I've run five successful Kickstarters so far, and have learnt so much from other bloggers and books that I felt it was important to pay it back and share what has worked and not worked for me. This page is a work in progress, and will be added to whenever someone asks me for advice!
Prelaunch as soon as you can
I managed100 day prelaunch. This cannot be understated — prelaunch as soon as you can to build your list. I launched with 160 followers, which contributed significantly to successfully funding in 34 minutes. A prelaunch campaign for a Gotham game has 1,300, so I am taking 10% of that for a tiny UK gamesmaker as a win.
It also gives you a lot of encouragement to see these numbers rising, and gives you somewhere to direct interested parties.
Create your campaign tribe
Create a community from the off. My game is based on an island, and I’ve automatically put backers into one of four clans based on their backer number, North, South, East and West.
I’ve written to them all individually, and this has galvanised the backers, with far more social chat about this campaign than any other I’ve had! They earn Clanpoints every time they mention their clan or the campaign on social media, and the amount of added support has been phenomenal.
The winning clan will all get an enamel pin for their efforts and, five days in, it is a straight race between two clans, which can only be a good thing, right‽
Add some ‘Money Can’t Buy’ challenges into the mix
Islander Challenges have been amazing! Taking an idea from Elan Lee (creator of ‘Exploding Kittens’), I created 12 island challenges, each with a ‘money can’t buy’ prize — the chance to have a road named after them on one of the maps in the game. So far this has resulted in the tiniest logo of the game to Notable Remains on national TV, an ultraviolet sign being made and a cake being baked and iced, among other things! This too has brought so much fun to the campaign.
Once you have made your funds, focus on building that community. Make it somewhere people want to tell their friends, participate in, search out new ways to show their pride.
Those were the good...
Crowdfunding promotion strategies which didn’t work
They say that marketing is like throwing jelly at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. I’ve had some great successes with promoting my Kickstarters, but also had some things which didn’t work at ALL. Here are some of them, so you can pivot or avoid!
We’ve all dabbled, and I think I’ve dabbled more than most, but I’ve never had any success with Facebook to the point that it has repaid what I have spent in Ads. I have tried broad reach ads, Kickstarter-specific ads, ads for the games, and ads for my potential backers - none have been in the numbers that would justify the cost. I would humbly suggest that if you consider Facebook Ads for your spend, you farm it out to someone else or play with tiny amounts to get used to the system before your Kickstarter campaign.
Past Backed Campaigns
We all know to avoid the ‘First Kickstarter, 0 Backed’ campaigns, and I try to keep a healthy amount of reinvestment n new ideas (I’ve backed 55 projects to date). On my last campaign, I messaged every single one of the campaigns I backed, asking for a little support and maybe a message in a future update.
Maybe I operate in a different way, but this had a really low success rate - I think two mentioned it on their feeds in the end. Did it come across as needy? Possibly. Did I think it would help sales? Yes, because these were often in the same games realm as my backers, and had obviously gotten over the first crowdfund hump. I may well do this next time, but have parked the idea for now.
Ask to Share the CAMPAIGN
This is an important distinction - if all every update is features a ‘please share this campaign’ I fear this fall on deaf ears. Kickstarter make it so easy for people to share a campaign. I’m at about 1,000 backers over five projects now, and I think this has only happened a handful of times.
You have to learn to restrain yourself from asking and instead incentivise the share. Jamie Stonemaier recommends only asking to share the campaign to your existing backers once, and I’m inclined to agree.
Instead, try and make a product/game/campaign so ridiculously engaging that you want to share it with the world. For my current campaign, I have three different activities which have had backers constantly talking about the campaign, talking to each other, building small communities and revisiting the page. NONE of this is about buying more or finding more backers, yet that is what has happened, constantly.
Make your game hyper local
One of my capmaigns was for Pouroboros - a set of nine beer coasters with puzzles on them, which led you on a drinking route around London. Superb fun in theory - fatal in terms of reach. While I was proud that it was the highest percentage of backers from the UK, I really should have taken a step back and had it as Nine modern wonders of the world, or Nine major capitals. Feedback during the campaign made me realise how off-putting using London was. There’s just a disconnect if you are in Seattle, Berlin or Tokyo. It feels too distant.
That is not to say I wouldn’t make a local game again, but I would definitely scale it back further, or make it more adaptable, so I could have had a London edition, a New York Edition, and so forth.