Learning from others’ Kickstarter mistakes

Infographic compares successful projects with those that failed

Journalism professionals, professors, and students are taking their reporting proposals to Kickstarter, and for the past few months I’ve rounded up some of these projects for a recurring feature called The Kickstarter Chronicles. As the media industry continues to test new funding models, some teams and individuals have had tremendous success with crowdfunding, raising tens of thousands for documentaries, Web series, magazines, newspapers, websites, and other media ventures.

As anyone who’s tried raising money on this platform knows, it’s not just the quality of the idea that matters; other decisions play a big role, such as the goal amount, effectiveness of the pitch, and the category, or genre, of the project. There hasn’t been much data-driven analysis of what works and what doesn’t, but Jeanne Pi, the founder of AppsBlogger, recently created an infographic that offers some interesting insights into Kickstarter projects that do and don’t make their goals. Some of the highlights from her report: As of June 2, there’s been over $214 million pledged from almost 3 million backers on almost 46,000 projects (these figures do not include live, cancelled, or suspended projects). Almost half of those projects have been successful.

There is no separation in her presentation to show the state of strictly journalistic endeavors, but the categories that journalism projects usually fall under are film and video, publishing, and photography. Her infographic shows that film and video projects have raised the most of all the project genres available on Kickstarter, with almost $55 million, followed by music, design, games and art projects (in that order). Publishing comes in next with about $9 million total; publishing is where projects such as periodicals and websites and other specifically categorized “journalism” projects tend to fall. Photography came in last of the journalism categories, with a little over $3 million.

Pi writes in her post, “Kickstarter failures revealed!” that the idea to learn more about successful vs. failed projects was inspired by blogger Dan Meisner’s point in this post—where he points out that it is difficult to find unsuccessful projects on Kickstarter, yet these failed projects could be very helpful for those contemplating how to best execute future pitches. Pi had a program built to gather data from Kickstarter and she provides the original data here, which offers more specifics about the type of projects. Some of the commenters on Pi’s post have pointed out what they see as better, alternative ways of comparing projects and distilling this information, such as controlling for the goal and rewards levels of the projects, and taking into account the level that the project was promoted and marketed when comparing successes. Check out Pi’s infographic here for the rest of what this data scrape revealed.

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Alysia Santo is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: , , ,