One of the most common mistakes a creator makes on Kickstarter is comparing their Kickstarter projects with others. It is a mistake I made myself. It is very tempting: why did that raise three times the money I raised, with a worse design and campaign? Why are more backers engaging in comments, sharing on social media, supporting it?
I strongly recommend not to do it – here is why.
Comparing Kickstarter Projects: each project is different
The main reason why comparing Kickstarter projects is a bad idea is that they all have a different story. You know what goes into your own project, but can’t know the specific of others. Many things can be very different:
- Audience. If a creator is well known in his niche, or has some sort of loyal audience, he will have a bigger pool of potential backers than you will ever have. They will share, through social media and word-of-mouth, even outside of the crowdfunding platform – something close to impossible for a normal creator. Is it fair? Probably not. But they worked on creating their audience, and that’s their reward.
- Marketing expenses. Most Kickstarter projects run on a shoestring, without ads or other forms of paid visibility. If another creator drops a few big ones in ad spend, he will have a greater reach than you do. Period. A playing cards project that raises 100k seems like a huge success, but maybe they spent 60k in marketing, and you’ll never know.
- Timing. Many good and bad things can happen when you launch. You may be facing a major project that is taking all visibility away from yours, or the economic situation can be very tight.
- Black swan event. Maybe they just got lucky, and were featured without even asking on a major website or blog that brought thousands of unexpected views.
- Design. Do you think your design is better than theirs? Think again. We all have a very hard time telling good from bad in our own project. It is our child. Maybe, after all, they did do a better job design-wise.
The negative effects of comparing Kickstarter projects
Comparing Kickstarter projects is therefore not very useful, but why is it bad altogether?
Launching a crowdfunding is an extremely stressing experience, which will take up your entire time for the entire campaign duration (and before, and after). Comments, messages, bombarding on social media, trying to get more visibility – you never really manage to do everything you wanted or meant to. And for most of us, the project is not our job, and we still need to show up to our workplace to pay the bills.
Hating on another project is time-consuming, and it will put you in a negative mindset.
Nobody is bound to give you money to make your dream come true, and they don’t know the effort, nor should they care. A backer backs what he likes better. I have read many rants of creators on social media, going on about how their work was not appreciated.
I believe the correct mindset is to ask why that project did better, and learn from it, to improve what comes next. Some of the reasons behind their success might be inimitable, but some others might not. For example, in our failed launch of Guns, Jazz & Whiskey, I realized how the pricing tiers of pledge levels where not well optimized compared to other similar successful project.
Each project has its own story, and comparing to more successful ones is the best way to be upset and to take on a negative mindset. Instead of hating on more successful project, it is best to try to learn. What are they doing differently? What kind of inspiration can I take in, so to improve my own project?