Common sense tells me that backing other projects on Kickstarter will help get your own campaign funded. It's true that the people you back might return the favor, but that's not the important part. What's really important is that it shows others you're not focused entirely on yourself. I know that I, personally, most enjoy helping those who help others. I imagine I'm not the only one who feels that way either. On top of that, it also gives you valuable experience with what it's like to be a backer, which I believe many people consider before deciding on whether or not to back a campaign on Kickstarter.
Because of all that, I'm certain that backing other Kickstarter projects does affect things, but the question is "by how much?". Does backing other projects affect a campaign's success enough to make a tangible difference?
My personal guess is that backing other projects is one of the best "tweaks" you can make to a Kickstarter campaign. I expect it to be possibly even greater than what day of the week you launch, or even the time of year you launch. I also feel like the effect of backing other projects starts to level off after about 4 campaigns or so. Don't ask me why I think that last part, though - it's just a hunch!
As usual, let's start with a simple trend line showing campaign success rate by number of projects the creator has backed for all campaigns that have launched and finished year to date (each point represents multiple campaigns that all had the same number of projects backed).
As expected, this is a fairly strong correlation! Notice, however, that I didn't say causation. Before we can start suggesting causation, we need to look at a couple of possible lurking variables.
I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I predict that there's a strong link between the number of projects a creator backs and whether or not their profile is private. It's very likely that private profiles back far fewer projects on average than public profiles.
Why? Well, if I had to guess, I'd say it boils down to a lack of community. Kickstarter profiles are private by default. If a creator doesn't see the value of a public profile, then they might not be too concerned with making connections with other people in general, and thus would back fewer projects. Are there plenty of other factors going on? Certainly, but I'd say that's a big one.
The best way to see if there's any correlation between private profiles and number of projects backed is just to graph it. So let's see if my prediction is correct.
I'd say that's pretty obvious connection. Just knowing if a Kickstarter profile is public or private is a good indicator of how many projects they've backed.
Now, you might be asking, "OK, but why does that even matter?". Good question! The connection between private profiles and projects backed only matters if there is also a connection between private profiles and success rates. As it turns out, there is, but we'll get into that next time.
Since profile privacy is linked to the number of projects backed and also linked to success rates, that means that the privacy of a profile is confounding the effects of projects backed. So, we'll have to remove that confounding.
I'd also bet there's a pretty strong link between first-time creators and number of projects backed as well. So let's graph it to see if I'm right.
Yep, that's definitely a strong correlation, and since we've already shown that being a first-time creator strongly affects your chance of success, we can now say that it's also confounding the effects of projects backed. So, we'll need to adjust for that as well.
All of this adjusting stuff can get really boring really fast, so I'll just skip the explanation and jump to the results! I've adjusted for public/private profiles, but I dealt with first-time creators a little differently. Since the majority of Kickstarter creators interested in this analysis are probably first-time creators, I simply filtered the data to show only that subset.
So how does the number of projects you back affect your chance of success? The below chart shows you just that!
Remember when I predicted that the effects would taper off after 4 projects? Looks like I was pretty stinkin' close! Success rates increase rapidly until right around 3 projects backed. They do still continue to increase after that, but at a much, much slower rate.
In fact, you may even say that 3 projects backed is a little on the high end. If you're looking for the most "bang for your buck", look at the elbow of the trend line; it takes backing only a single project for your chances to increase some 15%!
Now, I'm not saying that backing projects somehow magically increases your Kickstarter's chance of success. I don't think that's really what's going on here. I believe what this analysis is really showing us is the power of putting others first.
If all you do is show up in Kickstarter, never bothering to connect with anyone - to help them succeed in their endeavors - don't be surprised to see your campaign never really take off itself.
I know that may sound harsh, but I really believe it's the truth, and these numbers support that. So get out there, find a community to be involved in, and start creating together!