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.
In this past month I’ve seen lots of changes, with a brand new updated logo I’ve started the busy work of getting offline materials printed, starting with these awesome new business cards!
Coming next week are the first promotional flyers, simple A5 pages with a page of text briefly explaining some of the things to expect in the game. I’ve even been able to add some of the fantastic new artwork to these, so I can’t wait till they arrive.
Next up I’m looking at Keyrings and Towels – and there’s a possibility I’ll be able to put up some of this merchandise for sale on this site, so keep your eyes peeled!
With the next Playtesting sessions already planned, I’m also pulling together an update for the game materials including a new set of visitor cards. Unfortunately they’ll not yet have new updated artwork, but with a revised set of balanced metadata and a slightly new and improved visual design they should make all the difference for new and existing players.
I’ve still got some really interesting new mechanics to try out, so if you want to get in on the action, check out the Events Page and sign up!
For many versions of the game, the visitors were categorised by six types: Bears, Daddies, Muscle, Otters, Twinks and Wolves. I needed to find an icon-set for these and so they kind of morphed into 6 types I could represent by animals: Bears, Daddy Gorillas, Foxes (Otters), Muscle Bulls, Twink Bunnies and Wolves.
As I approach production of the game, I’m revisiting all aspects, and the types were top of my list to get finalised and I have made some changes. Firstly I’ve decided to drop the term Types and replace this with Tribes. Playtesting has proven this is a common enough term amongst the intended audience for the game 😉
As for the Tribes themselves, Bears, Daddies and Twinks remain untouched, although Daddies and Twinks will drop their animal counterparts and adopt a new icon. Otters will return and get an appropriately cute ottery test-icon you may have noticed. Muscle guys will morph slightly into Jocks and get a Jock icon. Finally the Wolves are retiring early, howling at the moon as they head into pastures new. They’re being replaced by the new Tribe: Guy Next Door.
From starting to work with two designers for the project, having multiple conversations about financing, to creating and playtesting new versions leading to v7 being in play at the moment.
While there have admittedly been some hiccups, we’re making excellent progress and overall things are on track.