Kickstats: First-time Creators

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

UPDATED 2021-03-09:

This article now includes all Kickstarter campaigns that launched in 2020. The significant increase in sample sizes has resulted in minor changes to the outcome of our original analysis. Portions of this article have been rewritten to reflect those changes.

Did you know that 66% of Kickstarter campaigns in 2020 came from first-time creators? With so many projects coming from newbies, it made me wonder how much a creator’s chance of success changes with the number of campaigns they’ve launched.

What’s my first-time chance of success on Kickstarter?

Well, that’s a difficult question to answer, since estimating chances of success for individual projects is an incredibly complex endeavor. I’d like to work up to a model that does that, but we’re not ready for that yet. For now, I can give you the overall success rate for creators who launched their very first campaign. This should at least give you an idea of what your campaign is up against.

To be honest, this actually isn’t all that surprising to me. If it’s true that Kickstarter’s success rate on the whole hovers around 51% or so, it makes sense that first-time creators would be significantly lower than that.

What this tells me is that there’s a pretty tough road ahead for creators. Success certainly isn’t guaranteed. So if your first campaign fails, just remember that you’re right there with the rest of the 61% of creators who failed their first time too.

But that leads right into the next question. What if my first project does fail?

What if my first Kickstarter campaign failed?

What if this isn’t your first Kickstarter campaign? Maybe it’s your second… and your first one failed. Will that stain your chance of success for this one? It seems like it would, but let’s take a look at the numbers.

I’m honestly surprised at how little of an effect failure has if it’s your first time. Take at look at “0 previous campaigns, 0 previous successes”, also known as “first-time creators”. Just like we said above, the chance of success is 39%. Now take a look at “1 previous campaign, 0 previous successes”. The success rate for that cohort drops by only one point! It’s really not until you’ve failed twice in a row that it starts to drag your chances down.

Conclusion

It’s true that failing will hurt the chances of success for your next campaign, but it’s not a crazy drop, and if you can get even one success behind you, you’ll be right back in the running. Kickstarter backers tend to be very forgiving when it comes to first-time creators. Most of them realize that it can be a steep learning curve and sometimes failure is your best teacher. If you get back up, learn from your mistakes, and try again, you just may be happy you did.

So what are your thoughts? Do you have any lessons learned from failed campaigns? What do you think has helped your successful campaigns the most? Let me know in the comments!

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