So it's been awhile since I've been able to sit down and blog. And I apologize for that. But I've found that running the KickStarter campaign has consumed almost all of my time outside of work. My poor husband has barely seen me since I launched.
One of the things that I've learned over the past few weeks, though, is just how stressful running a KickStarter campaign is. It would have been great if I had had one of those campaigns that funded on the first day, but I didn't. Instead the Xenofera campaign has been making slow but steady progress towards it's goal. And while the fact that the progress has been almost always positive is good, the pace of it does wear on you.
So I'd like to offer up a glimps of what I've been experiencing, so that first time KickStarterers (yep just made that word up) might see into some of the stresses that they may have to manage during the campaign.
I've listed them in the order in which I experienced them. Here you go.
- Stress: Did I set an adequate goal? Even though I'd spent several weeks researching all my options, determining the various expenses that I would need to cover to produce and ship Xenofera (with a buffer), and running all sorts of spreadsheets I still worried that either I'd missed something or miscalculated something. Management: It took me sitting down with my finances and determining how much I could personally put into the project to give myself a contingency cushion before I was able to let this one go. Theirs always going to be risks in a project so having a way to mitigate for them is huge relief. Take-away: Next time I will determine how much I can afford to cover if funding amount doesn't quite cover all the costs before I launch the campaign.
- Stress: Mid-campaign slump. I'm told that the mid-campaign slump happens to just about every project that doesn't fund on day one. And that it doesn't mean your campaign won't fund but, I can tell you first hand, it definitely can cause stress as the numbers barely move day by day. Management: I tried to be as proactive as I could. I identified various gaming nights and conventions to go to during the middle of the campaign to help keep awareness up. I sent out prototype copies to additional reviewers to get additional exposure for the game. Basically, I decided that I wasn't just going to let the slump happen to me. And in general I think it paid off since I saw small bumps in backers after just about every engagement. Take-away: Next time I will focus more pre-campaign on building a following. The bigger the bump during the first few days the less I will have to battle uphill during the mid-campaign slump.
- Stress: Backers canceling their pledges. This one can truly hit you hard, especially during the mid-campaign slump. Nothing like getting 2 new backers and then having those essentially canceled by 2 other backers dropping their pledge levels. Management: At first I handled this by giving myself a narrative. Something to the effect of "something must have happened in their life and they can't afford to back me any more". Which may very well have been the case, but that only helped for the first few and only during the early stages of the mid-campaign lull. Luckily, after a while I just began to accept it and immediately deleted the emails that came in when a backer canceled their pledge. Take-away: I think next time I do this, I will take Jamey Stegmaier's advice and set up a rule in my email to funnel all emails about canceled pledges directly to my trash folder. It is more important that I stay upbeat and motivated than that I know when a backer drops. Simply because there is little to nothing I can do about a backer dropping, so why worry about it.
- Stress: Bad Review. This is one that I was not expecting. I'd gotten really good reviews on the game from both play testers and initial reviewers. So when one of the play testers posted a less than glowing review on BoardGameGeek I was really upset. In retrospect it wasn't that bad of a review, it could have been far worse. But it came during the middle of the mid-campaign slump when I was already having a hard time staying upbeat; and it was a bit devistating. I then spent several days worrying about the impact of that one play testers review would have on potential backers. It also made me very nervous about what kind of reviews I was going to get from the reviewers who had not yet posted their reviews. You cannot imagine my relief when those other reviews came back positive. Management: I'd like to say that I had a good way to manage this but at the time I didn't. Though some sound advice from a friend about creating the game that I wanted and then letting it find its audience instead of trying to cater to everyone helped. But, it took getting those other positive reviews to give me back my full confidence. It also helped me realize that not everyone will like my game. So, I need to take negative reviews with a grain of salt. If they point out something that could be improved use it as a learning experience, but otherwise don't take it to heart. Take-away: Going forward, I need to keep reminding myself that not everyone will like my game. Heck, my husband hates Catan! Yep Catan. Tastes are going to be different and I have to look to the other X number of people who do like the game and not worry about the 1 or 2 people that the game is not right for.
- Stress: Not funding. This one I am still going through. I'm getting closer to the end of the campaign and I'm doing well. But until the project funds, I won't be fully stress free. The hardest part here is that I'm getting a bit exhausted. Probably from managing for stress number 2 above. Definitely something else to watch out for. I managed to run myself so ragged from lack of sleep that I got sick and lost my voice for 3 days. So whatever you do, pace yourself! Managment: I continue to look to finding new ways to introduce Xenofera to more people. And I remind myself that if I don't fund, it is not the end of the world. There are 350 people at least out there that really like the idea of owning Xenofera. And that is close to 300 more than I had when I started the campaign. So if I need to launch again, I'll have a great group of people supporting me. Not that I've given up yet. Take-away: Not funding is not the same as failing.
Anyways, I hope those of you running KickStarters or thinking about running a KickStarter get some benefit from reading about the experience that I'm having. I know this has been very cathartic for me.
And if you have questions about anything I've said above or any other aspects of my campaign experience, feel free to post in the comments below.