Whether you’re just curious about or a committed veteran of crowdfunding, you’ll quickly notice the tendency for creators to host 30 Day campaigns. It’s not a hard rule — and during the years before crowdfunding’s current boom, longer durations may have been more prevalent — but looking at the past ten Kickstarter campaigns I’ve personally supported, only one of them was significantly longer than 30 days.
Kickstarter has this to say about campaigns which run more than 30 days:
“…more time does not create more urgency. Instead, it makes it easier for backers to procrastinate, and sometimes they forget to come back at all.Yancey Strickler, Shortening the Maximum Project Length
More time doesn’t help the project creator either. Though the funding deadline may seem to be a project’s enemy, it’s actually its ally…and don’t overlook how much effort a project requires. Even far shorter durations can be fatiguing for a creator.”
Project Duration vs. Success Rate
A brief examination of the statistics Kickstarter provided, along with the helpful graphic above, reveals that the longer a given campaign runs, the less likely it is to reach its funding goal.
This doesn’t mean that those longer projects failed to reach their goal because of the longer funding period, or that stopping at day thirty would have caused them to succeed. But, that large ochre circle floating at the 30 day mark is a strong indication that a shorter duration better positions a project for success.
Along those lines, one- and two-week campaigns are not out of the question, but would seem to rely a lot more on a creator’s knowledge of their backer-base and a more decisive marketing approach.
The Rule of U (The Third Week Slump)
Funding clusters around the beginning and end of any campaign. People call that “The Rule of U,” or “The 3rd Week Slump.”
A project’s launch is fueled by the creator’s most fervent fans, many of whom are ideally already committed not just to back the campaign, but also to share the fact they did with their connections. On the other end of the campaign, as time runs out, people who have been sitting on the sidelines are moved to act.
It’s during the middle period of a campaign when pledging slows considerably. It’s a trough. Without the excitement of the new or the looming deadline’s call to action, projects need external stimuli (press, events, milestones) to generate activity.
This is not always easy to do and usually demands a measure of advance planning and preparation.
One key aspect of preparation is building a mailing list and using it to generate interest in the lead up to the launch during the campaign’s “pre-launch phase.” More than likely it will be those core subscribers who will be pivotal to your project reaching its initial funding goal. Especially within the campaign’s first 24-48 hours — what’s sometimes called a LaunchBoom.
Much of the work that will make for an early success occurs during that pre-launch phase and it’s a common mistake to not consider the time leading up to your launch date as part of your “Campaign Marathon.”
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
“It’s not a spring, it’s a marathon” is maybe the second most common refrain about crowdfunding, next to “you gotta bring the crowd.”
It would be a mistake to consider that marathon as merely the 30 days that make up a crowdfunding campaign. It’s also composed of the time before and after that public campaign.
Those time periods aren’t necessarily exactly 30 days in length. Each of those time periods will also look and feel different than the other. I’ve experimented with a couple of pre-launch promotional campaigns with different durations in time as well as scope.
In Part 3 of this blog series, I’ll go into detail about how to develop promotional campaigns, with particular attention to making the most of your newsletter and why you ought to get started with one if you haven’t already.
If you’d like to read big picture thoughts and research exploring why creatives are turning to crowdfunding as part of a means for making a living, read Part 1 of this blog series: Why Crowdfunding?