Surviving your first Kickstarter Part 2 – The Campaign trail

Hello again! Welcome back. I’ll be the first to admit that part 1 was a bit on the dry side. But this part is gonna’ be juicy, I promise! In this part I am going to give you a real insider’s look at the inner workings of my kickstarter campaign. Now I am going to be referencing back to part 1 so if you haven’t read it, then you should definitely give that a once over. Once you’re all up to date, read on!

So you’ve planned and prepared for months; you and your team have been promoting across social media, you’ve planned enough promotional material to see out the length of your campaign, your financial calculations are all correct and you are brimming with enthusiasm. Good! But you might want to hold off. The best time to launch a kickstarter is January. Probably a new year thing. But the worst time is August. I have no idea why, but kickstarter themselves admit that fewer projects get funded if launched in that month than any other.

The other thing to think on is what day of the week. Saturday night might seem like a good idea, when everyone is off work and in high spirits, but for that very reason most of them aren’t perusing kickstarter. And as you’ll see, the first 12-24 hours of your kickstarter are crucial. Don’t be a idiot like me and accidentally launch on a Friday morning at twenty past midnight.

It was a Thursday evening and my research sowed that Sunday early evening was the best time to launch. Now, Kickstarter states that you need to submit your project for review and further states this can take up to 3 days. So I think “Yeah cool, I submit it now, hopefully it will get approved and I can launch on Sunday. Perfect.” So I submit it and start watching a documentary about how cruise ships operate. Oddly fascinating I must add. Anyway. About ten minutes later I get a message saying they’ve got my project and they need to finalise it. “Great” I think, knowing that everything is good, I’m so happy about the turn around time. I feel as if I have done something extraordinary as if the people at kickstarter HQ looked at my project and thought I was such a sound guy with a cool project. “I mean, it only took them 10 minutes to realise this when others require the full 3 days!”

So I go ahead and finalise it. “This way I can launch at the best time on Sunday because…”

Then the email hits. “Congratulations. Your project is now live.” My stomach ties itself into a knot as I look at the time. The clock hands indicating a time when pretty much no one would be on kickstarter. My projected had arrived not with the bang while everyone was having a cheeky little Sunday peruse, but like a teenager trying not to wake their parents after they’ve been out far too late drinking.

I didn’t show it but I was pretty devastated. I’d gone and fluffed it. All that planning, all that prep, just to step up to the plate and get 3 strikes and go out. I slumped dejectedly into bed to quietly weep. But I had not counted on 1 thing.

The time difference.

I guess I had forgotten that kickstarter is a global brand and that 20 past midnight is not a great time to expect Britain to be checking out new comic projects. But across the pond 20 past 7 is a much more reasonable time to be doing so.

I woke up and 10% had been funded. Euphoria swept over me and didn’t stop the rest of the day.

Timeline part 1_LI

As you can see, there was a major spike in the first 24 hours. This is due to 2 things: the first is that when a new project goes up, kickstarter sends emails to subscribers who might be interested in checking it out. The result being a lot of pledges. (A bit further down I’ll show you exactly how crucial those kickstarter emails are.) The second thing was that there are a lot of people who love backing kickstarter projects (myself included) so I will often peruse the “newest” section of comic projects looking at projects and either pledge there and then or save the project to back it at a later date.

By the 48 hour mark we had already been funded 35% which was an incredible boost and partially vindicated my cockup with the launch.

Now most campaigns have a “bathtub effect” when it comes to funding. By that I mean you will get a spike during the first and last 48 hours of your campaign; during the middle however, be prepared for the slog. Remember though, this is why you done all that planning.

Whenever I released one of Vivian’s “X% completed images” we got a flurry of activity. Images are a great way of engaging with people, more so than text, specifically images that show progress as this makes people want to be part of your journey.

Timeline part 3_LI (2)

As you can see, it’s a slow but steady incline except at about 2 points where there are steeper gradients. Yup, you guessed it, those are the 50% and 75% marks. So you get the slow incline, you reach that milestone and then after a bit of social media promotion you get a mini-boost.

Yet it’s easy to overlook the work needed to keep that steady incline going between milestones and that is where you need to reach out to external sources. Bloggers, local comic book stores, fellow creators, anyone and anything that can help, go for it. Not all will get back to you, some will politely say no. But those that do are priceless.

If you reach that all important funding goal then there’s nothing to stop you continuing your promotional push across social media to keep those pledges coming. More pledges means more of your product and more of your product means a bigger potential fan base.

Alright so let’s get into the nitty gritty of the campaign. To do that you need to know a little about the campaign. If you haven’t seen it already, you can check it out here:

The reward tiers go from £1 up to £75. So let’s see how that looks as a graph.

reward popularity

So it looks as if 2 reward tiers far outranked the others. But look closer and you’ll see this is not entirely the case.

The 2 tallest bars are for a digital issue of the comic (£5) and a physical copy (£10). It’s understandable that these will be the most popular but consider this…

The “Titan package” (£75) was limited to 5. That meant there was a high degree of exclusivity surrounding it and all 5 packages where snapped up within 72 hours. Crunch the numbers and the digital comic had 80 backers which raised £400 whereas the Titan package raised £375. Not much of a difference despite the visual chasm.

In a perfect world there would be a nice slope starting high on the left and descending to the bottom by the right but alas.

video plays

I’m going to take a moment to reiterate something from part 1 here. And that is that I hate hate hate hate HATE pictures and videos of myself. But just look at how many plays it got. I can also tell you that by posting the same video onto social media, I racked up another 300 views. That’s crazy to me. I’m not entirely sure where the “off site” plays come from but it’s fair to say they contribute a very small percentage of the overall play count.

But let’s face it, even a shoddy video like mine was plodding along towards the quadruple figures mark. So for that reason, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t have a video on your project page.

Finally, I have a really interesting thing to show you. Kickstarter monitors the traffic on your page, keeping tabs on where backers have come from before pledging to your project.


Next time you want to moan about kickstarter fees, just think about the above image. 60 of my 145 backers and nearly half of the overall funds raised came from “kickstarter emails”. Kickstarter sends subscribers newsletters with links to new, nearly funded, nearly finished and halfway funded projects. They also target backers who might be interested in your project in attempts to drive more traffic to your page. So for me, they more than earned their fee.

Over £400 came from me sharing the link on my Facebook page (yet another reason to have and maintain a presence on social media) and over £500 came from direct searches (which is essentially family and friends searching for your project to pledge).

At the end of the day, all that work gets quantified into this.

Part 2 Featture image

It’s a crazy feeling. I knew it was coming and the pressure was off since I had been funded prior but when the days turn to hours turn to minutes turn to seconds, it still hits you hard in the gut. We’d done it. It was a lot of hard work, but trust me. It’s only just begun.

Next week I’ll be discussing what I did in the immediate aftermath of my success. How to handle all things money, dealing with backers and moving forward with your project.


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