By Todd Allen

OK, last post about Order of the Stick for awhile.  The Kickstarter drive closed at $1,254,120.  When Double Fine Adventure (currently at $2M+) closes, Order of the Stick will officially be the #3 drive of all time.   Until then it’s holding the place at #2.  Rich Burlew lists some of his accomplishments with this:

  • Second most funds pledged to a completed Kickstarter drive ever.
  • The third Kickstarter project in history to reach one million dollars in pledges.
  • The most funded creative work in Kickstarter history in any medium, ever.
  • The most funded project by a single person (rather than a company), ever.
  • 2127% funded from my initial goal of $57,750.
  • 35 goals reached
  • 28 updates made (including this one)
  • 63 increasingly-byzantine reward packages
  • 14,952 backers
  • Over 25,000 books sold
  • Over 16,000 comments made
  • Uncounted broken F5 keys
  • And I think we kinda broke a Kickstarter server at the end there

Now, while this is definitely something to celebrate, I feel obligated to issue the reality check for print-based people.

That Kickstarter project had 14,952 people backing it.  How many independent comics sell 15K copies?  Not many.  Order of the Stick has been around for 9 years and it was existing fans that drove the bulk of this project.  I don’t have an audience count for Order of the Stick, but were I to guess, I’d say in the range of 150K-200K regular readers.  Possibly more.  Rule of thumb for digital is you can get 1% of the audience to buy something and 3% if the product is a good fit.  You have to have a really big audience to drive something like this.

That said, if you can engage your audience, you can have success with crowdfunding.  Just maybe not $1.25M worth of success.  It’s all about finding an audience.


  1. Plus, this comes well into his run, which is at, what? Ten years now? He built a solid base over the course of years through word of mouth, and a great product.

    It doesn’t hurt that he’s been approachable, humble, and just generally comes off as a great guy.

    Couldn’t be happier for him.

  2. The biggest lesson I think is: it’s the substance, not the style!
    Good ideas and stories over flashy art will make the most money in American comics. Which surprises me no great deal.

  3. Please note that the nature of the rewards structure was a little different than most Kickstarters, which seem to be structured as “all of the above plus…” For OOTS, if you wanted, say, two autographed books, you needed two Kickstarter accounts. Therefore the nearly 15,000 backer count wouldn’t necessarily equate to selling 15,000 copies of a comic book nor to a fanbase of 150,000 (though I like to think a strip of this quality could and should have a fanbase that large).

    Though this translates to somewhat fewer individuals, it does lead to an extremely robust average contribution-per-person, perhaps upwards of $100/household.

  4. Also, most of the OotS books haven’t been in print for YEARS, so there’s a bit of artificial scarcity going on.

    And that the pen-and-paper RPG industry has a much higher average per-item cost than most comics or webcomics.