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What successful Kickstarter campaigns have in common

4 min read


Kickstarter’s unfortunate and inaccurate reputation of being a place where dreams get magically funded has been wholly corrected by recent media coverage. It has become overly apparent that running a Kickstarter campaign is not easy; it takes a lot of work around promoting and leveraging your networks, exercising every connection you have to drive traffic to your Kickstarter page. Lucky breaks are few and far between.

As we have come to understand that the difference between a success and failure are primarily around the creator’s network and promotional efforts and having a video, there hasn’t been a lot of information about what quantitative and tangible aspects of a project help it to succeed or fail. I set out to answer some of the most pressing questions on creators’ minds. Michael C. Neel collected data on more than 73,000 successfully funded and failed projects, with end dates from May 2009 to January 2013, and posted his findings. I combined my own analysis of Neel’s data with interviews and anecdotal validation to come to these insights.

Q: I’ve heard that 30 days is the best campaign length. Do higher goals need longer to succeed?

A: Turns out, absolutely not. 29 to 41 days is the sweet spot for all projects, regardless of the size of the goal.

Q: Do projects with higher goals get larger pledges?

A: Yes, the contrast principle is alive and well. It does appear that, statistically speaking, projects with higher goals tend to get higher average pledges as well.

Q: Do projects with more expensive products/outcomes get larger pledges?

A: Yes, even more so than above. The project categories that get the highest average pledges are Technology, Design and Film & Video in that order. The categories that get the lowest average pledges are Comics, Publishing and Games. In fact, even within those categories, the subcategories that imply physical products, thus requiring materials, time per duplicate and shipping, are also those that get the highest average pledges. For example, in the Technology category, Hardware gets much higher pledges on average than does Open Software. In Art, the subcategory with the lowest average pledges is Digital Art, while the highest average pledges in the Art category are in Painting and Sculpture. Note that this does not imply a causal relationship: Categorizing your project incorrectly is not likely to bring you more pledges. It can, however, provide reassurance to creators whose ambitions involve more expenses.

Q: What are the most popular pledge award levels?

A: Without a doubt, the $25 pledge range is the most popular, most selected award level. This is driven by the multitude of projects that will result in a CD or DVD, where $25 is a reasonable pledge to get such a reward. $50, $100 and $10 pledge ranges are the next most popular, in that order.

Q: How many reward levels should I have?

A: The average number of reward levels is 9 for successful projects, and 7.5 for failed projects. Also, the average pledge level for successful projects was $350, while the average pledge level for failed projects is $460.

Q: How much money should I go for?

A: Most Kickstarter campaigns have goals set at $7,500 or less, with a large number at less than $3,000 goals. The success rates of the projects with these goals is much higher than more ambitious goals. Failed campaigns tend to have much higher goals; many creators have admitted they were too greedy on their first tries. The good news is that it costs you nothing to try, save for your time and energy. So set your goal at the minimum to cover your costs to finish the project, and if it doesn’t make it, then you haven’t lost any money on the deal.

Laura Winger is the marketing manager for, which is about to launch a Kickstarter to “make job search suck less.” She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter or Facebook, or visit the website for more information.