Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I Did Wrong On Kickstarter



Many of you know I'm a big fan of failing and failing often in order to learn and grow. Well, my Kickstarter campaign didn't reach it's funding for I HATE READING! and I think I know why. When things don't play out the way we want them to it's tempting to adopt an attitude, "Ah, the world doesn't deserve my genius." "I'm taking my ball and going home." But I have had the luxury of failing so much in my life that this isn't even a scrape. I brought home so many bad report cards that failure was almost part of my to do list. Failing often has made me somewhat immune to the feelings of regret many become paralyzed by - I know that the next time I try something I'll have a better chance of success based on lessons learned.

Here is a list of the main reasons I believe my Kickstarter didn't reach it's goal:

1) I didn't have a launch party to rally my close friends and family. Many suggest that before you ever pull the trigger on your Kickstarter web page you should let as many people know about your project as possible. I was sort of in rush mode to get mine going as I was juggling other freelance projects etc.

2) I didn't get a "staff pick." The coveted holy grail factor in having a super successful campaign is getting loved by the Kickstarter staff. A "staff pick" means that Kickstarter features your project so that it's easy for people to find your project. They say right on their website that they're looking for projects that are doing well. This is more of a hunch but I think that if you come out of the gate with a roar you have more chances of getting their attention. There are thousands of projects on their site and the more money you rack up early has to be one of the factors they're looking for. So it stands to reason that if you have a bunch of people lined up to contribute when you launch you'll send a message that you aren't fooling around. In addition their search algorithms are set to move your project up on the list each time someone contributes to your Kickstarter. I think they also count the facebook "likes" and move you up on their "popular" list.

3) My rewards weren't enticing enough. If I had painted the I HATE READING! images in acrylics instead of working digitally I would have had original painted art to offer as incentives to perspective backers. Having rewards that people really want is important - ask yourself - would I want this? This was a choice I struggled with early on but I felt that I couldn't spare the extra time to work traditionally - gambled - lost.

4) I charged too much for the app. I think most people are practical  - like I see myself.  I was charging $10 for an app that everybody figured I would end up selling for a few bucks in the app store. Why pay 4- 5 times the price for the same product? I was figuring that charging $2/app wouldn't get the project funded very easily and that perhaps more people would contribute a little more to get their name in the credits - guess not. :)

5) I didn't nurture my campaign. Call it laziness or an excuse but I really didn't feel that I had enough time to keep my Kickstarter in peoples minds on a daily basis with updates. I struggled with this one on another level too...I didn't want to bug people. I was afraid of people growing to hate I HATE READING! through over-exposure.

6) I didn't reach out to like minded people - educators and teachers. I'm sure that with enough prep work in the form of research and invitations I could have rallied a group of interested organizations. I feel confident that some or all of them may have helped me in one way or another with my goal if not simply by just spreading the word.

So that's it - probably a bunch of other mistakes but I value the experience in that if I ever do another Kickstarter I'll start with a much better game plan. I also have this experience to share and that's priceless!
So if you decide to launch your own Kickstarter please don't be discouraged by my failure to fund. You can right many of my wrongs. Check out one of my friends successful campaigns that finished a few months ago - Jake Parker - dreams can come true on Kickstarter!

Good news! I'm going to be making the app after all - with a few cuts here and there and digging into my own pocket we'll be able to release what I feel is going to be a really fun app! Also  - I've been contacted by a few publishers who may want to publish I HATE READING! into a physical book - stay tuned!



21 comments:

  1. Thanks for the insight! I've been wondering why some Kickstarter projects go viral and others that seem equally good don't make it.

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    1. We're living in an interesting time Kari where nobody is an expert - I love it :)

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  2. All said a done (or noted)....you get a few possible bonuses in the end. Good for you Will!!
    Thanks for posting this :)

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    1. You're welcome Susan - I hope in some way my failure helps someone else have a big success!

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  3. Were you contacted by publishers because they saw your kickstarter campaign? If so, there's your success story right there.

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    1. Hey Jed - one of them saw me on Kickstarter and the other one I think found me on FB and saw my Kickstarter there. It's a strangely connected world we live in now...

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    2. Yes, that's a great success right there.

      Will, thanks for sharing your "Kickfail" tips. I am considering using Kickstarter and I learned a lot from this post. You are generous to share.

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  4. I had the same exact experience. Same mistakes as well. I had hoped that there would be more of an audience checking the site for cool projects. This was not the case. I quizzed everyone successful and they told me the same thing, "My friends and Family funded the project".

    I don't want my friends and family to fund the project! I want strangers that love the story and idea to pre-buy books. Didn't happen.

    It is a great platform to collect money but, not an alternative to old school hustle. It was an excellent means for testing people's passion for the story and what they were willing to pay for it. The lesson that I learned: The world is not ready for a children's book about Roadkill... not yet... and definitely not like this.

    I will release a friendly, more acceptable story first... and then another one... and maybe one day when I am famous and they search my archives they will find the series of lost stories for kids about roadkill.

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  5. Good insights Jesse....You know your project much better than I but I would caution against rushing to judgement. There could be a publisher who is looking for a roadkill book - or a publisher who would die laughing to hear that there is one. Remember - if "Go The F*%# To Sleep" can sell hundreds of thousands of copies I'll bet there's a market for roadkill - IF...the story is good.

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  6. Glad to know that your project is still in the works! I hope to see it in the app store soon! Every success in life is built upon preceived failure...It is nice to come across your kind of people...the ones who roll with it.

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    1. Thank you Sabrina! We hope to have it in the app store by early fall.

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  7. Great insights, Will, as usual. It just so happens that this week I really needed to hear how failing can be a way to learn from one's mistakes. Thanks! Oh, and more specifically, great points on Kickstarter as well.

    Congrats on the app and the impending physical book, that I will no doubt have to add to my collection!

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    1. Thank you Linda! Good luck on your projects - hope all is well. Failing isn't always fun but there is often a silver lining :)

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  8. Never forget you are a great educator Will for young and old, because I had never even heard of Kickstarter before reading this and now I am off to check it out ;o)

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    1. Good for you Yve - I think you'll be amazed at how many cool projects there are on that site. It's a great idea.

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  9. Thanks for posting on your "failure" Will. It's great to hear that there's life after Kickstarter.

    Your points are very well taken. Especially the one about staff picks. I have a short film we were hoping to take to KS in less than a month but the "buzz building" hasn't been going as well as we hopes. Your post confirms my misgivings about moving forward as planned. Best to push things back until we're ready.

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    1. Good luck on your project - it's a lot of work but it really can pay off if you do the work a head of time. Getting momentum early on is really important. Also, we set our duration for 40 days which I now feel was too long.

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  10. Hi Will!
    Thanks for posting about failure. It's always exciting to write about successes, but stories like these are harder to find as we don't really like to talk about them, do we?!
    I like to tell my students that it's necessary to get the mistakes out of the way, one of my former teachers was happy every time he did one, since there was one less on his "list".

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  11. Right on Tanja! No shame in failure or else you crawl under a rock and die. Time to get the message out there that we should embrace failure. How many times in an NBA game do professional athletes who get paid millions of dollars fail? They've learned to run back in seconds to defend their goal - no time to wallow in frustration.

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  12. Great post! Thanks for the insight.

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  13. Thank you so much for this Will and Congrats on the app and interest. Feel free to post to my FB wall when it's available. I loved this project, but can't fund my own, let alone someone else's. YAYA you.

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