So, you want to launch a crowdfunding campaign?
You want to fund it through Kickstarter?
It's time to do some market research and find out about what has succeeded on the platform you're about to use!
Good ideas come all the time, but most of them won’t lend themselves to successful campaigns on Kickstarter, the largest crowdfunding site for aspiring entrepreneurs and creatives. Certain concepts are likely be much more well-received by prospective backers than others — and the direction you take may depend as much on the scale of your ambitions as it will on the idea itself.
Indiegogo doesn’t disclose its campaign data, but Kickstarter does, and it should be eye-opening for any budding entrepreneur or creative soul who hopes to use crowdfunding to make their dreams real.
If you’re looking to launch a successful campaign, you can’t go wrong with a dance-related project. Of all categories on Kickstarter, only the Dance category surpasses a 60% success rate (61.96%) for reaching full funding. Two other fields of creative endeavor, Theater and Comics, have had more than half of their projects reach full funding. Here are the top five most frequently successful crowdfunding categories on Kickstarter:
- Dance, 61.96% successfully funded
- Theater, 59.79% successfully funded
- Comics, 55.28% successfully funded
- Music, 49.52% successfully funded
- Art, 41.29% successfully funded
Notice a pattern? Creative pursuits are simply the projects most likely to be successful on Kickstarter.
That isn’t to say that all creative projects are widely supported. The Crafts category, which covers ideas such as “handmade greeting cards and stationary,” is the creative pursuit least likely to reach its funding goals. Only 24.04% of Crafts projects get funded.
Crafts is one of the five least successful project categories on Kickstarter, and three of these five laggards are creative project types, too:
- Fashion, 25.21% successfully funded
- Food, 24.93% successfully funded
- Crafts, 24.04% successfully funded
- Journalism, 21.72% successfully funded
- Technology, 20.00% successfully funded
If you’re looking to make a splash on Kickstarter, you might also want to avoid categories in which projects frequently receive no funding at all. The Film and Video category does enjoy reasonable success on Kickstarter — 37.25% of Film and Video projects get funded — but a whopping 10,172 Film and Video projects, or 24.25% of them, never see a dime of support. That level of crowdfunding apathy can be quite damaging to the ego.
The Film and Video category sees by far the largest number of total flops, but other categories see worse rates of market rejection:
- Publishing, 25.42% receive zero funding
- Fashion, 25.67% receive zero funding
- Photography, 26.22% receive zero funding
- Music, 26.89% receive zero funding
- Journalism, 32.21% receive zero funding
Journalism is not only one of the least successful categories for crowdfunding, it’s also one of the categories most likely to be completely ignored. Journalists just can’t catch a break these days.
There are only two categories that attract some level of support for more than 90% of their crowdfunding projects: Design, for which only 9.58% of projects raise no money, and Comics, which gets some degree of funding for all but 9.32% of its projects.
If you’re looking to launch a creative project and avoid the embarrassment of zero dollars raised, it seems clear that a Comics project is the way to go. Time to get out your pen and inks and start sketching, true believers.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to pull in crowdfunding dollars from the largest number of possible backers, there’s no particular category that works best. But it does help to be at least kind of a big deal. Four of the five Kickstarter campaigns with the largest number of backers were launched by brands with at least 40,000 fans on Facebook (The Oatmeal, Reading Rainbow, Veronica Mars, and Double Fine Productions). Three of the five have at least 350,000 fans. The most popular Kickstarter campaign in history, Exploding Kittens, drew its 219,382 backers from the popular comic website The Oatmeal, which has more than four million fans on Facebook and another 640,000 followers on Twitter.
What if you’ve got big ambitions, and you need big money to support them?
It is extremely rare to pull in more than a million dollars from a crowdfunding campaign — only 296 out of 144,488 successful crowdfunding campaigns, or just 0.2%, have made it to the two-comma club. But if you’re going to aim high, a Games project is the way to go, since 104 Games campaigns have made it to a million bucks. These campaigns have spanned a diverse range of offers:
- Miniatures board game Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 raised $12.4 million
- Comedy card game Exploding Kittens raised $8.8 million
- Open-source game console OUYA raised $8.6 million
- Miniatures board game The 7th Continent raised $7.1 million
- Open-world video game Shenmue 3 raised $6.3 million
There’s one category on Kickstarter that often swings either to feast or famine. The Technology category, which you’ll remember as the least likely category to reach funding success, also happens to be the category with the highest rate of home runs.
The 97 Technology campaigns that passed $1 million in funding represent 1.41% of all successful Technology campaigns — in comparison, the 104 million-dollar Games campaigns are just 0.76% of all successful Games campaigns.
Three of the five highest crowdfunding totals came from Technology campaigns, but all three of those were variations on the popular Pebble smartwatch. The Pebble Time, which raised more than any other campaign in Kickstarter history, ended up with $20.3 million. The Pebble 2 raised $12.8 million, and the original Pebble smartwatch raised $10.3 million all the way back in 2012.
The average successful Technology campaign raised $92,455, by far the highest category average and well ahead of the $55,265 raised by the average successful Games campaign. Design projects also had a surprisingly high average fundraising total, with its 11,348 successful projects raising an average of $62,247 each.
The category that raised the least per successful campaign also happens to be the one with the greatest success rate. Successful Dance campaigns pulled in just $5,209 each. Once you buy the right shoes, you’re probably good to go.
Remember, crowdfunding success starts with a great idea, but it takes much more than that to reach your goals. You’ll need a rock-solid plan, a fantastic awareness campaign, and (for most categories at least) some kick-ass operational expertise, to make sure your backers get what they’ve paid for on time and under budget.
We’ll be covering all that and more in this series of articles, so make sure to check back often for the updates!