During the last weeks we’ve been going through some things you should do when planning to launch your own Kickstarter campaign. Today I have something slightly different – things you should stay clear from, lest you want to see your Kickstarter crash and burn.
It’s not always going to be spectacular. A Kickstarter going horribly wrong is a thing of beauty and horror, like the (almost) proverbial train crash in slow motion, you almost can’t stop looking. However, sometimes a creator’s dream dies quietly – and often it’s due at least some of the sure-fire ways to fail presented below.
I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I will nonetheless: if you’re not much of a straight shooter, you will be unmasked. Backers nowadays are an inquisitive bunch, so trying to hide something will – more often than not – end up in somebody finding out. If you are a person with a strong moral backbone… you may still end up tempted by the dark side.
The truth is that circumstances sometimes push inexperienced creators to trying to obfuscate or outright lie about something to their backers – in most cases out of fear. This is never a good solution, as even something you may consider really small, will blow up the moment you’re found out. And you will be found out. Harsh reality will always be better than even a small lie.
2. Ugly Past
There’s a good reason why Kickstarter won’t allow creators to run multiple projects at the same time, and there’s an equally good reason not to start a new crowdfunding campaign if you’re having problems fulfilling the last one. In short, the past will come to haunt you.
I’ve seen Kickstarters go down in flames (bleeding already pledged funds) due to backers digging out some past dirt on the creator. Unfulfilled promises from past campaigns, selling product at a discount before backers got it, dodging responsibility for defected game elements – all of this will be rightly brought to light, and your new Kickstarter will suffer for it.
3. Bad Temper
Few people know how taxing being a community manager can be. Especially with a big community, and one very much used to being carefully listened to and – often – obeyed. With a Kickstarter project this tension can really go high, especially since you can never accommodate all the wishes of your backers – often simply because they will contradict each other.
Running a project is often an emotional ride, and while backers are generally a generous and supportive lot, being responsible for running a campaign can still eat up your reserves of inner peace. If that ever happens, you need to walk away for a time. Even if you have the rare misfortune of actually bumping into a backer who is (more or less) ill-willing, there are few better ways to damage your own project than by lashing out against them.
4. Bad Communication
Some of this is covered in the Bad Temper section, and while a single creator meltdown can do a lot damage in a short time, there are other ways to go about talking to your backers that might get you into serious trouble. So, what’s the next most damaging thing right after temper tantrums? Silence.
A Kickstarter project lives by the hard work of its creator, and (even more so) by the grace of its backers. It’s their enthusiasm, their support and – in the end – their money that bring your dream to life, which is why you should remember to talk to them when they have questions during the campaign – and after it’s over. While ignoring your community will not hurt a project that’s over, you can easily build up what amounts to an Ugly Past.
5. No Marketing
You may have come up with literally the best game in the world, but if the only people who know about it are you, your mother and three of your friends, you will most probably fail on Kickstarter. Yes, miracles sometimes happen, but when building a business plan, it’s generally more prudent to assume they will not happen to you.
One of the best things about Kickstarter is that it is both direct means to make your dream a reality, and a way to advertise it. Still, you need to make sure that people know about your project before you launch it. While this mistake will not end up in a project demise potentially as spectacular as the ones brought on by trying to con backers, it will kill it nonetheless.
There are many more bigger and smaller mistakes you can make while running a project. Most of them will not outright murder it, but can lessen its potential. It’s worth keeping your eyes open, learning from other campaigns’, and trying to stay up to date, as more opportunities and challenges arise on an almost daily basis on Kickstarter.