My First Kickstarter

Early in 2014 (in February if all goes well), I will launch my first Kickstarter to help me publish my Cthulhu Dark scenario He Who Laughs Last. Over the past few months, I have been doing a ton of research on running a successful Kickstarter campaign, and while success is by no means guaranteed, I think I do have a handle on what is needed to help make it as successful as possible.

First has been the research itself. Hoo boy, have I done a bunch of research. It’s tough to find time for writing when I’ve been doing so much research. But so much has already been written on what makes a successful KS campaign, I think it’s better to share some of the resources than reiterate everything they’ve said. So here are the steps I’m taking to build a successful KS campaign. You can check in with me after my campaign is done and see whether it worked:

  • Start with Kickstarter: Look at KS campaigns, lots of them – no, ALL of them. Really, especially in the specific genre. In my case, both Cthulhu and RPG are searches I run on a regular basis, always checking out what other people are doing. Watch the videos, read the funding levels, and begin to see Kickstarter in your sleep. By now, I’ve seen so many KS campaigns, I can kinda tell if someone’s campaign is going to choke or not.
  • Read blogs: Again, my purpose here on the web isn’t to be an expert on Kickstarter, as so many others have done it better. So I’ve been reading and reading and reading, again, so much I don’t seem to be writing as much. Blogs like Stonemaier Games, James Mathe, and Richard Bliss are all must-reads and have given me great ideas and perspective on this journey.
  • Funding the Dream: Speaking of Richard Bliss, if you don’t do anything else to prepare for your KS campaign, you MUST listen to his podcast. All of it. I’ve been catching up on episodes all summer and is by-far the most important resource for Kickstarter I have seen (heard). Start now.
  • Support KS campaigns: How many campaigns have you supported? Right now I’m at 17, but I support another every 2-3 months and will continue to do so. Supporting KS campaigns is important for two reasons: 1, it gives you perspective on how/not to run a campaign and 2, it shows you’re part of the community. Seriously, you need to back some campaigns before you go ask people for money. I’ve decided not to fund what otherwise looks like a good game just because the person has never backed any campaigns.

So those are all resources on running a successful campaign, but then there’s a whole other thing: social media. You need a social media strategy. Actually, *I* need a social media strategy. Or at least did need one. I like Facebook fine, but so much of my effort is taken up in life (work, family, health), with some drumming and gaming with friends thrown in, that there’s no way I could decide on a social media strategy on my own. Know what I did? I found someone to help me.

Gregory Geiger is a friend, yes, but he’s also a nerd and a photographer and web designer and social media knowitall. You need to find someone like Gregory to help you figure this shit out. He has helped me figure out how to manage both a personal and public FB profile (which I’m still working on), as well as how to build a sympathetic relationship between my blog, my public FB persona, and my Twitter feed. Fortunately, I just have to pay Gregory in lunches, which is a super cheap way to get great info from someone who is focused on these sorts of things. If social media ain’t your thing, then go find yourself a Gregory.

Finally, as most importantly, you need to produce. This is the most important lesson that seems lost on most of us when we look at cool internet people like Wil Weaton, Scott Sigler and Chris Hardwick and wonder how we can get there. You know the one thing these guys do really, really well? They produce shit ALL THE TIME. Have you seen their Twitter feeds? Their FB posts? Their podcasts? They are constantly online sharing funny and informative stuff, like just about every day. You have to give the people something. All the time.

Long gone are the days of just sitting at your desk for months and years, typing away at your masterpiece until your editor comes and takes it away and you can start your next book. Today, you need to be out there producing at least five days a week. You need blog posts, Twitter posts, FB posts, updates to your web site or G+ or LinkedIn profile or whatever it takes. You need to be giving the people something all the time. ALL THE TIME.

A good friend of mine is writing his YA masterpiece and he has worked very hard at it, but he doesn’t even know that his real hard has yet to begin. Yes, Stasey has a blog and that’s a good thing. But the climb up to get your social media strategy enabled is long and takes being on your phone ALL THE TIME. How do I know this? Because I’ve used Twitter more in the past month than in the rest of my life.

Speaking of which, the rest of my life is calling, so I must go. But I want to hear your story about your social media strategy, or what steps you’ve taken to get your Kickstarter campaign prepared. Well?

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