Kickstarter rocks! (even though my project wasn’t funded)

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have noticed that about a month ago I started a Kickstarter project to help pay for some of the costs associated with writing my planned book on user experience titled UX101. Well, my project ended this week and unfortunately I fell short of my project goal. Obviously, I’m disappointed, but I’m also kinda… well, happy.

Why? First off, I’m happy that I made a go at trying to crowdsource the research for my book. It’s something I have never done before, and as a user experience designer and student of human nature I learned a lot from doing it. I always try to take chances and try new things. If you fail, at least you tried. And you’ll NEVER succeed if you don’t put yourself out there and make the effort. Heck, baseball players who only hit the ball 30% of the time are considered at the top of their game… Every day, you have to step up to the plate and take a swing. So I consider this Kickstarter project a “successful failure.”

It also allowed me to really “sink my teeth” into the Kickstarter community, and I’ve now become addicted. I’ve invested in a new CD from a cult band named Big Daddy, another UX design book, and a 3D printer startup… Kickstarter rocks, because it really is an opportunity to invest in cool things and “the future,” and I’m thrilled I’ve joined and contributed a little bit to this “community.”

So here’s some of my “lessons learned” from this experience.

Be realistic with your goals.

I think a main reason my project wasn’t funded was I asked for too much… because I was too ambitious in my plans (and those ambitions influenced that goal amount) I think a lot of people who would have contributed didn’t. If I do something like this again, I’ll be much more realistic about the amount I’m trying to raise.

Be engaged, keep updating and adding content.

As my Kickstarter project was starting, another project with a much higher profile was also going on. Michael Dorn, who played Work on Star Trek, set up a project to try to fund his independent movie. Well, there was a huge splash in the fan/geek media when he first started the project… but then, nothing. No updates, no information. It was like he thought he could just put the project out there and it would just be funded without any extra effort. It didn’t work out that way… the Kickstarter community wants to see that you are passionate about the project, and expect regular updates and information. Dorn canceled his project without even getting a third of the way to his goal.

It kickstarts YOU.

Seeing those donations, even if they are a trickle, is a huge positive reinforcement. It shows that you are not alone, and that other people supports your idea. This is a real motivator, especially when it comes to a very solitary endeavor such as writing. It’s like a few drops of water when you are crawling through the Sahara… it helps. A lot.

Social media will only get you so far.

One of the things I have learned is the real power of social media is… rather limited. I (and many others) continuously hyped this project a lot on Twitter, and I even got a guest post at a popular tech website to promote it (thanks Allan!)… and still, not a lot of views and pledges. So, even though I have a LOT of followers (over 11,000 at last count), I think that my (and many other’s) influence on their followers is overrated.

It’s a great “litmus test” for who your true friends are.

Perhaps the MOST important thing I have learned: who my (real) friends are. I’ve always tried to be a kind and giving person, and I’ve never expected any quid pro qo when I did nice things for anyone I know. My religion is kindness… and to quote Frank Burns, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” But when you let everyone you know you’re doing a Kickstarter project, and the only thing ask them to spread the word (and contribute only if possible)… Well, the people who followed through and actually DID something are the true friends.

That being said, special mention and my deepest appreciation to the following great friends, who went above and beyond the call of duty to get the word out about my project and help:

  • Esse Spadavecchia
  • Carri Bugbee
  • Mark Frost
  • Allan Maurer
  • Kayla Iacovino
  • Gaurav Wadekar
  • Shawn R. Hill
  • Steve Mulligan

Mad props and thanks to these backers and/or people who helped hype this project (many of whom I have never met):

  • Jackson Taylor
  • Susie Felber
  • Tim Rogers
  • April Hebert
  • Brad Smith
  • Mark St. Amour
  • Joseph Nelson
  • Nick Wilde
  • Breno Fleury
  • Stefanie Wong
  • Amber Hansford
  • Chris Morrris
  • Jeff Zimmerman
  • Sky Kruse
  • Ian Fenn
  • B. Sham Khiruddin
  • Lisa Tweedle
  • Roslyn McGinty
  • Raymond Mullikin
  • Vicky Pickens
  • Jason Bradley
  • Dean Wood
  • “Michael”
  • Cameron Kilgore
  • John Champion
  • Paul Anguiano
  • Shawn R. Hill
  • Edward Stojakovic
  • Paul Hibbitts
  • Anita Erven
  • DeborahEdwards-Onoro
  • William McCauley
  • Michael Okuda
  • “Starfleet Mom”
  • “bennett0”
  • “Katie Jam”

(And those people… those “friends” that I asked to help and who did nothing… well, I wish you the best, but be aware I have a very good and long memory.)