First hand experience is more useful then 1,000 books
Before starting my first Kickstarter in early 2020 I had read roughly 10 books on the subject and almost every post on Jamey Stegmaier’s world famous blog on running a campaign. Despite that, it’s still been a lot more challenging than expected…
My hope is to share the experiences that caught me the most by surprise. In general, there is a wealth of information available on running a Kickstarter but I can’t find anything that talks about what is likely to catch you off guard the first time through. This post talks about the things you might not see coming even if you’re prepared. The most important thing I have learned so far is simply this, the experience of running your first Kickstarter is not going to be what you expect!
So here are some of the things that were the most surprising during the setup of my first Kickstarter, despite years of preparation.
P.S. I will write another post similar to this once the campaign, manufacturing and distribution are completed and link it here for reference.
Being a salesperson
If you’re running your own campaign you’ll have to wear many hats. Certain hats fit better than others… The salesman hat doesn’t fit me very well. The need to speak and present professionally and in a “sales minded” way was not something I expected, probably because of the casual tone I prefer using on the blog and my social media accounts.
Making peace with how sales works was actually very hard for me and not something I expected I would have to do. There is a tried and true way to sell a product and as much as you might want to “do it your way,” you will probably find over time (through family, friends, and industry feedback) that your way is probably not the best option. Once I finally accepted this I had to re-write most of my Kickstarter page copy.
There is a lot of work that goes into a good Kickstarter page!
To anyone that backs a lot of Kickstarters this might seem very obvious, but I back a lot of Kickstarters and this caught me totally off guard! Let me explain how it happened. For your first campaign you will likely want to make a “humble project,” a term used to describe projects with low funding goals, low budgets for art, and a more “mom and pop” feel. This was my intention, and while that was all well and good I was extremely compelled to put my best foot forward no matter the cost. This lead to a lot of extra revisions and graphics for the page, which I’m very happy with, but I would be lying if I said I was not utterly surprised by how difficult it was to stay a small simple project and not compare myself to some of the more flashy stuff you see on KS.
How much of the work doesn’t even start until you launch
If you read this blog, you know that I am a game designer first, and an independent publisher second. In my mind, and most likely in the mind of any game designer, I thought most of the work involved in making a game happened before you go to Kickstarter. This is unfortunately not true most of the time, especially if you are running the campaign yourself. I am not saying making your product or game will not take a lot of time, but I have barely even thought about the shape of my product in months because focusing on the Kickstarter takes up all my focus.
I think it is safe to say that even with a lot of research and prep the first time you run a Kickstarter campaign you will be surprised by how much work goes into and how much time, creativity, and money it takes to do it as best you possibly can.
If you liked this post…
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Also, if you want to support our first Kickstarter campaign, follow this link and click the “Notify me on launch” button. Even if you don’t have any money to spend, following this link will be a huge help in getting the project promoted through Kickstarter’s algorithms!
If you have run a campaign, what surprised you the most about the experience before you had even launched? If you have never run a campaign, but have thought about doing so, what are you the most concerned about when you imagine the experience?