Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Crowdsourcing Comics: A Trial By Fire

In October of last year, we cancelled our first Kickstarter campaign before its deadline was up. Our "Imaginos Plus" comic book project received generous contributions from some friends, family and supporters, but it wasn't enough to meet our financial goal. After an encouraging opening push, the donations to our comic book anthology slowed to an ever-decreasing trickle. The campaign stalled at just over $2,000, not nearly close enough to our $8,300 goal. Our first attempt at crowdsourcing our artistic ventures was time-consuming, emotional and ultimately disappointing.

It was also a learning experience; it forced us to take stock of our own work and think practically about what it meant to produce a creative, collaborative project. It forced us to explain the value of our work to other people - a surprisingly challenging and rewarding task. There wasn't a clear-cut reason why our first attempt at crowdsourcing failed. Were we explaining our project well enough? Was our financial goal too high? Did we offer the right kinds of incentives to potential backers? Did we fail to market ourselves properly? Maybe it was just timing. Most likely it was some combination of these factors. And while no one wants to fall short, we learned a lot through the process.

Fast forward to November 2013: our fledgling company Imaginos Workshop is now a registered LLC, and new artists and writers have been brought into the fold. We have a couple extra conventions under the belt, and we've made real progress on our comics. Our new Kickstarter campaign has a financial goal of $5,800 (well under our original asking price from the year before), without sacrificing any of the content. 

This time, the contributions didn't stop after the initial opening volley. People watched our Kickstarter video over 500 times and pledged an average of $46. They shared our project on Facebook, Twitter, Palladium Books and other websites. Veteran writer and columnist Bill Baker interviewed Mark Dudley on The Morton Report, and we provided our own Kickstarter updates every step of the way.

In the end, we finished at 114% of our goal. Our second try at crowdsourcing was an unequivocal success, made possible by the wonderfully generous contributions of all our backers. Perhaps it was important that we fell short on our first Kickstarter. It reminded us that some amount of failure and rejection is an inevitability in this business, and that it does not necessarily mean you're doing the wrong things. We were also reminded of the inspiring generosity of others ... an important lesson during the holidays. Our backers gave us the best Christmas gift we could have asked for. It means more work for us in the new year, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you.


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