Crowdfunding Tiers

Last week, Keith Senkowski wrote this brilliant piece on his discoveries regarding his Kickstarter campaign. I recommend you read all of it. There’s one bit that resonates with me:

I first thought Kickstarter would be the venue to get funding to help me justify the time spent on a project like that. I was wrong. People want stuff for their money, not to proudly say they supported me in my effort to create a book they could look at pictures of on the internet or see when they met up with me.

In my experience, that’s half-right. It’s all about whatever the individual funder is buying for himself. And that changes as the tiers increase in cost and value.

The low tiers in a crowdfunding more or less mesh with that. Not always, but you can assume so. If someone’s buying a PDF or book as a tier, there may be a “hey, I think these guys are cool, I’ll give them some money,” but always tied to “because I get a thing from it.” (After all, if there wasn’t that component, folks would just give you free money.)

The higher the tiers go, the more that shifts into selling exclusivity and philanthropism side by side. At these theirs, people are buying into stories about themselves as much as they are whatever you’re selling. “I’m the sort of person who can afford to give this artist this much money.” But those people still want something for their money, otherwise the personal narrative shifts form “hey, look at this art I funded” to “hey, I got swindled.”

Something to keep in mind as you’re crafting your tiers. Too many not only causes indecision, it also creates less of an implied social strata for people to buy into. And the narrative accompanying your second tier is often “I can’t afford to do crazy, but I can afford to do better than the first tier,” which means you need to make sure your costs don’t jar against that idea.

Crafting tiers is an arcane art and science, because at the end of the day crowdfunding is as much as making something for people as it is funding internal consumer narratives. Not more, not less. And that’s what makes it hard.

- Ryan


2 Responses to Crowdfunding Tiers

  1. Hamish says:

    Good advice. I can see these different effects even within the things and levels I fund at.

    • This is also born out in our experience. The Conquering Corsairs kickstarter (linked as website) has many more backers at the higher levels where the story is being generated than at the lower levels, where it’s about product. The only backers that add to the story, but don’t get a physical product are friends with budget restrictions. The first tier to sell out was $70 … which is the $45 tier plus naming one of the factions or determining the story for a ship. So the backers are paying $25 just for that add-on.