Kickstarter Lesson #215: Your Post-Campaign Survival Kit

3 February 2017 | 19 Comments

Throughout my first tabletop Kickstarter project–Viticulture, a 42-day campaign–I divided my time between my full-time job and Kickstarter. Despite the intensity of the schedule and the lack of sleep, I stayed healthy for the duration of the project.

Then the project ended, and my body was like, “Congratulations! Here is your punishment for the last 42 days of neglect.” I got super sick and couldn’t do anything for a few days.

I’ve had different reactions to the end of my other projects, but the universal pattern is that I feel weird for the first few days after a campaign ends. I was reminded of this recently when I watched an excellent video by Eduardo Baraf on “creator crash.” I highly recommend it.

Ed talks about a few key aspects of what creator crash is and why it happens:

  • You’re going from a multi-week period of high interaction (comments, e-mails, updates, etc) to virtually nothing.
  • You’re going from a period of urgent activity and and responsibility leading up to a deadline…and then there’s a limitless expanse of time.
  • You’re going from being the focal point of attention to being completely out of the spotlight.
  • You’re going from a month of instant gratification and affirmation in the form of pledges to $0 in daily revenue.

I can’t stress enough how distinct and immediate the dropoff is. It really does go to super super intense to almost nothing within minutes of the project ending. For most creators–and some backers who were very involved in the project–it’s going to feel weird, and that’s okay.

Ed has some great tips on how to survive creator crash. I’m going to add a few items to that list and roughly number them in chronological order, though what’s best for you may be different than other people.

  1. The morning after your project ends, don’t get out of bed for 30 minutes after you wake up. Just lay there. I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, I’m out of bed within a few minutes. That time drops to a few seconds during a campaign. You almost need to retrain your mind and body to not have the sense of urgency to check comments, messages, social media, etc. So force yourself to just lay there in bed as a reminder that the urgency is gone. You’re no longer missing anything by not bouncing out of bed, and nothing bad is going to happen.
  2. Celebrate. This is something I wish I could do better–for some reason it isn’t my instinct to celebrate a hard-earned success. But it’s a hard-earned success–it’s worth celebrating! Take your friends out to dinner or drinks. Acknowledge the amazing fact that hundreds or thousands of people came together to bring your project to life. Don’t just treat it like any other day. That’s what tomorrow is for.
  3. Seek out the intensity in other ways. Go to an event/convention or hop on social media for a period of intense interaction. This is a way to replicate the “high” of the engagement on your Kickstarter project. It’s not quite the same, but it’ll give you a quick fix to help you adjust.
  4. Turn off your computer and design something for fun. Perhaps my greatest pleasure at the end of a Kickstarter campaign is having time to brainstorm games again. I turn off my computer, equip myself with paper and pencil, and I write down everything that comes to mind. The key is that it’s just for fun. I’ve spent the last month serving the needs of others, and now I’m doing something purely for myself. That’s important.
  5. Make a sale. Kickstarter isn’t all about the money, but there’s a certain Pavlovian response you develop during a project whenever you get a new pledge. It’s a little spike of pleasure. That goes away after the project ends. So go make a sale. Sell something. I’m always surprised by how reassuring it can feel–it’s a reminder that everything is okay, that the last pledge wasn’t the last dollar you’ll ever earn.
  6. Get back to work. After a few days, it’s time to get back to work. It may feel like you have an unlimited amount of time to bring your product to life, but you really don’t. If you feel that way, look at your estimated delivery date every day as a reminder that you have a new deadline.

Have you experienced this crash as a creator or backer? Would you recommend anything that isn’t on this list?

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19 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #215: Your Post-Campaign Survival Kit

  1. As someone who has been through 2 campaigns, and actually one of those just ended on Friday. I have experienced first hand that post-campaign sickness I’ve literally spend the entire weekend on bed and sleeping 40 hours since then, easily, the entire process is definitely exhausting.

    It was an interesting read, thank you.

  2. I think it is part from the adrenaline of our work as creators. We shouldn’t get distracted from staying healthy, though. I experienced creator crash twice during my latest campaign:

    Kickstarter was opening its doors to Kickstarter creators on Nov 15th, however, there was some confusion before about being available on Nov 1st or Nov 8th. Not all Mexican creators got the ‘heads up’ from the Kickstarter staff – we were one of those.

    On a sidenote, we experienced a similar thing you shared about having 2 illustrators/graphic designers who happened to be close friends. At some point there were issues and I was left alone with the graphic design of the Kickstarter campaign (without being a designer myself).
    I kept progressing at a steady pace but not fast enough… Finally, I checked Kickstarter’s availability to Mexico on Nov 15th at 00:00 hrs and I was surprised to see it was possible to upload the project.

    I copy-pasted all the text and started to upload the images/video I already had finished but I was still missing some of them and I knew I couldn’t launch our boardgame campaign without them… so, against your previous lessons, I had to stay awake all night to launch campaign at 9:00 am
    I managed to launch it at 9:45am and you know the usual stuff that comes just after launching…
    In 6 hours we were funded already and that kept me going, (I should have taken a nap but I couldn’t, I needed to work on the unlocked Stretch Goals graphics).

    At 5:00pm we were invited to a Kickstarter party in Mexico to celebrate all the 90+ projects launched during the first day. I remember some things of the party but not quite all of them because I was really tired. When I returned home, I had to update the Stretch Goals and answer messages, so I stayed up a couple hours more.

    In the 3rd day, after the momentum was over, I crashed. I got sick so I had a good time working from my bed. Even then, I couldn’t sleep enough because in the morning I woke up with the necessity of checking my phone to see if I had to update the campaign. (Achievements and polls were released among other things)

    I recovered during the following weeks but still stayed up very late at night. I acquired the habit to review other campaigns from my countrymen who started asking for advise.

    We planned a livestream for the final countdown of our campaign at 7:00 am. Kickstarter notified us that they would share the livestream on their social media. That made me want to offer an even better livestream, so we planned some things and one of the illustrators announced that she was sick. So that left me working on some additional hours that night. The livestream went pretty well (with some technical errors, as a musician, I wanted to put some background music of my own to make it more emotional –on the test broadcasts it worked fine but in the actual livestream, it didn’t worked)

    We had a brief party after our campaign that morning, I went home and experienced creator crash for the second time of that campaign. Perfect timing though, I was fully recovered two days before Christmas.

    I don’t regret anything I did during those 31 days but I have the purpose to be more healthy during my next campaign and be attentive of my sleep hours. I might seek for another graphic designer as well.

    Since then I’ve been reading all of your lessons chronologically (I used to read only what I needed at the time). I don’t know if you have written about it and maybe I haven’t reached that lesson, but maybe you could give us some enlightenment about how to choose a functional team and learn to delegate responsibilities. My team’s formula was 1 co-developer (he knows way more about boardgame mechanics than me), 1 illustrator, 1 graphic designer, and me, project manager. The illustrator and graphic designer were paid a part before the project were launched and a % of it as well. I think having a good team might help avoid or diminish the effect of the creator crash.

  3. Off topic? Certainly not looking for sympathy but, as a teacher this sounds very familiar. Every break begins with a feeling of exhaustion.

  4. Creator Crash is a fun term for it. Yes. I love the interaction of the campaign the most. The funding is nice, but the people are really why I sit at my computer for hours and hours …and hours, every day during it. So after it ends, it’s like… : ( where are all my friends!? haha.
    It’s good motivation to get to work to give my friends what I promised them, but it’s still hardest not to have that interaction anymore.
    I posted an update on a 2 year old campaign this week and was just so excited to get to say Hi again, and hear from a bunch of them that commented on it.

    1. John: I can definitely relate to that. In a few months I’ll be posting an update on the Between Two Cities campaign about the expansion, and I’m already looking forward to it (it’s been well over a year since I’ve had anything related to B2C to share with those backers).

  5. I have not experienced “creator crash” specifically. Although, the mindset is certainly different and a bit of a let down. The campaign, if it funds, can be extremely exciting. When it is over, it is almost like the fun part is over. What lies ahead is not designing the game, playing the game, watching the campaign soar, or communicating with backers. It is all logistics and shipping. I think one thing that helps me get by is that I create a comprehensive step by step do-to list for myself with everything that needs to be done to deliver rewards with deadline dates. This helps me stay on task and lets me know when I have time to do other things and when I need to focus and complete tasks for my backers.

  6. Jamey,

    Having run a few Kickstarter projects and most recently serving as an “Ambassador” for Mike and Stan Strickland as a co-designer for TAU CETI, it’s an amazing experience to go from the high of answering comments every hour…to the sound of crickets. Of course, it has nothing to do with you…it’s the nature of Kickstarters and the attention span of most folks on any crowd-funding site. People move onto other games, other projects, and other Comment threads. I’m an extravert (admittedly, a rarity in the board game industry), so I’m especially affected as I thrive on it, where my introverted colleagues find solace after the event.


  7. I haven’t had the opportunity to experience a creator crash in the context of a crowdfunding campaign, but I’ve passed a couple large events/milestones during the development of my game. In each case there’s been a flurry of deadlines, endless tasks, and ultimately the high of seeing your game succeed and living out your dream.

    These things consume a lot of time. Often that means pushing off some of our regular responsibilities until after the event has passed. And as you mentioned, it’s difficult to just come down from the high and back to normal life, so budgeting some time to ride the momentum and perform some followup tasks is necessary.

    Also, I think it’s really important to recognize the people closest to us that have supported and encouraged us each step of the way. They know how much these projects mean to us, and they let us get away with things like flying away for a weekend, cluttering the dining table with prototype materials, and spending late nights designing cards. Even though they aren’t part of the project team, they are very much a critical part of making it successful.

    This is a shoutout to my wife, Larissa, who has lovingly supported my passion the entire time. I think everyone who has launched a project has had someone fill that role, whether willingly or only somewhat willingly.

    Jamey, do you have someone like that? I think we should all take a moment to give them our gratitude. We should all be thankful of the people on the sidelines that help shoulder our weight.

    1. Joseph: Thanks for sharing! I really like the point you bring up about taking the time to value the people around you who supported you during those busy times. I just have cats, but they’re quite needy. :) (And really, even though I run Stonemaier and our Kickstarters, there are a LOT of people all over the world who play a role during the campaigns.)

    1. I refuse to allow myself the gift/curse of Kickstarter on my phone. I won’t do it. If I wanna check, I need to be at home, and sitting at my desk.
      This allows me to work when I’m here to work, and to rest with my family when I’m away to rest.
      To remain a “man of one mind” so to speak. Not easy, but also so very very rewarding.

    2. It really was a great video, and I can’t agree more about getting comfy with your pillow. Sleep and time drifting close to sleep are phenomenally helpful when restoring equilibrium.

      Side note: I suffer the same depression-like dip coming down from really intense conventions, like Gen Con and SDCC. For years I’ve been calling that “connui.”

      1. Another great way to get back to normal, I think – play some games. Preferably none of your own, and none you’re studying as part of your work. Just get back into sparking your brain for fun.

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