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26 February 2018

How to Succeed at Kickstarter

Kickstarter is meant to be a way for you to get your Indy project off the ground and into people’s hands. A way to “Kickstart” your company and get the funding needed to make your dream come true. Kickstarter is full of good intentions but runs into many problems as well. I have funded a number of projects and all but one of them has had delays in production. If the kickstarter says you should get your rewards by June, I would expect October or later on most of them.

When looking at a kickstarter you should always consider the items being made, the projected date, the amount of the work already completed, and the history of the person doing the kickstarter. Many startups prove to make great products but many; many more do not do enough research before getting the kickstarter going. As such the quality is lacking and the project suffers from extreme lateness.

I have run three kickstarters. My first one was a bust, which was a good thing. I really wasn’t prepared enough to make a quality product. My second one succeeded but once again I really wasn’t prepared. The final product was acceptable but fell short of my goals. I got good feedback and no complaints but I was disappointed with the end result. I too was late, three months, getting my product out the door. My third Kickstarter was very successful. The differences were that I had most of the work completed before I started. I had learned lessons from earlier mistakes and I did alot more research before getting started. Still I had a few setbacks. I misjudged postage and took a heavy loss due to international shipping. The final and most expensive reward is going to ship a month late, I hope. Books lost or damaged in shipping ate up alot of profit as well. Still I got the majority of the rewards out two months early and I got immensely good feedback from customers.

If you are considering starting a kickstarter you MUST do several things to be successful:

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1. Advertise: You need to spread the word of your kickstarter long and wide. You need to contact magazines, zines, e-zines, podcasters, and hit up every social network you can find. You need to drop links on forums related to your project and be talking about your project everywhere you go. If you are not established with a fan base, advertising is the only way to let people know you exist.

2. Rewards: You reward levels must be realistic and you must take into account shipping. Don’t get bogged down with offering tons of swag as swag eats up your profits and makes shipping costs go through the roof. Plus if you are successful, who is putting together the 500+ packages to mail out. That is time and time is money.

3. Stretch Goals: You need to set up realistic stretch goals. Use stretch goals to improve quality and not to add swag. People would rather have a quality product over a bunch of shiny toys.

4. Time Management: DO NOT bite off more than you can chew. Consider the best and worst case scenarios. What will you do if you sell 10,000 copies of your game? How will you handle putting it all together? How will you get it packaged? Have you considered your wife and kids and full time job? Do you really have the time to dedicate to this project? Can you handle success?

Have you seen the Kickstarter for Glory to Rome? If not the story is worth checking out. Ed Carter created a game, ran a kickstarter and made over $73,000. That is where his problems began. He offered FREE SHIPPING a huge mistake. He didn’t consider international postage costs. He was late on production, over a year behind schedule. He used a Chinese firm to make his game but language barriers nearly killed it. His actual cost for his kickstarter was more than double the money he pulled in and he was required by law to fulfill his contract. In the end he lost his Boston home.

Don’t be an Ed Carter. Think, plan, research, revise, and then if you are ready, move forward.


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