Does it matter if you back other Kickstarter projects before launching you own Kickstarter campaign?
Before I launched my first two Kickstarter campaigns (Peptide: A Protein Building Game is active right now if you want to show your love!) I went on a Kickstarter frenzy, backing all kinds of projects!
But I was always curious if this had any effect on my chances of success? I would like to believe that it did, but who really know it had any impact at all.
My goal here is not necessary to answer that question.
Rather, my goal here is to look at the data and shed light on any overall correlation between the number of projects backed by projects creators in general and the average success rates of their Kickstarter campaigns. Okay, let’s see what the data says.
Kickstarter Success Rates Based Upon the Number of Projects Backed
So there does indeed appear to be a very strong correlation between the number of projects backed by project creators and the average success rates of their Kickstarter campaigns. The bar graph below shows those average success rate for all projects in the tabletop games category.
I wanted to take the analysis a little further and ask if these trends change at all when we look at different groups of project creators.
There are a number of ways to break this data into group. The most obvious way to separate the data into groups based upon the number of projects that the respective campaign owners had created.
Kickstarter Success Rates Based Upon the Number of Projects Backed and the Number of Projects Created
The bar graph below isolates first-time Kickstarter projects from all other groups.
One thing to note is that there were no projects in the entire dataset that had “0” projects backed. I believe that Kickstarter automatically defaults a campaign to “1” project backed once their campaign ends. I don’t know if this is accurate or not, but it’s very unlikely that every single person that created a project also backed at least one.
It’s clear that for 1st time project creators, the average success rate increases fairly steadily as the number of projects backed increase.
A similar increase can be seen when viewing the number of projects backed by creators who have launched their 2nd to 10th Kickstarter campaign.
One thing to note is that the jump from 1 project created to the “2 to 5” projects backed range is not as drastic in the bar graph above (for campaigns who have already ran a Kickstarter campaign) compared to first time project creators. I’ll discuss why I think this is the case in the “My Personal Interpretation” section below.
The next bar graph correlated average success rates with the number of projects backed by projects creators who are on their 11th project or more.
One thing to note about the bar graph above, is that there’s not much to note about the graph above. There’s likely a reason someone would have launched 11 plus projects… because they are successful at them. And it doesn’t seem that the number of projects backed by those creators really matters that much anymore. They are likely carrying a fan base from one project to another at this point.
Another things to mention about the graph above is that there were so few project owners who have created more than 10 campaigns in the tabletop games category that breaking them down into smaller groups gives us dangerously small number to use for any credible statistics. So, even though I included this graph, I wouldn’t give it much merit beyond saying that many creators who are on their 11th or beyond projects have relatively high success rates… For obvious reasons.
The graph below overlays the three categories described above onto a single chart (e.g. 1st time projects creators, project creators with 2 to 10 Kickstarter campaigns, and projects creators with 11 or more Kickstarter campaigns).
Besides the obvious “jump” under the group labeled “1”, what’s interesting to note is that, based upon this graph, the difference between the success rates of first time project creators verses 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. project creators appears rather arbitrary. But what does stand out is the increase in overall success rates, as the number of projects backed increases. Well, that is up until 11 projects created. Then, like we discussed above, it doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.
My Personal Interpretation
Nothing I say here should be construed as truth or fact, rather a good reason for you to leave a comment explaining your own conclusions from the data.
The first thing I want to address is the jump described above, when going from 1 project backed to the “2 to 5” projects backed range for 1st time Kickstarter campaigns. This “jump” is not as drastic when referring to the projects creators on their second and higher campaigns.
This “jump” may exists for a number of reasons, but I think the magnitude of this jump is due to the rather high number of “dummy” projects. By “dummy” I mean projects that really didn’t have much of a chance of success anyway, because they’re either “let’s just to see what happens” projects, or scams and phony projects.
It makes sense that owners of these projects would rather not spend a lot of time and money backing other projects, nor would it be good to have your personal credit card information attached to a scam project.
According to Kickstarter, roughly 32.9% of all game projects are successful (data from October 25th, 2014 taking the total number of successful game projects 4,298 and dividing by the total number of game projects 13,047).
What’s incredibly interesting to me is that even for first time creators, the average success rates exceed that 32.9% average by a great deal (and even surpass 50% later) once they have backed at least 6 projects. And 1st time creators make up roughly HALF of all the data available, so this is not an inflated statistic due to a low quantity of data points, rather it’s the “meat and potatoes” of the data.
Backing Projects Gives You Two Main Things: Credibility and Experience
There is an obvious question staring us right in the face. Does this mean backing other projects actually increase our “odds” of success? Normally, I wouldn’t answer questions like this, but for the sake of promoting discussion, I’ll put myself out there and say “YES!” well sort of… and I’ll also say “No.”
Follow me here for a minute. When I visit a Kickstarter page and I see that the creator has backed 0 projects (which will register as 1 in my data set once the campaign ends) what happens in my mind? I think many of you would agree with me, but that creator has lost a lot of credibility in my mind. And it is unlikely that I will back their project because of it. Is the data showing this trends? Again, I would argue yes – hence the drastic increase in 1st time creators from 1 project backed to the “2 to 5” projects backed range.
You might say, well that falls apart because that same jump doesn’t exist for project creators who are on their second to tenth projects. This is true, but they are likely taking the crowd (which they gained from their first project. 16.9% still succeed according to the data) with them to their subsequent campaigns.
So why did I also say “no”. Well, there’s another things happening here. The more projects I’ve backed the more “exposure” I have to Kickstarter. Of course you could never make the claim that someone who backed 20 projects has four times as much exposure, and therefore experience, than someone who has backed only 5 projects… But I don’t think it’s terribly far-fetched to say that someone who has backed 50 projects will likely know more than someone who has backed only 2 or 3.
To the point, backing other projects gives you a front row look at how other projects are run. You get to experience what you like and what you don’t like, from the perspective of a backer, before you run your own campaign. And then you can take this experience into your campaign. I can’t express enough how important this is.
I think Jamey Stegmaier echo’s both of these points on the post Kickstarter Lesson #2: Back Other Projects. There he recommends backing other projects months in advance and addresses both the credibility aspects it add to your campaign as well what you can learn.
And now for your thoughts…
So what do you think?
Do you disagree with any of my points above? Do you think I have missed anything or have left anything out? Do you think potential project creators should back a bunch of projects, even just for a dollar, to bolster their Kickstarter profile?