Next up for this series of documenting all the things I learned suffered greatly from me not being ready (part 1), and that is missing information on the pitch page.
In the run up to the campaign launch, I spent a lot of time trying to pull together a promotion video. This wasn’t focused at all on the gameplay, but was aimed at providing something really fun and enticing that would spark interest.
Things didn’t quite work out as planned and I dropped the idea less than a week before launch. I wasn’t too worried about losing the video, after all it would have been just a nice-to-have rather than a necessity. However, the time spent there did mean that there were quite a lot of other pieces of information and media missing from the pitch page.
While everything that potential backers told me was missing that would be necessary for the pitch was known to me and sat in a list on my notebook, I had (wrongly) assumed that adding information throughout the duration of the project would be sufficient for the community. Looking back now I can’t quite imagine what made me think that first impressions weren’t the most important…
The list is quite embarrassingly long and includes pretty fundamental things like gameplay footage and details about size of the box and comparisons to other games. I knew these things were needed, but I hadn’t quite understood how essential they were for many to even consider buying the game.
I put a lot of these things into the campaign page as I pulled them together, but it was all a little too late. For my next campaign these are clear deliverables that must be prepared before I can even think about pushing that big juicy go live button!
The most surprising thing to me about what happened during my campaign is how a lot of the things I was trying to generate initial pledges wasn’t working. In particular, many within my closest network – even those that have been playtesting the game with me for the past year – weren’t backing, it was difficult to go through.
I failed to effectively Activate My Network.
While I was sending out a whole host of individual and customised Whatsapp, Facebook and LinkedIn messages, somehow the core of what I was asking for was lost in the details and while many I have since spoken to have said they would have been willing to help, they didn’t really understand what it was I was asking of them and how important it was to me and this project that I had their support.
It was far too easy for me to assume that everyone around me had been reading everything I posted, listening to all the things I said when we’re talking and had grasped what I hoped for my Kickstarter campaign. It was also too easy for me to gloss over the fact that a huge majority of my network were simply not Kickstarter Friendly and so needed a little more TLC from me to understand how they can support me in a way they felt comfortable with.
This has been a hard pill to swallow, but I hold all the blame and ownership for this failure. It was up to me to convince those closest to me and I didn’t put enough effort into the right places to achieve this. Next time will of course be different 🙂
I got a bit of merchandise printed in the run-up to the Kickstarter and I received a fair bit of interest in the towels during the campaign. Rather than save them all until the next Kickstarter, figured I’d open up web sales and let fans get their hands on them now.
I’m also working on designs for some other merchandise, but this is likely to take some time before it’s all finalised. In the meantime it’s Towels and Keyrings – Enjoy! 🙂
I still stand by Part 1 of this series: I launched my Kickstarter too early. Yet one thing I have discovered during my campaign, and specifically during my offline promotional activities is: Not everyone is “Kickstarter friendly”.
I don’t believe this is an existing term, but I’ve deemed it very real that many people are just unwilling to participate on this platform due to a variety of reasons, not all of which are easily surmountable.
Firstly, most folks have never heard of Kickstarter and don’t really understand what it does, what running a Kickstarter campaign means or what even crowdfunding is. Common misconceptions include it being a charity request, a way to steal money, borrowing from friends or free cash for entrepreneurs. While I have tried to fix some of these (I even wrote about it), it’s very difficult to educate about the huge concept of crowdfunding whilst maintaining the request for backing my own project.
Secondly, if there is a long time to market, as with my campaign for Gay Sauna the Board Game, then trying to convince people to buy something now and then wait for 9 months to get it is a pretty tough sell. In fact, it’s proven almost impossible. While I have managed to achieve a few backers and pledges through in-person promotions and sales, the high value of being stood in front of them driving their enthusiasm is then very diluted by requiring them to support a project online that then may not produce a game they can play until Spring 2020.
In the run up to my campaign launch, I had set aside a considerable amount of time for in-person appearances and events that ultimately had very little return to them. Combined with a targeted online campaign that really was focused on the more general gay market meant while my product and brand reach was considerable, this wasn’t converting into pledges.
What’s clear to me now is that trying specifically to find those that might be familiar with crowdfunding and Kickstarter is a much better way to get new pledges. And while in person promotion is great for the brand, game sales in this format will be much easier to realise when I’ve got the games in stock to be able to fulfil orders quickly and not exposing customers to the lengthy crowdfunding wait times.
There are a lot of factors that contributed towards me not reaching my Kickstarter goal, but for sure there is one of them that tops all the rest and was by far the single most important thing that prevented bigger success – I wasn’t ready!
Not being ready means to me that I just didn’t have so many things in place at the moment that I pushed the Go Live button that meant every thing I did from that moment on was just way more difficult and much less effective than it should have been.
It wasn’t just that I had not done some things, but I also failed to apply a lot of the things I had learned and was continuously learning as I went. I set the date when I would go live quite some weeks before and rather than continuously evaluate whether it was still viable to continue, I got caught up in so many of the details. I made a lot of concessions in order to reach this date that lowered the overall quality and quantity of the deliverables that when I look back should have been big warning signs to me that things were not at all going to plan.
Many of my discussions with those close to me at the time were focused around the benefits of the timing of the launch (which took place just prior to Gay Pride in Amsterdam) and I completely forgot about all of the checklists and preparation I had done to ensure I would know when I was ready.
My experience especially during the first few days of the campaign clearly showed me that the readiness of a project creator is by far more important than the specific timing of when a project is launched, and while things like time and day of the week play a part, if there are things missing from a campaign, you lose potential backers. They won’t come back later even if you manage to get the message to them that you’ve covered the gaps that were there before – you get one chance to make a first impression. When it’s a Kickstarter campaign, you can’t underestimate how important that first impression is.
Unsurprisingly I was so hoping that I wouldn’t ever be writing this post, but here I am four days after the end of my Kickstarter campaign and no funds are coming my way.
While I’ve been pretty sure of this outcome for the past three weeks, I avoided a lot of the recommendations I read online about pulling my project early. Favouring instead to let it run to the end to see what would happen, I’ve endured the full 35 days of my campaign with the small but real hope every morning as I checked the page that somehow overnight a thousand people had suddenly decided to pledge out of nowhere and I’d already reached my goal. It never happened, of course it didn’t. It didn’t stop me hoping though.
Pretty much everyone close to me knew already that should this not work then it wouldn’t be the end of the journey, although I have had to face that question a few times. The bigger question for me is: What next?
The first thing I’m focusing on right now is a full retrospective of the campaign, which I’m planning to do as a series of blog posts here. Not only will publishing these keep you guys informed about what happened and what I’ve learned, but formatting this way is also going to be really helpful for me to process the huge amount of information and data I have and sort this into an actionable set of items that I will be able to work on between now and the next planned Kickstarter campaign (in around 4-6 months).
In the meantime, I’m also pursuing alternative financing options and opening up a whole series of conversations that were put on hold whilst the campaign was live – including a really interesting collaboration with some good friends of mine.
There’s so much still to do and I’m surprising myself each day that I feel even more energised to get this done and don’t feel the pangs of defeat at all. I just hope this keeps up and I see all the good things to have come from putting the Kickstarter live and running through these 5 weeks. After all, there’s nothing like throwing yourself in the deep end if you want to learn how to swim. I’m not quite swimming yet, but I do feel like I can tread water right here as I get my bearing before making the next big strokes.
Stay tuned as my journey continues!
After many months of hard work, it’s finally time to put my project out into the public domain and see what the world thinks of hit.
Launched today, the Gay Sauna the Board Game Kickstarter Campaign will run for 35 days to reach a goal of €19,500.
Please, if you’re interested in seeing Gay Sauna the Board Game come to life, please back the project and share it as far as your Social Networks will allow.
Lots of love
With the launch of the Kickstarter Campaign in mere days, it was about time to fully update the website and start including more of the exciting content from the game.
I’ve created the Library on the site to give everyone a little bit more insight into the game setting, especially for those new to Gay Saunas.
There’s now a brand new Visitors section that lists all of the characters that are ready to start playing in Gay Sauna the Board Game, with each character getting its own details page.
There’s also a new rules section that gives an introduction to how the game is played at a high level – of course there will be more detailed rules included in the game.
I’ve also given the whole site a bit of a facelift and fixed a huge number of outstanding issues. Overall I’m very happy with it and hope I’m able to provide all the information folks need to want to back my project.