Road to Kickstarter Part 2: 5 Questions to Ask Before Kickstarting

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Road to Kickstarter
Copyright 2017 Claire Jennings

Last week’s post, I talked about getting started on this whole Kickstarter thing. This week, I will discuss my considerations on even whether to Kickstart my project. I hope that if you have a project you might want to Kickstart, this will give you an honest look at things to consider.

15 Robots Launch a Rocket Ship, 1111 Robots Kickstarter Date

The first part, which I will now confirm, is that come hell or high water (barring the internet gods telling me I have to play ball by their rules), I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign for 15 Robots Launch a Rocket Ship, 1111 Robots starting August 24th and ending on September 26th.

This does not take into account the research that others have done on the best times and length to do a launch. Instead, this takes into account when I have time to run a Kickstarter and give it the attention it deserves. The timing that might result in the biggest reach is secondary if I cannot actually give the people who back my project the time and attention they deserve. You see, running a Kickstarter campaign is a big commitment and one I attend on honoring.

I am not sure when my planned delivery dates will be, but they will likely be in winter of 2018. Again, this will look at not just the logistics of shipping books out but also look at my time commitments, and how I can best honor the project backers.

This is a passion project for me, and as such, anyone who goes into this with me deserves the same passion I give to the book itself. How can I make this special to them, if not as important as it is to me and Samantha?

Questions to Ask Before Launching a Passion Project on Kickstarter

This leads me to the guts of this week’s update: how you can determine if your project is a good fit for Kickstarter. These questions are great for passion projects. They are not so great for projects that need to be supported from a business standpoint. For that, I can recommend Stonemaier Games, which has great advice for both a passion and a business perspective.

These questions, however, are targeted towards the person or team who are doing the project for the love of the project, and, if at the end of the day, there is no business after Kickstarter, it will be enough to have the project out in the real world. Please read and consider these questions.

1) Do You have a project idea that will not leave you alone?

Kickstarter is hard work. So if your project idea is just a passing thought, don’t waste your time. If you are not driven to create it on your own to some extent, then, don’t waste your time.

If, on the other hand, you have a project that you keep coming back to time and again, then Kickstarter might just be for you. If your project has been in your mind for six months, a year, or more, and you are even making slow or inconsistent progress to making it happen, then consider Kickstarter as an option.

2) Can you produce a project others would be interested in?

This one is a hard one because all passion projects seem worth it to the project creators. But the truth is, most of the times, the project is only cool to the creator and those close to them. This does not take away from the worthiness of the project. However, it may not justify the cost that Kickstarter fees would add. You can do your passion project for less money through other means.

Before moving forward, find some people who do not have a personal connection with you, and then get their honest thoughts. The hardest part of this is listening to them, instead of wearing rose colored glasses. Listen to what they don’t like, and decide if making it something they would like pulls it too much away from what it is for you. At the end of the day, your passion project needs broad appeal to pay for Kickstarter’s cut of the money.

3) Is this the kind of project that can be found on Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a great platform for some passion project, but not all. Spend some time on it, get to know it. Back a few projects (or have fun backing lots of projects, your choice). Find out if Kickstarter is a place that brings people with the passion you are sharing together.

In general, Kickstarter tends to bring together people who are a bit more technical, so keep that in mind. Look at not only successful projects, but projects that have failed, that are in some way similar to yours. Does yours have something that makes it more like the successful projects, or the failed projects? Be as honest with yourself as you can be. It doesn’t take away from your passion, it is about finding the right outlet for your passion, and not wasting time on the wrong outlet.

A good sign that your project is a Kickstarter fit is if the people you talk to suggest you look at Kickstarter.

4) Do you have the time and attention to Kickstart the project right?

As I outlined last week, even for a passion project, you need to take care of basic business, or you will not succeed. This includes solid financials, logistics, and marketing plans. Be honest with yourself, will the passion of the project carry you through these more tedious and mundane activities to success? If not, consider what this will mean to your backers, people who are coming together with you to make your dream come true. You owe your backers something, make sure you don’t let them down. I have a bachelor’s degree in business, so I know I can do the business side of a Kickstarter, even if it is not my favorite thing,

Time is the one that has held me up the longest. To do a Kickstarter right, you need about two months of preplanning (which can be spread out), about one month for the Kickstarter, and then whatever time you need to complete and ship your project to your backers. Until this summer, I did not have that. I have this magical window of time to do this in now. So I am going to do it. Can you make the time commitment to see this through? If not, there is always a chance you will later, and it is better to wait until you can do it right, than fail because you are doing it wrong.

5) How much money can you spend on this, and can Kickstarter make up the rest?

You remember when I mentioned the willingness to spend your own money on your dream? Yah, I was serious. The question isn’t can you make enough to break even, but how much money can you spend, and will Kickstarter make up the rest? My friend and mentor found themselves about $3,000 in the hole after her last Kickstarter. It is important to determine what you can afford to spend. If you are not prepared to spend money, then you should not do a Kickstarter. (The difference from a business perspective is the business is planning to make the money back, and from a passion project, you are spending the money because you want the project to live in the real world.)

Once you know what your costs are, and how much of your own money you can put into it, try to determine if Kickstarter can make up the rest. Try to make your Kickstarter as small as possible, and try to be realistic on what Kickstarter can bring in. That said, if you have the time, there is no harm in doing a Kickstarter campaign. Many Kickstarter campaigns have succeeded after first failing. Just know that you may not get any of the money you put into it back.

Final Thoughts and Looking Forward

If you have a passion project, and you worked your way through this list of questions, then Kickstarter just might be for you. If you are unsure, this series might help you decide. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below. I will do my best to answer them either in the comments or in a future post.

I am in the midst of getting my marketing game together. I need have two weeks to make media contacts. So I will likely be talking about that next week.

Until next week,
Claire