In this article, game designer Matt Forbeck gives advice on how to get started on a crowdfunding project.
Crowdfunding is taking independent creatives by storm these days. People of all sorts are taking to the web, standing on a virtual street corner, and turning over a hat into which passerby can toss their hard-earned credit. And it’s working on sites like IndieGoGo.com and the current king of the hill, Kickstarter.
Well, it’s working for some people. Some projects fail to meet their goals, while others smash through their planners’ dreams and rake in tens of thousands of dollars. So, what’s the secret?
I launched a Kickstarter drive in early November for a crazy plan I have called 12 for ’12, in which I propose to write a dozen novels next year, one each month. At the moment, I’ve lined up nearly $8,000 worth of pledges, and we still have a few days left to go. (It ends at noon on December 4. You can find out more about it at http://forbeck.com/12for12.)
Before I submitted my project, I gave it a lot of thought, and I did a ton of research on other people’s ideas, trying to figure out why some worked or others didn’t. I did my homework, and you should too.
As with most things in life, success comes from hard work. Setting up a proper Kickstarter project isn’t for the faint of heart. On the surface, it’s a snap. You just set a goal and an end date, submit it, and watch the money roll in.
Of course, there’s far more to it than that. You need to come up with a proposal for your project, a story about what it is and how you plan to bring it to life. You need to concoct a schedule of reward tiers for your backers, a progressive list of things they can get for offering you increasing amounts of money. And you should come up with a video and some graphics to help you connect with potential backers and show them just how cool your proposed project is.
Some people can step up and post an idea and have thousands of dollars come their way. Others can have a nearly finished product in their hands and have their efforts wash out. One thing separates them: trust.
Backers only give money to people they trust to produce. If they don’t know you or at least of you, there’s little reason for them to believe that you can do what you propose.
You can build trust in a few different ways. If you put together a professional package — if you look like you know what you’re doing — people may be willing to trust you. If you get enough backers lined up behind you, others may take that as a sign that you’re trustworthy too.
The best and hardest way, of course, is to establish a reputation as someone who delivers on promises over the course of years, long before you launch your Kickstarter project. That usually comes with an established base of fans who you’ve trained to trust you, and they’re often the first people to sign on.
Give that a lot of thought before you launch your project. Who’s going to trust you, and why? If you have a good answer for that, you’re already on your way.
Matt Forbeck is an award-winning game designer and novelist with countless games and 15 novels published. You can see his Kickstarter project at http://forbeck.com/12for12 and learn more about him at http://forbeck.com.