I would like to start this post by saying this is not a Kickstarter advice article. Jamey, James and many others are great at doing that. I am just a guy following and sharing his dream of becoming a board game publisher.
I’ve never felt so nervous by doing something in my professional career, I think that when your dream is at stake, you really want to do it right; the cliché “You don’t have to launch today” is so true, for real, this was the foundation of my kickstarter campaign. I kept pushing back the launch date until I was completely sure it was done, and even after that, there were some things I missed.
Pressing the launch button feels definitive, and even if it’s not, you feel nervous and so excited at the same time; I remember I was together with my team counting the seconds and at the same time thinking that I had missed something for sure but when I did I really felt like writing the last phrase of a book, the pre-launch to us was so important as the campaign.
During my seven years as video game developer and publisher, I really liked the way things were. We worked to make people have fun, and believe me, that is a great sensation. The rewarding part was publishing your hard work and see others enjoy it.
Kickstarter changed my perspective about working in a project, those 30 days were quite amazing, you can feel people excitement building up and all the great interaction push yourself to the limit of wanting to deliver a great product, because you really feel you are working for your friends and not just a random customer you never talked with.
The campaign felt like this from the beginning. As soon as we launched and momentum started building up, every one of our backers was so kind, positive and communicative.
The work behind the campaign is real, I really admire people that build and maintain the campaign alone, those are true heroes. I have to thank my amazing team starting from José that stayed during nights to keep communication with backers flowing, and Daniel and Erick that did an amazing job building the graphic and renders of the campaign.
I know this is not a place for this kind of speeches, but I really feel blessed to have met my team and the amazing people that helped me building up our Kickstarter campaign, they are great resources of knowledge for building your kickstarter campaign. Thanks to Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games for being so cool about answering my questions, Allen Chang from RuleandMake for all the great fulfillment insights and Timothy Cassavetes from Kickstarter Best Practices for following me so close before and during the campaign.
With that being said, this is what I learned from my first kickstarter experience:
LEARN, PLEDGE AND OBSERVE
As a writer needs to read many books to start writing ones himself, a project creator needs to follow closely other campaigns to learn from them. I personally have done this for 4 years before launching. I always loved analyzing pledge levels, what creators did to fund or not their projects.
A great compendium of this experiences is Jamey Stegmaier’s book: A crowdfunder’s strategy guide.
BUILD UP THE INFORMATION AS IT CROSSES THE BACKER’S MIND
As a Kickstarter backer myself, I wanted to focus all my attention before anything else by exploring my mind as a backer and understand what I wanted to know while a scrolled the page campaign.
I started with an engaging trailer, as any movie does to attract people to watch the full movie. As many suggested I tried to keep the trailer below the 60 seconds. Our trailer was played 7794 times with a 56% completion rate.
Right under your video I explained the game story, tried to place the possible backers into the game, right after those lines, a very brief explanation of the game mechanics and flow, I also made player quantity, playtime and age restriction very visible since I find myself looking way too much time for this information in other board game projects.
Then I wanted to let my possible backers know what they would be getting, we made a very graphic but detailed list of the game components.
After that I decided that it was a right time to show some reviews and gameplay videos. If backer scrolled until that point, he probably wanted to know more about how it worked. I also added rulebook for the savvier players.
Finally, I told my possible backers why their pledge mattered, talked about prices, future stretch goals and shipping rates. I didn’t bother my backers with any other information, like information about the team or the story behind the creation. I find myself always skipping that part in the project campaigns.
SET A GOAL THAT MAKES SENSE
This is a very delicate matter. I personally did not include in the goal any investment I did prior to Kickstarter like art, advertisement, graphic design and other related costs of building up the campaign, but I feel if others want to do it, it’s ok, but people will know.
I know that this is something people should not do, but I actually asked for a little less of what I needed, I had some savings I decided to use for the production. At the end, we funded in 19 hours, so I used that money to reach the first two stretch goals faster.
SET A FAIR PRICE FOR YOUR PLEDGE LEVELS
Kickstarter is not for pre-orders. I don’t really like when someone charges something very close to the retail price. People is helping making your game and they will patiently wait for the game to be manufactured and arrive in their doorstep, so they really deserve a price cut. I personally did a 30% discount from MSRP and used 4 euros of each pledge of 17 euros to cover part of the shipment.
ORGANIZE THE FULFILLMENT BEFOREHAND
This is a crucial part of the campaign. A wrong calculation could make you lose so much money that could even make the overall project fail. Kickstarter doesn’t have a friendly way of setting up the shipment cost, specially so for regions, so you need to setup each country for every pledge level. I did an early mistake in this regard by leaving out some Asian countries and I then had to create another pledge level for those territories, that created confusion, but lesson learned. I really recommend to double and triple check this information before launching.
KEEP THE MOMENTUM
This almost sounds as a cliché but it’s so true. I really wanted the whole 30 days to feel like they were running smoothly. Aside from the classic momentum rules, we did think about going a little off the books with the last 48 hours, announcing them 24 hours before as “48 hours approaching”.
As crazy as it sounds, people started backing at a faster rate and we end up with a good flow for the last three days of the campaign.
SHARE YOUR PASSION
I really love the game we launched but most of all; I love this industry and the idea of making board games. I think this people will feel your excitement and will share it with you, and this is one of the most amazing things kickstarter has.
I really would like to talk so much more about my experience and the campaign, but I feel like this blog post is already a wall of text.
With that being said, if anyone of you reached this last part of the blog post, what is the most amazing thing that happened to you on kickstarter, both as backer or as a creator?