“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Ben Franklin

ComixLaunch_Green3-1

In this session, Tyler share’s an incredibly valuable project planning tool that he uses to design all his successful Kickstarter projects. If you want to launch, you need to do a SWOT analysis, and this episode will teach you how.

Today’s Session is Sponsored by KrakenPrint. Visit comixlaunch.com/kraken and mention the show for 5% off your first print order.

Today:

  • Another strategy session but one you can put to work TODAY. A tool ALL creators should use for EVERY project they run, even if you’re a veteran, ESPECIALLY if you’re new.
  • There is a Special Download Worksheet that Goes with this episode. Get it at http://www.comixlaunch.com/003download/
  • I’m going to introduce you to the SWOT analysis tool, a way to pull back and look at your project. sWOT
  • I’m going to walk you through an example for one of my projects
  • Give you loads of tips on how to do one of these for your own
  • Sound good?

Core Lesson/ Parable:

  • What is a SWOT? Why use a SWOT? Who Uses a SWOT?
    • SWOT Analysis or SWOT matrix a planning method to strategically evaluate SWOT involved in a new or existing project or business venture. (That’s what KS is.)
    • Works on products, places, industries, even people.
    • Focuses on both internal factors – inside our control, inherent traits
    • External factors – outside of control, market conditions,
    • Taught in every business school, consultants, etc.
    • Everything from a formal process, to a back of the envelope way of evaluating.
  • Why Use One for your KS?
    • Ben Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” SWOT is a planning tool.
    • Creative Entrepreneurship —
      • Right brain – Creative side – Rhythm, spatial awareness, colour, imagination, creativity.
      • Left side – logic, science, math, reasoning
    • KS is a platform to fund creativity… but fulfilling creativity, carrying a successful project, executing on all the fine details, requires careful use of both sides.
    • SWOT is great tool for creative people, who need to structure their more left-side of the brain activities, to not let right side take them away.
  • The 4 quadrants of SWOT as they relate to Kickstarter projects
    • Strengths – What are the characteristics of your KS project that give it a unique advantage over other projects. Secret weapons?
      • People
      • Platform
      • Product
    • Weaknesses – Characterists put you at a potential disadvantage to other KS?
      • Same set of Ps
      • Most common
        • lack of funds – Lack of money
        • small platform
        • never done this before
    • Opportunities – What are the unique elements of your KS project you can exploit to your advantage?
      • I always do this one last, because it’s the interplay of strengths, weaknesses and threats that allow me to craft my opportunities.
    • Threats – elements, both internally and externally that could spell trouble for your KS project.
      • For most newbies, this will come in terms of fulfillment…
        • What if the cost of international postage goes up 20%
        • What if my t-shirt vendor stops answering my emails?
      • For veterans, simply assuming there are no threats and “You got this” can be a threat.
    • Download Here — http://www.comixlaunch.com/003download/
    • Now, to illustrate this concept —
  • Example SWOT – C IS FOR CTHULHU Board Book and PlushToy
    • About the Project – Cisforcthulhu.com or on Kickstarter search C is for Cthulhu
    • Strengths
      • People
        • Jason Ciaramella – Eisner nominated writer, lot of industry connections with authors in the space, Lovecraft bonifides.
        • Greg Murphy – 5 Tool Artist (Illustration, Animation, Graphic Design, Music, Photography)
        • Tyler James – Guy who thinks he knows what he’s doing enough to get up in your earbuds and proselytize this stuff.
        • Skelton Crew – experts in licensed stuff, Hellboy, BPRD, Locke and Key, Chew… not their first rodeo.
      • Platform
        • Building off the success of the last KS, which was the most successl I’ve run. 1149 backers, more than $35K raised.
        • FB Community, nearly 5K likes, very engaged, pictures etc. Social Proof
        • Email List – 6K subs
        • Get just 2% of the people we have to back this project, game over, we’re funded.
      • Product
        • C is for Cthulhu Plush – Prototype in Hand, and top notch.
        • Book – Already a winner, already in stock
        • Poster and T-shirts – Co-developed with our Community
    • Weaknesses
      • Not a New Property… Getting PR might be tough.
      • More Product = Less Focus
        • Plush, Poster, T-shirts, Books
      • PR Plan and Media Outreach
      • Pricepoint
        • $39 plush most expensive Cthulhu doll on the market it.
          • Amazon – between $10-$20
    • Threats
      • Internal — Bandwidth
        • I’m a busy guy.
      • External — Backlash
        • Lovecraft –
          • Haters
            • Lovecraft is supposed to be horrifying… Cuddling him up is sacrilege.
            • Lovecraft the Xenophobe and Racist
              • Liking the stories and stories inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft does not make someone a racist… Being a racist makes someone a racist.
    • Opportunities
      • Social Proof
        • Let our existing fans sell this for us
          • Video
          • Ads
          • Imagery
          • Compensated those who we were using prominently in marketing
      • #Cthulhugrams
        • Great doll in hand + Greg’s Photography Skills + Jason’s Lovecraft and Providence connection
        • Cthulugram was born – almost like weathered poloroids
        • Caption contest to build engagement
      • Compete on Quality, not Price
        • Most expensive doll on the market… but the ONLY doll that is based on the Cthulhu in the book
      • Facebook Advertising
        • Perfect product for FB
      • Keep Your Eyes Open – Working living doc
        • Pluto – Cthulhu named a region
        • NASA Found Cthulhu on Pluto …ComixTribe says you don’t have to go that far to get him.
  • SWOT works for All Projects…
    • My very 1st KS project had totally different stuff in those quadrants
    • Your project will be different, but all have SWOT.
  • Sponsor Mid-Roll
    • In a moment, I’m going to give you today’s ComixLauncher, but first, we need to thank our sponsor…
    • [Kraken sponsor ad full – 30-45 seconds]
  • ComixLauncher
    • It’s time for today’s ComixLauncher.
    • A ComixLauncher is a short, actionable activity you can and should do right now, or immediately after listening to the show. They’re all activities I’ve done myself, and will get you one step closer to a successful ComixLaunch. They’ll transform this Podcast from a passive, lean back activity centered around Tyler James, into an active, lean-forward activity centered around YOU.
    • SWOT Analysis
      • Download the Worksheet at http://www.comixlaunch.com/003download/ or just grab a sheet of paper and divide it into 4 equal quadrants – SWOT
      • Set Timer for 5 minutes, and focus just on the S Quadrant — write down as many Strengths as you can. Focus on your People, Platform, Product… don’t over think it, just brainstorm.
      • Then, do the same, 5 minutes, and list all the Weaknesses of your project. Use the same categories… People Platform, Product.
      • Next, 5 minutes, tackle the THREATS. Both internal threats…ways you could sabotage the project yourself, and External, things outside your control that might hammer the project
      • Now, I want you to put that down. 15 minutes, you deserve a break. Go do something else. Get a drink, go for a walk, draw a page… get away from it.
      • When you’re ready, come on back, re-read each quadrant, and from those, generate some opportunities… things you can do to take advantage of your strengths and mitigate weaknesses and threats. In some cases, you’ll turn weaknesses into strengths (focus/compete on quality, not price).
      • When done, what you have is the backbone of your future successful KS campaign.
    • All of us our busy, but we all can spare 15-20 minutes to do this… half of all comics KS fail… doing the extra planning work of a SWOT analysis is how you get on the successful half.
    • What comes out on paper may surprise you. And if you’d like to share the results of your ComixLauncher with me, I’d love to see them. Email me at [email protected], subject line: ComixLauncher #3.]
  • Wrap Up
    • Sum up highlights of session.
      • If the SWOT analysis was new to you, or if you never thought of applying it to a KS before, I hope you got a lot out of this episode.
        • All our projects have SWOT – these are things floating around in our heads… getting them down on paper in an organized fashion really helps take ownership and control over them. It’s powerful, and it’s foundational.
        • Remember, go to http://www.comixlaunch.com/003download/ to get download the SWOT worksheet to help you successfully launch YOUR next KS.
    • Thanks for Listening.
    • Tease future episodes
      • Upcoming, we’re going to look hard at WHY Kickstarter is so darn effective. Really break it down, deconstruct it into its component parts, and see how together, its far greater than the sum of those parts.
      • Also, GUESTS! Won’t just be me doing this show gabbing at you… important to get other perspectives.
    • Quote
      • Guy Kawasaki — “Few things are right and wrong in entrepreneurship — there’s only what works and what doesn’t.”
      • I have no interest in teaching you guys right from wrong… that’s not my mission here. But what I am on is an ongoing journey to discover what works on Kickstarter and beyond, and what doesn’t. Let’s keep discovering that together.

 

SUBSCRIBE – If you’ve enjoyed this Session of ComixLaunch, please subscribe on iTunes to make sure you’ll never miss Session.

“The man who thinks KS is a finite resource and the woman who thinks KS is a renewable resource may both be right”

ComixLaunch Session 2: Is Kickstarter a Finite or Renewable Resource?

Today’s Session is Sponsored by PureButtons.

Purebuttons, your go-to resource for custom buttons of all shapes and sizes.  

Go to ComixLaunch.com/purebuttons for 10% off your next order of custom buttons.]

What is Today’s Episode About?

In Session 001, we talked about mindset. I asked you to think about how you would fill in the blank: “Kickstarter Is…”

One of the things I asked you to consider was whether you view Kickstarter as:

A) A finite resource, one that creators can and should use once or twice before moving on to “legitimate” platforms.

Or

B) A renewable resource, a that creators could go back to again and again and have success with.

Today, we’ll answer that question, and explore:

  • How my own mindset needed to shift on this.
  • What Was holding me back from getting into KS.
  • 3 Ways to Make Sure Kickstarter is a Renewable Resource for You.

My Kickstarter History

  • KS Launched in April 2009. (Think about that… If KS was a human, it’d just be entering Kindergarten… $Billion Dollar.)
  • I First Discovered — Early 2010, seeing creators post projects.
  • First backed- May 3 2010 – The Astonishing Tales of Kid Occult TPB by Jimmy Glenn – Unsuccessful
  • Backed 3 more projects before one successfully Funded July 2010 — “Healed” by George O’Conner.
  • Launched my first project July 2012 — More than TWO YEARS after backed my first project
What Took Me So Long?

It wasn’t because I wasn’t making and selling comics. (Convention, Webcomics, Online store, Paypal.) It wasn’t because I didn’t believe in or understand crowdfunding, as I “Crowdfunded” the printing of a webcomic graphic novel, raising $500 on my own webcomic site.

The Real REASON:

I didn’t want to waste my chance playing my Kickstarter Card.  (AKA I had a “Finite Resource Mindset” toward Kickstarter.)

I thought I might get only one shot at Kickstarter, so it had to be the right project… so I stacked the deck in my favor.

That project was the Oxymoron Volume 1 Anthology.

What I discovered

During the Campaign Kickstarter was like a 30 Day Online Convention. The KS Page is the table, backers come they buy, they chat, they share, the come back, ask question, talk comics, get cool art/specialty items…

Closed out with a big ComixTribe Live SuperShow, and ended more than 300% funded. (450 backers, $26,000.)

Put that in perspective, what do I know about conventions?

Comic book conventions are not a finite resource. Rather, my best convention customers are my past customers, people I sold a book to, who came back for more.

What I realized then, was that if I deliver the goods on my campaign, if I create a great experience both during the campaign, and then after the campaign is over, then KS is a renewable resource.

The data backs that up.

A recent comprehensive study of what happens when successful creators return to Kickstarter found:

  • Creators with one past successful project have a 73% success rate on their next project (vs 38% overall success rate.)
  • 2 – 80%, 3 & 4 – 87%, 5 – 91%
  • Average Number of Backers and dollars raised also goes up.
  • Comics far and away the most likely category to have creators return (almost 30% of projects are by people who have previously had successful Projects.

Clearly… KS is a Renewable Resource… for Some

But what if you DON’T Deliver the Goods?

I’ve backed a creator who’s ran a successful KS back in 2011… still no book. He’s considering doing another KS… this time to REALLY fund it. People extend a lot of good will… understand it… but when you abuse that trust, you’re going to spoil the platform. 

KS is an incredibly powerful fundraising tool, but it’s not an ATM.

3 Ways to Make Sure KS is a Renewable Resource and Not a Finite One

Need to get in your head that your KS isn’t successful until every pledge delivered. The most stressful time is AFTER KS is over. Every backer pledge unfulfilled is a weight on your shoulders.  So, keeping that in mind, some tips include:

1. Under promise, Over-deliver

  • It’s easy to get caught up in a campaign and start promising the moon, especially as you get overfunded. Don’t get stretched by stretch goals or make promises you can’t keep.

2. Communicate

  • Keep in contact after.
  • Use Your Updates
  • Communicate Delays
  • Don’t let comments sit or questions go unanswered.

3. Show Gratitude

  • Thank You — Two of the most powerful two words in the English language.
  • KS Quantifies things — Backer #s, Dollar #s, Pledge Level tiers, but behind every number and ever pledge is a real live human being with a name, a life, a family, hopes, dreams aspirations, and quite literally a MILLION other things he/she could do with the money they’ve pledge to you.
  • Show gratitude before, during, and after your campaign.

Capture_PureButtons

Episode Sponsor: PureButtons

When creating your Kickstarter projects, it’s absolutely essential to have a variety of pledge levels and awesome rewards for your backers. Making custom buttons of your most popular characters is an easy reward or add on you can bring to your campaign…and the folks at PureButtons can help. Specializing in custom buttons of all shapes and sizes, as well as button packs, fridge magnets, custom coasters and much more, PureButtons is my top recommendation for fast, reliable quality printing of buttons and more.

And now you can get 10% off your next order by going to ComixLaunch.com/purebuttons. 

This Session’s ComixLauncher

A ComixLauncher is a short, actionable activity you can and should do right now, or immediately after listening to the show. They’re all activities I’ve done myself, and will get you one step closer to a successful ComixLaunch. They’ll transform this Podcast from a passive, lean back activity centered around Tyler James, into an active, lean-forward activity centered around YOU.

Thank 5 People

Take 5 Minutes and make a list of at least 5 people who have helped you in some way, big or small, in your comic creating journey, and dash them off a quick thank you note — IM, email, tweet, public or private, doesn’t matter.

All of us our busy, but we all can spare 5 minutes to do this. 

Wrap Up

You know the old Henry Ford quote “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right”? 

Well, the man who thinks KS is a finite resource and the woman who thinks KS is a renewable resource may both be right… It all depends on the creator and how he or she uses the platform.

By under-promising and over-delivering on your campaigns, by being an excellent communicator, and by showing gratitude, you’ll be well on your way to making KS a renewable resource for you for years to come.

Final Quote

“The world will conspire to distract you… Your most scarce resource is focus.” – Jeff Walker

It’s so true.

Our most scarce resources isn’t money, talent, or even time… it’s focus.

But the secret to getting more money, talent, and time is through focus.

Please Subscribe

If you’ve enjoyed this session of ComixLaunch, please subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or Android to make sure you’ll never miss session.

 

ImageTest_000

I’m declaring war on a number, and that number is 49.95%.

Want to know what that number is? Well, I’m gonna tell you…

49.95% is the current success rate of comic book projects on Kickstarter as of May 16, 2015.

And it’s not high enough. Not by a long shot.

See, I know how much time, effort, planning, ink, sweat, and tears go into creating a comic book or graphic novel, and then running a Kickstarter campaign to help bring it to life.

The fact that right now, more than half of all projects fail is gutting to me.

While statistically, comic books success rates are much higher than the Kickstarter average of 38.02% for all projects, I believe they could and should be higher.  

And I believe this podcast, and you, can help make that happen.

Who am I?

My name is Tyler James, and I wear a lot of hats.

I’m a 36 year old designer and producer of educational video games living in Newburyport, Mass. I’ve built award-winning games for companies like National Geographic and McGraw-Hill.

I’m also a writer and artist, and the co-creator of ComixTribe, which is a small-press publisher of comics, graphic novels, and children’s books that parents actually want to read.

ComixTribe is also an online resource with the mission statement: creators helping creators make better comics. You can find out more about us at ComixTribe.com.

I’m an educator, and have a Master’s degree in Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard, and I have a passion for sharing what I’ve learned with the world.

I’m a husband to a beautiful and supportive wife, and an incredible 14-year-old step-daughter, who I’ve recently recruited to the illustrious position of ComixTribe shipping manager.

And last but not least,  I’m Papa-Dog to arguably America’s #1 pooch, a loveable rescue named Charlie, who also answers to Charles, Chaz, Chuck, Chuckie Cheese, Charlie Cheese, Chaz Cheese, John Wayne, The Duke, the Muffin, the Muffin Man, and McStuffins.

Now’s about the time you are probably asking yourself, okay, why should I listen to this guy talk about Comics and Kickstarter?

That’s a question you should ask about any advice you hear from anyone — teachers, mentors, podcasters, bloggers, so-called experts, or the crazy guy on the subway.

Let’s get it out of the way… I don’t have all the answers. I’m not a guru. And I don’t proclaim to be an expert on all things comics or all things Kickstarter.

But I have been making comics since I was 12 years old, and been treating creating comics as a business for a decade. More than 200,000 copies of comics I published are out there in the world. (Considering my first comic ever was a 9 copy print run done on my step-father’s work xerox machine and sold out of my backpack at school, those numbers are crazy to me.)

I have also had a lot of success on the Kickstarter platform.

To date, I have managed six successful Kickstarter campaigns that have raised more than $120,000 in funding from over 2500 backers.

My projects have ranged from single issues, to trade-collections, to oversized hardcover anthologies to children’s books.

I’ve also consulted on a number of other successful campaigns, I’ve been a guest several times on Funding the Dream, the most-listened to Kickstarter Podcast in the world, and written extensively on Kickstarter at ComixTribe.com.

I don’t have all the answers… but I do have a natural passion and curiosity for finding them, and then sharing what I’ve discovered with people like you.

And that’s what this show will be about.

Who is ComixLaunch for?

The ComixLaunch Podcast will be a show that serves comic creators interested in harnessing the power of the Kickstarter platform to further their careers and bring their books to life.

This show is for creators who right now are where I was four years ago… Creators who have been watching the Kickstarter platform evolve with increasing interest as they’re working on improving their skills and creating comics worthy of a broader audience.  Creators who have been watching other creators, even creators much newer to the medium than themselves, launch successful projects on Kickstarter… maybe with a tinge of envy.  Creators that have been hesitant to pull the trigger on a campaign of their own… mostly out of fear. Fear that they’re not ready. Fear that it’ll be too much work. Fear of failure.

Does that sound like you? If so, this is your podcast.

But this show is also for creators who right now are where I was two years ago… Creators who have launched a Kickstarter campaign or two, and maybe even had their project funded. Creators who have already experienced the rollercoaster ride that is a Kickstarter campaign, and then dealt with the stress of fulfillment.  Creators who saw the great things Kickstarter could do for their careers, but also recognized that if they were ever going to do a Kickstarter again, they’d need to do it better and smarter.

Does that sound like you? If so, you might as well hit that subscribe button now. This is your podcast.

And finally, this show is for creators who are right now where I am right now… Creators who are having success on Kickstarter. Creators who recognize that Kickstarter, when used properly, can be a renewable resources, an extremely powerful force-multiplier that can be used to rally your superfans, attract new readers, and further your careers.  Creators who understand that Kickstarter is a platform that is still evolving, one that changes frequently, and one where the rulebook is still being written.  And Creators who recognize the need to stay up-to-date with what’s working there…. and what isn’t.

Does that sound like you?  If so, this is your podcast, too.

Look, you are busy and so am I.

For that reason, ComixLaunch will be a short, focused podcast.

I’ll be capping shows that are just you and I to no more than 15 minutes long.

From time to time, we’ll have guests on the show, and those episodes will be capped at 25 minutes long.

A new episode of ComixLaunch will go live on Sundays and there will be at least one show per week.  I will reserve the right to post more than one show a week, should I be so inspired.

I am committing to an initial run or “season” of 24 episodes of this show. I hope to do more, and as long as I feel that I’m bringing value to the comics and crowdfunding community, ComixLaunch will be on the air.

This show may feature a curated selection of sponsors to help offset the cost of hosting and producing this show.  However, any and all products, services, or companies mentioned on this show will be one’s that can bring value to you, the ComixLaunch audience, and ones that I can vouch for myself.

Finally, I want to say a word about why I’m doing this show…

It’s certainly not because I have extra time on my hands. With both a 9 to 5 and a 5 to 9, and a family whose company I actually enjoy, I have no shortage of things I could be doing.

I’m doing this because it’s important.

Over the past year, I’ve had a number of people tell me, “Hey, Ty, you should write a book on Kickstarter.” And yeah, maybe I will someday.

But I’ve gotta tell you… I don’t want to write a book!

I don’t have the passion for it. The thought of sitting down for months on end and writing and revising and writing and revising, only to put a book out in the world that might or might not get read… yeah, I don’t have the passion for it.

But I do love talking about this stuff.

And over the past few months, I have been binging a number of great podcasts… on my way to work, when walking the dog, while working on comics… and these podcasts have, in a very short time, immensely improved my life.

I know having a successful Kickstarter will improve all of your lives, and if I can be a part of that in some small way through this show… yeah, that’s something I DO have the passion for.

I’ve heard it said that all action stems from one of two emotions — love or fear.

I’d like to think I’m doing this show entirely out of love.

I genuinely love creating comics.  And I genuinely love sharing my knowledge with others.

I believe I’m am the highest version of my best self when I’m doing those two things.

But, if we’re being completely honest… and honesty and transparency will be a non-negotiable hallmark of this show… there’s a small part of me that’s doing this show out of fear.

Kickstarter has been a game changer for myself and thousands of creators. It’s allowed us to dream bigger, grow faster, and reach a wider audience than would have ever been possible before its existence.

It’s become an integral part of my business… and the business of so many optimistic creators out there…

…and I’m afraid it could all go away.

Now, the prognosticators all say crowdfunding will continue to grow rapidly over the next five years, with some saying it’ll be a 20 Billion with a B dollar industry in 2020, and with Kickstarter a big part of that.

In my mind, the biggest danger to Kickstarter remaining a viable platform in the years to come is us, the creators who use it… and could potentially abuse it.

I’ve called Kickstarter a powerful tool, and like all powerful tools, when used improperly, it can do damage… to careers, to relationships, and to the tool itself.

So, this podcast is a hedge against that fear.  

I believe everyone who listens to ComixLaunch will come to see themselves as a steward of the Kickstarter platform.

If you apply the lessons learned and avoid the mistakes discussed in this podcast, your own Kickstarter campaigns will be better for them.

And the more great campaigns there are, the stronger Kickstarter will be for everyone.

So, humbly, with a lot of love, and just a tiny bit of fear, I welcome you to the ComixLaunch podcast.

There are a few episodes available for you to listen to right now.

But if you’ve made it this far, I’m thinking you might as well just hit that subscribe button so we can make this a regular thing.