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How Kelly Yates Overcame a Steep Learning Curve and (Over)Funded His First Kickstarter

#creator spotlight Jul 03, 2023
by Clay Adams

Kelly Yates felt daunted.

He’d never run a Kickstarter before, and as he prepared his campaign for AMBER ATOMS, he realized just how much there was to learn about the platform.  

But Kelly doesn’t give up easily. 

And if he had to learn the entire Kickstarter process from A to Z, so be it.

He would persevere.



In this edition of the ComixLaunch Spotlight, you'll learn:

  • how to grow your comic book audience
  • the most surprising weapon in your arsenal
  • plus: how to escape the Kickstarter dead zone



How to Grow Your Comic Book Audience

One of the first things Kelly realized was that he’d have to bring the crowd to the crowdfunding platform. The only problem?  

He didn’t have a way to contact past customers. 

“I wish I’d started my subscriber list years ago. I’ve met a lot people at conventions, but I never captured any of their information along the way. I could have had a substantial subscriber list at this point. Lesson learned!”

He jumped right into the ListLaunch course and started to build his subscriber list with an opt-in landing page, driving potential subscribers there through a QR code he took to conventions and by posting links on social media. 

Before launching his campaign, he made sure he reached a solid 200 subscribers—a base of support he plans to grow from.  

“I’ll continue this growth strategy between campaigns and develop new incentives/rewards for subscribing to my newsletter, maybe a ‘Win free art’ contest to see if that generates new subscribers.”

With his list in place and warmed up, Kelly was ready to hit launch. 

He wasn’t prepared for what happened next. 


The Most Surprising Thing About Running Your First Kickstarter

Thanks to his audience building efforts (and a great looking book), Kelly reached his funding goal of $5,000 in only four days. 

And some of his support came from a surprising place. 

“I was very surprised with how many friends stepped up and actually backed me. That might sound a little weird, but not everyone has the financial means or interest. And if they didn’t physically back my campaign for whatever ever reason, they at least shared my campaign or helped promote it on social media.” 

After a great start, though, one look at the calendar told Kelly there was a lot of time left on the clock. And he’d need to keep pushing his campaign until the very end. 

This was where the campaign felt the most difficult.

“The hardest part for me was ‘being on’ or actively engaged on social media for 30 days straight.”

How did Kelly make the most of it? 


Break Up A Long Crowdfunding Campaign Into Smaller Units

After AMBER ATOMS got funded in the first four days, Kelly made sure he kept the momentum going with podcasts, Facebook ads, and word of mouth. 

Eventually, he hit a wall. 

“Once I got about 2/3 of the way into the campaign, it was difficult trying to figure out where and what to focus my attention on. Filling up 30 days talking about yourself or your project is tough.”

Next time, Kelly plans to break the campaign into smaller chunks, focusing on quarters or four-week promo pushes. 

“Planning for four separate periods might be easier than trying to plan for 30 days straight. Plus, it’ll allow me to stay flexible and pivot as needed.”  

Even with breaking up the campaign into bite-sized chunks, Kelly knows he’ll still have to face the dreaded Dead Zone. 


Tips for Surviving the Kickstarter Dead Zone

Thanks to the ComixLaunch Course, Kelly came into the campaign for AMBER ATOMS prepared for the mid-Kickstarter dip. 

“I knew it was coming, so I just focused on pushing the Facebook ads, general social posts, and staying positive. Personally thanking supporters when they backed the campaign, which helped because they would sometimes share that they backed me on Facebook.” 

Along the way, Kelly discovered that the social media algorithms weren’t always working in his favoring, and he plans to make an adjustment next time out. 

“I tried a ‘countdown to the end of the campaign’ posting on social media starting seven days out, but learned that people don’t see those posts in order. Who knows when they’ll exactly see them? Next time, maybe I’ll do an ‘Ends on X date countdown.’”

Even when social media failed him, Kelly credits one particular strategy with helping him shake the mid-campaign doldrums. 


Best Practices for Crowdfunding Cross Promotion 

Kickstarter creators long ago discovered that best potential customers are already on the platform. And what better way to reach them than with a personal recommendation from a trusted creator? 

This is where crowdfunding cross promotion comes in. 

“The impulse is to cast a large and wide net to see who will cross-promo with you, and I get that, but I feel like that comes across as impersonal or careless. I decided to take a more focused approach. I reached out to several creators who have large audiences, offering to promote them in my Kickstarter updates without asking for anything in return.”

This selfless approach—giving something without expecting reciprocation—is a good way to earn trust from creators you may not know personally. 

The gesture is often appreciated—and sometimes repaid.  

“That’s where Ron Randall comes in. We didn’t personally know each other, but we had similar paths with our creator-owned series, and he was busy running a very successful campaign for his Trekker series. He boosted me in one of his Kickstarter updates and that kicked me out of the Dead Zone in the final week or so.”

Other cross-promotions, including a shout out from longtime DC inker and writer Karl Kesel, helped continue the funding for AMBER ATOMS.

When all was said and done, Kelly unlocked four stretch goals for a total of $8,000.


What’s Next? 

Next up: after tackling fulfillment, Kelly plans to rest a bit before he finishes writing the next AMBER ATOMS book.

He says his first Kickstarter experience helped him understand how big his fanbase is… and how much more room there is to grow.

Meanwhile, he’s glad he didn’t let the steep learning curve stop him from taking action. In fact, he credits his success to one thing:

“Perseverance! Perseverance! Perseverance! I’ve always felt this need to create, or as I like to ask people, ‘Are you a consumer or a producer?’ Well, I’m a producer, and my outlet has always been comic books!

“I don’t know if there was ever an easy part or feeling, but the satisfaction of creating a project and having it fund was absolutely priceless!”



Connect with Kelly: 



Social Media:


Read the First Issues of AMBER ATOMS and MONSTHER:




Would You Like to Learn the Strategies Kelly and Other Talented Creators are Using to Take Your Launches to the Next Level?

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