Kickstarter Tips – Part 2: Mike Garley

I launched a Kickstarter comic last week (Currently 400% funded with a few weeks to go). While preparing that I was lucky enough to be offered good advice from people who know a lot more about Kickstarter than me. People like Mike Garley, now on his eighth successfully funded Kickstarter project.
So, Mike, what are you working on at the moment.
I’ve just sent the new issue of The Kill Screen to print (it was actually a few hours ago now…) and I’m putting the finishing touches on Samurai Slasher part three which is live  on Kickstarter now. Beyond comics I’m working on a few short stories as well as a short film that I’m hoping will film next year.
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What’s the best thing about doing a Kickstarter?
Apart from the obvious benefit of it helping you to afford a bigger print run, Kickstarter is a fantastic tool to reach a wider audience. I’ve found that about 70% of the pledges that I receive are from the KS community, compared to those that hear about the project from either me or review sites.
 
I notice you back a lot more campaigns than you run yourself. You’ve supported over 100  other projects. What do you think motivates people to back a Kickstarter campaign in the first place?
Personally, I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to get my teeth into – if there’s a cheap digital pledge level then I’m on it. But I know a lot of people enjoy being involved in bringing projects to life and like to know that their support is helping to create something. It’s different for everyone, which is why it’s important to bare that in mind when creating your reward levels.
 
What Kickstarter pitfalls did you encounter?
I think I underestimated how much time and effort it takes – it can feel a little soul destroying when you have to continuously market it and you feel like you’re pestering people but it’s a vital part of it.
 
What advice would you give anyone prepping their first Kickstarter?
Make sure you’ve got a plan in place to get people to look at your project – contact sites and try to schedule reviews, interviews, previews etc… You’re going to need to try and keep momentum as most projects have a lull in the middle of the funding period. It’s a lot more work then people first realise.
 
Are comic shops at all interested in Kickstarter comics? And if so are they interested in the comic or the badges stickers, prints and other ephemera?
Shops can be interested – I’ve done retailer rewards previously but have found that it’s easier to contact them independently, but it’s all down to preference. Personally, I think the fewer pledge levels the neater and easier the KS is for anyone who is considering backing.
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What kind of rewards work best for you?
I think a good selection of rewards that appeal to all budgets is vital. I find if your pledges around the £20/25 mark are good value for money then they’ll do well.
 
Is it common for people to order multiple reward tiers, or just one? And does that bring any problems?  
I’ve run six campaigns and have only had it happen twice – both times they were easy enough to sort through emails.
 
How do you become a ‘Project We Love’ on Kickstarter, or otherwise get them to pimp the project?
Kickstarter chooses projects for the ‘Project We Love’ category. They seem to be either projects that are extremely popular, those with perceived social importance, or occasionally struggling projects that they feel need more attention.
 
What service or distribution channel do you use to get the stuff overseas?
Diamond…
 
In my case I can see Kickstarter comics getting mailed from the UK to Australia, Hong Kong and the USA. For a comic and few prints is £4 the right amount to charge for shipping anywhere in the world?
Depends on the size of the comic and what size envelope it can fit in – all my projects have been for comics that are too big to be classed as a letter which, means they cost a bit more to send. I always make sure to check postage costs before launching as they can offer a real sting in the tail.
 
How much contingency do you build into your total, if any?
None. Live to win.
 
How many days does it take to set up the Kickstarter?
The first one I ran took a couple of month’s work (on and off) – now I don’t take nearly as long on them, but that’s all down to needing a more modest goal.
What’s the benefit of Stretch Goals for you, and for the backers?
Stretch goals are great as it means your project is doing well enough that you can give something back to your backers and hopefully it will act to incentivize them to help your project reach more people to reach the next stretch goal. I try to do rewards that add something new or unusual to a project – an extra that makes the project stand out such as behind the scenes stuff, commissioning soundtracks, or small items (as not to mess with your P&P charges) such as bookmarks and badges. It’s great when people back expecting one thing but thanks to their support you’re able to give them more in return. You just need to make sure that you keep an eye on how much these extra rewards cost – I tend to alternate between things I can do for free which add value, and items that can be added in to pledge levels.
 
Awesome, stuff. Finally, where can we buy all your cool comics?
Thanks a lot, Mike.

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