05 Jan

Should You Kickstart Your Kickstarter Project with Paid Ads Service?

Rating a service provider like Kickstart My Ads (KMA) isn’t as black and white as I wish. On the one hand, if we spend hundreds of dollars on their services, we want to see “bottom line” results: Kickstarter pledges! On the other hand, if they drive traffic to our project pages, should we hold them accountable if said traffic ultimately doesn’t fund it? This is a question that each of us has to answer for ourselves, since they guarantee traffic, not pledges.

About the Services

I worked with KMA once before, and the results fell short. However, the folks there were kind enough to provide a second chance, so I attempted to fund a children’s book, The Stranger Safety Squad. (It’s worth noting that KMA has more success with big projects and larger goals, often in categories like tech, design, and fashion.)

The service level I used was their best and most expensive: “Drive Supporters,” currently a one-time fee of $450. Since I wanted to gauge them and their worth, I did almost no promoting of the project. They did ask me to generate $100 in pledges at the start, since visitors are reluctant to contribute to a project sitting at zero. Aside from that, I only mentioned The Stranger Safety Squad a couple of times on social media.

Rocky Beginnings

There was a red flag at the start. The advertisement sent for my approval was somewhat poorly written and included an obvious typo. I fixed it for them, and away we went.

For whatever reason, my project got almost no traction for the first two and a half weeks. With just over 10 days to go, I stood at $140 in pledges out of $1,200 needed. But that’s when things got interesting. Kickstart My Ads must have found its groove because I started getting two, three and four pledges per day—a dramatic improvement!

Falling Short

Unfortunately, when all was said and done, we fell short. I stood at 21 backers and $655, just over 50% of my goal. However, according to the final Facebook report sent to me, my advertisements reached (were seen by) 20,892 people, which resulted in 340 post engagements (likes, comments, shares, and clicks).

Bottom Line

Nick of KMA had this to say: “While our service is not a magic wand, if there is a campaign that is appealing to its target market, then we can make the support pour in, if the market is available on Facebook. The amount of support varies by campaign and by a target market’s availability on Facebook, but if those two factors are in our favor, then we are confident we can get a positive ROI for our clients virtually every time.”

As for me, I’ll probably skip the paid promotional services next time. But if you have a project that’s irresistible to your target market, maybe you’ll have better luck. Maybe.

DISCLAIMER: The services discussed in this post were provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and honest review.

24 Oct

Kickstarter Campaign to Test Promotional Services

Update 10/30/2014: The project has been renamed The Stranger Safety Squad, and it’s live on Kickstarter. Check it out!


In 2012, I sat down with an author friend of mine (and co-owner of Lake 7 Creative, LLC), Blake Hoena. I had the beginning of an idea, but I needed help fine-tuning it. I’ve always loved interactive Choose Your Path books, but I wanted to develop a simpler way to utilize the format—one that didn’t require a reader to jump around in the book. Basically, I wanted a Choose Your Path format for picture books and for early reader chapter books.

Blake and I sat down at a local cafe and started throwing ideas back and forth. What we ultimately came up with was such an obvious solution that I can’t believe it took us that long to figure it out. It was new (at least, new to us; I don’t know if it had been done before) and brilliant. It looked like this:

Sample spread from Campfire Crisis

Our new Choice format fit my criteria. It was interactive; it was age-appropriate (no choice led to death); and it was easy to use. Basically, the reader made a choice and followed the arrow to the corresponding paragraph. The right choice kept the story going. The wrong choice redirected readers to the right choice.

We were excited about the format, and since I was already busy with other projects, Blake became the first to give it a go. He wrote a book called Campfire Crisis.

Campfire Crisis

He realized the same thing I did about our new format: It provided a perfect opportunity to educate, as well as entertain. Campfire Crisis was very much a book about camping safety tips.

My educational ideas for the format were a little less marketable but more “public service announcement.” I wanted to do an interactive book about bullying and one about avoiding kidnapper tricks. Both ideas have been floating around in my mind for well over a year.

At last, a potential opportunity has presented itself! To make a long story short, a Kickstarter promotional agency has offered to run a free campaign for me in exchange for an honest review of their services. It doesn’t seem right to cash in on this opportunity with a blatantly commercial new idea. Instead, I’m going to see if I can kickstart one of my PSAs.

Kidnappers, Beware!

The project is called Kidnappers, Beware! I’m going to see if the promo company’s services can raise $1,200. That would be enough to pay for illustrations and to pay the expenses associated with a successful campaign.

Kidnappers, Beware! will launch next week on Kickstarter.com and will run for about a month.