Part 2 of this post is here.
Part 3 of this post is here.

It's been a very long time since I last posted. My apologies for that. Running a Kickstarter pretty much took up all of my attention. I had no idea that keeping on top of a campaign took that much effort, especially one that wasn't doing so well. I guess my friends make it look easy. :)

I've been going over the entire campaign, trying to figure out what went wrong. Complicating the process is not having all of the information. Which of the advice that I got from other people was correct, and which was wrong? When someone viewed my Kickstarter page, why did they not pledge?

Here is my perspective of some of the decisions I made, rationale behind each one, and a critique of how effective it was. I'm doing this for my own edification as well as for anyone else reading this; even the very act of organizing my thoughts like this is enough to try to coax some order out of the chaos.

Be warned: this will probably be very long.

Choice: Make the base game tier $49.
Reason: This was how the math worked out on the campaign. My calculation spreadsheet had entries for multiple price points ranging from $30 up to $55. The price point that was closest to the target number of backers was $50. One dollar didn't make a significant difference in the math, so I dropped it by that much.
Result: I'm guessing the price point was what drowned the campaign. I went with the number because I had several people tell me that it was a reasonable price for my component list. However, after I launched, I had a lot of people complain about the tier price. Even though the amount included shipping ($35 for the game, $14 for shipping), it was still too high for most backers.

Choice: I incorporated the shipping cost into the game tiers; I offered 'free' U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping.
Reason: Kickstarter backers like free shipping, even if it's not actually free. Since they pay the same amount either way, I guess it's just a psychological thing. I had originally wanted to do the shipping as a separate number, but I got complaints about that.
Result: I believe that people looked at the Kickstarter, saw the $49 pledge tier, and walked away. I don't know what the result would have been if I had advertised the one-game tier as $35, and had '$14 shipping' in the fine print. Historically, backers like it when the shipping costs are incorporated, but recently there has been a trend of moving away from that. I'm guessing if I had the shipping separate, I might have gotten a couple more backers, but I don't think it would've made a huge difference.

Choice: I needed to sell 466 copies of the game to successfully fund.
Reason: From talking with some more experienced game publishers and Kickstarter creators at Dice Tower Con, I was told that 400 backers is a good 'target' for a campaign. Therefore when selecting a game price, I picked a level reasonably close to that number. The way the math worked out, 466 was it.
Result: Very little direct effect on the campaign, though this influenced some of the other spreadsheet math.

Choice: My Kickstarter goal was $23k.
Reason: Again, math. Production was $11k, fixed cost. Factory-to-depot shipping was $2k, fixed cost. Art budget was $2k, fixed cost. KS fees were approximately 9% of the goal, which worked out to about $2k. Depot-to-backers shipping was approximately $6k, calculated as 466 backers times $12 per backer, about $5.5k.
Result: I think my goal was too high, which is the reason why the tier price was too high. I could've possibly fronted the money for art budget myself, removing the $2k from the goal; that would've brought the tier price down to $45. I possibly could've shopped around quotes a little more, though I'm not confident that would've accomplished much. 

Choice: My campaign only had tiers for one and six games, plus the obligatory $1 level.
Reason: Also from talking with other Kickstarter creators. I was told that people don't often have much confidence in first-time campaigns from new creators. So, one way to help mitigate that is to make the campaign as simple as possible. No add-ons, no KS exclusives, no bells and whistles that aren't directly part of the core product. Reduce the number of points of failure for the campaign.
Result: Selling just copies of the game might have been enough, had I gotten many more backers. As it was, I'm sure more tiers would have brought in more people, but I'm not convinced it would've been a significant amount. I could've added ways for game backers to spend a little more money, and I could've added ways for people that didn't want the game to at least get something. But I don't think it would've gotten me from 35% to 100% funded. For example, I added a dice-only tier in the last couple days of the campaign, just to see what it would do. I got almost four backers immediately, but at $20 each, it wasn't a significant amount. So, I don't actually think the lack of goodies hurt me that much.

Choice: I did very little paid advertising. 1000 physical postcard flyers, plus a couple of Facebook ads.
Reason: Since I didn't know the best way to advertise, I figured if I really had the money for a lot of ads, I probably didn't need Kickstarter and I could've just funded the production myself.
Result: Hard to say. We managed to give out all of the flyers, between placing them at various game stores and handing them out directly to people. I have no way of telling if those translated into backers. The couple of Facebook ads I did pushed a lot of browsers onto my Kickstarter page, but I can say with reasonable certainty that those didn't gain me any more backers. Overall, I think my free social media advertising, plus demoing the game at conventions, and the couple of review videos, are what got me the most attention.

Choice: I printed ten review copies of the game.
Reason: Those things were expensive! $700 for the batch of ten. They get cheaper the more you order, but ouch it's still a lot of money.
Result: Definite plus. Three went to reviewers (Radho Runs Through, Just Got Played, The Thirsty Gamers). Three to the Indie Game Alliance, so they can show them off at conventions. One to the guy that made the intro and how-to-play videos for my campaign. One to my graphic designer. One has a permanent home in a game store, available for play anytime. And the last one is mine, so I can demo the game myself. That said, I wish I could've made a few more. During the campaign, I had a couple people offer to demo the game for me or make gameplay videos in exchange for a copy. I would've agreed to that, if I actually had any copies left.

It's getting late here. I'm not done, but I think I will wait to continue this until I'm rested and my head is a little more clear. Look for a Part 2 in the next few days.


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