Kickstarter Lesson #102: Passion Is Contagious

12 June 2014 | 7 Comments

The World Cup kicks off today with a match between Brazil and Croatia, and I have a prediction: Millions of ambivalent soccer fans around the world will find themselves rooting for Brazil.

This will have nothing to do with soccer. Rather, it’s about passion. When the Brazilians score a goal, the players, coaches, and bench warmers will celebrate as if it is the best thing that has ever happened to them. As a spectator, you will likely find yourself sharing in their elation, even if you don’t really know why.

That’s because passion is contagious.

If you’re a tabletop gamer, you’ve probably experienced a similar phenomenon while watching a Tom Vasel or Rahdo review. A big reason why those guys are so successful is because they speak passionately about games–when you watch them get excited about a game, you can’t help but to get excited as well.

Thus, in the world of Kickstarter, passion is by far one of the most important elements of a campaign. It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual trying to raise $500 for a dance project or an organization trying to raise $1 million for Reading Rainbow–passion is very compelling, very attractive, and very contagious for backers.

That said, the word “passion” is thrown around a lot, and I’d like to offer some concrete tips on what you should or shouldn’t do to convey passion on your project page. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about being passionate on Kickstarter, because my default mannerism is not to show extreme levels of emotion. I might feel extremely happy, but I convey it in a very calm, steady way. So it’s been a good lesson for me to go out of my way to match the way I present myself on Kickstarter with my actual emotional state.

Let’s start with some ineffective ways of showing your passion to backers:

  • Using all caps or ending every sentence with an exclamation mark. You have to balance passion with professionalism. Remember, backers are deciding if they can trust you to make something awesome for them. So you need to show that you have control over grammar and punctuation, even if you’re really excited about something.
  • Declaring that your product is the best thing that’s ever been invented. When you make claims about how great your product is, people will wonder if you really know what you’re talking about. If you claim to have made the best candy bar ever in the history of the world, they will wonder, “Has this guy really tried every candy bar in the world? Who is he to laud his own product? He must be full of himself.” Leave the affirmations to third-party reviewers.
  • Only being passionate about the thing you’re making. I see this on Kickstarter, Facebook, blogs, etc…if you only talk passionately about the things you create, people will find it difficult to share that passion with you. If you broaden your passion, people will embrace it and really engage with you. For example, if you love board games, don’t just share your passion for board games you’ve designed. Surely there are other games you’re excited about. This might seem counterintuitive to you, but it’s so much more effective (and less self-centered) than only talking about your game.

Now let’s get to some effective ways of showing your passion to backers. I want to accredit Kevin Daum of Inc Magazine for inspiring most of the points below in his recent article (definitely worth reading):

  • Exude joy. When you feel joyful, you embrace life. On Kickstarter, this means that you openly show how happy you are, and you share in your backers’ joy as well in the way that you interact with them in the comments sections.
  • Inspire confidence. Show on your project page that you care enough about this project to do your due diligence. Make it clear that you’ve researched the costs, the budget, the risks and challenges.
  • Show conviction. Even though you should avoid proclaiming your product as the best thing ever, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t believe in it. Tell backers how your product fits into the world, how it’s unique, and why you think it deserves to be made. Be open to feedback, but also stay strong when your vision is clear.
  • Tell a great story. Every Kickstarter project is a story. Let backers in on that journey. This isn’t just about your personal story–in fact, that’s just a small part of it. This is more about bringing backers into the world of your product. Film and video game projects often do a great job of this–study what they do to engage you in those stories.
  • Connect empathetically. I’ve said it many times: A Kickstarter project isn’t about you. It’s about the backers. Focus your attentions outwardly onto your backers–make them feel appreciated and heard.

I’ve mentioned the importance of passion in many over KS Lessons, but here are the 3 that are most closely tied to this entry:

I’ll end with an image of something I’m very passionate and excited about. The following is a sketch of the Stonemaier Games Treasure Chest, a box of realistic resource tokens originally inspired by a few of the special tokens we made for Euphoria. I’ve really loved the experience of playing Euro games with tokens that look and feel like their real life counterparts, so I’m excited to be able to share those tokens with other gamers through our upcoming Kickstarter campaign. I’m waiting on a few of the samples, but we should be launching this project in June. It’ll be a very short campaign, so make sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter if you want to be notified upon launch.

box sketch high res


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7 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #102: Passion Is Contagious

  1. Another great entry. Hopefully as a Brazilian I can be as good transmitting my passion when it comes to my project as we are at transmitting that passion as a country when it comes to soccer!

  2. Thanks for this, Jamey. Great advice as always. The balance between joy and professionalism is not an easy one to achieve – I know I’m mostly playing on the safe side.

    It can be hard to put your passion out there, but reading about its’ benefits definitely helps ease some of the anxiety.

  3. I think you are pointing at a type of balance that this difficult to achieve but also so crucial in many aspects of business and even personal life! Believe in yourself, but know your limitations. Have confidence, but don’t come off as cocky or prideful. Care about what your product and you overall mission, but don’t be irrational about it. The advice about balance could overlap with a great deal of life’s situations and I think you have packaged it very well for your Kickstarter audience!

    And I’ve noticed that you do carry yourself in a very calm and steady way, but I think a lot of your backers wouldn’t mind at all if you were more liberal with your passion! :-) Thanks for sharing about treasure chest – I am competing with many others be the FIRST backer of this project!

    1. John: Well said. I agree that the balance between confident and cocky, passionate and irrational, apply to life as well as Kickstarter. Ha ha…yes, showing passion is something I’m still working on–it’s a work in progress!

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