I ran my first ever Kickstarter this year for Zine Quest 3. My project, a Mothership RPG adventure called The Drain, received over 1,400 backers and $15,000 in funding. In this post, I will attempt to convey everything I've learned through the process and share all associated costs and statistics. I hope to paint an honest portrait of running a Kickstarter for the first time. We'll start by jumping into the meatiest statistics, then settle into a host of lessons and tips. But first, a little context.
A Brief Project Overview
|From the boneboxchant blog: Most backed zines from ZQ3|
How Much Money Did I Really Make?
How much will I as author and publisher get to keep of the $15k funding total?
- Art Commissions: $2000
- Printing (& print run shipping): $2000
- Kickstarter cut + payment processing fees: $1500
- Design, Editing, & Writing Commissions: $1000
- Campaign Page & Video Production + Sound Design: $1000
- Credit Card Errors: $400*
- PledgeManager: $350
Grand total estimated 2021 profits: ~$11,000
- Immediately before launch, I had a little over 400 followers.
- My follower conversion rate a few hours after launch hit 30%.
- I grew my follower count to 1,100 by the final few days of my campaign.
- Going into 48-hours remaining, I still had 30% conversion.
- By the end of the campaign, I had 47% follower conversion.
|The follower count decreased slightly post-campaign|
Backers by Region
- Total Backers: 1402
- Total Physical Backers: 1104
- US: 832
- Europe: 97
- UK: 90
- Canada: 47
- International: 38
- Non-US backers comprised 25% of all physical backers
- The vast majority of pledges come from internal Kickstarter referrers: Kickstarter emails, site discovery and browsing, etc. 65% of my funding total came from Kickstarter.
- Most of the externally referred backers have no associated referral data (this amorphous blob of cash is the single largest funding source for me at 17%).
- Kickstarter's reminder emails are all-important. The "email" entry that I think is the launch notification message netted me 95 backers. The last chance reminder email that goes out at 48 hours gained me another 69.
- Marketing works. The associated efforts of my marketing made a significant impact on my funding total. Even ignoring the huge impact of marketing to build followers, direct referrals from my marketing posts make up over 10% of my funding total. Probably a good chunk of the 17% no-data external backers came from these sources as well. Here's a more granular breakdown:
- Reddit: 62 backers
- Twitter: 56 backers
- Facebook: 11 backers
- My own blog: 7 backers
- RPG forums: 4 backers
- My itch.io page: 3 backers
- A second reminder email to my DTRPG customers: 3 backers (don't do this)
- Day-1 announcement emails to my DTRPG and Itch customers: Unknown (no referral links)
- Promotion from other sources can also make a significant difference:
- An Polygon article on Zine Quest featuring my project: 15 backers
- The Tuesday Knight Games newsletter: 11 backers
- Pandatheist's blog: 9 backers
Estimating My Work
- Zine: 4000 words
- Stretch goal content: ~2000 words
- Custom content for backers: ~4000 words
- Main campaign page: 1200 words
- 12 campaign updates: 6000 words
- Sundry tweets, reddit, and other social media posts: ~3000 words
- Project management work to date: 240 hours
- Future project management work: ~240 hours
- 10,000 words RPG design
- 10,000 words marketing copy
- 480 hours project management work
Zine Quest Advice
Participating in Zine Quest
Start Planning Now
Apply for Kickstarter Approval Early, But Not Too Early
Include a Writing Sample
Expect Cancelled Pledges and Dropped Backers
Learn from My Mistakes
Use Referral Links!
Give Your Backers Something to Spend $20-$40 On!
Don't Kickstart Small Books!*
Link Your Social Media Pages!
[Probably] Use a "Funded in 15 Picoseconds" Banner!
|This is what I mean|
Make Your Campaign Page Accessible!
The Valley of Uncertainty
Adding Pledge Tiers After Launch?
Social Media Stretch Goals?
The Human Cost
|Friends valiantly attempting to save me from myself|