Ever take a look at a running Kickstarter and think to yourself “That doesn’t look so hard, you just stick some pretty pictures up, film a neat video and watch the money roll in”?
I’ve been running the Creature College Kickstarter for about a week now as I stare at the screen with bloodshot eyes. I’ve forgotten at least two of my children’s names, started to talk to myself, begun to cheer incoherently every time another illusive pledge appears and I think my highly disheveled beard has started to develop its own ecosystem. To top it all I’m now into the dreaded Kickstarter Lull which feels a bit like being cast adrift in the middle of the Doldrums, in an upturned wheelie bin, with only a couple of teaspoons for propulsion and tea cozy as a sun hat.
Bearing all this in mind I thought it would be a good moment to write a short article on things no one ever tells you about running a Kickstarter.
- Launch night – If you’ve done your prep work properly then launch night will be party time, you’ll be up till the wee hours talking to folks who are almost as manically excited about the game as you are. The Adrenalin will be flowing freely and if you get to sleep before 5:00 AM (I didn’t) it will probably only be because your significant other has rendered you unconscious with a sharp blow to the back of your head. Enjoy this moment of Euphoria because from here on in it will feel more like trying to run through a lake of treacle with a live raccoon strapped to your head. (Just to avoid any potential law suits, please don’t try strapping a live raccoon to your head. It’s difficult and it will seriously upset the raccoon).
- I’m here to help! – The following morning you will hopefully awake to a seriously cool number of pledges and a full mailbox of messages. Don’t get too excited just yet – 90% of these messages will take the form of “I’m a student studying social media at the University of Point Barrow (correspondence course) and I happen to have 1.5 million followers who will all buy your game when I tell them to for the measly investment of $200 on your part”. Be prepared to get a slew of follow on messages from these people telling you how you must take their services now or face the inevitable apocalypse complete with fire, brimstone and small red people with little pointy forks.
- Don’t operate heavy machinery – If like me you have a day job be prepared to be seriously distracted at work. You’ll be doing your best to do your job but find yourself oddly mentally misplaced every now and then with stray thoughts about whether or not that backer number has crawled upwards. If like me you work in an office surrounded by generally very understanding people this isn’t an issue. However if your job happens to be driving a wrecking ball or a test pilot for Boeing, I strongly suggest that you take a month off!
- Kiss your family good bye – well not permanently, but let them know ahead of schedule that they’re hardly going to see you for the next 30 days and when they do you’re going to be wandering around in a zombie-like trance muttering incoherently about either Facebook or Twitter. Your wife/partner also needs to know that you’re going to be running in auto-response mode when it comes to talking to the kids and take appropriate precautions. This is important because when your middle child runs in and happily informs you that she’s made a miniature guillotine and she’s about to test it out on her younger brother’s finger, the correct response really shouldn’t be “Have fun munchkin!”
- Carpel tunnel syndrome – OK…you’re going to be doing a lot of typing and I do mean *a lot* of typing. Whether it’s Facebook messages, tweets or articles about running Kickstarters your fingers are going to be a constant blur. Invest in a hand massage each week and buy yourself a couple of industrial strength wrist straps.
- Social stigmatization – Sooner or later during this month your friends are going to get seriously fed up of you talking about your Kickstarter. You’ll rationalize that it’s only reasonable that you’re talking a lot about it because, well, it’s your life right and they’re your friends, they’ll understand? Try and have enough perspective to spot the warning signs in your friends that they’ve had enough, rolling eyes, foaming at the mouth and sudden unconsciousness are all indications that you may have taken your last diatribe on Kickstarter mechanics a little too far.
- Bouts of sudden despair – This is a hard one. Before you start your Kickstarter campaign let me tell you that you will lose backers at points throughout the 30 days. The right response to this is to shrug your shoulders stoically and move on. If it causes you to weep uncontrollably in a corner or message the lost user with threats to do unspeakable things to their pet kittens, then you need to seek professional help.
- An irrational preoccupation with graphs – Look, it’s kickstarter, that Kicktraq trend is about as accurate a prediction of your final funding as trying to predict tomorrows weather forecast by studying the mating behavior of frogs in the local pond. Just accept the fact from the onset that you’re not really going to have a clue what the final funding will be until you cross the finish line and embrace your ignorance. You’ll be far happier that way. If you want some general guidelines then 35% after the first three days or 50% after the first week is “cooking with gas” so to speak.
- Love your community – If you’ve done your job properly you’re going to have a whole bunch of people really excited about your project. Love them and hug them and call them George! Seriously, these guys and gals are going to amaze you over the next 30 days. Running a Kickstarter has some huge highs and lows so when you’re feeling a little bit like committing Japanese ritual suicide with your letter opener, read back through some of their posts or the cool things they’ve done. Here I’m actually going to mention a couple of members of my community, Lars, Jim, George, Chantal, Robert, Larry and Reiner…you know who you are, love you guys! Thanks also to all the brilliant folks too numerous to mention that I can’t mention here on account of you being too numerous.
- The long dark tea time of the soul – Sooner or later you’ll hit the dreaded mid-campaign Kickstarter lull. This particular pit of despair will have you tearing your hair out trying to think of ways to ramp up your campaign. You’ll feel like every pledge gained is like wrestling a grizzily, dressed in a gimp suit (you not the grizzily, see commas are important) whilst covered in butter. On the bright side, by the time you get here you’ve only got three weeks’ish of this left to go. So assuming that you don’t collapse under the mental strain, start to wear your underpants on your head, stick a couple of pencils up your nose and start to go “wibble” (little homage there to the bard), you should do OK.
Incidentally, I’m currently in my Kickstarter lull so if you feel like making me irrationally happy and backing me, you can do so here…..”wibble!”.