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3 Negative Realities My Kickstarter Campaign Revealed to Me

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by zelphacomics » Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:25 pm

Hello Everyone,

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:

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 :D

Lue :geek:
Paper Rock Scissors N’ Stuff Wars: the Graphic Novel campaign
PRSNSWFront Cover_reduced.jpg
Paper Rock Scissors N' Stuff Wars #1
PRSNSWFront Cover_reduced.jpg (248.67 KiB) Viewed 3932 times
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by hyperstarter » Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:30 am

Hi, I actually side with your friends/family. You've written your post from the view of you only, a person who wants to get support and raise money to fund a campaign.

It's great you're doing something on your own, funding your dream and making something creative like a graphic novel.

The problem is not everyone is into comics or graphic novels. If you made a gadget say like Fidget Cube, it would gain more traction within your personal groups as it could be a stocking filler, a gift for grandkids and so on. With yours it's very niche specific.

What they might be saying is they support you, BUT they don't want your novel.

If for example they were involved in the process along the way like helping you come up with the ideas of the characters or plot lines, or even named after the characters or anything else which got them involved before you launched - then they'd probably be more eager to promote you within their own networks.

I think your post is extremely self centered, family and friends can help you emotionally but when asking for money - that's something else.

Also, had a quick look at your campaign page - it's got a giant pair of bloody scissors chasing after some paper, I really don't think it's going to appeal to people outside your graphic novel groups.

I mostly comment on campaign pages. Your highest reward is aimed at peple with businesses. For $1000+ they could buy a pretty good advert. The rest of the rewards are include hand signed copies and custom art, but you don't have a fan base yet, so not sure the value of these rewards right now.

Best of luck, I think you'll reach your goal.
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by zelphacomics » Thu Oct 06, 2016 4:57 pm

Hypestarter, thanks for your reply. The purpose of my post concerns what role we THINK family and friends will play in our campaign. People new to crowdfunding don't know what to expect and assuming support from family/friends is a fair assumption. I do not expect my campaign to succeed with just family and friends backing it - I want to be clear on that. But I think it is only human to want those closest to you to help you in some way.

Yourself, myself and everyone else out there has supported all sorts of weird things for those people we care about. We do it not because we want an item or want to go to that friend's play - we do it because supporting loved ones makes us happy. To say it's "self-centered" to look for more than a pat-on-the-back from people who have known you most of your life and you have supported their pursuits without hesitation - well, I disagree with that. Funny enough, I've read criticisms that crowdfunding itself is a "self-centered way to obtain free money." I disagree with that as well.

Except for my youngest brother, none of my family members like comics. My grandmother has never once picked up a comic book, but she donated to see her grandson achieve his goals and dreams. Same with my mother and sister. The lack of interest from other family I think has little to do with the medium. As you stated, asking for money is the difference. I've read that from other posts as well - asking for money changes things.

The desire and expectation of 'social circle' (not my term) support is in line with the copious amount of articles I read before launching. They all stressed the importance of getting your social network engaged. Friends, family, Facebook friends, etc. They are that important to getting the ball rolling and spreading the word. So, to be honest, some of my disappointment comes from reading about successful campaign that were spearheaded by family/peer support, only to see my reality is different.

And that is OK. Not every story follows the same formula. I am fully confident my campaign will succeed and it will do so with minimal support from my social circle. With so many articles and sales pitches based on the strength of personal social circles, I would like prospective crowdfunders to know you can find success without strong backing of family and friends. It's like the narrative on crowdfunding is all the same and I now see there can be a different path.

As I did mention in the post, I have received tremendous support and appreciate those people who have helped me get this far. This is my first Kickstarter and lesson are being learned. I will get there and I am happy I've tried Kickstarter.

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by hyperstarter » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:43 am

Thanks for this type of reply. I thought you were going to complain about the things I wrote and at first I wasn't sure whether to send the initial message.

The thing is, you've identified the main thing - if you're family aren't into comics, then there's no reason for them help fund your goals. You mentioned "donate" but Kickstarter doesn't work that way, compared to say GoFundme.

I guess overall, the conclusion is don't expect to have a fully funded Kickstarter, don't expect family/friends/colleagues to support you (unless they were involved in the process).

I think the major issue is if you asked family/friends to be honest with you in the first place and ask "Would you back this project" then at least you would know their real feelings and not be surprised when they don't support you.

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by XuanZhou » Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:46 am

I can relate to your post. I wasn't really banking on my friends and family to help out much (especially considering how anti-social I can be). But when I see so many people I know, or even friends of friends helping out, I feel extra grateful and touched. Most of these people did not choose a reward in return, they donated just to help my campaign out. Inevitably I also feel a a tinge of disappointment when certain people you feel who are supposed to be closer to you do not help out :( ... =user_menu
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by MiaLondonBook » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:46 am

I can totally relate to your story. Our campaign has only been active for a couple of days however the respond from friends and family has been lack luster. I personally know they think they are an exception and will receive the items for free.

The main one that I am shocked at is when people call and ask how much have I received so far or if this person has pledged..and they haven't pledged
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by cp1234 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:34 am

Hi @zelphacomics, thank you for the great insights! For everyone else, if you need tips and tricks on how to further promote your Kickstarter campaign, you can check out my thread on how my campaign (see: raised $250,000 in less than 9 hours:
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by AngryPredatorStudios » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:30 am

Reading the whole thread; the experience can be quite relate-able to some.

I found what I read was informative to a campaign manager. I've yet to come across the three. But I fear as that I too might face the same reality. I try to remain positive when it comes down to those three outcomes. Success to a campaign is bound to happen some way if you keep pushing..
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by Marcusbircher » Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:22 am


Really appreciate you sharing your perspective on this. Have run into this warning about fit being more difficult to get family & friends to rally around your campaign as one would assume. \

Was curious if anyone has had any success with certain natural market outreach tactics and strategies in order to fully maximize the conversion and potential of your close network? Any specific email strategy for instance? Or follow-up strategies etc?

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by lowkey » Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:05 pm

cp1234 wrote:Hi @zelphacomics, thank you for the great insights! For everyone else, if you need tips and tricks on how to further promote your Kickstarter campaign, you can check out my thread on how my campaign (see: raised $250,000 in less than 9 hours:

this is really one of the good read here. i promise you.
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