What to do Post launch: Kickstarting the Easy way
You’ve set up your page and tested your game to oblivion, you’ve got your fulfilment company ready to go and you’ve priced your full logistics chain out. You’re ready to hit launch, but you don’t know what the next 48hrs will bring. Firstly, calm yourself, no-one dies. Secondly, there are a few things you can be prepared with and for.
Kickstarter has an option for posting FAQS, essentially these are additional pages for your Kickstarter in which you can explain things that are important but boring or relevant to a smaller group of people than your standard backer. To be honest, you should be answering the really frequently asked questions about product, price and shipping in your page, but there’s not a universally accepted acronym for ‘Infrequently Asked But Important Questions’. You might be worried about what to put in them and when to do it. Firstly, there’s not the strong correlation between the number of FAQs that a project has and its success that there is with the number of updates and comments that it has, and the Kickstarter algorithms certainly don’t weight them particularly FAQs. So, not putting anything in FAQs is totally reasonable. Secondly, I think the number of times I’ve seen a question asked and usefully answered by virtue of a FAQ on Kickstarter is practically nil, so don’t think that you’re going to have a storm of the same questions and need to frantically write an FAQ to cover it. Remember, you can still edit your main page after launch, so you’re more likely to make changes to answer really frequently asked questions right on the main page. There are a few things that come up fairly regularly that don’t belong on your main page though, so you can write FAQs for those ahead of time:
1) I am not, nor am I affiliated with Golden Bell Studios. This is actually the one case of a real FAQ that you can do an FAQ for. Sadly, so widespread is the influence of Golden Bell that it is a pretty common question for many independent campaigns at the moment to be asked whether they are working with them. Even more upsettingly, some creators have not heard of Golden Bell and see these questions as someone suggesting them as a partner rather than warning them off. For those who do not know, Golden Bell is a game publishing company that have had high profile cases of buying up successful Kickstarters and having mixed levels of success when actually fulfilling them. Mixed. It can actually damage a project now for there to be a suggestion that they even might be involved with them. More generally, its worth putting up an FAQ laying out exactly who is involved with your project and the situations in which that might change and the amount of say that backers would get in changes or how they would be informed of them.
2) Angel levels. It can be worth putting up levels for angel backers. Not silly ones, don’t ask people to pay $400 for a t-shirt, but asking for $100 for an early prototype isn’t insane and gives an angel supporter a feeling that they’re getting something for their money. Some backers will assume that they’re meant to be getting value for money at those levels, when its not always the point of them. That’s better explained in an FAQ than on the main page.
3) No pledge manager for you. Pledge managers are now so prolific and assumed that its worth explaining that you’re not using one if you’re not. Its odd putting a counter factual directly into your page, but explaining that if someone wants your game, they have to pledge for it during the campaign can help you avoid some $1 pledges that were intending to give you much more.
4) Thank you, come again. If this is your second or later Kickstarter, you might be including levels that include expansions for previous games or other somewhat complex situations. Its worth laying out as clearly as possible if this is the case in an FAQ for people who mistake an expansion for another game as part as the current game.
Be present on the comment boards after launch. I’d personally suggest walking away for a couple of hours after launch for your own mental health, go for a walk or lunch out, by the time you get back you’ll be off that ugly 0%, but after that be surgically attached to that comment board for as much of your first 48 hours as you can possibly manage. There are a few reasons for this, firstly, it just looks good to be present at least immediately after launch. Backers can accept waiting 24 hours for a reply to a question they post on day 15 of a project, but if you take longer than a few hours in the first two days it had better be because it was posted at 2 AM your local time. It also stops any chance of problematic questions snowballing in the early hours when most people are going to be looking at your page. You really don’t want someone asking a simple question about shipping that you can answer in two seconds making it look like you haven’t done your research and spooking backers. Also, the Kickstarter algorithms boost a project partly based on its comment board activity. While they can tell if you start spamming your own board, it does mean that prompt replies encouraging responses are good for your project’s success.
You’re going to be sat at the computer for as much of the next 48 hours as your butt can stand, use that time and start shilling your project. I know its doesn’t feel good, but that not good feeling is just a sign that you’re a decent person and deserve to succeed and that you’re not going to overdo it. Don’t be spamming and hustling on day 15, but on day one, get out there and mention that you’ve just launched a Kickstarter in places that someone might be interested to hear it. Don’t open with ‘let me tell you about my Kickstarter’ and a link, but bring it up and offer the link if you get interested responses. Do a dog and pony show if you have to, post some artwork around, talk to people about your Kickstarter on the internet. You’re proud of it right? And you think people would like to see it and own it right? Letting people know that shouldn’t make you feel dirty and it shouldn’t be unpleasant for them.
I’ve written a blog before about how much of an emotional rollercoaster ride a Kickstarter is, and the first 48 hours after launch turn that up to eleven. The most important thing you can do after launch is calm down and relax. In all honesty, there’s very little you can usefully do at that point and coming out the other end of it relatively sane is the hardest thing. If you get over excited it is easy to throw money away on advertising, offer un-priced stretch goals or even last-minute pledge level changes. These are all terrible and possibly project killing ideas, if in doubt at this point, do nothing. Your best self set-up your Kickstarter page with careful thought and research and your first 24 hours self is almost certainly hopped up on adrenaline and lack of sleep. If you have to trust one of them, trust the one from the past not the present, step back and do nothing. Nothing is much more rarely a disaster in these cases than something.
Is there anything about the process immediately post Kickstarter launch that you’re curious about? Anything behind the scenes that you were wondering about? If you’ve launched a Kickstarter, is there any advice I’ve missed for those first few days?