The Ten Hard Kickstarter Lesson’s I’m learning

So we’re close to halfway through my Kickstarter campaign  and I am still well short of my goal. I’m not quitting in the hopes of getting more  backing and who knows, maybe I can still pull off a surprising comeback.

So far here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Crowdfunding really is all about you. Platforms do nothing for you besides make it easy for you to organize your idea, and then take your money.
  2. Treat crowdfunding like market testing Crowdfunding is basically a combination of product testing, marketing, pre-ordering, and the online version of people who used to have community fundraisers for causes like “Help Bill with his medical bills” or “raise $10,000 to pay for school building renovations”. This means people who come to your page will determine whether or not to support you based on your project’s offering, not on your company’s value to society or your mission statement. It’s NOT a real investment platform! To some extent Indiegogo and GoFundMe are more like social mission driven, but not much more.
  3.  BUILD YOUR LIST! If you can’t rely on getting at or close to 50% within your first week, your campaign is pretty much screwed. The only exception is getting a major celebrity to endorse your product or someone just happening in the middle or late campaign. I don’t have a huge list, and I think this has hurt me. If you’re not sure you have
  4. DO NOT do 2 Kickstarters in one year. The first time, I had reasonable support from people wishing me well. I suspect a lot of them backed me to help out, not for any desire to have my game, so they are not as enthused the second time around. Once I get Iron Phalanx vs. Dragonboat Raiders published, I am taking off at least one year, if not longer, from crowdfunding, so I can build support and get my old backers back.
  5. Presentation counts- mostly. You must have a solid, professional look with video, clear goals, stretch goals, game rules (games only of course) third-party reviews (for games at least- some products don’t require this), backer’s promise to fulfill your campaign promises if you’re funded, and some info about your product. However, product is still #1.
  6. Hustle for money– if you’re lucky, people might comment on your page or share it and you can go viral overnight and not worry about cash. However, your chances of going viral are not much higher than getting bitten by a shark in Colorado so expect to cyberbeg everyone you know for cash, particularly if you’re short of your goal. So far I’ve tried multiple strategies and few of them seem to be working. This includes e-mail everyone I know, speaking to everyone I know, and doing trade shows and demos of the new set and handing out postcards asking people to check out the page. I’ve even ran ads. All for maybe minor gain.
  7. Speaking of postcards, PROMOTE THE DATE WAY IN ADVANCE! I started telling people 4 months out about Greeks vs. Norse and I set the date 6 weeks in advance and began telling people. Appears not to be enough! I’d say I should have picked the date 12 weeks in advance and while I don’t think that would have helped much more, it would have helped somewhat. Still 15 days so there’s time. One of my friends promoted his a year in advance and it worked for him; he finally beat his goal.
  8. I haven’t seen any proof yet that the time left matters, but boy I wonder where I would be if I had say 40 days left, instead of 15.
  9. Goals should match what you need, but I’m wondering if I should have lowered my goal as to not frighten people off. 10k is a lot more than say 7k.
  10. Finally (for now), accept that it’s unlikely your campaign is going to be a big hit. Realistically, your campaign is unlikely to net you $100,000 or more. Only 36% of Kickstarters in 2015 succeeded, and 70% of those raised less than 10k (source: Kickstarter). Statistically speaking, it’s very difficult to raise lots of money crowdfunding without a big name, built-in base, massive PR campaign, an outstanding idea, and/or some insane luck in discovery and timing.

Lastly, I want to add that you don’t need to crowdfund your project. I’ll talk about why I don’t believe you need it when I do the post-mortem, whether or not I get funded.

What do you think? What has been your crowdfunding experience?