14 January 2016
A few days ago I received a great question in my inbox from a new game designer interested in self-publishing: “Would you advise going for an easier project seeing as its our first Kickstarter, or going for the big one?”
As I usually do when I got a private question, I looked at my Kickstarter Lessons list to see if I had already answered it. This is a topic I cover in my crowdfunding book (Chapter 8: Go Small to Win Big), but as I discovered, I haven’t written about it here.
The situation is this: Say you have a few different product ideas you want to launch on Kickstarter, ideally things that will someday grow into a full-fledged business. One of those products is small. It involves few components, it doesn’t cost much, and you only need to raise a few thousand dollars to make and ship it. This type of product would result in a humble crowdfunding campaign.
The other product is much bigger. It has a lot of components, it costs a lot, and you need to raise a significant amount of money to make and ship it. This type of product would require an epic crowdfunding campaign.
Which do you choose?
Here are some things to consider for both, followed by my recommendation:
- A humble product is easier to make in almost every way–art, graphic design, manufacturing, etc. There is a learning curve for product design, and it’s a much shorter curve for a humble product. An epic product, on the other hand, has a greater chance of having some kind of issue or delay.
- An epic product typically has a greater chance of capturing peoples’ hearts, imaginations, and wallets. Think of a Kickstarter campaign for a new type of shampoo vs. a robot who shampoos your hair for you. One is simply more exciting than the other. In that way, while a humble project may have a better shot at reaching its funding goal, an epic project has a much higher chance of vastly exceeding the goal.
- A humble product, however, has a lower barrier to entry for the backer. The cost is much lower, as is the risk proposition. It’s easy to be confident in a creator who is making something small rather than something big and complex.
- An epic project can better align your fledgling company for future success, though it comes with a higher risk/reward proposition.
- A humble campaign is a better teaching tool for a new creator. It’s like learning to swim with an instructor once a week for a summer in a private pool versus being thrown off a boat into churning, shark-infested waters.
- An epic campaign is more likely to attract media attention than a humble campaign, though the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both. You may have found your answer in that list. If not, here’s my overall recommendation to new creators: Choose the product that will sustain your interest, excitement, and passion for the next 1-2 years.
The common denominator for all of these factors is YOU. You have to want this product to exist more than anything in the world. You have to stay up late for it and wake up early for it. You have to let total strangers critique it in an effort to make it better. You will sacrifice time, money, family, other hobbies, and more to make it possible.
So choose the product that you’re not just excited about today, but that you’ve been excited about for a long time and will continue to be excited about for many months to come. If you reflect on that, I think you’ll find your answer.
I’d love to hear in the comments from creators who started out with humble or epic campaigns, why they made that choice, and how it impacted them in the short and long run.
Also read: How to Run a Humble Crowdfunding Campaign (by Michael Iachini)