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How to prepare for a Kickstarter

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I had plans to write this post depending on how the first 24 of my Kickstarter went, and I got inspired too with Double Proficiency’s report on her highly successful campaign. My project didn’t fund in 10 minutes like hers, but I still feel very fortunate to have funded in 6h considering a few things I’ll mention below. The focus of this post is on the preparation aspects of a Kickstarter. Before you continue, you need to know that not everything we see others do is always replicable, but we can learn from other people’s experiences and adapt them to our reality. Something you should know is that I spend a reasonable amount during the pre-launch campaign, which was only possible because of my 19 months publishing TTRPG content on DMsGuild. You can check my experiences on that on these two posts below:

2020 Post

2021 Post 

Also note that people have successfully funded Kickstarters without such “big” investments. You’re the best person to decide what do you want with your campaign. I was set on attempting at a bigger campaign, so I knew I needed to invest.

The total funding at the end of the first 24h was 190% (GBP 13,300).

The Basics: Presentation

The true, real basic is quality content, but I’ll skip this bit as this is granted. It’s mandatory. This part is optional, not everyone invests in that, but I had already somewhat confirmed with my work on DMsGuild that presentation is important. A nice, flashy cover can be quite helpful if you have the second part of the deal, the marketing (see below). 

I decided to transport this experience to my Kickstarter, adding the other bit I learned which is to be cost-effective with artwork. So the way I handled art was this: I went for a fair investment in a badass, attractive cover art and then would use initially stock art for interior art. 

Hence, I worked with Bad Moon Studio to create the marvelous cover below which I absolutely love!

Amazing Encounters Cover Art

Great, the cover is a very good first step, but I needed more. So I worked with my marketing team to get myself some beautiful layout assets for the content preview I wrote. I also decided to pick the most presentable location to feature as a free sample. 

Once the preview was written and laid out, I had an important piece of content that could be used to attract eyes to the project. You can download it here for free.

However, another aspect I noticed in successful Kickstarters is flashy KS pages. So I worked hard with my marketing team to make very nice art assets for the KS page, in addition to a great video. It was a lot of work for them, but they delivered beautifully. 

In short, this is where I ended up in terms of presentation:

  • Amazing cover
  • Beautiful stock art
  • Gorgeous free sample
  • Flashy KS page

Now, onto the next bit of this deal.

Part 2: Marketing

I talked to someone who ran a very successful Kickstarter and this person told me what I had at the time (which wasn’t that much) was looking great, all I needed was to put the stuff in front of people’s eyes. So there I went!

The Pre-Launch

I pre-launched roughly 4 weeks before the actual launch and used ad assets created by my marketing to promote the pre-launch in a few ways. I had two main focuses, which shifted weights over the course of the pre-launch: get follows on the KS page and get new email sign-ups. For context, read this post about TTRPG marketing.

I posted on my personal Facebook timeline, on several TTRPG FB groups, several subreddits, Twitter and Instagram. I created so quick content peeks to keep the hype going everyday. I can’t assess how effective that was, I would guess not a whole lot. It sure didn’t hurt!

I also ventured in the Facebook Ads world, and for at least, I made it all wrong. Wrong source for the ad set, wrong audience, etc. After I received some most welcome guidance, I got it right with FB Ads to acquire Leads and got myself nearly 200 emails over the course of 10 days by spending roughly $ 10 a day. As they started to lose effectiveness, I switched the ads to drive people to follow the KS.

In addition, I also cross-promoted with some TTRPG creators and this brought interesting results. The folks from Den of Assassins Kickstarter helped bring a lot of followers to the KS page.

Finally, I ran a sales funnel campaign during the 4 weeks of pre-launch via my email marketing. I started providing the Sky Isles lore. Then I gave folks 3 stat blocks. On the following week, I peeked a encounters, in full. And finally, I gave the whole Sky Isles location, a 46-page PDF, for free.

All this helped me reach 540 followers before I launched. Yes, some other folks manage to get more, but I was very glad with this result. 

Prep Work

The pre-launch is important, but I also took this time to prepare the ground for the actual campaign, and mainly, for Day 1. I know that the faster you fund, the better KS’s algorithm can help you. I contacted several advertising people and other creators. Some I paid, some worked in a performance-based format, and some work on cross-promotion or simply, good-will and pure help.
I listed all partners and got an idea on their email list sizes, and realized that I could potentially reach 350,000 emails during the course of the campaign, some of which would be hit more than once. I was good on the email side. But I needed some media, so I worked with RogueWatson and NerdImmersion. And I also worked with BackerKit for emails and FB Ads.
My focus was to put as much marketing out on Day 1. While I couldn’t get all partners to deliver on Day 1, which is expected as folks have specific days where they send emails, quite a few of the stuff I put in motion happened in the first 24h. 
The result was funding in 6h!!! I was very happy with this result for some additional reasons:
  • Wizards of the Coast released the Fizban dragon book;
  • Monte Cook launch his own KS, the Planebreaker (which looks great);
  • My launch notification from KS was sent with a broken image. In other words, my amazing cover didn’t hit people’s email. I did email KS support about that.

Still, a very good result!! Though it came at a cost, and will still cost even more. I spent USD 3844 to get ready for this. This was spent on the cover art, preview editing and layout, FB ads, Youtuber reviews, and some more. 

Summary

You know those power gamers who love a nice combo? There’s a combo that tend to work quite well: great presentation + great marketing. You don’t NEED that combo. However, depending on how successful you want to be, running that combo can be quite useful!!
I hope you like it and let me know your thoughts about that!