What I Learned from Running a Kickstarter Project

The highs, lows, downs, ups, a few more downs, maybe another high, then a low again.

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We’re wrapping up our Kickstarter project here in about five hours and it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I thought I share a few things I’ve learned on the way, the short version of the past month of our lives here at Wand’rly.

1. Know a TON of people before you get started.

It was a handful of friends who got us off the ground initially, and it was an even wider array of past contacts that helped bring things in as we neared the end. Everyone you’ve ever helped for free, past clients, people you’ve hired for freelance work, Facebook friends, everyone is fair game, but if you don’t have thousands of these people on hand, and if you don’t have them organized in some way (ie, a contacts list or a spreadsheet), you’re going to have a hard time advertising this stuff.

2. Contests are Bullshit.

I ran a “Like this on Facebook” contest. It was stupid, a ton of people ended up liking my project but I can’t see that any of them specifically lead anyone back to the Kickstarter site, nor did anyone who backed the project appear to be there because of a contest.

3. It’s a Lot of Work

You’re not really getting anything for free, because honestly I worked so much on pushing the information out there that I probably could have, were I just to have worked at my normal income sources twice as many hours, made the equivalent in cash. It’s not a get rich quick type of thing, you have to work for it, and the work you’re doing can be a bit soul sucking at times. Though you’re not asking for a handout, it sure can feel like that at times.

4. You Find out if Your Project is Worth It

The amount of interest that was stirred up around our project was the best part of it all, seeing hundreds of people share the project across the web, even if they didn’t all back it, was phenomenal. It made the entire magazine feel quite worth it in the end. It also put us in touch with writers, photographers, editors, and plenty of fellow travelers who will no doubt play a big part in the future of the magazine as a collective bunch.

5. It is Emotionally Draining

In the early stages, I watched as other projects soared and ours was pretty stagnant. As time went on we ended up getting some really great bumps, and things started looking up. Then another lull just a week before the deadline, and yes, it was an emotional rollercoaster. In fact, after it was all said and done and we’d reached our goal a couple of days early, I was so drained I spent an entire day lying around watch television, and unless I’m sick, I never do that…so yeah, it was kind of like I got hit with the flu.

Would I do it again?

That’s a tough question. There’s something kind of cool about knowing we’ve been successful with Kickstarter. But like I said above, for the amount of work it took, I could have earned that cash without the whole process (and therefore without the now on the table rewards!). However, the relationships that have begun to develop make it a tough call. Sure, I probably could have established those relationships even without Kickstarter, but the fact that there was a monetary transaction involved, the fact that there was a barrier between instant online friend and quick connection, well that makes those relationships all the more worthy. Not that someone needs to give me money for us to be friends, not at all, but when someone does throw $5, $25 or $125 your way, well that shows initiative on their part and can’t be ignored.