Kickstarter Lesson #185: First-Time Creators

5 May 2016 | 74 Comments

I can imagine that Kickstarter is a pretty intimidating place for first-time creators these days. You’re entering an environment where thousands of projects are launched every day, many of them by veteran creators who seem to overfund with ease. Not to mention projects launched by companies that appear to have a huge team working on them (hint: The vast majority of “big” companies on Kickstarter are actually run by just a few people).

You’re new. You’ve never launched a crowdfunding project. Do you stand a chance at successfully funding?

I have some good news: Your chances are far better than you think.

Travis Talaric at Bear Peak Games ran an extensive study of card games on Kickstarter from July-December of 2015. Here’s a link to the full report, which contains lots of interesting data point. He only looks at successful card game projects, so it’s a niche of a niche, but there’s still some interesting data to consider.

The biggest thing that caught my eye was that of the 117 card game projects that successfully funded in Q3/Q4 of 2015, 73 of them were from first-time creators.

Wow. To say that another way, over 62% of successful card-game projects were from first-time creators. That’s a big deal.

If you’re a first-time creator, you not only have a chance at successfully funding–you’re in the majority of creators who successfully fund. Here are some things to consider:

  • Start Small: It’s notable that Travis looked at small card games. The reward prices were low, as were the funding goals. They’re what I call “humble projects.”
  • First Impressions Matter: Just because you’re new doesn’t mean your project page shouldn’t be polished and attractive.
  • Build a Crowd First: You’ve probably heard this many times, but it continues to be so important. Here are 10 daily actions to build your crowd.
  • You Don’t Need to Launch Today: If your project isn’t ready or if you are underprepared, don’t launch it. Come back when you’re ready. You don’t need to launch today.

I was really happy to see this data from Travis, as it made me excited to see all of the innovation and freshness that new creators continue to bring to crowdfunding. I hope it’s encouraging for first-time creators to hear this.

If you’re a first-time creator, what is your greatest fear? What do you feel is standing in the way of your success?

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74 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #185: First-Time Creators

  1. Thanks again, Jamey. The mechanics for the game I want to launch are polished. I’ve been to 6 Protospiels, done some blind testing, and played it hundreds of times with my core group. I don’t like not having something to work on. As soon as the art IS done, it will be time to “kick the baby bird out of the nest.” I’d probably still feel frustrated even if we WERE keeping to a strict timeline, but we can’t because, you know, we need to not get fired from our current jobs.

    And I’ll be keeping my eye out for your open world game.

    1. That’s great! I’m glad you’re that far along in the project. Is it maybe time to add another artist, though? You seem to have already identified a pretty big red flag about the current artist–you could be waiting years for them to finish.

      1. I never considered that. Maybe I can make it more affordable by having the outsourced artist work on only what I can afford for now. Thanks!

  2. I appreciate the idea of “starting small,” but when I made the decision to start a partnership with a friend of mine around a game idea I wanted to kickstart, I only had one idea. I wanted a game that used deck building to give players the same feeling as do your first couple of sessions in a tabletop RPG: getting stronger, figuring out what your goals are, exploring an unknown land, etc. The closest comparison on the market right now is “Mage Knight: The Board Game,” which has a weight (complexity rating) of 4.3 out of 5 on Board Game Geek. Our game won’t be that complex, but that should give you an idea of how “big” our game is.

    I don’t know if my friend (who also happens to be my artist and graphics designer) has ever read your blog, but while I was reviewing some of his art for our upcoming print and play release, he mentioned wanting to release an unrelated game to get our toes wet and get familiar with what happens AFTER a kickstarter succeeds. He suggested we extract the combat mechanic from the game we’re working on and make a game around only that, re-theming it to position it away from our core IP, the Mage Knight competitor.

    I think this is a great idea, but it raises a concern. If we did that, the game would be comprised of only cards. Cards are cheap. Distributing a game comprised of only cards isn’t that hard (depending on the box design). If we go the Star Realms/Hero Realms route of your basic tuck-box, we could easily distribute the game through something like the Game Crafter’s website, wherein we don’t have to worry about Minimum Order Quantities, funding goals, or all the other stuff we want to practice when it comes to kickstarter.

    How likely are people to back a kickstarter project that could cost effectively be distributed through a means other than kickstarter?

    1. Kevin: I think it’s great that you’re considering these different options. While big, splashy projects do well on Kickstarter, a number of smaller games have also succeeded, especially since Kickstarter is much more than just about raising the money to manufacture and ship the product. Depending on the presentation, price point, and uniqueness, I think a critical mass of people might be very likely to back your campaign. See the recent Hero campaign as a good example.

      1. The word “Hero” by itself is a little too generic to search for. I’m not sure what campaign you’re referring to.

        In fact, naming your game might be an interest topic for a blog or a youtube video. One of my favorite songs is “The Weight” by “The Band,” which came out in 1968. I guess back then being vague with naming things was cheeky. Now, however, if you try to be too vague or even too meta it makes it difficult to find it in a search bar.

          1. Thanks Jamey,

            But I’m starting to fear I’m the only one who honestly cares about it (including among those who have said they would help me).

            My artist/business partner advocated pulling the combat mechanic out of the game I had designed, creating a card dueling game around it, and using that as the IP to get our feet wet in kickstarter. I don’t care for card dueling games. The thrill is gone. But more importantly that’s more design and testing time in between me and the game I want to bring to life. That’s not to mention that I don’t have a lot of capital so that’s why I made my artist a partner with equal rights. He’s done some great work on the map tiles, but the bulk of the artwork is on the 100 or so cards that make up the deck-building aspect, of which I have seen at most half, and most of those were sketches. I’m not sure I can afford paying an artist up front, but things aren’t getting done and I’m becoming frustrated.

            I know I could just give up on publishing it myself, but there are things I really care about that a publisher might throw out the window. 1.) I want an open world where you aren’t punished for exploring (Mage Knight punishes you). 2. Combat should be more than a number check. I want some strategy to it. 3. Not just multiple paths to victory, but multiple end game goals to pursue (first to achieve wins). 4. Most important, I want the game priced between $50 and $80. Not $200 with a bunch of minis that most people can’t afford.

            I’m not sure creating a game to compete in a market segment I’m not interested in is a good idea. I guess I’m asking am I on the right track, and how long should I expect it to take? Because I’m starting to lose faith.

          2. Kevin: Thanks for your note. Honestly, I think it’s better that you learned this about your business partner now than later. If you consider their feedback and realize it just isn’t the path you want to take, I think it’ll be better for you in the long run if you pursue the direction you’re the most passionate about.

            Games take a while to design–my open world exploration game has taken 4 years so far! :) But I’m still having a lot of fun working on it. Might it be possible that you just need to take a little break from your project and return to it when you’re more excited about it?

  3. Key takeaways from the report:
    🔹 most successfully funded campaigns had, on average, a 33-day time period on Kickstarter.
    🔹 The most successful target price, if you want your campaign funded, is the 15-19$ tier, but the most funding comes from a 20-24$ tier. This takes into account the amount of money given by each backer as well as the lure of the relatively low price.
    🔹 Backers in Q4 are, generally speaking, willing to pay a little more than backers in Q3.
    🔹 Creating a 1$ tier does not necessarily increase the number of 1$ backers.
    🔹 Campaigns with a 30-day time span average on about 16 updates overall.
    🔹 Expect a ration of about 1:4.7 comments to backers on your community board.
    🔹 Most campaigns don’t have a massive social media following i.e. less than 250 followers.

  4. Great and inspiring post Jamey, thanks. Specially that I am working on a card game project myself.
    My biggest fear is that my target audience is not present on Kickstarter. See, I have a game targeted to 5-12 yo children and their families. The theme, the artwork and the game flow is designed for them and my genuine intention is to create a fun family game. (Harder than I expected, though:) Along my journey, talking with fellow designers and play testers, I came across Kickstarter again and again, like this were the only way to make games happen nowadays. I am not so sure about that.
    Some say children’s games won’t be funded on KS. Some say my game is more like a mass product and I should pursue big publishers. Others say go for KS, it can only help to make things happen.
    So I made an experiment myself avoiding KS but to see if there is a genuine interest for my game. Low scale experiment, I’d say: just set up a landing page, run a simple FB ad for two weeks to get a few subscribers, went to convention to play test with a few families and at the end of this one month ‘campaign’ I let the subscribers to pre-order my game on my website on normal retail price. I did not really believed in it, but I had paying customers.
    I just wanted to share it with you and with other first time creators, because it seems way easier to set up your own landing page with a PayPal pre-order, than go straight to KS, which is rather intimidating with it’s pitfalls and the huge competition.
    Good luck everyone with finding your first paying customers.

  5. This really inspired me. As an emerging game designer, it’s good to see I have a shot. My first kickstarter didn’t quite work out, but I plan to try again.

  6. My biggest fear is that I will be forced to price myself out of competition or that customers won’t accept how I’m trying to package Knights of Adalone. At its core we are making a card game, but we need a few more components- such as a board and representation on said board.

    What was originally thought to be a $10-$15 character pack is looking to need to retail at about $25 at this point in time (hopefully Panda quotes lower than others). The Base set, which includes 4 character packs and the board is pushing over $60 when I was originally thinking $40.

    1. I’m not entirely sure what components are needed, but there’s likely a way to simplify it. Maybe try using simple meeples and cubes. If you buy 500 at a time, you should be able to drastically cut that price.

      Additionally, you could try cutting the mechanics that use those pieces. I don’t know your game, or how far you are into development, but if you have a lot of extra pieces you probably can get rid of at least some of them without hurting the gameplay.

  7. I love that you took the time to write and gather this information for new developers like me. I can’t tell you how much your kickstarter guide has helped me in the last few months. I especially love the 10 Daily tasks to do to build your crowd. It generally just goes along with being a good person. We all should be doing these things anyway but it is so easy to get caught up in the project and the passion these things don’t seem obvious. Thank you so much for putting these online. I will defintely be printing that list out and taping it to the front of my binder to remind me to do at least one every day!

    Hey look, I’m doing one now!

    Thanks again Jamey! You rock!

  8. My greatest fear is just simply having the money to outlay, to get something polished enough for a Kickstarter, because first impressions matter. I am thinking a possible way to go (as I am looking to do a card game which needs tonnes of art, and I don’t do art) is getting a % of them done to the desired level, then from there use the money I have allocated out of the Kickstarter funds to pay for the rest of the art, only issue with this approach is then it will push the delivery time out which might make potential backers understandably balk a little.

    Still something I am tossing around… or perhaps refrain for the next 12 months from buying any boards games haha (not sure that will be enough though).

      1. Agreed, I think as long as I am upfront with honesty (whether it be good or bad) I should be ok. I have always been a bit of an open book to everyone around me, never been afraid to answer questions honesty or deal with difficult topics.

        I guess there is a tendency as a “company of 1 person” to have this artificial barrier around you as if you are an entity, not a person, but reading through your information it has shown me the down to earth honest approach absolutely works in the business world and especially with Kickstarter, with individuals who are parting with their hard earned money, and its about building relationships, not simply business transactions. It’s a breathe of fresh air to be honest.

  9. “If you’re a first-time creator, what is your greatest fear? What do you feel is standing in the way of your success?”

    Great question. I’ve been wrestling with this question for a few days now.

    After spending over 4 years designing a game, I was ecstatic to finally have a prototype that I could show off: engaging and memorable gameplay, shiny cards, thick cardboard pieces. a few pieces of custom art to anchor some art packs. I was proud.

    It got better. A friend who worked as a skill balancer and is now a game design director at a video game company agreed to playtest and give feedback. I somehow convinced a board game designer to playtest my game in his upcoming class on board game production. I was through the roof. My highest expectations were blown away.

    In my naive, amateur mind, the next steps were this:
    1. Get fresh quotes on the final game production from multiple manufacturers
    2. Design and put together a Kickstarter page
    3. Coordinate and organize marketing, maybe time it with a booth at a major convention
    4. Roll the dice and pray
    5. If successful, update the game according to latest playtests and, depending on success, possibly hire a top-notch graphic designer to polish.
    6. Ship it out.

    But then I come here, and you have a wealth of knowledge. That’s good. But I feel overwhelmed and a bit terrified. Of what, you ask? Good question. I wasn’t sure at first. I’ve done the entrepreneurial, small business thing before and enjoyed it. I’m not afraid of project management at all.

    I fear that the game will not be a success because I have not built a community. But it is worse than just that. Not only have I not built a community, the very thought of doing so terrifies me.

    I am not a people person. I’m a software engineer. I am an introvert. I *like* the challenge of designing intricate yet intuitive rules to things. I already have two more games in mind after this one.

    Now I’m reading your articles. You make a very strong case as to why a Kickstarter campaign needs a community before it launches, especially if I want to maximize my chances of success. And I do want success. I do have the hope I can recoup some of the expenses of art and prototyping.

    As I read your 10 things to do daily to build your crowd, I cringe. I don’t have any issue with any one of them, and agree they should all be done. A monthly basis sounds pleasant. Every day? Terrifying.

    It’s too soon to consider handing my baby over to a publisher. I’ll be wrestling with that, and the idea of working at being more outgoing. Le sigh.


      1. I’m a little embarrassed.

        I misread your 10 daily actions post. I thought I needed to do all 10 every day. It didn’t bother me from a time commitment standpoint, but I didn’t think I had that much social energy in me. At least one per day? I can handle that. I’ve got this. Fears alleviated.

        Beat the drums! Fire up the coffee! Full speed toward August Kickstarter!

  10. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read all of the comments as I’m meant to be working. :-)

    I just wanted to add that the thing that terrifies me the most is actually working out how to produce the product – I’m not an artist or a manufacturer, or a logisitics expert, so I need a lot of support on these fronts, and I’m not sure where to start to look for a partner to help with these.

    And, how do you create the Kickstarter page and get it to look good without spending the money to find and employ the skilled resource to build a pretty prototype?

    I have an idea for a game, I’ve nearly completed a very rough prototype to play-test it (I’ve downloaded web images that I cant use commercially for the graphics, and I am printing my first copy on printer paper – who knew my printer cant print on card?!?) but the thought of the next steps are terrifying. :-s

    Thanks again for your blogs and guidance Jamie, it is very much appreciated!

    1. Andrew, it should look terrifying. :) From a hobby player/designer you are becoming an entrepreneur.

      We at Final Frontier Games are 4 person team and it can get overwhelming sometimes with all the logistics of producing a game and running a company.

      But, if you have the passion, then you have the best partner you can find. From there, you just need to go step by step.

      My recommendation is to read Jamie’s articles and go step by step. Don’t focus on the end, but focus on the next step. Each step you complete will make you more confident and more experienced for when the time comes to manufacture and handle the logistics of shipping the games.

      Think of it as a game where you need to level up, where each step is a new level that unlocks new abilities in you.

      But i’m going to be honest with you. if you want to publish a game and run a successful Kickstarter, you have to invest your own money. You need an artist to finish the game, you need to print copies of the prototype and ship them to reviewers, you need a graphic designer that will help you “sell” the game on Kickstarter, you will need money for marketing and PR…

      1. Vojkan: You absolutely nailed this answer–well done! Andrew, I agree with everything Vojkan said here.

        The one thing I’d add is that it can be really helpful to find a partner to complement your skill sets. If they’re as excited about the game as you are, both of you could invest a little bit of money instead of one of you investing all the money.

        1. Thanks Vojkan and Jamey (apologies for somehow misspelling your name earlier :-/ ), I really appreciate the advice. What sort of investment should I be looking at? Are we talking tens, hundreds or thousands of British Pounds / Euros / American Dollars?

          One thing I should point out as well is that I see this as being a one-off, I’m not seeing this as being a business or a career or an ongoing venture where I’ll make multiple games. As such, I really dont want to screw up the production of what will probably be my only game. :-s

          1. Andrew: The biggest investment you’ll probably make before the project is on some amount of art and graphic design (see my blog entries about that subject). Getting at least a few representative samples will cost you a few hundred dollars.

            Even if it’s just a one-off, it’s still a business. So if your passion is just in game design, that might be a sign that you’re better off focusing on that and simply submitting the nearly complete game to a publisher.

          2. Thanks Jamey.

            Once I’ve got my nearest and dearest to test the first prototype and iron out any obvious flaws and so on, I will look to widen the testing net.

            I have had somebody suggest releasing it as a free print and play initially, although I’m lukewarm on that idea… might be a good way to build the community that I’ve seen referred to in other blog posts and comments here.

            The problem is that I want to be involved in the whole process, almost as much as I want the process to be a success. It isn’t just about the game design for me, its about making something tangible where the full onus of whether it succeeds or fails is with me. I expect if there ever is a second game or an expansion then I’ll be less controlling and obsessed. :-)

        2. I also want to do it myself for that very reason, I dont want to just hand over the baby to somebody else to finish.

          1. I can certainly relate to that, Andrew! Though keep in mind that for your baby to grow into the best possible game, there’s going to be a lot of letting go during that process, especially as you blind playtest it.

          2. One thing I haven’t done is name the objects within it, or have a strong view on the images used – this could be a Kickstarter tier (or tiers) although I’m mindful of what I read in one of your blogs Jamey where you have a Kickstarter backer who’s photo didn’t fully fit your artwork vision – or at least thats what I remember reading… I cant find it now but it was along the lines of lesson 87 on custom art. It certainly feels like I am standing in front of a beach of quicksand with hidden pits scattered liberally around the outskirts… trying not to fall into a trap is going to be challenging. :-)

          3. I’ll tell you something that a famous TV director once told me:
            What is the directors’ raw material?
            The cinematographer works with cameras, lights, shadows and filters.
            The sound technician works with microphones, recorders and editing software.
            The actors work with their bodies, their emotions and their experience.

            What does the director have to work with?

            The answer is that the director works with the talents of the people he manages. A good director doesn’t need to be a good actor or cinematographer, but he needs to know how to get the actors and cinematographers preforming at their peak ability.

            In the same way you, as a game designer, don’t need to do everything, but you do need to know how to get the other people in your team to collectively put in their best work.

            Jamey wrote a great article about game designers or crowdfunders being ‘Project managers’.

  11. Jamey,

    This particular article is well-timed, as a designer with whom I’m working is struggling int he area of building the community despite many attempts to leverage social media. He’s having what I call “the treadmill effect” ~ he’s doing a lot of work, but not making any real progress. Again, thanks…he’s read your book, but now he needs to get into some of the other essentials.


    1. Joe: The treadmill effect is rough–I’m sorry to hear the designer is going through that. It’s great that he has you at his side to both encourage him and help him see what he cannot–he’ll get there!

    2. I understand how your friend feels. There is a lot of self doubt at this stage of developing your community. It helps me to know that this process takes time and the “I want it now” type thoughts only hinder or make my projects worse in the long run. If we don’t take the time to look at ourselves and find the hope in why we are doing what we are doing. We could come to despise the very thing we love to do. When I’m feeling that “treadmill effect” I try to find ways to express that frustration through writing or formulate new ideas by reading other peoples stories. I hope these ideas help your friend, I’ve lived in self doubt before and occasional visit it sometimes. Hope and having supportive people around me helps me to do what i love to do.

  12. As a first time creator who recently finished my first campaign, I would definitely add in a bullet point about having a marketing plan. Because you don’t have as big a base of support as all the “varsity players,” you need to find outlets that do have those bases and figure out why they would be interested in covering your game (which I know you’ve talked about a lot in other posts Jamey). I think that really made all the difference for us at Escape Room In A Box. And marketing plan doesn’t necessarily mean marketing budget. Even if you don’t have the money to pay for ads (we didn’t), you can still reach out to anyone and everyone who might care about your project. We reached out to tons of people and ended up getting great press in places as big as The Huffington Post and Newsweek online – all for free. Side note, we also had TONS of unanswered emails. Just par for the course.

    And like John said, it’s pretty awesome to be in a community where the jocks are so wonderfully helpful. Made all the difference in the world to have so many clear guideposts (like this blog) on how to run a successful campaign.

  13. Hey guys,

    I’m looking into launching a KS campaign, but not for a board game, but for an animated film. Which is a completely different beast, I know. Still, a lot of the same stuff, and a lot of the same preparation advice applies the same.

    I’m reaching for the creators of other animation projects on kickstater for their advice and feedback, but I wanted to (as suggested by Jamey) run my questions through y’all to hear what you think.

    My biggest concern is building the crowd, I know likes in the project facebook page do not translate directly to number of backer, so my let’s start with this:

    If you saw a kick-ass trailer (or proof of concept) for an animated project and it ends with a link to the kickstarter, would it be enough for you to click it and look into the project and back it?

    Or would you prefer if it was a link to a project page with updates and behind the scenes stuff that promise a KS campaign down the line?

    I feel the momentum of sharing a trailer and watching it would me much more useful on the first one, but that’s just me, I need to hear more opinions :)

      1. Right on! Maybe I can start with a behind the scenes look at how the trailer is being created, post those little updates on the Facebook page and build from there.

  14. Very timely advice, thank you, Jamey.

    As a first-timer, my worst fear was not getting the word out on our campaign. And it was justified, we did very poorly. That wasn’t JUST bad community-building; it was also some rookie mistakes on the campaign. But we’ve learned a TON in the past few weeks:
    – better shipping (cheaper and global!) which will let us reduce the price of the game, which in turn lets us reduce our funding goal
    – how to better present the game – better graphics, better text, better video
    – how to build community better – groups to become a part of, a long-term plan of communication, etc

    So we’re already planning a stronger relaunch.

  15. Great post, Jamey! And the research is also great. It makes many things clearer… or maybe not
    I’m thinking about my first tabletop game project at kickstarter, but this research made me sad:
    1. I wanted to make ‘humble’ first game.
    2. I am in Europe.
    3. Most factories have minimum number of 1000 games (some have 500), but in this research it is clear that only 39 of 117 games hit more then 500 backers (33%). Thus I don’t understand how all other 67% games will be manufacturing? On what factories they will produce their games?
    This is crucial question – maybe you can help me to understand it ?
    4. About the price and shipping:
    – Thanks to your very informative blog – it’s clear how to make production-fullfilment chain cheaper. And my production price is about 3-4 $ per game (real ‘humble’).
    – But shipping will be … from 15$ to …. 25$ and even more (depending on countries)
    – So this mean that Game Price should start with 20$ – but in research we can see that good percent of games 48% has price less then 20$. I think it is unreal if we take Non-US production-shipping-fullfillment rate (of course if project mean to be without financial losses).
    – If we take minimum of 20$ per game imho it’s insane to pay extra 25$ or more for delivery. Once again according to your blog ;-) – percentage of expensive worldwide customers is very small.

    Conclusion is: small (‘humble’) project may has financial losses due to shipping, so better make bigger projects with greater margin that allows you to have losses – to pay for shipping/mistakes etc.

    Also this is very crucial moment about price. Have ideas?

    1. Mark: Thanks for your detailed comment–I appreciate you posting it here.

      “Most factories have minimum number of 1000 games (some have 500), but in this research it is clear that only 39 of 117 games hit more then 500 backers (33%). Thus I don’t understand how all other 67% games will be manufacturing? On what factories they will produce their games?”

      So, say you have a card game that costs $5 to make. MSRP is typically about 5x manufacturing cost, or $25. So you give backers a discount–you only charge them $15 plus shipping on Kickstarter. This is a very rough calculation (see my Funding Goal KS lesson for more details), but if you sell 400 copies on Kickstarter at $15, that gives you the funds to make 1200 copies. That’s where the other 67% comes from. (Again, that’s a very rough calculation, but that’s the general idea).

      “But shipping will be … from 15$ to …. 25$ and even more (depending on countries)”

      Are you sure about that? For a small, light game, shipping should be cheaper than that for the majority of countries. Sure, there are some countries that are expensive to ship to no matter where you are, but the vast majority of your backers will come from the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia–all areas where shipping for a small game will be less than $15.

      Can you dig a little deeper into those shipping estimates and then come back here so we can use the actual numbers?

      1. Oh, yes. Actually I didn’t ask for quotes for shiping for my game – I took them from your very helpful MS Excel file about shipping, and now I see my mistake.
        Thank, Jamey for short time answer – It’s great nowadays that beginners can so easily to chat with professionals! )) I’ll be back with exact numbers.

      2. I dug little deeper and now I got shipping quotes from some companies! And… you were right it is much cheaper then 15$ ! Now I have quotes to most countries at 6.3 $ per game (without tracking) and 10.3 $ with tracking. Tracking by the way makes me wonder about it usability and price, but all in all light and small project may be at good price for backers!
        Thanks again! Keep your blogging! ))

  16. Hi Jamey,

    As a first time creator, I will have to look at this information closer and see if there is any information I can gleam from it.

    I’m not sure that I really have any fears or concerns about being a first time creator. There are some of the obvious anxieties like not funding and “losing” all the time, effort, and money that has gone into the project, making sure the project is as perfect as it can be, as well as balancing the funding goal and reward levels. I think there is also a little bit of a concern of being super successful and not being properly prepared for that. I know that if I don’t fund, that I can always try again after learning from the experience of the first campaign, but what if my idea is never good enough?

    One challenge that has caused me some pause is the possibility of underestimating the amount of work/time that needs to be invested into creating a successful board game. People often talk about the years they put into a project, where I’ve been at this coming on 6 months and think I’m getting close and am concerned by the disparity in these amounts of time. I think some of it has to do with the fact that a lot of creators also have a full time job, where I have a lot more time available to work on my design. Another possible factor is the time spent attending conventions, which i have yet to do.

    I think another challenge that can plague first time creators is the desire to get your product launched by some “imaginary” deadline. I know that I’ve struggled with the decision to postpone the launch of my project each time I’ve had to as I progress through this journey.

    I’ve been very grateful for all of the awesome advice that you have provided and make available on this blog. It certainly has been a great help to me.

    Thanks again,


    1. Raymond: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences as a first-time creator. I can definitely understand what you’re saying about working towards a specific deadline and how it must feel to not meet that deadline. Though, in the end, I think it’s much better to launch when you’re fully prepared and ready, even if it’s after the date you originally had in mind. Would you agree?

  17. John Wrot….you are spot on……you’ll probably never find another field in life where your competion is as eager to help you succeed than the Tabletop Kickstarting arena….not to mention great resources like this blog. That’s a tribute to not only Jamey but to all of you who take time out of your schedule that help “the next guy” to avoid mistakes that may have hurt them in their journey.

  18. Vojkan: Thank you so much for your detailed comment! Lots of great information here. My favorite part is this line: “The only tool that we have to convey confidence in our abilities to deliver, are the replies to the comments and updates on the campaign.” I think that’s true for every creator, but especially new creators. Well said!

  19. Great post Jamey! Every bullet point you added in this post is crucial for first time creators. I am a first time creator, and my project is on Kickstarter at the moment. We are doing great (close to 900 backers and 2 weeks to go) and I won’t lie, the success is thanks to this blog. And we cannot thank you enough for that!

    We plan to share our experience from the perspective of a first time creator (and a European one) once we deliver the game to the backers, but I will share one aspect of everything we did, on why we are doing so well.

    6 months before the launch, we started promoting the game. And by promoting I mean Facebook advertising, which is extremely cheap and effective. We were able to start with 300 mail subscriptions and Facebook product page with 900 likes. And yes, those 900 likes were gamers, that interacted with our page, and thanks to that we were able to maintain around 60% organic reach on our posts. The FB organic reach average for pages is less than 10%. We accomplished this by laser-sharp targeting our audience, creating a message that can resonate with them and images that would be hard to resist.

    About issues… One of the issues that we faced before we launch was, is this enough? Are 300 newsletter subscriptions enough or it’s too small of a number because we didn’t have a point of reference. Are the Facebook likes enough? Should we continue advertising for another month, two, six? When do you say enough is enough?

    Other issues that are worth mentioning before we launch were the amount of logistics that needs to be done to organize a campaign, get quotes, talk with fulfillment companies etc… It can seem very overwhelming at first. But that’s a story for another time. :)

    But, none of these issues quite compares to the issues we are facing from the moment we hit the launch button on Kickstarter. And that’s to convey confidence to backers that pledged hard earned money for an idea of ours.

    We are first time creators, new company based in Macedonia, and we have a rather big board game project. Total underdogs.

    The only tool that we have to convey confidence in our abilities to deliver, are the replies to the comments and updates on the campaign. And backers are judging only by that. That thought can be quite chilling. Knowing that every single word you write is under great scrutiny. Did I answer his/hers question? Does it have the right amount of KS camaraderie and professionalism? Was that the answer he/she was expecting? Does it look that I know what I’m talking about?… These are the questions that we ask each time we reply to a comment on our KS page.

    It’s a thing that we struggle every time we receive a notification about a new comment on the Kickstarter page, but I would have to admit… I haven’t met a more supportive group of people then the board game community!

    A message to new creators. As Jamie wrote in some of the previous posts… Don’t wonder if you should start with a small or big project. Ask yourself what am I the most passionate about? Passion is the only fuel that we’ll drive you during the campaign, because you’ll have a lot of sleepless nights. If your adrenaline is pumping whenever you think of your big game project, then go for it! The backers we’ll notice that passion and will follow.

    1. Hi Vojkan- awesome comment! Thanks for the Facebook info. I was wondering, when you say 60% organic reach on your posts, are you saying that 60% of the people who saw the post were organic reach (with 40% of the people who saw the post being paid reach) or are you saying that your organic reach count is 60% of the total number of people that have liked that product page? Thank you for the info- very useful to have some numbers like this :)

  20. Thanks for your continued inspiration and words of wisdom, Jamey! As a first time game creator, preparing for our first Kickstarter campaign has been a very nerve wracking process. Your blog has helped ease a lot of our fear and put everything into perspective. Thank you!

  21. This is a fun topic. I really don’t envy first time creators in this field these days. Kickstarter has got so savvy and so pro,with animated gifs for section headers and what not (Santorini, I’m looking at you). It’s a scary place, like being a freshman on the field of Varsity jocks. – The good news is, the Varsity jocks around here are super nice, kind, loving, encouraging people.
    So, new guy, welcome to the team! Let us know how we can help you improve your game.

  22. Jamey,

    Thank you for featuring my report on your site. It is very encouraging to see that Kickstarter is a great platform for veteran project creators like yourself, and creators who are completely new to the scene. Hopefully I can have more information out soon!

  23. Jamey,

    Your last couple posts have rung so true for me and my team, and having some recent first-hand experience in the area, I wanted to write a little bit because this one is basically us.

    I cannot agree more that your bullet points (especially the first and last) are essential for first-time creators. Here we were, with a game we thought was hot stuff, just jumping into the pool and hoping people would notice. Luckily some did, but if we had spent weeks, months, or even a year or two growing our fan base prior to the campaign, we would have undoubtedly seen a larger margin of success.

    Which is why, if I could add one more point to your post, I would encourage every first-time creator to take his or her time with the launch and constantly evaluate. Our biggest mistake was trying to rush many aspects, including jumping in with the first manufacturer we talked to and crossing our fingers our local fan base would be enough to catch the eyes of strangers. Without weighing other options or becoming a more well-known name, we kind of fizzled out.

    That isn’t to say our first campaign wasn’t a success however; we met so many wonderful backers willing to offer us advice for our relaunch (and see us there) and got into contact with other industry folks through it. Having been through it, I feel like we are in a better place now, to know [more of] everything we need to know. Your blog of course laid down the foundation in what to prepare for.

    Looking back, I would echo you by telling first-time creators – if they would listen to me – to start small for a couple campaigns and then break out the white whale after having been around the block a couple times. People will feel more confident pledging money to you when you have proof that you have done this before (and well), so build that trust. Keep them in the know of what you are doing and keep them involved, and it should be smooth sailing from there.

    Thank you for having an open and friendly space for people to discuss, and allowing me to write this short essay of my ramblings. Looking forward to receiving Scythe and reading the next post!


  24. Thanks, Jamey. As in all things, no-one knows anything to begin with. And mistakes need to be embraced (however painful) as wisdom for getting things right the next time. I’m facing into the great crowd funding unknown myself, but it’s reassuringly less uncertain with the wealth of experience offered by others available to learn from. So we should thank you for making errors, Jamey ( ? ) and for then showing how they can be positively resolved.

  25. Great post, Jamey! I agree that it’s important to come into this with optimism, but also understanding that it takes A LOT of work up front. I echo the importance of building a crowd first, and I can honestly say that was probably one of the largest factors of my relaunch being successful as it was. I began building my crowd 2 1/2 years in advance, and while that took a lot of patience and hard work, it certainly paid off.

    I hope other first-time project creators will understand how critical building a crowd is, which optimally IMHO, should be large enough to support at least 50% of your funding goal within the first 48 hours in order to ensure the needed momentum for the duration of the campaign, and the best chance of funding.

    1. Mike: I completely agree. I wanted this post to be encouraging but not to make it sound easy. For first-time and veteran creators alike, there is a ton of work that goes into preparing for a project.

  26. Very encouraging – thank you Jamey! Greatest fear: I think the just wall of tasks involved, the huge amount of time it will all take, and that in the end, it could all be for nothing. I’ve read the book, read your blogs, and take comfort that it is a now a well-trodden path. But even so…

    1. Michael, you are absolutely right in that we all encounter that fear of the unknown. Will all the hard work be in vain? I can certainly attest to it, and it’s okay if you have to relaunch your project a 2nd time to get it right. I read all of Jamey’s blogs and book as well, and I can honestly say, after learning from my mistakes in my first campaign and getting it right the 2nd time around, that I believe there is a science to this, most of which is highlighted here in Jamey’s blogs. I followed all of Jamey’s advice to the “T” and it worked out very well for me.

    2. Michael: Thank you for sharing that fear. I can definitely relate to that. I think Mike puts it well below: Even if you don’t successfully fund, there’s a lot you can learn from the experience that you can apply to a reboot if you want. Mike’s first attempt to fund Tau Ceti didn’t succeed, but he learned from the first project, communicated with his original backers, and returned to Kickstarter to raise over $105k.

  27. Jamie,

    One idea is, people do not plan things when they start a project for the first time. For me, I underestimated the shipping costs. Had to ship 1,000 KG to US and it added around $1,3 per game. For a $7-14 game, $1,3 is huge. If you lose money on your first project, you are less likely to come up with a new one. You need a solid plan and also read a lot and learn from other creator’s mistakes. First timers aren’t afraid of problems because they don’t know what could cause a problem. I had faced a problem in every step after the campaign. Production problems, shipping problems, miscalculations and more. Still, you can bet that I’ll join the %38 in a few weeks :)

    Great post once again.

    1. Alican: That’s great advice! I thought about including “do your research” in my short list in the post, but if it doesn’t occur to a creator to do their research, they have much bigger problems to work out. :)

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