19 December 2013 | 23 Comments
In my various correspondences with fledgling Kickstarter creators, I’m often asked how I get playtesters, proofreaders, bloggers, etc to support Stonemaier Games in various way. Some of those topics are covered extensively on other Kickstarter Lessons, but I wanted to offer the overarching question here: How do you get strangers to help you?
The answer is very simple: Help them first.
This statement means more than just helping people before you ask them to help you. Rather, it means helping people without any expectation that they’ll help you. Not everything is a 1:1 trade, as we know from Settlers of Catan.
- Playtesters: Before you start looking for playtesters for your game, put the word out on BGG that you’re looking to playtest games for other people. Not only will people see that you’re being generous with your time, but you’ll learn a lot about what you’ll eventually ask of your playtesters.
- Proofreaders: Before you start looking for proofreaders, download a few rulesets or manuals on active Kickstarter projects and send the marked up files to the project creators. Most of the time you don’t need to ask to do this–just do it.
- Promoters: Before you ask people to promote your project, spend some time promoting something else you believe in. If you’re not currently backing a project on Kickstarter that you’re passionate about, you need to go find one. Promote it in a few different, creative ways, and report your findings to the creator.
- Bloggers: Before you ask a blogger to interview you about your project, be a daily reader of the blog for a while, share your favorite entries, and comment when you’re compelled to. (And even then, usually if they want to interview you, they’ll contact you, not the other way around). Here’s a Funding the Dream podcast about The Art of the Comment.
Especially in this age of social media, it’s easy to think that you can ask for help via Twitter or Facebook blasts. Cast a wide enough net and hopefully someone will answer, right?
Sure. Maybe. But in doing so, you’ll probably turn off a lot of other people who will see you more and more as a taker, not a giver. It’s like that one friend who always asks you to help him move apartments, but he never does the same for you. Pretty soon he’s on his own.
Rather than be that guy, be the person who helps others first. Put your generosity out there and show that you’re not making this all about you. People respond really well to generosity–not only are they more willing to initiate reciprocation in the future, but the experience will also prepare you for running a backer-focused project.
So here’s my recommendation for you if you’re planning a Kickstarter project for 2014. Right now, pick one of those categories I mention above, think of a project, designer, person, company, etc that you really believe in, and go help them first. Do something that will benefit them, and do it well. Start there, even just once, so you can see the impact it has.
If you do this or if you ever have done this, I’d love to hear about it below.