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Kickstats: Category Popularity & Success

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

UPDATED 2021-03-04:
This article now includes all Kickstarter campaigns that launched in 2020. The significant increase in sample sizes has resulted in minor changes to the outcome of our original analysis. Portions of this article have been rewritten to reflect those changes.

It often takes a lot of data to properly analyze complex issues, and Kickstarter is no exception! But while we wait for the data to slowly pour in, I thought it would be interesting to look at the different categories Kickstarter has to offer, and how they make up the whole.

Kickstarter Categories

Kickstarter has 15 parent categories for different projects, and those parent categories break down into even more standard categories. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 based on percentage of total projects launched from January through December 2020.

That’s pretty cool, but we’re probably more interested in what categories have the highest success rates:

And Anthology Comics takes the gold, at an impressive 85.7% success rate! Board games – the largest category – is still pretty impressive though, at 71.8%, which is good to know as Grumpy Spider works toward launching our first game.

But all this got me curious – what if we looked at popularity of a category vs success? I wonder what that would look like. Thus, I present this hub & spoke chart of Kickstarter’s category hierarchies showing popularity vs success rates!

The lines show category hierarchies, the size represents the percentage of total projects that are from that category, and the brightness shows the success rate of that category. Also, in order to get a dedicated node, a category had to make up at least 7% of its parent node. Otherwise, they were lumped into their respective “Other” buckets.

The success rate of Kickstarter overall in 2020 was just over 51%, but individual categories can differ quite a bit from that, obviously. Just look at poor Technology… a relatively popular category, but really low success rates overall. I almost feel bad for Apps, which takes last place, at a measly 7% success rate.

Meanwhile, Comics seems to do the best overall, with several of their categories doing unusually well.

Conclusion

I can’t say that I have many conclusions to draw – I just thought it was interesting. But there is one important thing to keep in mind as we move forward in this series…

Be careful not to take general information and assume it always applies to specific cases. For instance, Tabletop Games as a category has a 72% success rate. Does that mean that your next tabletop campaign has a 72% chance of success? Absolutely not! Individual cases are much too complex for such simple predictions – that’s why we need lots of data, and solid methods of statistical analysis to help us find what really helps or hurts the average campaign. And that’s just what this series is all about!

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Kickstats: The Biggest Factor

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

If you’re like me, you’re anticipation is growing uncontrollably as you approach your Kickstarter launch! At this point, you may have started wondering what tweaks you can make to give your campaign just a little bit more of an edge. Well, that’s what this series is all about! I plan to use data from literally thousands of Kickstarter projects to find out what changes you can make to your campaign that will maximize your chance of success.

But before we dive in to all that data goodness, there’s an important point that I need stress as much as possible.

There are no shortcuts. The biggest factor to your Kickstarter’s success is the quality of your product and campaign page.

I know it may seem obvious, but it’s incredibly important to understand that the biggest factor to your success is the quality of your product and the quality of your campaign page. Preparing for and running a Kickstarter campaign takes a lot of effort, and the questions I plan to address in this blog series should not be viewed as shortcuts – because they aren’t. No amount of launching at the right time, having the right number of pledge tiers, or having the ideal campaign length will save a project that doesn’t have the necessary effort to back it up.

Every blog entry that I write from here on out will be based on this one idea. We will always start with the assumption that you have a good idea, and that you’ve put in a reasonable amount of effort toward its success. Now, I do have plans to cover a few things you can do to improve the quality of your campaign page overall, but most aspects of a page are just too difficult for me to quantify.

On a more upbeat note though, I don’t think that assumption is a very difficult one to make. The fact that you’re even reading this blog suggests you’re willing to put in the effort to help your campaign succeed.

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