April 10, 2016 Paul van der Meer

Ten Kickstarter Tips:

Robin and I learned a lot from doing our Kickstarter campaigns, here are our ten tips:

The first impression

Spend time on your first impression. Get a great thumbnail and main image for your page. And make a good video. We spent weeks on ours. Several edits were made, friends gave feedback, new edits were made. It had to intrigue, explain who we were, why we needed the money and what the game was about . And all with a quick pace and with a high enough production value to earn the trust of the visitor.

Looking back, the video holds up well. It gets the vibe and the message across. The live-action section suffers from overexposed lighting, but it doesn’t distract from the message. People wanted more information about the rules, we showed this in a second video reasoning that if we got your attention after video one, you’d be willing to look at video two.

Plan, plan, plan

We did a huge amount of planning upfront. We made a breakdown of the estimated costs, asked for multiple quotations and did a breakdown of milestones per week. In the end the received pledges almost completely covered the cost of production. But we were forced to work either for free or below minimum wage, but this was part of the plan. This was an investment in our future after all. There were very little unforeseen events, and that’s exactly how you want it to be.

Take your time

Take the time to make your product. We had a good time-schedule so we didn’t have to rush things. But even so it was surprising to see how much time was spent on things beside the game. At least half the time of production was spent on the campaign and logistics of the project. Buying the right equipment, checking with taxes, packaging the game, producing all the pledge rewards, keeping the backer-information up to date, keeping the backers up to date.

There was a lot going on beside the actual game development. And this was a relatively small project with only two members, so our communication lines were short and we only needed a free Dropbox account to share our files. With a project and bigger team, expect more meetings.

Don’t give up

If your campaign fails, don’t give up yet. It sucks and your ego might be bruised. But look at why it didn’t work out and try again. For the second campaign we asked a lower overall amount and shifted some features to the stretch goals.

There’s no penalty for trying again and you already did a lot of prep-work for the first one. And do what we did, let your previous backers know you’ll be back. Even better would be to drum up support before your first campaign, an active fan-base is vital, but that’s hard to do if you haven’t made a name for yourself yet.

Take shipping costs into account

This is tricky. For our first campaign the backers had to add the shipping costs themselves. Not a good idea, since they rarely were aware if this. For the second campaign we included a standard shipping cost of 4 euro with each pledge. On average the shipping costs were 4,5 euro per person.

You want to be able to use bulk-deals for shipping since shipping per package is way more expensive, so make sure most packages have the same weight and dimensions. If a higher pledge requires a different size package you might end up with multiple smaller shipments instead of one big one. And if the smaller shipment has too few packages to send in bulk you have a problem.

Keep your pledges simple

Keep it as simple as possible. Don’t offer more than 10. And increase the pledges slowly in the beginning, with only two or three high end ones. People will more likely up their pledge if the next one is 10 euros higher, but not if the next pledge costs 100 euros more. Keep the descriptions short and clear. The longer people need to decipher, the less likely they will actually pick the pledge.

Safe high end pledges

Our high end pledges were safe to make. Personal drawings, choosing an original sketch or getting the art-book were all things that we could make relatively quickly. Of course they took time, but we didn’t offer a big additional product, such as 3d-printed models. High end pledges are appealing, but make sure that you don’t end up losing money because of them.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems

There is a downside to suddenly having a very large amount of money on your account; taxes. Especially if you’re usually able to get tax breaks by being below a certain income, the Dutch government has several benefits for small businesses. But these disappear if you suddenly have the entire production budget on your account. So be prepared for this if you’re receiving a large amount of pledges.

Also, keep the fees in mind. The higher your end sum becomes, the more Kickstarter keeps. Kickstarter keeps 5%, but there are also payment fees to take into account (usually between 3-5%). So make sure you ask for more than you need, because you won’t get all of it.  

Expect the Worst

Base your financial prognoses on the worst outcome. And that’s not a failed campaign. Imagine that the campaign is a success, but everyone pledges the most expensive one to produce and lives on the other side of the world. Make sure you take measures to make sure the success doesn’t bankrupt you. For instance, by limiting the expensive pledge, or simply by making the expensive pledge less expensive to make.

Tell the World

When you start the campaign there’s no time to lean back. Update your project, post comments, tweet, post on boards, create a Facebook page. Ask friends to share your posts. Listen to your backers and visitors. They can tell you what’s lacking, what’s unclear, or the one thing they’re most excited about. A project with active and responsive campaigners shows confidence.

The best of luck!

Check out Robin’s site for more information about Gang Up!

Official Gang Up! Website


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About the Author

Paul van der Meer Freelance game designer, always expects the Spanish inquisition.

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