Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo: Which Crowdfunding Site Should You Choose?

26 August 2015 | 26 Comments

Is Kickstarter still the king of crowdfunding?

You may notice that I write considerably more about Kickstarter than any other crowdfunding website, but I try to give its main competitor, Indiegogo, a nod every now and then.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not giving Indiegogo the credit it’s due. So recently when I learned that accomplished crowdfunder Chris Morey was launching a new campaign on Kickstarter after running his last few campaigns on Indiegogo, I asked him to compare his experiences with both platforms so you can choose the one that fits you best. Thanks Chris!

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Chris Morey here, owner and publisher at Dark Regions Press, a specialty book publishing company of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Leading up to the launch of our first Kickstarter campaign, which was our first crowdfunding campaign ever, we spent a lot of time studying Jamey’s Kickstarter Lessons. I also spent a lot of time studying other Kickstarter campaigns to see what the successful campaigns did right and what the unsuccessful campaigns did wrong.

After we felt confident and prepared, we launched our Kickstarter campaign for Black Labyrinth Book II by Joe R. Lansdale on October 8th 2013. The campaign lasted 34 days and ended on November 10th, reaching $30,323 (surpassing its goal amount by $5,323) and expanded beyond four B&W interior illustrations to include eight color interior illustrations instead.

kicktraq-stats-blacklabyrinth-book2

 

So far we have four successful crowdfunding campaigns under our belt: three on Indiegogo, one on Kickstarter and we’re currently running another on Kickstarter as well for I AM THE ABYSS. Most serious creators consider these major options before launching their campaign, and I’m here to shed some light on the pros and cons of both platforms to help make the choice a little easier.

Indiegogo Pros:

Flexible Funding Option: this allows you to keep the funds collected even if you don’t reach your goal amount by your campaign end date. Unlike Kickstarter, this means you can raise $20,000 of a $25,000 goal and still keep funds, which under certain circumstances can be a relief or at least a safety net for creators of certain projects. We launched all three of our Indiegogo campaigns with Flexible Funding because after you reach your funding goal in a Flexible Funding campaign you end up paying the same fee structure as Fixed Funding. In other words, the only reason you shouldn’t do Flexible Funding is if you 100% need every last penny of the goal amount to create the project.

InDemand: Indiegogo recently launched a new tool for creators called InDemand. This allows you to continue to offer your product/service through your Indiegogo campaign page indefinitely as another retail outlet. This is particularly useful because so much time and effort is put into promoting your crowdfunding campaign that traffic still steadily trickles into the page well after the campaign has concluded. InDemand opens up the possibility of many more customers and is well worth exploring for applicable projects.

Indiegogo Cons:

Shipping: this was also a Kickstarter con until recently, but on Indiegogo you still have to say “Please add this much additional for shipping outside of our home country.” The problem is, it costs different amounts in postage to ship to different countries. From the United States, for example, it’s much cheaper to ship to Canada than it is to Australia.

As a result, if you’re running a campaign with multiple Perk/Reward levels and shipping internationally, it’s a good idea to create a shipping chart so that international customers can see exactly how much in funds they’ll have to add for their respective Perk level. You’re going to have international customers who forget to add additional money for postage, so prepare to e-mail them after the campaign is over to request the funds outside of Indiegogo.

Internal Messaging System (Lack Thereof): Unlike Kickstarter which has its own internal messaging system with a database so you have logs of your conversations dating back years, on Indiegogo their “messaging system” is actually just the message being sent to the creator’s e-mail.

If you want to respond you need to either a) respond directly from the creator’s e-mail which is much more convenient but may not be ideal or b) look up the funder’s e-mail to respond to them from a different e-mail address. It’s a real hassle and a big con about Indiegogo. As a somewhat fix, we’ve been stressing to our Indiegogo campaign backers to use our support e-mail addresses instead.

Reward Level Limit: on Indiegogo you have a maximum of 20 reward levels while on Kickstarter you can have over 50 (tested over 50, limit unknown). While 20 reward levels should be enough in most cases, there are some instances when having a lot of reward levels is advantageous.

For example: I have found that customers are more likely to purchase something through a Reward (Perk) Level than they are to follow the instructions on your campaign page to purchase the same item as an Optional Add-On. This is partly because the Perk levels are easy to see on any platform, including mobile, while reading text on the campaign page with instructions on how to add extra funds to purchase an Add-On can sometimes confuse or exhaust the potential customer.

Crowdfunding platforms still have yet to make Add-Ons integrated into the checkout process of their platforms (which is another sorely overdue upgrade). An example of when having more than 20 Reward Levels on Kickstarter might be advantageous is selling original artworks to help fund an art book or individualized/very limited creative rewards.

Kickstarter Pros:

Traffic/Audience: Kickstarter is essentially treated as a root word of crowdfunding because it is still the flagship platform for crowdfunding a project. According to the traffic studies that I’ve seen, Kickstarter.com gets about 300% the unique visitors as Indiegogo.com does on a monthly basis.

More traffic doesn’t necessarily mean Kickstarter is always the way to go. Each platform has their own categorical strengths. For example, Indiegogo has a thriving technology community while Kickstarter has a thriving gaming community.

Shipping: A recent (and sorely overdue) upgrade to the Kickstarter platform is the ability to integrate international shipping rates for each country individually for each reward level. Indiegogo still requires the creator to spell out “Please add this many additional postage funds for shipping to this country at this reward level” and rely on the campaign backer to follow the instructions correctly.

Kickstarter Cons:

Fixed Funding Only: You better hit your funding goal, because $25,000 out of $30,000 ain’t gonna cut it. On Kickstarter there is no Flexible Funding option as there is on Indiegogo. If you don’t reach your funding goal all of the contributions are refunded back to the campaign backers.

Autoplay: Kickstarter temporarily stopped their autoplay experience, but it’s back again. Jamey already outlined why this is bad for backers (and 97% of backers and creators seem to agree).

So Which Is It, Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

Both platforms are excellent resources for creators looking to get their projects funded. While we’ve had three successful Indiegogo campaigns in a row, one Kickstarter campaign and one currently in progress, I still think I’ll have to give Kickstarter the slight nod. With the significant amount of extra traffic, the new update that includes international shipping rates per level per country and the general buzz-friendly nature of Kickstarter, I would give it the nod as the slightly better platform for most projects.

Indiegogo however has a very strong Technology Category which from what I’ve seen seems to raise more money than the Kickstarter Technology Category. So, if you’re a tech creator, I would definitely give the nod to Indiegogo.

Best wishes on your journey to launching a successful crowdfunding campaign. Remember: limit the amount of your add-ons, under-promise and over-deliver, make sure to crunch the numbers in excruciatingly detailed ways before you launch your campaign… and good luck!

If you’re interested, the Kickstarter campaign for our anthology project, I AM THE ABYSS, is currently live on Kickstarter.

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If you have any questions for Chris or want to share other comparisons between Kickstarter and Indiegogo, please post in the comments!

26 Comments on “Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo: Which Crowdfunding Site Should You Choose?

  1. “In other words, the only reason you shouldn’t do Flexible Funding is if you 100% need every last penny of the goal amount to create the project.”

    I am a lot less likely to back a project that is using Flexible Funding because I have less confidence in the planning behind the project. So there’s another reason for you.

    1. Yeah, I’m also not a big fan of flexible funding, but for different reasons. I think a firm funding goal creates a strong call to action for people. It says, “If we don’t get $X, this thing won’t exist.” That’s a powerful message to convey.

      1. Yep, I have no plans of backing any flexible funding campaigns. The project creator needs to determine the minimum amount they can make the project on and make that their funding goal. (That also has the nice added bonus of increasing the funding percentage).

    2. I also avoid projects that use flexible funding for the same reason you stated. Another thing that I don’t like is seeing kickstarter projects that have really small goals like $100-$500. There’s something really shifty about that.

      1. Sam: Yeah, that indicates to me that it’s just a straight pre-order campaign. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just doesn’t excite me. I’d rather just pre-order directly from the company’s website.

  2. Chris,

    Great article! I ran the same calculus a few years back before running two successful Kickstarter Projects…for us, we had to make the prescribed Goal in order to meet the financial “bills” with regard to artists’ fees; mold and casting preparations; and vendor shipments. If I ran another one today, given that much of the initial costs have been met by our previous projects, I might give Indiegogo a try, as we could meet the demands of our Backers without having to fret making the Goal.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    1. Hey, Joe, my pleasure. Indiegogo is well worth pursuing for multiple reasons. InDemand where you can sell you product in perpetuity via the campaign page even after it ends is an interesting platform. We really go all out in promoting our campaigns so traffic has been going to these pages for years… that’s a lot of potentially missed customers! Granted, you can direct people on where to buy the product, but InDemand is still a nice option to have.

      Best wishes in checking out Indiegogo, Joe!

  3. Auto-play has a setting in your profile now. They turned it back on, but now you have the ability to turn it off. So I really don’t care about them turning it back on.

      1. This is great news, Michelle, but I’m having trouble finding where in the profile/account information to turn it off. Could you by chance point me in the right direction?

  4. As a frequent backer on Kickstarter and an occasional backer on Indiegogo, I have to wonder how Indiegogo keeps operating. The Perks cannot be adjusted or added to…if you want to increase your pledge on Indiegogo you have to make a new pledge.

    The Flexible Funding option means that I will likely never back your project, since the chance of success is far lower providing you have done your due diligence on the actual costs of your project.

    The mobile app for both sites is beyond horrible, as is the mobile interface, but at least with Kickstarter you have access to more than 3 projects at a time.

    And autoplay is awful regardless of platform or website. Yes, even CNN and FOX need to learn that all autoplay does is make me go somewhere else faster.

    The only things I can speak kindly to on Indiegogo is that they are definitely more friendly to international projects and they take PayPal.

    1. That’s an important point that I can’t believe I didn’t touch on in the article: Indiegogo accepts PayPal. That’s a big one, in my opinion. We always have a good amount of customers pay via PayPal, and during our Indiegogo campaigns they’re literally about 50% of the campaign pledges.

  5. 50% of pledges might be through PayPal but it is almost impossible to tell how many of those you would lose if the PayPal option disappeared. For instance, I use PayPal at Indiegogo, but would use some other payment option if PayPal were not available.

    1. True, it’s impossible to tell, but I’ve had enough requests for PayPal to know that it’s a decent enough amount to make a difference. I’ve been curious for a while why Kickstarter doesn’t offer it as an option. Something to do with the fees maybe?

  6. If it’s a card game (single deck) where costs are under 2k, it’s quite possible that $500 makes the difference between someone being able to make the game or having to risk their financial future (going into debt or risking rent payment next month).

  7. James Mathe has a 2013 article recommending KS over IGG because… wait for it… wait… almost there… almost there…MONEY. There’s more money flowing on KS, which means a greater potential for money for a KS project. IGG also has a reputation for scams over legitimate projects, although not necessarily for boardgame projects, afaik.

  8. If you have an existing website, you can look at hosting your own crowdfunding campaign via simple HTML widget code. Thrinacia’s new Reach service allows you to get your campaign running in minutes. It can save you quite a bit of money in fees as well, compared to some of the more traditional platforms. There is a 1% administration fee applicable.

  9. Does this have to be an OR rather than an AND? I’m curious why people don’t tend to run either simultaneous or consecutive fundraising campaigns on both platforms. It seems that there must be a lot of traffic to the two sites that isn’t overlapping and also, even if kickstarter is the better platform, it would be nice to have InDemand to continue selling the product after the fundraising campaign is over. Is there a downside to using both that I am missing?

    1. It’s a lot of work to run one crowdfunding campaign, much less two simultaneously! :) That said, if you do it, definitely let me know a few weeks into it so I can get your thoughts on it.

  10. […] So what about Kickstarter and Indiegogo? I think they’re both fine, particularly with the “fund the next year/season” format that many content creators use. It’s also nice that the 3,673 people who follow me on Kickstarter will get a notification if I launch a project there. The problem is, I think there’s the strong perception that Kickstarter is about making something new and tangible, which is quite the opposite of supporting ongoing content. As for choose Kickstarter over Indiegogo, I have a few articles about that here and here. […]

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