Monday, August 6, 2012

Why I'm Glad My Kickstarter Failed Miserably

Just a little bit over a month ago I started the OSR Calendar Kickstarter with a goal of $7,500 (or roughly 375 backers). It's over now with a grand total of 5 backers and $130 raised.

This, I believe, qualifies as a substantial and miserable failure.

I could be disheartened as I wanted to do the calendar, but I am instead glad that this is the result. For if success was not in the cards, I'd feel much worse were we to have failed by only a few hundred dollars. This definitive failure tells me that there was *no* demand for the product. It's a crystal message from the customer-base. "Nope, we're not interested."

I also view this definitive failure as a definitive success. I think I view Kickstarter in a different way than many other creators. I have the capital to do what I want when it comes to rpg-related products. If I wanted, I could have created the calendar, printed it up, and shipped it out like any of our other publications. Many other creators have the vision and the drive, but not the capital, to do something. For someone like that, this failure would sting.

For me, it a great relief. It's a great relief because I accepted that I did not have knowledge on how the OSR Calendar would be received and I mitigated my risk by using Kickstarter as a market tester requiring only minimal effort. My failed Kickstarter saved me thousands of dollars. I did the right thing for my business.

So, although I'd rather have seen it funded, published, and enjoyed. I am *far* from disappointed in the results. A spectacular failure is always an opportunity to learn.


Xyanthon said...

I'm glad that it didn't sting you financially. I'd have loved to do a piece for it, but I'd much rather it be a project that the community was willing to support with their dollars.

jonahknight said...

I think that Kickstarter can be a powerful educational tool for creatives if we can get out of our own way.
With my last one, I framed it as a poll: If you think I should make a creepy Christmas album, back this project. Although it was funded, I think that was a mistake as I started getting messages from fans saying "I do not want you to do this." After it was funded I had the knowledge that a number of my fans didn't want me to do what I was about to do. The album isn't out till October so I don't know what the fallout is yet.

Your self reflection is awesome.

jgbrowning said...

@Johnathan: I'd have loved you guys to do an illustration for it as well, but I think I did the right thing by acknowledging that I didn't know the market and using the Kickstarter as the right tool to find that out.

@Jonofthese: It's a very direct way to interact with your customers, or in my, case, lack of customers! :-)

grodog said...

Joseph: perhaps the calendar pages would do well as a freebie download? :D :D


Greyhawk Grognard said...

For my part, it's a clear indicator that I hadn't heard about it. I would have backed it if I had.

jgbrowning said...

@grodog: Sorry Allan, I only did January and was waiting to do the others if it funded.

@Joseph: Sorry you didn't hear about it earlier!

kamawell said...

Yes, I completely missed this one too. The international shipping cost is always a pain but you pretty much had me at Peter Mullen.

Unknown said...

It was an interesting project, pity that is never got off the ground, but good that Kick Starter lets publishers assess the appetite of the customer base without risking too much.

Pat said...

Why are people so allergic to print-on-demand? Up-front costs are very very low then, just art and your time.

Kickstarter brings in the "big bucks" (well, not really "big", just "bigger than otherwise") and I'm fairly certain that is the source of its appeal.

Most people dance around that - only thing I can guess why, is that they're afraid of alienating their customer base with the pure commercialism of it.

jgbrowning said...

Art for this project was in the ballpark of $2000. That's not "very low." It took me 3 hours to do one month's worth of dates, so my time expenditure is conservatively estimated at 35 hours. That's a full-week's work, once you add it frictional time issues dealing with printers, customers, mailings, advertising, etc.

I make a *living* doing this. I *must* succeed. I do that by taking conservative risks with my capital and time, for every product I produce that isn't profitable, is not only a loss of money, it's a loss of time. Every action has a significant opportunity cost for me - there is no breaking even for me. If I break even, I've actually lost.

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