Disclaimer: Let me start off by saying that the goal of this article, the very essence of it, is to ask you for money. Not for me – but for kids that need our help. If you don’t feel like reading, head to that link now and donate!
I have been feeling really needy this year, apparently. As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder (and I get older, and older, and older…) I realize that some of the things I set out to do this year I achieved – and many I didn’t.
My 2014 Crowdfunding Efforts
This year I participated in two different IndieGoGo campaigns – both unsuccessful.
The first was for the Daffodil Gallery in Edmonton. The campaign, called Grow the Daffodil, was to help a local art gallery expand into the adjoining retail space. It had recently been vacated by the tailor who had been there for years. The campaign worked on many levels: it raised awareness for this fantastic art gallery and it managed to get to 50% of its intended goal. Not too shabby when many campaigns fail to hit the 20% mark. Still, it was a big undertaking and overall I’d say that I am pleased with how it went.
My second campaign was a flop. There is no other way to put it. The campaign was for charTomb, the graveyard at the end of the internet. I decided early that I was going to do everything in my power to get this campaign to succeed. I enlisted the help of GoGo Rocket, I posted regular updates and I spammed the hell out of everyone I know. I ended up at 5% of my goal.
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the things that I did wrong – because a lot of them are things that you can avoid if you decide to go the crowdfunding route.
Asking for too much, too soon.
My goal of $30,000 might have been what I felt I needed to do the project right, but my focus was all wrong. As the Potato Salad campaign that raised $55,492 proved – it’s better to ask for less and build a following than it is to have potential fans turned off by a high price tag when they first hit the page.
Build a team, build an audience.
I went in as one man with the goal of recruiting talent along the way. I worked with an amazing artist over the course of the campaign to get some concept art done but it was too little, too late. I talked with a lot of people at the Game Developer’s Conference about my graveyard idea and most people seemed to think it was cool. But here’s the thing – charTomb doesn’t really have a market. It’s an art project, and without a team and an existing following it didn’t stand a chance.
Unfocused traffic is a soul killer.
Okay, so I don’t actually believe I have a soul – but if I did it would certainly be dead after working with GoGo Rocket. Don’t get me wrong – they were nice, had some decent advice, and delivered exactly what they promised: traffic to the campaign. But as far as I can tell the traffic was meaningless. The only comments I got from that traffic were other people trying to sell me services to boost my crowdfunding campaign. I’m not going to say that my campaign was the greatest, but GoGo Rocket directed 34,510 people to my page – with an output of $0.
I got a kick out of some of the sales pitch comments initially, but after a while it was just depressing. Here is an example of the kind of messages I was getting:
I came across your campaign and I love what your team is doing with charTomb. Your idea is brilliant, innovative, and a game I would love to play! We would love to discuss the possibility of working with you and your team, to bring media exposure, and traffic to your campaign. If you are interested please shoot me an e-mail, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.
Just two little issues with that:
- charTomb isn’t a game.
- You can’t play it.
After the first couple of these types of comments I quickly realized the traffic I was getting was useless to me. I find it hard to believe that my idea was so terrible that not one in over 30,000 people could be bothered to at least leave a meaningful comment, even if they weren’t going to donate.
Ultimately I came to the conclusion that I am better off toiling in obscurity until I have something that will knock people’s socks off than putting myself out there too early.
So… What now?
Now I am going to focus on the things that I love: game and web development, gaming, and charity. On Monday I will be launching a charity auction for Extra Life, where you will be able to pick up some cool swag and support the Stollery at the same time. If you have a minute, head over to one of my new websites:
portalDoge (update: site closed) to play some games or PixelCrafters to read about creative gaming. Those are the two sites I will be dedicating my efforts to in 2015.