I launched my first Kickstarter campaign recently to begin my childhood dream of publishing comic books. My friends, family and co-workers have always been aware of how passionate I am about all things comic books. Before my campaign started, I informed my ‘social circle’ about my intention to begin a crowdfunding campaign and for the most part, the responses from the people I knew were positive and supportive. “This is my passion and dream,” I thought. “With a large family, friends I’ve known for decades and close co-workers, I will have this campaign funded in a couple days!”
So I launched my first Kickstarter campaign for my comic book graphic novel Paper Rock Scissors N’ Stuff Wars
. I wanted to create an original comic about the famous hand game Rock-Paper-Scissors brought to life as an actual intergalactic war! The campaign can be seen at: https://goo.gl/o43tSb
With 15 days to go, the campaign is 91% funded and I’m confident it will succeed and surpass the goal. I have been to three comic book conventions while the campaign is running and that seems to be paying off. However, since starting the campaign, the reality of what role my social circle would play became clear. Crowdfunding really teaches you a lot about the people you think would help you. Here is what I came to realize:
1) Family and Friends are not as supportive as they say
As explained by every person who has succeeded or failed at crowdfunding, your first target is always your social circle of family, friends, acquaintances and co-workers. People you know personally and will donate simply because they want to see you succeed. To my surprise, I discovered many of the people I know in each circle – people I have known for years and decades – have not only ignored my campaign, but have started to act weird around me. As one business acquaintance recently told me, “The need or request for money always changes a relationship’s dynamic.”
Now, I can understand co-workers feeling at odds with donating money to a peer and even Facebook ‘friends’ you barely have conversations with not wanting to get involved, but when I discovered two of my older sisters lacked interest, plus my father, my step-mother, aunts and uncles (all paternal side) – wow, I was disheartened. Those who have helped include my other two younger sisters, my youngest brother, my mother, grandmother (all maternal side) and my wife’s family. Yes, my in-laws have been more supportive than my actual paternal family! I have tried to talk to them about their lack of interest, but to summarize, I get the standard, “I’ll look into it”, “I’m busy” or the next piece of gold, “wish you good luck” (accompanied by a quasi-forced smile)
Two of my oldest friends provided the ultimate shock. Now, they live in different cities than I do and we can’t hang out as we used to years ago. We all have our own lives and families, but we go way back two decades. We have been there for each other too many times to count. But with my request for money to fuel a dream, both friends have suddenly become distant and hard to reach by phone or email. Other friends have donated and shared my campaign, to which I am grateful, but these two specific friends have really disappointed me. When the campaign is over, we are going to have some serious talks about, “seriously, WTF?”
2) “Good luck with that” is the nicest rejection
At first this fooled me. You talk to a person you know and they tell you something along the lines of, “awesome idea! OK, good luck with that!” or “I wish you the best of success!” Sounds great, right? People wishing you success and good vibes! Even if they don’t donate, I thought they would at least spread the word of my campaign. But that isn’t the case and after speaking with other crowdfunders, this “good luck” rejection mantra is very common. As one successful crowdfunder (who donated to my campaign) told me, “if someone ONLY says ‘good luck’ after you explain your campaign and DOES NOT ask any questions, that person is really telling you, ‘hey, I’m not going to help out, but saying good luck makes us both feel better’”.
Seriously, regardless if you reached your goal or not, think back to those people whose only
response to your campaign was “good luck” – how many of them actually donated? I’m not
talking about those who donate and then
say “good luck” – that is actually genuine. I’m talking about “good luck” is the verbal donation received and nothing more. I bet you will discover that 'well-wish' is the only gift they gave.
3) I’ll help you if you help me!
Outside of personal social circles, once the campaign is up and running, we all get barraged by businesses and individuals looking to promote your campaign for a fee. Even though I am new to Kickstarter, I knew these solicitations were coming. What I didn’t expect were fellow crowdfunders asking for what I call a ‘donation parley’. I’m sure you all have received them – a request to donate a similar amount to each other's campaign to help boost committed funds and Kickstarter rankings.
To be honest, the first time I heard of this was when a guy reached out to me on day one of my campaign to do a $5 donation parley. I had yet to get a donation (was waiting for friends and family members to get home from work to donate) and it made sense to at least have $5 there for potential non-family donors to see there was interest in my comic. I agreed and he donated $5 and I donated $5 back to him. It was a good experience and we developed a positive report between us.
After that one good experience, enter the two bad ones that give pause to this practise. After such a positive first parley, when a second guy asked the same thing, I agreed. I was already at 52% funded, but another $5 wouldn’t hurt. I told him to do the donation and when I come back from work (important part), I would donate back. Once home from work, not only did he donate, but he then un-donated and left vile messages for me. I won’t go into specifics, but ‘troll’ is the best term I have for this guy. He ignored my comment of “donating after work” and assumed I would donate back within minutes of his donation. I didn’t care that he un-donated, but the visceral messages were just too much and immature. I have since labelled his messages as ‘spam’.
The third experience was also the same day as the previous one. The difference this time was the guy’s campaign was about to end and I guess he needed a few extra bucks to reach the goal. The parley was done and when I got home, I realized he un-donated too. His campaign didn’t reach its goal and I guess he decided it wasn’t worth it to keep up his side of the bargain. No nasty emails – just a simple cop-out.
In a donation parley, depending on whose campaign ends first, someone can un-donate to screw the other person over. It’s like the old You Tube ‘sub-4-sub’ scam to build a subscriber base. A donation parley could be useful at the very beginning of a campaign just to get some numbers up, but I warn others against doing it because you never know if the other person will ultimately keep up their side of the bargain. And of course, you can't fund a campaign like this. It wouldn't make sense.
So this is my little rant about some of the things I have experienced with my current Kickstarter campaign. By no means do I want you to think I see this experience as all negative. As I mentioned before, I’m almost at the finish line with 2-weeks to go. Complete strangers have helped my campaign so much and even one donor increased their pledge from $100 to $500. I have family and friends who stepped up and have been amazing with their financial and social media support. I’m happy to have support regardless of where it comes from and I plan to deliver on everything I promise! But life is a blend of positives and negatives and unexpected experiences that get you thinking about the people you thought you knew. Crowdfunding teaches you quite a bit about the human condition and relationships.
Please share your thoughts and experiences. Thanks for reading and if you like unique crazy comic books, perhaps give my campaign a try
Lue Paper Rock Scissors N’ Stuff Wars: the Graphic Novel campaignhttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zelphacomics/paper-rock-scissors-n-stuff-wars-graphic-novel