3 February 2017
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?