states that these are projects that THEY like. They are not saying that YOU need to support them. They are not saying that they are the ONLY ones worthy of support. I will admit that I’ve supported some because they came in a Kickstarter email, but the vast majority of what Kickstarter says they like are NOT projects that I’m interested in or willing to support.

    Keith Knight’s recent Kickstarter “I Was a Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator” is an interesting example. I don’t know that it was ever promoted by Kickstarter, but I do know that it was promoted like hell by Keith Knight. Originally, I thought he’d set the goal too high and that he’d never make it. But he did, slowly but surely, by promoting and sending out updates and encouraging folks to help promote the project. I’ve had other projects that I never, ever got a followup email about or update, and not suprisingly, those are the ones that tended not to make…




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