CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ARE AMAZING.
Unless you’re one of the few people on the planet who don’t like chocolate (I’ll pray for you) you understand what sweet, delicious comfort a chocolate chip cookie is.
A chocolate chip cookie means momentary respite from the day’s tasks, uninterrupted indulgence that’s easily overlooked and a step back into childhood when the greatest concern of your day was just how many of the confection you could get away with eating before your mom took the cookie jar away. But what a chocolate chip cookie is – it’s sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour beaten together – don’t forget the chocolate chips – and then baked until golden brown. I emphasize again – do not forget the chocolate chips. They are the things that make the cookie successful.
YOUR KICKSTARTER PROJECT IS A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE.
The eggs and flour of your product design is mixed with the butter of your hard work and the sugar of your oh-so-sweet project page. What you’re hoping for now is enough chocolate chips from backers to put these cookies in the oven. You need funds to bring this whole thing to life and make the batter into a fully produced cookie.
A standard chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for about 2 cups of chocolate chips. And that gives a delightfully proportionate flavor to the cookie. When you’ve prepared your batter according to the recipe, while a ¼ cup more chocolate adds a little more sweetness, adding more chocolate chips might also require more flour, butter and sugar to sustain a quality cookie. Here’s where I’m going with this: Be careful when defining what running a successful Kickstarter project will mean to you. It is expected that you’ve put in the work on your Kickstarter page to ensure that the goal you have set will cover your costs of production and fulfillment to deliver whatever product you’ve set out to create. You’ve researched production costs, shipping costs, warehousing, art, design, whatever costs you have that you’ll use Kickstarted funds to cover. That is your cookie recipe.
IF YOU REACH THAT FUNDING GOAL, YOU’VE GOTTEN ENOUGH CHOCOLATE CHIPS TO MAKE YOUR COOKIE DELICIOUS. AND THAT SHOULD BE A SUCCESS STORY.
But aren’t more chocolate chips going to make the bitter batter better?
Here’s what happens: In the midst of your planning and preparing, you’ll research other Kickstarter projects. Good! Learn what you can from others who have gone before you. But, in doing so, you’ll find projects that were 150%, 200%, 1000% funded and you’ll start to think…
“MAN – ALL I NEED IS TWO CUPS OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS, BUT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE RAISED 20 CUPS OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS. I WANT 20 CUPS OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS.”
And you’ll start scheming about how you’d spend them if you got all those chips. You make stretch goals.
Now, stretch goals are great. They can be an exciting part of a campaign. Watching as each new goal is unlocked is like Christmas morning. Your backers give you the gift of making your project bigger and better than it could have been without them. And they get to watch the project they’ve invested in grow before their eyes! It’s awesome.
Now, if you’re successfully funded, it means one of two things happened: you made your goal and not much more, OR you’ve made your goal plus a lot extra. (I’m simplifying the extremes, I know). However, the caution here is 2-fold:
1. Make sure your project is still full and complete without the stretch goals.
2. Know that more money isn’t always better.
MAKE SURE YOUR PROJECT IS STILL FULL AND COMPLETE WITHOUT THE STRETCH GOALS
If you’ve successfully funded and not much more than just met the goal, you need to make sure that whatever you’re goal was will still provide a quality project. I mean you’ll get very attached to your stretch goals that you’ve dreamt about and how they’ll influence your final product. You need to be prepared that if you don’t meet any of your stretch goals, you can still be happy with the project you’ll create.
This past June, I ran a Kickstarter which brought in $5249 of a $4000 goal. Success.
However, when I originally reached the $4000 goal, I was disappointed! It wasn’t fully funded until five days before the campaign closed. It felt like we crawled to the finish line. I was disappointed because I had little hope of reaching my precious stretch goals. And I had built the stretch goals so much in my mind that I thought without them the project was worthless. What should have been a relief, an exciting and celebrated time of reaching the goal, was nothing more than another backer pushing slowly toward what I really wanted. Thankfully enough chocolate chips came through to make my cookies the way I wanted them, and I’m extremely excited now. But I know I hindered my own project experience by placing too much weight on the stretch goals. If they were, indeed, that central to the project, then my goal should have been higher to include them.
KNOW THAT MORE MONEY ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER.
I know this sounds crazy – but I’m not sure that making 500% of a goal is always a good thing. If your cookies require 2 cups of chocolate chips, and you have all your friends, family and twitter followers pour 10 cups of chocolate chips into your carefully measured batter, all of a sudden you now need 5x more flour, eggs, sugar, butter and salt. A quick glide through the “Most Funded” section of the Kickstarter Discovery search will show plenty of projects that are 500%, 1000% even 10,000% funded. In my case, one of the rewards for my project was the board game we’ve made, The Amberden Affair. We’re having 2000 copies run for this first printing. If I had somehow managed to fund even 2000% over my goal, I would not have had enough games to fulfill my backers’ rewards. I wouldn’t have had the flour and sugar to make up for the mass amounts of chocolate chips. Even now, as I’m in the midst of fulfilling rewards, I’m glad that for my first created project, I can personally connect with each backer, keep conversations going, and have a packaging party in my apartment to put together a little over 100 boxes to ship. I’m not overwhelmed and I love my backers. I didn’t crazily over-fund, and I’m glad. I can deliver on my promises given my original cookie recipe.
ALL THAT TO SAY…
Now that I’ve shared my concerns with getting too ambitious in your dreams, I will end with a counterpoint to my own argument: dream big anyway. I am the last person to want to squish your dreams. And, in fact, dreaming big can be a great thing for your kickstarter. Having stretch goals in mind, dreaming and scheming about how you’d use a million dollars is good planning if it does happen and it can show your backers that you’re not afraid to succeed. People like backing people who dream big. Kickstarter is a community of people all about making dreams come true. So, give them something to dream about with you. But, allow your backers to dream with you while your feet are planted in the reality of the kitchen in which your cookies must be baked.