The Little Guys

General-Tom-Thumb

We’ve talked quite a bit about big companies taking advantage of the fertile ground that is Kickstarter and whether or not it hurts the little guy. Its a good topic, but then that is what everyone is talking about. All of the big blogs will talk about Kickstarter projects these days, but only if you are well known or wildly successful. The conundrum is of course, how do you get that attention if you really need it to succeed.

In effect, we are falling into the same trap as everyone else – we are only talking about the big projects and trends that are already getting enough attention from elsewhere. I hope you find the topic as interesting as I do, because today we are going to talk about some projects you have probably never heard of.

It might come as no surprise to regular readers, given how much we talk about the topic, but in the last few months we have been approached by a number of projects for our thoughts on a wide variety of crowdfunding questions. A few are asked pretty regularly: where do you find backers, how do you get featured, how do you figure out how to … Sometimes the questions are even more in depth or we are asked to review a project’s pitch before it launches. I think that last bit is loads of fun; its amazing what a stranger will notice that a creator and their friends have not.

We have even been approached a couple times about advertising projects on the blog. While according to WordPress’s terms we cannot do this with our currently free account, it is flattering to think that we have a readership worth pursuing.

Two projects that are currently funding on Kickstarter that we have weighed in on:

  • Fire your Job: This creator is passionate about entrepreneurship, and wants to share some of his hard earned lessons in small press book on the subject. Scott was certainly receptive to improvement on his pitch (which I think is excellent by the way,) but with his thesis he faces a difficult double standard. Either he is a successful enough entrepreneur to have advice worth sharing (in which case why does he need my money,) or he has a real need to make this project achievable (in which case why should I read his book.) I think this is a wonderful small press project, but then I think that is a pretty rough category on Kickstarter.
  • Horizon’s End: I love comic books – there is no denying it. I think that if anything, Kickstarter has a dearth of good projects it is this category; I can find projects in the games category I want to back on a regular basis, but this one is a bit of a stretch. This project is very professional, and with an excellent pitch, though I feel that its goal places it behind the 8 ball from the very beginning. $45k on KS is ALOT of money. Unless you have some big names and your script involves steam-punk zombies odds are not good. Nonetheless it looks interesting, and I hope they succeed.

Both of these projects have an uphill battle ahead of them, but in a broad sense I think these are the sorts of projects that can (and should) be helped by crowd funding. There are so many deserving projects out there – how do you choose? The most important thing you can do to help a project is to give it a dollar.

Because of the way Kickstarter’s (poor) search functionality works, the “popular” feature is by far the most useful, and the way you move up those rankings is by getting more backers. Anecdotaly, when The Wardenclyffe Horror fell from the 12-15 range on the list, to the 16-20 range, the amount of random backers dried up almost completely. It was almost instantaneous. Why? Because the top 15 all have a chance to be featured as one of the 6 ‘popular this week’ slots; according to Google page rank, the difference in that page and any other page your project is likely to be featured on is literally an order of magnitude.

Don’t listen to me though. If you want to do your best to succeed, look to those that are successful.

If you really want to see what a successful small Kickstarter creator looks out, Check out Jamey Stegmaier’s latest launch, Euphoria. It destroyed his previous project’s total (a very respectable $60k) with an outrageously successful $300k. He truly is a success story of the crowd funding scene. Jamey does a lot of things right: his layout is clean, his information is clear and his projects probably have the best outreach technique of any I have seen. His updates are worth studying, no matter what you are trying to fund.

I can’t wait to see what he and his partner show us they can do over the next year or two.

Want to talk about your project? Email me at caffeineforge@gmail.com.

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

3 thoughts on “The Little Guys

  1. Hm, yeah the Fire Your Job project definitely has some issues when it comes to crowdfunding. His argument seems to put all of the blame on his wife, who apparently would not believe this book to be a good investment, which certainly isn’t a point in its favor. And he doesn’t have this money lying around despite being so successful because he donates his “skills and time to the community”? You’d think anyone with reasonable planning skills could have saved up a little bit to publish a book. Unless this book is about how to be successful while not really making very much money above what you need to sustain your family, I’m not sure he’s the person to be writing it.

    But hey, that’s just cynical old me talking…

  2. davidgaames, your point about my book is well said and I don’t blame you for that view since it is one that Caffeineforge had when I approached them to preview the project. I’m also open to suggestions on explaining this but here’s another attempt:
    I own multiple businesses but I am not wealthy. Sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true. A couple of my businesses do pretty well but, again, my life is much different than you’d expect. I donate a a significant amount of my time helping small business owners and volunteering. Between church, city, and I volunteer on at least a dozen boards/committees (look at my bio on the project). I have 2 children in private Christian schools (PLNU & SAA) and another in CSUS. I donate to specific charities and help certain people and there’s a medical bill coming in our family. Yes, I can use money from savings to pay for the project (est $6K total to self-publish the first 100 copies of a book this quality) but I know in my heart that the more the public backs this project, the harder I will work on it and the better it will be. WIthout this backing, it really will affect my family finances noticeably. Also, my wife will be less thrilled about the time and money required to produce the book if I have to pay for it all myself. However, with the backing, it will mean less paid clients and more devotion to the book since most of the volunteer work will remain.
    Obviously this is a LOT more detail than I want to list in the project (of course this is pretty public too). Again, I’m open to suggestions.
    Before launching the project, I literally sat back and asked myself if I really need to do this (the time it took to create the project was not trivial either). I sincerely believe that I do really, truly, need help in kickstarting this project to ensure it is as good as it can be.

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