Saturday, December 28, 2013

OilCan Drive, Kickstarter, and T-Shirts

I've been meaning to write this for weeks now and I think me not wanting to write this post is why I haven't posted much of anything on the blog this month. I didn't want to write anything new without addressing the old first and me not wanting to think too much about the old made it too easy to write nothing.

The OilCan Drive Kickstarter Campaign ran during the month of November and finished without funding on December 3rd. The funding got up to a little over four thousand dollars but, because it didn't meet its goal of ten thousand dollars, no one who pledged was charged and I received no money.

So, the question I've been asked, that I've been asking myself, and that I've been trying to find a decent answer to this whole month is:

Why did the OilCan Drive Kickstarter fail?

I recently read a book that discussed crowd funding on Kickstarter and it pointed out that you can usually look at a successful Kickstarter campaign and see why it worked and you can look at a failed campaign and just as easily see why it didn't work.

I'm not sure I agree with this. And I'm not sure that you can look at the campaign I ran and easily see why it failed. I think the art for the book looks professional, I think the music sounds good, I think the tiers I put together were fairly priced, and I think I engaged the audience I had as best I could.

So, why didn't it work?

Here is what I've come up with.

One, I don't have a huge audience for my personal work. I have a bunch of really great clients who have kept me employed the last ten years but the audience for the stuff I do for myself for no money is pretty small. I knew when I took OilCan Drive to the Denver Comic Con I'd have an uphill battle. I'm a relatively unknown artist coming in with an unknown concept. I haven't built a name for myself at Marvel or DC doing a book and I'm not a no-name artist sitting at a table selling prints of known characters like Batman or Spider-Man.

The same idea held true for Kickstarter. I'm an unknown artist with an unknown concept with a small audience of followers. And it isn't easy to make ten grand from a small audience of followers.

Two, I might have asked for too much money.

It would have been easy to ask for one or two thousand dollars and have the campaign knock it out of the park in the first week. But, there are a few reasons I asked for ten thousand dollars instead of starting the campaign lower and hoping for the best.

First off, I've been watching Kickstarter for a few years and tracked a bunch of projects. If someone asks for two thousand dollars and it really takes off they might get four thousand dollars. But, if someone asks for eight thousand dollars and it really takes off they might come away with twenty or thirty thousand dollars. I figured if I was going to gamble with my project and my ego I might as well gamble big.

Second, if the campaign did work I wanted to make sure it was worth my while. I didn't want to go through all of this, make a few thousand dollars, spend the money on producing and printing the project, and then spend a month or more of my life packing and shipping things if I was just going to end up with nothing in the end. Or, worse yet, actually spending more of my own money to make sure everything was fulfilled.

In the same book where I read you could easily tell why a Kickstarter campaign failed the author wrote about running his second campaign where he asked for twenty thousand dollars and made a little more than a hundred and seven thousand dollars. He also outlined where all the money went. When all was said and done, out of the $107,000 he has nothing left and STILL has commitments to produce, print, and ship a "Making Of" hardcover book to people who paid for it.

And yes, this man wrote a "How To" book on web comics, printing, and Kickstarter.

So, I definitely didn't want to find myself in that same predicament.

Doing OilCan Drive really costs me no money. I make a decent living doing art for clients and OilCan Drive is my personal project. The website hosting is paid for next five years, I do all of the work myself, and all it really costs me is my time. If I was going to make no money from the Kickstarter campaign anyways I figured I would rather spend that time creating new stories, art, and pages for the project than packing and shipping out product.

That is why I initially asked for ten thousand dollars instead of two thousand dollars. And, asking for too much money might be why it failed.

But, there have been many comic book projects that have broken the ten thousand dollar mark and many of them have been from just as unknown creators as myself with unknown projects.

So, in the end, I really don't know why it failed.

The other question I've been asked is, "are you glad you did the campaign on Kickstarter?"

At least that question I know the answer to. I am definitely glad I tried Kickstarter and made an OilCan Drive campaign. It brought me attention from all parts of the web and has gained me a few more fans to add to my small audience. The second issue of OilCan Drive will launch in two weeks and there will definitely be more people seeing it when it launches than ever before.

And, just because the campaign failed doesn't mean I didn't get my work out into the hands of the people who supported me. When the campaign ended I sent a letter out to everyone who had backed me thanking them for their generosity and support. I included an OilCan Drive digital package consisting of a PDF of the first issue and an MP3 download of the first album. I hope everyone liked it.

I also took the opportunity to make available the t-shirt designs I did for the campaign. And, you don't even have to be one of the people who backed me to get a new OilCan Drive t-shirt. You can see the new designs for the shirts in this post and you can purchase the shirts here: 

I'll be putting a dedicated link up to the t-shirts in the coming weeks both here on the blog and on the OilCan Drive website. (and, as a bonus, I've found that if you watch Zazzle enough they always post discounts with codewords and such. I just bought myself a bunch of shirts for half price. So, keep your eyes open.)

And, even though I've been quiet I have still been keeping busy. This past month I've been spending my time both working on client work as well as doing new stories and pages for the next OilCan Drive book. The new story will begin positing on January 10th so I hope you'll be there for the launch.

Yes, Kickstarter didn't work out for me. But, I'm still happy I did it and it failing doesn't mean anything will change with my plans for OilCan Drive. There will be more new art, more new stories, and more new songs in the coming year.

I just hope you all stick around for it and enjoy the ride as much as I am.

And now, with that, I can finally start blogging again. Phew.

Have a great one and I'll talk to you soon.

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