Kickstarter Postmortem: Part 1

February 24th, 2013 § 6 comments

Well, that was a successful Kickstarter! 253 backers, $7170, 15 days.

I like analyzing things to death, so if you’re interested in data and numbers – here you go. Here lies pretty(ish) graphs and charts. The public numbers for my project are here on Kicktraq, but I go a bit further and and also analyze my referrers, the people that pledged(friends, acquaintances, where we met), and some other miscellanous things.

Time for charts! I’m using backer numbers and percentages, not dollars made.

Friends or Strangers?

First, I wanted to know how many of my pledges came from friends, versus strangers. To determine this, I used the very unscientific method of looking at my backer’s list and noting all the names that were familiar to me. In this case, this includes internet-friends who I interact with reasonably frequently, and people who already collect my art.

Turns out that having friends is a good thing, because it was definitely my friends that carried this Kickstarter. In addition, all but one of the pledges at the $150 and $100 level were chosen by a friend or name I recognize! Also – and I can chart this later – based on a quick glance at backer numbers which are numbered in order of pledge received, friend pledges are primarily clustered at the beginning and the end of the project.

Referrer Data?

Secondly, I wanted to see my pledge referers. Kickstarter provides a pretty handy list, but I went ahead and translated it to something meaningful to me.

The most surprising thing to me is how many pledges actually came via Kickstarter! It doesn’t quite correlate to my “friends and strangers” chart, though, which means I think a lot of my friends may have pledged via Kickstarter anyway, even if they may have seen a link on Facebook or Twitter first.

Another place where having friends support you early on is very useful is getting on Kickstarter’s “Popular” pages, which drove a lot of traffic and pledges to my page. My Kickstarter made close to $2000(over 25% of the final tally) in the first 24 hrs, and the vast majority of those pledges were from friends. Without that early support, I don’t think I would have made it to the “Popular” page, which resulted in a large chunk of pledges.

Another surprising thing, is that I kept an eye on all the reblogs/retweets/shares of my Kickstarter, and the number of pledges via social networks only spiked whenever I posted. I did not try any “Please RT” marketing, and kept a comparatively low profile(although many friends and some strangers spread the word anyway), but I’m still not honestly 100% certain how effective social marketing tends to be for a Kickstarter. Perhaps someone else who really hit the social marketing channels to promote their Kickstarter can share…

Anyway, that’s it for Part One of this. Part Two comes after I’ve finished the accounting for the project, which should be another interesting read, if you find reading about budgets enthralling. Haha.

For more Kickstarter related feelings, and less math, read on.

I’ve been posting my work online, publicly, and been involved in various fan communities, since I was 13. Most of my art has actually been awful until somewhat recently, where I feel I’ve really found my footing and direction.

I’ve been working on some portion of the Center for Otherworld Science project since 2009. But – this Kickstarter is the largest, and most public platform for my work yet. Most of us with self preservation instincts cringe at the idea of being judged at a level most people don’t usually get judged on. I’m used to the judging of my peers, of course – but Kickstarter, while it is a creative community, is a much more diverse and much larger audience. Will they get it? Am I explaining it enough? Am I too dorky? Not dorky enough(not likely).

Guys, running a Kickstarter is really fucking scary.

Kickstarter projects are generally sort of Big Things in an artist’s life, in no large part because we’ve finally put our balls(and our ideas) out there, on a really large platform with a really large reach, ready to be thoroughly embarrassed by everyone. So, to have our friends support us, both vocally, and with their debit cards out, is amazing. It’s validating, it’s humbling, it’s truly one of the best things in the world.

And…it makes it really obvious who doesn’t really support you…who are really sort of apathetic about your work. And sometimes, when it’s friends that you have contributed to in the past, volunteered for, and that you’ve been rooting for for a very long time, it stings.

A Kickstarter project brings a lot of truths out, and some kinda hurt. Even in a list of 200+ backers, you still notice the names that are conspicuously not there.

For all my backers that maybe aren’t ready to jump into the Kickstarter fire yet, that are still working on your craft, and still waiting for the right moment – I’ll be getting a nicely organized spreadsheet of all your names, and I definitely know who I’ll support in the future. It’s really not a quid pro quo sort of situation, and I really don’t mean to make it sound so mercenary. It’s not. But y’know – be good to people, and they’ll be good to you.

That above paragraph about not getting support from people I thought were in my corner? It happens, because I’m human, and I have lots of feelings lots of the time, but it actually doesn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things.

It’s fine, because the overwhelming support I’ve gotten from so many people in my life(and so many people I don’t even know!) makes up for every single little stupid petty grumble I have about people who aren’t worth it.

It’s absolutely okay, because I think of former tech industry coworkers(who didn’t even know I was an artist!) and old friends coming out of the woodwork to support my project. I think of people that I’ve looked up to for years, whose books I have on my shelf and cherish, who have excitedly shared my project and gladly tossed me a pledge. I think of a pair of artists that I admire so much, that have already given me a platform and venue for my work – who still threw a chunk of cash my way, just because they wanted to see me reach $5000. I have new-ish friends who have written blogs about me, started new forum posts about me, retweeted my posts like mad. I think of my friends that really don’t have money to spare, but they pledged it to me anyway, because they get that this is an important thing to me, and because they really do believe that having my art on their desk is something worth spending that bit of money on. And even so – some of my biggest cheerleaders have been people that literally do not have a dollar to spare at all, but they have been so vocal with their support of me and my work that they’ve made me cry in gratitude.

I look at my backer list, and I see names from all parts of the life I’ve lived so far – from the international schools I attended in the Philippines, from college, and grad school, and my assortment of diverse jobs, people I’ve met at conventions and art shows, my past and present collaborators, and internet forums and old fandoms…I know so many of these people and I am so, so grateful for them.

Thank you for believing in me and my work. “Grateful” isn’t even enough of a word to describe it. You truly are the best and I am humbled by your trust, and I will do my absolute best to do right by you.

§ 6 Responses to Kickstarter Postmortem: Part 1"

  • Cheryl says:

    This is my first purchase of your work. I’ve been telling you for years that I wanted something and this did it. I’ve enjoyed the beginnings of the Center and will continue to support you as much as I can. Really excited that this did so well! Way to go Shing!

  • Emma says:

    gaaaahhhhh i got internet lazy and missed kickstarter campaign!

    i’ll be kicking myself for eternity.

  • Mary C. says:

    this post is awesome! #1 the backing analyzation is interesting. #2 amg you really pay attention to WHO the backers are, not just categories but as people <3 #3 sharing about kickstarter emotionally #4 i just love you and your work! <3

  • Jeremy says:

    Analyzing things to death is the new living.

  • Christina says:

    Thank you for sharing this posting with us! You express yourself so well in writing, and your insights into the rollercoaster ride of a Kickstarter project are really appreciated. I love your project and am glad to have found you.

  • Jade Griffin says:

    I’m sorry I didn’t put money into your Kickstarter jar:( I plan on commissioning you if you get free. I’d never want you to think I don’t support you. Even now my daughter and I are marveling at your beautiful and creative musings. Let me know if you get some spare time and I’ll wrangle some spare cash! :)

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