Kickstarter Lesson #9: Timing and Length

7 February 2013

We’re going to talk about timing here so you can plan ahead for the project, but it’s important to note that after Kickstarter has approved your campaign, you can adjust the length and then launch it whenever you want. So you’re not locked into anything based on when you submit your project for approval.

Time of Year

I’ve been watching Kickstarter for about three years, and I don’t think the success of projects are tied to the time of the year at all. Maybe your particular project is, but it’s very rare.

Much more important than the timing of the Kickstarter campaign is the timing of the manufacturing and fulfillment process. Do you want your backers to get their rewards by a certain date? Christmas is the big one, but your project might be tied to some other holiday or event. Make sure that you leave some buffer room for manufacturing and shipping so you can follow through on your promise.

Also, consider your personal schedule. I wouldn’t recommend doing order fulfillment yourself, but if you’re going to do that, figure out a time when you aren’t needed at work, and then plan backwards from there. Always add buffer time on each stage–for the graphic design, the art, the manufacturing, the shipping–don’t be greedy about time, but incorporate worst case scenarios into your estimate so that you can put the most accurate date on your rewards.

Project Launch

Time of Month

Even though backer credit cards aren’t charged until the campaign is over, people still feel a little wealthier on payday, so plan on launching your project around the 1st or 15th of the month.

Day of the Week

I’ve seen various opinions on this, but here’s mine: launch on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I’m sure this changes from industry to industry, but my perception of those days is that people have some downtime at work after catching up on accumulated tasks on Monday and frantically finishing all their work on Friday.

Time of Day

Launch in the morning, but remember that morning for you is not morning for everyone. The key is that you want as many people as possible to see your project on the “Recently Launched” section of Kickstarter. So if your main audience is in the US, I would aim for a 10:00 or 11:00 am EST launch time. Maybe even noon. That way you’re getting people on the east coast during their lunch break, people on the west coast while they’re eating oatmeal at their desks, and people in St. Louis (that’s me!) who are having their mid-morning snacks. (I’m starting to wonder if all I think people do at work is eat. I think I do more than that…)

Also, this is big: Take the day off work! Trust me, you aren’t going to be able to focus on anything but Kickstarter on launch day. I’ll talk more about this later, but leave time to thank your early adopter backers (I believe in thanking ALL backers individually, but the very least you can do is thank those first few people).

Project End

Time of Month

You’re going to get an influx of backers in the final 48 hours (this isn’t a given, but if your project has evolved over time and looks fantastic by the end, many of the people that clicked the “Remind Me” button will be compelled to join in the fun at the end), so the timing for this is key. Again, it can’t hurt to aim for payday. But I think it’s more important that you pick a day when people are likely to be home.

That said, this is where you’ll choose the length of your project. Here’s my take:

  • timingIf you are a first-time project creator, run a 35-day campaign. That gives more people a chance to discover your project, and more time for you to get it right. You’ll need the extra time.
  • If this isn’t your first rodeo, run a 25-30 day campaign. You’ve probably honed your skills and are more prepared this time around, so you can shave off a week from your first project. Hopefully you’ll still capture the majority of people who want to support you, and by saving a week on the project, that’s one week you’ll save on production. My only hesitation with this timeframe is that you really don’t know what types of unexpected press you’ll get during your campaign. A local magazine may want to run an article about you, but if your project isn’t long enough, you might not make their production schedule. So gauge that based on how much work you do in advance of the project to spread the word.
  • If you’re a serial creator with a built-in fanbase, run a 15-25 day campaign. That’s a pretty broad range, but it depends largely on the type of project and how completed it is. If it’s 85% complete and you’re looking for lots of feedback, run a 25-day campaign. If the product is finalized, aim for 15-20 days. For an established creator, the vast majority of existing fans will know about the campaign on the first day. You want to leave it open for new fans to discover it, but most of the hype surrounding the project will hit in the first few days instead of being spread out over the campaign like other projects.

Day of the Week/Time of Day

Personally, I had Viticulture end on a Sunday at midnight, and I think it was the right call. I think that some projects–even very successful projects–end quietly. That wasn’t the case with Viticulture, and I hope it’s not the case with yours. I think a lot of people were actually hanging out on the Kickstarter page, commenting and watching the numbers rise in the final hour. There was a true sense of community and camaraderie around it, and that’s not going to be possible if your project ends on a work day or a Friday/Saturday night. Maybe there’s a weekday night that could work, but I don’t think most people are doing anything on Sunday night.

UPDATE: A comprehensive statistical analysis by John at Genius Games shows that Tuesday might be the best day to end a project, and Friday might be the worst. That’s a very small summary of a lot of data, so check out the post here. I’ve ended my last few projects on either Tuesday or Thursday.

Conclusion

As you can tell, this isn’t an exact science, and it doesn’t need to be. These are just a few things to consider. If you put yourself in the shoes of a backer, try to figure out when they are most likely to discover your project or be there at the end. Make it about them and you’ll do just fine.

If you have any thoughts on timing, I’d love to hear them. Can you think of any projects that started or ended at a particularly effective time?

Also see my KS Lesson about coordinating staggered launch and end dates for tabletop projects.

Also see this retrospective entry about my Tuscany Kickstarter campaign for notes on this subject.

One more: There’s a great, data-driven post from Got Genius Games about this subject here.

Up Next: Kickstarter Lesson #10: The Taste Test

28 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #9: Timing and Length

  1. Love your Kickstarter topics on the blog, very nice….
    I’m fairly long in my campaign development (about 14-21 days from launch I believe). But still, it’s so nice to get inputs and feel you’re not the only one with those thoughts :D

    Keep up the fantastic work,

    Best regards Emil, SunTzuGames

    1. Nicole–Thanks for your thoughts. I could see that holidays could impact the momentum of a project, especially at the very beginning or the end. I would actually think that having a holiday in the middle of a campaign wouldn’t make that big of a difference in the long run–that’s a pretty normal time for pledges to slow down a bit.

  2. Hey Jamey,

    thank you for your awesome insights. The Euphoria KS was later than this article, and ended on a Thursday. Did you change your mind about ending on a Sunday or was it due to other reasons? During our “Pretty Ugly Card Game” KS weekends were much slower than weekdays …

    Thank you and greetings from Berlin,
    Juma

  3. Hi Juma: Good question. It was due to other reasons–there was a game convention a few days later over the weekend when a number of gamers would be busy. Basically, we wanted to choose a time when as many people as possible would be available to pledge.

  4. I back and look at Kickstarter a lot. When I get the newsletter links or someone sends me a link to a game, I often throw on the 48 hour reminder if I don’t have time to check it out. I do most everything through my work email as it’s easiest to keep up and not miss anything. The job is mostly M-F 8-5. The problem I run into is when projects end on Sunday. I get the reminder late on Friday and if I’m not on email over the weekend, I don’t see the reminder until Monday when it’s too late. I’m definitely creating my own problem here but I have a feeling others might be in the same boat. Thanks.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending-part of kickstarters. You recommend people to try to aim near payday – but different countries has different paydays and different systems to – some get weekly pay, some monthly and so on.
    Would you say it is important to look up paydays for different countries before deciding on end-date? Should the 7-day-window kickstarter offers to complete transactions be taking into account when considering best end-date?
    I hava (as a backer) used it at times (many American projects tend do end 6-9 days before my paycheck) to be able to back some really interesting projects I wouldn’t otherwise afford but are people using/aware of it put into a bigger perspective or does a miss of pay-day-date by 2-3 days result in a lot of drop-outs?

    1. Jessica: That’s a good point about how different countries have different paydays. Given that you can’t meet that demand for every country, I would suggest just using US paydays (US backers will likely be at least 50% of your backer base if you’re in the US).

      “Should the 7-day-window kickstarter offers to complete transactions be taking into account when considering best end-date?” –Perhaps, but it doesn’t really matter much, because most people use a credit card on Kickstarter, not liquid cash (like a debit card). It’s more of a psychological thing–you feel rich when you get paid.

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