Monday, December 31, 2012

In Which The Warlock Ends a Year in the Life...

Apologies on the missed post this past week--between the holidays and focusing on ending out the Cold Steel Wardens Kickstarter drive, my attention has duly been focused elsewhere, as you might imagine.

In spite of everything, though, my Kickstarter for CSW has forged on.  As I write this, we're a mere $330 from achieving our funding goal.  We experienced a fantastic surge in the few days following the Christmas holiday, and it's looking like we're going to be funded.  For a first-time RPG-designer, this is more than I could have imagined.  While I would have loved to meet some of our stretch goals, the sheer idea of my dream being funded, being expected still astounds me.  The work ahead is going to be huge, but it's work that's worth it.

That said, I've learned more than I've ever wanted in the last few weeks about starting and marketing a Kickstarter drive, to say nothing of how I work.

  1. There is never enough sleep.  I'm an insomniac by nature, but the sheer stress of running the Kickstarter in addition to all the other works has run me down like a renegade truck.  While I've managed to sleep while off from school, spending numerous nights with 3 or less hours of sleep definitely took a toll on both my health, my sanity, and my ability to focus.
  2. Publicity is a bitch.  It's all well and good to update your Kickstarter.  I made the mistake of updating too sporadically at the start, but swiftly changed to a twice-weekly rotating schedule of videos and text updates.  But, each update requires publicity of its own, which means time set aside for Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter updates.  Needless to say, that's a lot of work, in and of itself.
  3. Your base is extremely important, particularly if you've never done this before.  I underestimated this one drastically, and my recovery from this may well be the only reason that I'm on the verge of success.  While your ability to draw in new backers does hinge on your ability to provide a solid product for people you've never met, it's the people who know you that are going to do the most publicity for you and spread the word.  Further, they're much more likely to invest more money, given that they have an emotional investment in seeing you succeed.  Ensure that your base is on deck, before launching!
  4. December isn't the cruelest month.  There's been a lot of debate recently as to whether it's worth it to run a Kickstarter over the holidays.  As someone who's sitting in the midst of that debate, I don't believe I've seen a real difference based on the time of year.  With an intent to publish by August 2013, I could have waited for January, but it seemed like folly--I'd rather have the extra time to begin working on ensuring that CSW is a fantastic rpg.  Further, one might need only look as far as the FATE Core Kickstarter or the KS for ICONS: Great Power to see drives that are experiencing massive success in the holiday season.  That said, I wouldn't want to push into January or February, as peoples' wallets begin recovering from the holiday splurge.
  5. Appearance matters.  While I've been happy with my updates thusfar, my lack of finished, finalized art for Cold Steel Wardens has definitely been a drawback.  However, that pushed me into that conundrum:  do I pay for art before running a Kickstarter drive with the intent to pay for art?  While that would mean additional funding set aside for layout, it also means a greater up-front investment.  That cost, coupled with the delay in waiting for said art to arrive, pushed my hand towards a December drive.  That said, I may have recouped the cost by tossing in more money up front.
  6. Get your international shipping options straight from the start.  One of the first things that I was asked early in the drive was "Why aren't you offering international shipping?"  I truly hadn't given it any thought and, when I decided to actually offer such an option, I had to add all-new pledge levels specifically to accommodate them!  It seems like a small item, but it's one you want to have in order as you set up your drive!
  7. Stay in touch.  If someone drops you a message, respond to it within one day.  If you have a comment on the Kickstarter at large--which everyone can see--respond as soon as you can get an answer, even if it's "I don't know right now--I'll look as soon as I'm able."  
  8. KickTraq is a double-edged sword.  While it provides fantastic data in regards to what projections one might expect...the math is hard to tear away from.  And that math?  That math lurks within a realm of madness and guilt.  The more you stare at the numbers, the more you wonder "What haven't I done?  What am I doing wrong?  Why aren't people backing me?"  While those are good questions to ask, they eat at you.  He who gazes into the abyss, and all that jazz...
And the biggest piece of advice?  Never give up.  Even when hope seems lost.  Persevere.  
2012 is over, and the next step awaits.

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