Article #2 Overview & Key Tips (Core Article!)

Ok, so you’ve made it past the first Article and you’re strong enough in spirit to keep going.  Great job.

This Article is going to also function somewhat as a Table of Contents.  It’s a bulleted list of core ideas in the form of “Tips”, in a remotely orderly fashion, with links to more detailed articles on those subjects (somewhat of a Table of Contents for advice in general).  Yes, I link to other people’s advice.  As I said in the Introduction, I have no intention of reinventing the wheel.  My goal is to: help you.

Check back often, more links will be added over time.

Tips for you as a person:

  1. Get help.  Don’t do it alone.  Make sure your spouse is supportive of the time you’ll spend.
  2. Don’t ignore your family.  Without them, you’ve got no reason to do this.
  3. Take time off.  Kickstarter will suck your time away.  Block out time that you walk away.  It’s never as bad as you think it will be do so.
  4. Breathe.  It’s really like being on a roller coaster.  Picture it: Fast, exhilarating, but a sensation of “But I can’t slow it dowwwn!”.  You can stop it though. (the “Cancel Project” button).
  5. Get enough sleep (and exercise).  Wherever you can, and whenever is best. (Considering of course, your time zone…)
  6. Make sure you want this bad enough.  It’s really harder than people say, and they all tell you it’s hard.
  7. Unwind.  Do what you like in your downtime.  Play other games, call your friends, take your family out to the park, go get a beer with your pops.  Whatever you normally do; do it now still.  Don’t say “There’s just no time.”  Say “There’s barely enough time, but I’m going to make it.”

You’ll never find the time.  Time doesn’t exist to be found.  But you can make time.

Tips for you as a project lead:

  1. PLAN!  Don’t shoot from the hip.  You have a game to sell, but Kickstarter is a game in and of itself.  Read the rules, play within the rules to your advantage, make your own house-rules.
  2. Be ready to say “Thank you for your feedback.” when the feedback hurts, be ready to say to yourself “See, it’s all going to be ok”, when the feedback feels good.  Dump it out, or drink it in.
  3. Budget.  Then budget again.  Then don’t forget that everything has a shipping cost at least 2 times.  And when that’s done… budget again.
  4. Do your research.  Throughout these Articles you’ll find cleverly hidden links to helpful and relevant other sites as well on many KS related topics.  (Ok, not so hidden.)
  5. Know your time zone, and know Kickstarter’s (FYI: EST).  It’s going to effect you.
  6. Be courteous.  Deal with 1 Backer at a time, and remember: THEY ARE JUST LIKE YOU.
    • Humans.
    • Have a limited budget themselves.
    • Have friends, parents, possibly a spouse and kids, a day job, and life concerns.
    • Need you as friend as much as you need them.  So be a friend, not a business.
  7. Know when to call it quits, and when not to.

Tips for you as a business:

  1. Kickstarter pretends it’s not pre-sales, because that wasn’t their original plan.  But for you… Yes, it’s “funding the dream” …but it’s also presales.
  2. Work out your budget to the DIME.  Remember Kickstarter takes 10% of the total raised, not your actual needed income.
  3. Plan for shipping.  Forgetting about shipping costs has killed several would-be companies on Kickstarter; and under-planning for shipping has nearly maimed established ones.  There is shipping from Manufacturer to Fulfillment Center (“freight”), and from Fulfillment Center to your backers (“fulfillment”).
  4. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Kickstarter won’t make you a profit.  Not much anyway, certainly not enough to pay you appropriately for your time.  (If you’re successful enough on Kickstarter, you may be able to make decent income in distribution AFTER the campaign.) So treat this as a HOBBY, not a business.
  5. Treat this as a BUSINESS not a hobby.  –  ; )  –  Be smart, be prudent, be kind, and above all: over budget!  Everything is expensive and the system nickel-and-dimes you, be ready for it.
  6. Advertise; and track your links.
  7. Incorporate as an S-Corp, not an LLC.  The tax benefits are abundantly better*.
    • * This is not tax advice, so you can’t sue me.  Consult your accountant.
    *…looks over shoulder…* …
    They’ll agree with me though.

Tips for you as a game developer:

  1. Design what you love.  Don’t make a deck of Bicycle© playing cards or some shoddy game that’s nobody cares about just to try to make money.  If that’s your goal: please stop now.  Kickstarter has enough of that crap, and that crap has killed very many people’s interest in Kickstarter.  If nothing else, it’s a bad investment, you’ll never sell another game because people talk.  It also, therefore, hurts those who do have a good idea and are authentically passionate about it.
  2. Get familiar with, and established on, BoardGameGeek.com before you launch.  (This is has its own article because BGG is useful, but is pretty anti-new-user-friendly; so you’re going to need help if you’re new.) If you are familiar, then you should be building your game page.  (Sub-tip: don’t rate your own game.  It can rub some people the wrong way.)
  3. Playtest the snot out of it, and write it down EVERY word of feedback; even the harsh stuff.
    • This is a polite way to take feedback, as it makes it seem important to the one giving it.
    • You won’t forget to add it later if you decided that you liked it.  “Gosh… what was that good idea again?”
  4. Get professional reviews and commission art that you love.  These 2 things will greatly effect the chances of success for your campaign.
  5. Be content with lower quality components than you hope for, then upgrade if you can via Stretch Goals.  “Standard” quality is not an insult to your backers; it’s a favor because it lowers your funding goal.
  6. Get quotes from at least 3 different places.  I suggest: Panda, Ludo Fact, and Other…
    • 1 quote for your main yet minimal game. (lowest quality parts you would stand by)
    • 1 quote for your full game with every possible upgrade imaginable.
    • 1 separate quote for your “Add Ons” if any.
    –  You’ll need to make a minimum of 1500 of your Add Ons too (or more if they include plastic minis), assuming they’re produced by your game manufacturer.
    • If you’re considering miniatures, learn the process and the costs.
  7. Be flexible.  Be rigid.
    • Your awesomeness can’t be sacrificed, so don’t lose it for anything; but your fluff can go.
    • Know what is core to your idea/goal, and what could change as result of feedback.
    • You can’t please everybody, so don’t try.  That always results in mediocrity.  Be ready to make strong “executive decisions”.
    • You can and should please the vast majority of your target market.

Click through a link that intrigued you, or…

Click here to be brought to Article #3.

 

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9 thoughts on “Article #2 Overview & Key Tips (Core Article!)

  1. Kenny

    Really?
    Let’s try again.
    How do I connect with someone that is able to help me present a project in the best possible light?

    Reply
  2. Deborah Lewis

    Thanks John, your tips and advice was a great help to me today. Planning on launching a project in the near future and was getting a little anxious about launching it on KS…..been locked in my apartment for 3 weeks now in prep to launch the project. I have taken approx. 2.5 years researching and pulling together the contents of my project, but now, thanks to your tips and advice, I will be as diligent about researching how to launch it on Kickstarter without becoming anxious…..just knowing it’s ok to take my time to research, read, and look at what others have done to launch their projects successfully on KS.

    Thanks John for your expertise and now I’m going to play pool (Ballard) to relax….without feeling guilty.:)

    Deborah Lewis

    Reply
    1. John Wrot! Post author

      Deborah,

      Great job working so hard for the last 3 years, and the last 3 weeks too. Also great job resting!
      I’m glad I was able to help you in this regard. Jump the 8 ball for me.

      John

      Reply
  3. Jose

    Hi John,

    First of all, you justvmade my ligeva whole lot easier. This blog is probably the holy grail and golfen blueprint I’ve been dreaming of finding. I’m plannimg onto my own crowdfunding boardgame but still need some refining and resesrching to do.

    One question, do you suggest having the game trademarked (name, mechanics, artwork)? And if yes, only in USA or also in Europe (since most backers come from those large regions)?

    Thanks again for your wonderful advice!

    Best regards,

    Jose

    Reply
    1. Jose

      Lot of typos over there:
      *made my life a lot easier
      **golden blueprint
      ***planning my own (forget the onto)
      **** researching

      Reply
  4. John Wrot! Post author

    Jose,
    Thanks for reading, and I’m very glad it’s been helpful to you. To your question:

    One question, do you suggest having the game trademarked (name, mechanics, artwork)?
    This is an FAQ to be sure I should add to the FAQ Article #10. The answer is: Not really. Nobody’s gonna steal your company logo or game title, that’d just be silly, but you can register them as trademarks if you really want (google: USPTO), but they’re yours the moment you start using them in a public atmosphere. Art meanwhile is copyrighted by the creator the moment he creates it, and he usually sells those rights to you with payment, so that’s covered. And Mechanisms are actually very very hard to patent, and some you can’t; hence the “d20 system” being used by so many companies.

    So, since it’s basically a “no”, that covers your 2nd question too.
    (If you ever do have something worth Patenting, you need to decide on your own if it’s worth it in the EU, as it’s terribly more expensive there and some countries are exempt from it anyway and you’ll have to seek special patents there too.)

    Have a great week, and thanks again for reading.

    John

    Reply

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