support our Kickstarter, set to go live this Wednesday the 7th!
Crowdfund is a $60 billion industry and isn’t showing signs of slowing down, especially if our government continues to make getting access to capital that much more difficult.
Of course, the definition has evolved from theoretically “micro investing” into what it really is, crowd donating. You take the old concept of a community getting together to raise money to say refurbish a church or school, or a dinner to raise funds to help someone who was sick pay medical bills. These “revolutionary” platforms are exactly the internet version of things we used to do in communities, except now your community is a) the whole world and b) mostly people you’ve never met.
For people who cannot bear the expense of taking on an expensive project like game design (or big companies just using a pre-order platform), we can go to one of more than 400 platforms, each with its own niche. Except for Kickstarter and Indigogo, the two biggest on the planet, which have campaigns which encompass pretty much everything.
Kickstarter is THE platform to go to for gaming plans, whether tabletop or video gaming. Slides in my presentation show Games are generally more likely to be funded than other projects, but you are still likely to fail. By the way, if you’re trying to raise money for your novel, there is a company called Pubslush that was sold a while ago. I spoke to their former owners about the platform but I was not a fan, which I can address for anyone who wants to know more about crowdfunding novels.
Why do campaigns fail? First off, Kickstarter, like most crowdfunding platforms, does NOTHING to help you. Unless they like your campaign and promote it on their platform, they literally do zilch. YOU are the one who must direct traffic to their site. Now people with large followings can get people to the site, or if they have celebrity friends or backers, which is how Exploding Kittens took off so much. Occasionally, something random like potato salad can go viral and get you the bump. But unless you are a celebrity or get lucky, prepare to draw traffic or struggle to raise $.
Second, I didn’t know that if you make a game, you need to get reviews. Period. Even if it’s just 2, get a third-party to vet your game. It’s possible but much less likely to raise funds if you have a game, no community interaction, no plan, and no third-parties to vouch for you.
Third, the pledge levels need to make sense. Remember, CROWDBACKERS ARE NOT INVESTORS. They are literally campaign donors, no different than sending a $10 pledge to a politician’s election campaign and getting stuff in the mail. A real investor would review your business plan, meet your team and visit your facilities (if applicable), and review your financial projects before deciding whether or not to invest, and then you get into the details of what percentage they will take, who sits on your advisory board or board of directors, etc. In Crowdfunding, I like your project so I give you $10 in return for a t-shirt if you meet your goal. That’s not investing, that’s donating.
So when you set those pledge levels, think about what your ideal backer wants. My first campaign, I set a weak $3 pledge and then had too many prize levels that didn’t offer enough value. I started offering t-shirts and hats which I had done research on the cost of, but which I don’t think offered enough value.
So what am I doing the second time?
For problem 1, I made connections, met people, shared their campaigns, played their games, chatted with gamers on forums and on Board Game Geek, and introduced myself to the local tabletop community. I visited stores, sat down at weekly game nights, and directly appealed to past backers or people on my e-mail list. I made postcards and left them with store owners, and sent out reminders to all my previous backers. It’s still not a huge community, but it’s a start.
For problem 2, I got reviews and posted an interview I had with Board Game Geek, made a couple of funny memes, and put them together. The result is a page that shows higher quality than just “hey guys, I’m some dude, back me.”
For problem 3, I only posted 6 goals, was more clear with potential international backers about my pricing strategy, and kept them limited to the game. My bonuses are things like exclusive KS-only cards. This should keep people from being distracted by merchandise. By the way, all these tips are credible for any crowdfunding platform, since the biggest ones all have the same problem.
There are more things I did wrong I’ll share later, as well as my problems with crowdfunding platforms that I want to address. Feel free to share your experience crowdfunding on any platform.
Question of the day: Does crowdfunding work for you? What has your experience been like?
News and notes:
HEROES OF HISTORY
I will be at the Boston Festival of Indie games in Cambridge, MA to show off Heroes of History and maybe win a FIGGIE.
I will be in Newington, CT for the Connecticut Festival of Indie Games
I will be in Washington, NJ at Arcana Toys and Games to do a demo for kids.
I at BW will also make an appearance in Stroudsburg, PA to do a demo of the next set.
ERA OF BRADAN is now closing in on 37k reads, and with 3 weeksto go before Wattpad stops featuring the novel, it did a little worse than I expected, but better than I feared. Part of the reason I don’t get more reads is because I don’t go on a lot.
ECHOES OF THE OTHERWORLD is almost at 2k, which is good for a novel that’s 1/3 done.
Still no plan as of today to publish either, since I keep getting rejections.