Yes, yes, I know, crowdfunding postmortems are ten a penny. Everyone makes the same mistakes and then describes in detail how you can avoid them.

Planning. Marketing. Funding graph image. Check, check, check.

This one will be different! Read on to find out some things you might not know about Kickstarter campaigns…

A Kickstarter campaign is not a story

Games journalists don’t care about your Kickstarter. Your campaign is NOT an interesting story for them. The only exceptions to this are if:

  • you’ve previously run a successful, large Kickstarter
  • your campaign has smashed its target

Neither of which is much help to most indie devs. But even though they don’t care about your campaign, they might care about your game.

Here the usual rules apply. If your game is unique, and resonates with their audience, you have a good chance of getting coverage. Uniqueness is key. What makes your game different?

Top Secret had 3 main hooks:

  • it was about the Snowden leaks
  • it was played by email in real time
  • it uses real encryption

Press covered the game purely because of the above. I’d go as far to say that it didn’t matter what the game was, or how it played. Some journalists covered it simply because they cared about surveillance issues.

It feels awkward to ask friends and family for money

Chris Roberts

As a Brit (Chris Roberts excepted), I found this especially difficult.

In an ideal world, all your backers would be people you’ve never met who are completely in love with your product. In reality, if you’re running a small indie campaign, it’s likely that at least some of your campaign funds will come from people you already know.

You will have to spam Facebook/Twitter with Kickstarter news. You will have to chase up with people to see if they’ll back. In particular, you’ll need family and friends to boost the campaign in the first 48 hours.

This will all feel terribly awkward but you should do it anyway.

ps. Keep track of which friends have backed before you go to a social gathering. Thanking a friend for backing when they haven’t, or not thanking someone for backing because you’re not sure if they have, are both big no-nos. Trust me.

You will be spammed by Kickstarter marketing companies

“Your campaign is killing it!”

“Kick things up a notch!”

“Regarding FOX news interview for Top Secret”

Prepare to be blitzed by “Crowdfunding consultancies” and “Crowdfunding PR experts”. They’ll promise you GUARANTEED news coverage in X news sites, and a MINIMUM of Y retweets seen by Z people.

My advice is to ignore these emails. Maybe they work, maybe they don’t. It’s just so difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff. I’m guessing they make a lot of quick money from people running failing campaigns who get desperate. Marketing IS important, but throwing money at the problem won’t help.

On a semi-related note, think about how you’ll manage your communications. My inbox filled up rapidly during the campaign and it was hard to keep track of who I had and hadn’t replied to.

Be prepared for stress

The Scream

Kickstarter campaigns are all or nothing. Success, or failure. And mostly failure*.

* less than a 1/3rd of game campaigns are successful

If you’re especially well-prepared and lucky, your project will lift off and shoot over your target, but most projects aren’t like this. Most are a hard, long, slog, without a happy ending.

It’s also public. If you fail, all your friends and family are going to know. And if you do succeed, you’ll have to deal with the responsibility of keeping all those backers happy.

Naturally this is stressful.

Make sure you have a support network around you. This is especially true if you’re a solo creator. Try not to be snappy or irritable, and realise that people aren’t thinking about the campaign quite as much as you are.

And don’t burn yourself out. Most Kickstarter creators take a few days off after a campaign. There’s a good reason for this!

People want you to succeed!

If you’re stressed, remember this: people want you to help you.

Nothing prepared me for the kindness I received from strangers. People who emailed me about bugs, or broken hyperlinks. Backers who shared and tweeted. People who just wanted to help in any way. I was even invited to play a board game with a backer!

And of course Failbetter have been amazing in incubating the project and supporting the Kickstarter.

A crowdfunding campaign is a weirdly brilliant way of meeting new people and making new friends. Even if your campaign fails, you’ll be richer for the experience.

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