(image from: NY Times)
I have been contemplating a Kickstarter project with my good friend @imjamesjlopez for a while now. Unless plans change, we will most likely announce something soon. But you can’t just jump into the Kickstarter community and think you have the magic juice to make something pop. Theres a formula that has to be followed, in some ways its obvious. I looked to the gaming community of course and witnessed Harebrained Schemes, Brian Fargo, and Double Fine doing some phenomenal record breaking Kickstarter campaigns. This post is my attempt at finding the common thread in their campaigns that made it possible for them to gain so much success.
You can most likely kick ass without having one but your chances are slim. These game developers had previous history with their fanbase. They created classic games to their base, and this base would do anything to relive some of those moments again. We build platforms everyday without really knowing it. Do you tweet? Do you blog? The key here is then what do you tweet and blog about? If your not building an audience around your selected niche then starting a campaign without some kind of platform may be really tough. Not impossible. I believe I lack a very engaged platform as well, so dont feel left out. Here is an excerpt I grabbed from a blog speaking on how to market a book, I felt it was still appropriate for this topic:
Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves?
Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.)
Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction (unless perhaps you’re writing about a vampire orthodontist who repairs crooked vampire fangs?). – JANE FRIEDMAN read further.
A Really Good Idea
Seriously. If you want people to jump behind your project than it really just has to be a good idea. Be creative, and have it be something more than a me too project. This sort of goes hand in hand with your platform and niche. A bad idea to me, can be a good idea to someone else. So don’t make assumptions, ask around to friends, family, community forums, etc. One advantage game developers had was people already like a few of those ideas years ago, so it didn’t take much to get them excited about them again. Is there something you can help bring back to life? Do the research. Don’t feel bad if your idea sucks, 80 percent of the ideas we all come up with suck.
Its also worth mentioning I noticed really good idea can make having a platform irrelevant if you have the following ingredients.
Get your camcorder out. Make it different. Make it funny. Make it matter. These successful campaigns had very descriptive videos and even shot them in weird and relevant locations. I think this is the most obvious step in a successful Kickstarter campaign. If your making a game about killer librarians, it probably makes sense to shoot your video in or outside of a library. Hey even take it a step further and have someone put some zombie makeup on. I can’t really explain creativity, thats really up to you.
If you feel better just setting up in a room with a few posters in the back, thats cool too. Everything I seen wasn’t really that overboard. Here is Brian Fargo introducing his campaign:
Super Detailed Description
Descriptions of the project were key in these campaigns. Show how the project will work from beginning to end. What does it look like? People got to see pictures of everything. Show me some sketches, some blueprints, be bombastic about it. Explain why you need this money. The biggest help that I seen was the FAQ (frequently asked questions). If you have a very detailed FAQ you can be way more convincing and less sketchy. Add the to FAQ as the campaign goes along, especially the questions potential funders may email you.
Updates are a huge part of the description. Game developers did more than provide text updates they did tons of video updates. People want to see your hard at work, they need a face, so video updates are your best bet when keeping your funders in the know. I think it goes without saying having a website or community for people to engage beyond your page is important. Need help setting that up?
So If I pledge 50 bucks what do I get? A t shirt? An art book with autographs? A date with Kim Kardashian? What do I get in return. People received some really cool perks and funders only gifts from most of the game developers. So your going to have to put on your thinking cap to find out what cool things you can offer your funders. The more appealing it is, the more likely you’ll grab them. Especially those who are on the fence. I think it goes without saying whatever your funding goal is, you have to factor in these perks.
Keep in mind these are just observations, very general ones. I myself havent raised one cent on Kickstarter, but hopefully this can help you and myself to get started on the right path. Did I miss something? Feel free to add, i’m always up to learn more.