For years, I ran campaigns on KickStarter. All to make comics and merchandise like buttons a reality.
Then KickStarter started getting into Blockchain. And I wrote my piece on THAT decision (in that I thought – and still think – it’s a BAD IDEA).
But where could I find a substitute for Kickstarter?
They not only sponsored the Small Press Expo in 2022.
They NOT ONLY have campaign links that are easier to share than KickStarter campaigns.
They had a representative reach out to me AND CHAT WITH ME to answer questions I had about the platform.
AND…Crowdfundr built their site with comics creators in mind.
That said…is Crowdfundr the complete replacement we need?
Let’s break it down: Kickstarter vs Crowdfundr
To run a crowdfunding campaign of any sort, you need these key things:
- Easy-to-share URLs.
- A clear funding goal.
- A set timeline to get funded.
- An audience of any size.
- A simple way to customize your campaign to make it easy for fans to back you.
- Minimal fees.
So how do these two platforms size up with these keys?
Easy to share URLs
First off – KickStarter has a tendency to make their URLs extra long. It makes it a pain in the ass to share their links.
I’m not the only creator who has resorted to using TinyURL or Bitly to shorten a KickStarter link. Some creators will even buy a domain name just to make sharing a link easier. (I don’t recommend this. Domain names are an annual fee and you only run your campaign once.)
With Crowdfundr, you can set the URL yourself.
I have run one campaign on there so far but I can STILL tell you, without looking it up, that you can find it at crowdfundr.com/dragon-baby.
A Clear Funding Goal and A Set Timeline to Get Funded
These two tie in together. I’ll get into why in a second.
If you run a campaign on KickStarter, you need a set amount of money to raise and a deadline to get that funding.
But KickStarter runs on all-or-nothing funding. If you don’t meet your funding goal by the deadline, you lose any money raised up to that point.
This is meant to be a fail-safe for backers. The idea is that they won’t be charged for a campaign that failed to meet a funding goal. Nobody wants to waste their money on a project that fails out of the gate…right?
I’m sure a lot of people who backed “successfully funded” campaigns on KickStarter have a LOT to say about this. Looking at you, Mighty No. 9.
And I’ll be upfront – there are KickStarters I have backed that met their funding goal…and then nothing came of the project. They got their funding, and then all I heard were crickets. Just because a project got its funding doesn’t mean they follow through on making said project real.
But maybe the asking goal wasn’t enough to fund the project. What then? Run a second Kickstarter? How would that look to backers of the first campaign?
Here’s where Crowdfundr has a leg up, in my opinion.
Crowdfundr lets you choose: all-or-nothing, or get paid immediately.
When I ran the Crowdfundr for the Dragon Babies keychains, I chose the get paid immediately option. What that does is this: when a pledge comes in, the payment is processed immediately.
No waiting period. The payment just showed up. And payments went directly to me. (I kept getting PayPal notifications when a new backer backed the Crowdfundr).
Whichever option you pick, you have another Crowdfundr tool to use: changing the campaign deadline and asking goals AFTER launch.
I actually did this with the Dragon Babies campaign because of Small Press Expo promotional reasons. Basically, if Crowdfundr wanted to help boost my campaign, I had to have the campaign run DURING Small Press Expo.
Anyway, let’s say you run a campaign on Crowdfundr to get a comic to print. You meet your goal (great!). But then shipping books to backers costs more than you expected. It quickly becomes apparent that you have no money left after printing the books to actually SHIP them.
(This has happened to too many creators on KickStarter.)
Crowdfundr can let you update the asking goal and post an update to your backers explaining the change.
If you keep your backers in the loop on the regular, they will support you. ESPECIALLY if you have to ask for a little more help.
“But what about payment processing fees?”
We’ll get to that.
An Audience of Any Size
Unfortunately, KickStarter has a leg up on this one over Crowdfundr, at least for now.
KickStarter has an algorithm for potential backers to browse campaigns based on: projects they’ve backed previously, favorite categories, and favorite creators. It functions a little like YouTube in that way.
Because of this, it’s easy for potential backers to find a creator they have never heard of.
This makes it easier for a newbie creator to post their campaign on KickStarter and get entirely new customers. That’s how beginners can start a reader/fan base.
With Crowdfundr – at least for now – you have to drive traffic to your page yourself. Crowdfundr does not have a built-in search engine or algorithm to find random campaigns based on your likes.
Because of that, Crowdfundr makes more sense for people who have a fan base already built outside of KickStarter.
A Simple Way to Customize Your Campaign So Fans Back You
I really want to rant about add-ons right now but I gotta build up to this.
First: both platforms are comparable for writing your About page. When writing your campaign pitch, KickStarter and Crowdfundr have the same formatting tools.
They also have the same Risks and FAQ sections. Again, minimal differences.
Setting up rewards?
OH BOY, TIME TO RANT.
When setting up rewards, you want to make them relevant to your campaign. You also want to keep your options simple, so backers aren’t overwhelmed with decision paralysis.
To that end, KickStarter implemented a two-step system: Base Rewards, and Add-On Rewards.
Base Rewards are what the backer sees immediately on the campaign page. Ideally, you only have 3 or 4 options, plus or minus an Early Bird tier or a Limited Edition reward.
Once you pick a Base Reward, you get taken to the Add-ons page. Here, you choose extra rewards to get bundled with your Base Rewards.
KickStarter sucks at add-ons.
There. I said it.
Digital add-ons? Fine. Because shipping costs aren’t involved.
Physical add-ons? Good luck figuring out additional shipping for THAT.
Because here’s the thing: when you choose physical add-ons with KickStarter, they stack on top of the Base Rewards.
Meaning shipping costs ALSO stack.
It’s VERY easy to overcharge on shipping with the add-on system on KickStarter. And that sucks for the backer.
Not only that, but I’ve had it happen where a backer wants just one element of a reward bundle, but can’t get it unless they pledge to that tier.
It’s like saying, “Oh, I just want the comic and the sticker. But the only reward tier you have is for a comic, a sticker, and a print. I don’t want the print. Just the other two.” How do you fix that? By making another new tier?
Crowdfundr, on the other hand, is way more intuitive.
Their rewards are all a la carte.
Meaning: you can list out the reward components individually. And then backers can make their OWN reward bundles.
When I ran the Dragon Babies Crowdfundr, I got SO MANY variations of rewards. Two keychains to one backer? Done. A keychain, sticker, and zine? Done! A keychain and a commission? Done! Just a sticker! You bet it’s done!
Not only that, but Crowdfundr will simplify shipping costs: when a backer picks multiple physical rewards, the system chooses the more costly shipping price, and makes shipping free on the other items. It’s a simpler way to bundle shipping.
KickStarter charges a 5 to 10 percent fee for running a campaign on their platform. And that’s on top of credit card and payment processing fees.
So when you raise funding on KickStarter, you have to budget losing up to 10 percent of your funding to fees and upcharge your asking goal to compensate.
Crowdfundr as a no-fee option.
…I know what I said. They have an explainer breaking it down.
Did you know Crowdfundr can turn your post-campaign page into a store?
Well, they can! That way, your easy-to-share URL can still be put to use after you wrap up the campaign.
Because of ALL of that…
My next crowdfunding campaign will be on Crowdfundr.
I hope you found this helpful. Let me know if you still have questions or concerns.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.