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Starting an Indiegogo/Kickstarter for a new Webcomic

edited April 2013 in On The Road
Hello everybody,

I have a question in which I was hoping to garner some feedback from.

I'm drawing out a plan for a new webcomic to be launched this summer, and am debating with myself whether it's a good idea to publish an Indiegogo campaign a few weeks before the launch of the website to generate some startup funding, generate some interest, and to introduce this new webcomic to the world. Keep in mind, I basically have no prior audience or fan base and this is a completely new webcomic that will be going up. We're taking steps to insure that we have a very funny and relatable script, well-designed website, and a specific target audience, so if anyone can offer their helpful advice about launching Indiegogo campaigns based around new webcomics and how successful they can be, it would be greatly appreciated!

I know big, established webcomics have had huge success with their campaigns such as Looking For Group, the Oatmeal, and SMBC, but I've never really heard anything about new, unestablished webcomics being successful with campaigns to help launch their own webcomic from scratch, which is why I'm posting this new discussion.

Thanks!
Nathan Bowler

W: http://superandom.com

Comments

  • edited April 2013
    Indiegogo works best if you already have an audience that can make your campaign go viral. Just relying on the site's passers-by may or may not work, but they see lots of those campaigns go by, so unless yours is really special (not just to you), I'd work on generating non-committal buzz first. Webcomics-related forums, Facebook, Twitter, whatever works for you.

    Once you've built up momentum, you'll be able to reconsider the Indiegogo thing. But set a fixed goal - plain old "getting paid to continue doing that webcomic" just doesn't sound as pledgeworthy as, say, "making a movie of this".
  • The successful crowdfunding campaigns that I've seen for new properties have all had either an enthusiastic existing audience for the creator (e.g. the first new comic by Will Eisner since his death!), or a sense of "mission" behind them (e.g. the first ever comic to offer a sympathetic portrayal of the much-maligned and endangered left-handed shark!)  The days when people would cruise Kickstarter looking for projects with a great idea behind them have gone the way of the left-handed shark, I'm afraid.
  • edited April 2013
    What Jason said, basically. The third possibility is that you have someone with an established audience somehow in your corner. (Matt Miner had several punk bands contributing paraphernalia to his campaign for Liberator, and Matt was a former student of Scott Snyder's, for example. I came upon Rachel Deering's Anathema because Joe Hill was an advocate.) 

    I've run two successful Kickstarter campaigns now, and thanks to bit.ly and KS's own analytics, I have a pretty good idea where people came from.

    For my most recent project, I raised a little over $1300 from 77 backers.

    1. Friends and family. I'll do my best to provide them with the best bang for their entertainment buck, but they likely wouldn't have stumbled onto the project -- or pledged to it -- if I hadn't directed them to it through social networks, and some of them may or may not even have an outside interest in comics. This was conservatively 30% of my funding.

    2. Twitter. I made a list of all the comics pros I follow, and solicited a few of them each day to please retweet my project (the day Warren Ellis retweeted the project was the single highest traffic day during the campaign...). I didn't ask everyone at the same day, since they have an overlapping audience. I also asked a few people not directly associated with comics to retweet (actor Michael McMillian, for example, who dabbles in comics and once collaborated with my artist on the project). Some of these people did. Some didn't. Many probably didn't even see the request. Regardless, after I asked, I crossed the names off the list, and didn't ask again. It felt uncomfortable but necessary to ask once; anything more than that would've been rude. (14 backers; $213) Ideally, one of those myriad requests for a retweet leads the person to actually see and advocate the project.

    3. Bleeding Cool. Rich let me write a brief article and he published it. (5 backers; $55)

    4. USA Today. Brian Truitt ran a short interview on the newspaper's website, which generated some traffic, and 1 pledge ($11). 
     
    5. Kickstarter's Discover, Recently launched and Ending Soon pages -- these are the blind passers by, and they numbered 17 backers/$364.

    There's more to look at that I can't quite piece together with the evidence at hand, did the direct traffic or searches come as a result of one of the above attempts at marketing?  

    But I got lucky. I have neither an established audience nor a particularly unique mission (unless 'make good comics' is a mission).
  • I have to agree with others here.
    Especially Quest's observations about the Left-handed Shark concept.

    And @EricPalicki has sound advice and analysis above.

    Nonetheless, the bottom line is... will it hurt to use Indiegogo as promotion for your new webcomic? No it won't hurt, but it's usually the other way around.  At this point, in my opinion, there's no right or wrong way to do things.
  • I like Jason's advice. It might be best to cross the Indiegogo promotion off the list for now and build up some momentum with the actual product first, then use Indiegogo as a tool for taking it to the next step.

    Also, Eric's analysis is very helpful! Thanks for your advice and tips. Much appreciated!

    -Nathan

  • Agreed with the other advice on here. I've been involved in two very successful kickstarters for RWP (one raised $17k, the second raised over $65K) and it's about building audience, desire, and interest in the product and the project.

    For something that isn't affiliated with education, like your webcomic, building that core audience is going to be key for viral promotion. They will help spread the word, and also allows you to build a database to reach out to with assets for that viral promotion. The more people know about your project, the more likely it will be successfully funded.
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