The means to crowdfund a project/idea/concept for which a creator possesses a passion verging on insanity is a wonderful gift. Kickstarter provides that platform to great effect. For those of us who don’t have goliath marketing machines and a bottomless budget to get our idea out to the masses (bar screaming its name – James T. Kirk style – into the void that is social media), it is a fantastic tool. But even held properly and wielded correctly that tool sometimes fails. The question is, why?
Occam would say “the simplest answer is usually the correct one.” Or, in Kickstarter critique, “maybe your idea just didn’t cut the mustard.” I’ve seen some pretty questionable projects succeed while others, brilliant in their execution and vision, fall flat. A known name carries gravitas which while great for them sucks in a way, because yet again, the little guy’s voice get drowned out by a name with an established following. All in all, the platform seems to be evolving into a bit of a lottery, where you hope the right combination of individuals discover your creative offering, consider it worthy of their support and encourage their following to see its merits. You can only place so much faith in your own fans and followers and need to constantly work at extending your reach to new audiences. Humans have a short attention span after all, amplified by the gratified response of our brain’s pleasure centres to our “soundbite culture” perpetuated by the double-edged sword of social media.
On average, 40% of Kickstarter projects come out the other side successful so if you land in that group, you’ve done good. I’m learning that the real failure comes from not having a Plan B. “All your eggs in the Kickstarter basket” is becoming an infeasibility. Be as prepared for failure as you are for success and don’t be consumed by either. The biggest failure is stressing yourself into an early grave just because your best laid plans rolled over and flipped you off.
One thing I would like to see on the platform: an option to support a project anonymously because sometimes that’s just what I want to do. Lots of donation sites do this, encouraging a culture of giving where the reward is gleaned through the act of giving itself. Does that seem weird? Maybe. But sometimes it’s nice to have the option to support the enthusiasm and passion of the person behind the project without the need for a reward to mark the contribution. Personally, anonymity lends itself well to encouraging such acts of generosity. We should be doing more to encourage such radical and counterintuitive ideas. That’s what Kickstarter is about.