Transparency is a key currency for creators in the internet age, and a powerful force when embraced
by Kickstarter creators. In this session, Tyler discusses the pros and cons of transparency. Then, he reveals the inner workings of ComixLaunch, sharing its key metrics for 2015, including total income and expenses.
Today’s Session is Sponsored by
Luminous Ages, a fantasy comic and art book now on Kickstarter. Visit ComixLaunch.com/luminous to find out more.
Session Table Setting
Welcome back to ComixLaunch the podcast to learn about mindset, strategies, and tactics for Kickstarter!
This is going to be an interesting show with just you and me, and we’re going to get real.
My topic for today is Transparency, why it’s powerful, why it’s important in 2016, and how it applies to Kickstarter.
And then I’m going to embrace transparency myself, and open up the ComixLaunch books and share our income and expenses for 2015. Every dollar that came in, and every dime that went out.
But first, a little housekeeping. Here’s something new and something super cool! I want to hear from you. Emails are awesome. Reviews on iTunes are rad. But this is a podcast… I want to hear your VOICES…
I made it SUPER easy for you to send ComixLaunch a voice message…
Hop on over to ComixLaunch.com and there’s a little “SEND VOICEMAIL” widget.
Right there, from your desktop, laptop, or phone you can record a short, 90 second voice message.
Powered by SPEAKPIPE.
On Phone — will take a few extra click to grab the SPEAKPIPE app, but super easy and quick, and once you have it, you have it.
What I want to hear…
Feedback on the show.
ComixLaunchers put to use.
Challenge me on something I’ve talked about.
Include your name and feel free to plug your comic or website… but remember, you’ve only got 90 seconds, so make ’em count.
I’m currently using the FREE Speakpipe service… which has limitations (hence the 90 second rule)… we’ll see if you guys use it. Hope you do… this is your show.
ComixLaunch Review on iTunes
It had to happen… after 26 5 star reviews, the streak was broken.
A few days ago, our first 3-star review came in… and I am EXTREMELY grafteful for it… because it ties perfectly to the theme of this episode. Transparency.
I’m going to read the review now… and I have a few comments on it, before transition into today’s episode.
Thank you. I appreciate you. I’ve heard you.
Getting critical feedback is a part of putting yourself out there… I’d like to say it gets easier as you get more experience (and it does… but never gets easy.)
You can hear 25 positive comments and thatta boys, and one mild criticism can cause a crisis of concience… OMG everyone hates me!
We fear pain more than we enjoy pleasure.
To the first point, “calling the show a constant-non stop advertisement for The ComixLaunch Course” —
Well, the high school debater in me would counter with the fact
that we produced and delivered 19 Episodes before ever mentioning The ComixLaunch Course
That of the 15.5 hours of podcasting I’ve probably spent less than 40 minutes discussing the course in any fashion.
But this isn’t a debate… and your perception is YOUR reality.
And if one listener is thinking that, others are too.
So, again, I’ve heard you… I’m going to come back to this at the end of the show.
To the second point, I strongly agree with most of what you have to say:
It IS good to get advice from many sources before launching a Kickstarter…
No one has a monopoly on good ideas.
That’s why I’ve made it a point to bring on some of the best minds in crowdfunding to share their wisdom with all of us.
It’s why I’m making a concerted effort to hear from more diverse voices in comics and outside.
And I totally agree with you, the best way to actually learn something is by doing it… and you will totally learn from your successes and your failures.
But some failures have already been learned by others… you don’t have learn every mistake the hard way.
But the best way to MASTER anything… that’s to teach it to others and have them have success with it… And that’s what I’m all about here, folks.
“Personally have a problem with anyone who sets themselves up as self-appointed authority”
Look, I said in the very first episode that I’m not a guru and I don’t have all the answers…
I’ve had success on Kickstarter… I’m certainly not the only one.
There is no one right way… but there are lot of things that work better than others, and that’s what this is a show about exploring…
The day I stop learning and being curious myself is the day this show no longer has value…
Finally, I will say that I wish you were more specific when you said that I contradict myself on a couple of statements.
Not saying you’re wrong… I’m human and make all kinds of stupid mistakes, especially when talking off the cuff.
But because if it’s an area of confusion, with seemingly contradictory material, that’s an area worth digging in deeper on.
But also, the reality is… this world is often very contradictory… and Kickstarter is no exception. While I love to erect frameworks to simplify the complex… there are exceptions to every rule.
For example, building and establishing a large audience of fans prior to launching is a key component of KS success.
And then some guy throws up a project to make potato salad with no audience at all, it goes viral and he raises $55K.
If it was all simple, if everything made perfect sense… this show would be done by now.
I hope most of you listening are glad it’s still going…
So, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address your comments, and I truly do appreciate the honest feedback.
ComixLaunch.com/review to Review the show
What is Today’s Episode About?
Transparency is a Key Currency of the Internet Age
The rise of the internet age and the evolution of social media has rapidly changed the expectations of customer / business relationships. Many have argued that “transparency is the new currency of business” and that if you’re not open, honest, and accountable… you’re increasingly irrelevant.
Expectations have shifted in all walks of life and this extends to Politics:
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders
Opposite ends of the spectrum, but share a lot of traits.
Say what they think, whether it’s popular or not.
Can’t be bought
Transparency has been core to what we’ve done at ComixTribe since it’s inception
I am a teacher by both training and at heart and one of the things that requires is honesty and transparency, when conveying the world as you know it to be. And one of the things we decided early on that was going to be baked into the DNA of ComixTribe was that we were not creating in a vacuum, rather we were going to be sharing our journey: victories, defeats and ah-ha moments as we go. And, to be completely “transparent” there was a certain element of marketing savvy to that. I did not see a ton of transparency in big publishers or publishers that were out there and I know for myself I’m attracted to people that tell it like it is and can be straight with me. So, I wanted to do that for other creators who were a bit further back on the winding, exciting road that is building a career in comics.
I also found that I learn things the best when I teach them to others, and many of the ComixTribe articles I write serve as a record and future reference for myself, almost like a diary or cheat sheet that I can go back to later. Some of the articles about goal setting and motivation, those are issues that I struggle with myself, and can serve as a time capsule. I can go back and get a pep talk from myself, sometimes. The fact that it helps other people as well is an added bonus.
So, there’s a lot there, but it’s something that has worked for ComixTribe. It’s built a lot of good will in the comics world for us, it has built us connections, and really helped get conversations going. I’ve been at conventions and had a number of people randomly come up to me and say, “Your article on how to do barcodes, or your Kickstarter tips are great resources…,” that’s always great to hear.
Why I’m not worried about giving away most of my best stuff:
Absolutely not. Here’s the thing: I’ve never been one to subscribe to zero sum thinking, especially when it comes to creative ideas like creating comics. I think a rising tide lifts all ships. I think that the more good comics that are out there, the faster the audience for comics will grow, and thus the more opportunity for me to sell to that growing pool of prospective buyers. So I don’t get down at seeing others’ success.
And as far as the advice I’m giving out at ComixLaunch podcast, I see it as part of a bigger mission, which is to raise the success rate of comic book Kickstarters overall. And not just the success rate for those that get funded, which is about 50%. I don’t view success on Kickstarter until every backer has been fulfilled, and is happy with their pledge and wants to come back again. A recent Kickstarter fulfillment report that found that 9% of all funded Kickstsarter projects fail to deliver their rewards. Some people might see that and think, “Hey that’s not that bad, less than one out of ten will fail,” but that’s not good enough for me. And I know if I was a backer and one out of ten projects I put money in never showed up, that would sour me on the platform.
Kickstarter is a game changer for creators and one of the greatest things to happen to the world of comics, especially for the independent creator. But, it’s something that could be ruined if the trend lines go the wrong way and more Kickstarters fail to deliver on their promises… that could spoil the well for everyone. So, in that way the Comixlaunch podcast and sharing my advice and helping other creators run better campaigns is actually selfish, because it’s going to ensure there are more backers having a positive experience on Kickstarter because more creators are doing it right and using the platform well. And thus it’s going to bring more people to the tent, so when ComixTribe is ready to launch our next project, it has a better shot at being successful. So I think the more great Kickstarters are out, there the better and stronger the platform will be for everyone.
Transparency is a Key Trait of Successful KS Creators.
Successful Kickstarter creators understand that transparency is an important currency in the information age.
They share more, and hide less.
They tell stories.
They get personal.
They let their backers get an inside look at who is behind the project, what they are doing, and why it’s so important to them.
They understand that many of their backers can’t even draw a straight line, and are completely fascinated by the creative process. So they invite them inside, and show them.
Because these creators have done their homework, they’re not afraid to share some financial information, including how the funds raised will be used and why coming to Kickstarter is necessary for them in the first place.
They are honest and open, likeable, accessible, and as a result, backers trust them.
And they also know that people like to support people they know, like and trust.
Transparency on your KS Page
Remember, backers prefer to support people and projects they know, like, and trust, and nothing builds trust faster than being honest and transparent. In the context of a Kickstarter page, that means:
Being open about who you are, what you stand for, and why this project matters to you.
Being clear about why you need the funding you’re asking for and what it will be used for.
Being clear about risks, challenges, and anything that might cause your project to go off track.
Your backers WANT to support you, but they want to know you’re accountable.
It may seem like a risk to be an open book. You might feel like you’re opening yourself up to judgement, that you’re making yourself vulnerable.
And in truth, you ARE.
But here’s a little secret…
Your backers respect vulnerability, because they respect authenticity. Transparency increases the engagement of your audience, which then increases the reach of your project.
Downside of Transparency
The downsides of being transparent are the fact that when you’re putting yourself out there and you’re making yourself potentially vulnerable, you’re also potentially inviting people to challenge your assertions. If you put something out there that whether intentionally or in most cases unintentionally is incorrect, you may have people taking that one bit of incorrectness and running with it, using it for their own agenda and calling you out on it. Whereas had you not started down a road of transparency in the first place they wouldn’t have bothered to make an issue of it. So that’s one downside.
I also think that there’s the potential of inviting more questions and more details than you’re willing to share. And I do think there is a line that can be crossed and it’s up to every creator to determine for themselves where that line is. Often the more you put out there the more they may ask you to continue to put out there. So it’s just important to know if you’re going down that road.
Also, I think for many creators getting started or early on, the numbers (sales or dollars) can be depressing. If ‘fake it till you make it’ is your strategy, it’s pretty hard to fake it when you’re putting out for the world to see that the critically acclaimed, highly-touted book you made lost hundreds or thousands of dollars. So I can see a potential downside there. But at the same time I think it’s important for creators to be real about where they are and to track things, and so for me putting stuff out there helps me know where Comixtribe is, so I can focus more on how far we’ve come and the very next step. Too many creators focus all their time on the disconnect between where they are currently and how far they still have to go to make it. That’s a recipe for never being happy in life.
The ComixLaunch 2015 Income and Expense Report
Actions speak louder than words — embrace transparency, open up the books and share what ComixLaunch looks like as a project from the financial side of things.
Inspired by Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income Pod, John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire, Scott Volker of The Amazing Seller and more…
What you measure you manage… and what you manage you can improve.
I’m sharing these without attaching a value judgment to them… numbers and metrics aren’t inherently bad or good… they’re just what they are.
Before we get to the financials, let’s look at what we did and how we did it:
May- June 2015
Bought Domain ComixLaunch
Built the Website
Learned how to Podcast!
Set up CL email list in Mailchimp
Launched first weekly episode.
October of 2015
Ran ComixLaunch Survey – 100 responses.
Posted first blog post.
Took applications for the ComixLaunch Course
Enrolled 10 students in the course
2 Blog posts
103 email subscribers
Income Breakdown (May 2015-December 2015)
2015 Gross Total Income: $2,812.00
Product Sales – The ComixLaunch Course: $2,767.00 (98%)*
30 Day Full Refund policy
Sponsorship: $45.00 (2%)
Affiliate Income : $0.00
Expenses Breakdown (May 2015-December 2015)
2015 Total Expenses: $1,734
Website/ Hosting: $1,143.95 (66%)
LibsynPodcast Media Hosting: $90
VA: Editing: $490.00 (28%)
Advertising: $100.05 (5%)
Transaction Fees: $71.64 (4%)
Net Income 2015: $1,078
There you have it… ComixLaunch in 2015 in a nutshell.
I’ll have some closing thoughts after our sponsor.
In a moment, I’m going to give you today’s ComixLauncher, but first, we need to thank our sponsor…
Luminous Ages is a fantasy comic set in a universe where dragons, humans, gods, titans, demons, angels and beasts have the ability to control dream magic.!
Created by Australian writer/artist Anthony Christou, the adventure begins with a young farm boy, Thrakos, going through a painful transformation to become a Mage of the Mark. What path will he choose? What secret has his father been hiding from him? And why are dragons hunting him in the dreamworld?
It’s a full-color paperback comic available now on Kickstarter, and includes a bonus concept art book full of dragons and magic, that expands on existing and future characters and environments in the comic!
The first issue of Luminous Ages and the Concept Artbook is finished and can be ordered now.
Go to ComixLaunch.com/luminous to back the project.
Be sure to leave Anthony a comments on Kickstarter so he knows that we sent you!
If an intricate fantasy comic about dragons, creatures and human dream mages fighting for control over the real world and the dream world sounds good to you, check out Luminous Ages on Kickstarter today.
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.
Dudes and dudettes… I went and installed SpeakPipe on ComixLaunch.com to make this show more interactive…
So your ComixLauncher is to holler at me.
Tip, Question, Rant
90 seconds cuz we ain’t got all day.
All of us our busy, but we all can spare 5 minutes to do this. [NA — 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 #32.]
I hope I’ve given you something to think about in terms of transparency.
And I hope, as creative entrepreneurs, it was illuminating to look under the hood at ComixLaunch… what it costs to put this show out, how it’s paid for, and how I’m looking to measure its impact.
- Running a podcast does incur costs.
- Creating does incur costs.
- Time is our most valuable resource.
- Building a sustainable business requires selling.
- And right now 98% of what keeps this show going from a financial side is sales of The ComixLaunch Course.
That will change over time…
- Sponsors will grow.
- Affiliate income will trickle in.
- Other products and services we’ll have to offer.
I believe in what I’m selling.
The ComixLaunch Course is the best thing I’ve ever done.
I’m proud of the comics and graphic novels and children’s books I’m publishing this year
The Podcast will always be free. And 95% of it will be information you can take or leave no questions asked…
But 5% is going to be selling…
Selling products and services that I 100% believe in.
If that’s a turn off for you as a listener… that’s perfectly fine. I’ve got nothing but love for you.
But I do hope when it’s your turn to sell, and if you’re listening to this show, I’m betting at somepoint in the near future you will… my wish for you is this:
You are extremely proud of what you’ve done.
You believe that everyone in your niche would be better off for buying it.
You unapologetically sell the hell out of it… ethically, passionately, and transparently.
This was a long one, but I had a lot to get off my chest…
Again, I want to hear your lovely (or manly) voices… SPEAKPIPE is installed on ComixLaunch.com and will let me do just that. Share your thoughts on this episode and more, and maybe YOU’LL hear yourself on a future session.
Thank you so much for listening, and for letting me walk with you, as you taken another step forward toward your next successful ComixLaunch.
Have You Subscribed, Rated, or Reviewed ComixLaunch Yet?
If you’ve enjoyed this Session of ComixLaunch, I need you to do me a favor… actually, I need three favors. Please Subscribe, Rate and Review ComixLaunch on iTunes.
They’re the rocket fuel this show is running on, and the sooner you do it, the more powerful your action will be. Don’t wait to give us some love!
Provide a rating, 1-5 stars and leave an honest review.
This can be done in less than 2 minutes and could make HUGE difference to the show.