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12 things to plan for before you even think of launching a Kickstarter board game campaign

Make no mistake about it, running a Kickstarter campaign takes a lot of time and effort. And most of that work needs to be put in well before you hit the launch button.

If you’re thinking of running a Kickstarter campaign, you’re going to want to plan for this at least 8-10 months in advance. A year is even better.

That doesn’t mean you have to have your Kickstarter page and everything else put together and ready to launch that early, but you’ll want to start putting the pieces in place well ahead of time to improve your chances of success.

Today I’m going to walk through all the things you’ll want to put in place and how soon before you launch you’ll want to have them ready. Then I’ll go into a bit more detail on exactly what you’ll need.

Planning ahead

Here are the timelines I would recommend:

  • 8-12 months prior – Put together a project plan and start promoting your game
  • 8 months prior – Find an artist and commission some art for your game
  • 6-8 months prior – Set up your landing page and email service provider
  • 6 months prior – Set up a Facebook group for your game (optional)
  • 4 months prior – Get manufacturing quotes
  • 3-4 months prior – Record your Kickstarter video or hire this out
  • 3 months prior – Contact reviewers and influencers
  • 3 months prior – Start putting together your Kickstarter page and launch your promo page
  • 2 months prior – Research and determine your fulfillment partners
  • 1 month prior – Finalize pledge levels, pricing, and stretch goals
  • 1 month prior – Get feedback on your Kickstarter page and make improvements
  • 1 month prior – Run ads leading up to your campaign (optional)

Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. If you want to start any of these activities earlier, that’s fine. I’d recommend not waiting too much later than any of the timelines above if you want to keep things running smoothly.

Let’s dive into each of these a bit deeper.

Project plan and promotion

It may seem like promoting your game 8-12 months before you launch is a long way out. But you really need to start thinking about this pretty early. Your game may not be finalized yet and you probably don’t have any actual art yet, but if you know that you will for sure be self-publishing your game, it’s never too early to start talking about it.

It doesn’t have to be spammy or pushy. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

In fact, you should first find out where your audience hangs out, both online and in-person. Have conversations with people. Discuss other games you enjoy. Get involved and become part of the community so that people know you before you even mention your own game.

You want to be natural about this. Once you’ve been engaging with the group for a bit, post some pictures of your game in progress. Ask questions. Run polls to get feedback. Build an interest and a following.

This may be the single-most important thing you do, as you’ll have to bring most of your backers to Kickstarter with you.

As well, you’ll need to plan out your timelines and budget. Figure out how much you’re willing to invest in art, graphic design, a video, and promotion. Everything will probably cost more than you expect as well, so be prepared for this.

You really want to keep promoting your game all the way up to and during your campaign, so this is just to get you started.

Art

You want your game to look good. The more attractive it is, the more people will be interested in learning about your game.

About 8 months out, you should be looking for artists and deciding on who you’d like to work with. Then, you need to start commissioning some art. It doesn’t have to be everything right away. You can get good representative samples to start with and continue to work with your artist up until and even after the campaign to complete everything else.

This way, you’ll be able to showcase what your game looks like and draw more people in. Reveal new art as you lead up to your campaign, keeping people coming back for more.

Also, don’t forget to figure out what you are doing for graphic design, as this will often be done by a different individual.

Set up a landing page and email service provider

You’ll want to have an easy way for people to follow your project and keep them excited about it.

Around 6 months prior to launch, set up an email service provider. Mailchimp is a free service that many new creators utilize.

You’ll also want to create a landing page, which allows you to capture a potential customer’s email address. Here is the one I used for Relics of Rajavihara as an example.

You will notice it contains a header, details of what you’ll get when you sign up, a “hero image” showcasing the game, my company logo, and a clear call-to-action (CTA), which asks them to join. Once they input their details and click that button, they will be able to enter their name and email address, which feeds into my email service provider. They also get an automated welcome email once they join.

Just make sure to keep people on your email list engaged as you lead up to your campaign. If you sign up for something and only receive an email 6 months later, you’ll probably have forgotten all about this! That’s an easy way to earn a lot of “unsubscribes”, as well as have your email account flagged as spam.

Set up a Facebook Group for your game

I’ve put this one down as optional. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it can be helpful in engaging with your potential backers and opening up conversations among fans of your game.

Just create the group and ask people to join. Start with friends and then invite others. You can even guide those who have signed up for your email list to join.

Get manufacturing quotes

You’ll need to know how much your game costs to produce at various quantities so that you can accurately price your game and make sure you have more than enough to get it manufactured.

I’m going to go into this one in much more detail in next week’s article, so for now I will just say that about 4 months out you’ll want to contact a number of manufacturers to compare prices, along with assessing their communication and timeliness.

Once you know how much it will cost to manufacture your game, this will help you set your pledge levels and funding goals. So, you don’t want to leave this until the last minute!

Kickstarter video

This is one that I left off until fairly late in the process for my campaign. I thought about recording this myself but ultimately decided it would look much better if it was done professionally.

I was fortunate to find a great company that was able to turn it around quickly, but I really should have been getting this ready about 3-4 months prior to the campaign. This allows you time to go back and forth with your video producer to get it just right, as well as use this (or portions of the video) to promote your game in advance, which is really helpful. People tend to engage more with videos than other media.

Reviewers and influencers

People often like to have social proof before they commit to something and games are no different. On Kickstarter, people regularly look to reviewers and how to play videos to determine if a game is right for them.

Make sure to contact anyone you hope to work with at least 3 months in advance. These individuals are busy and often have a bunch of games already in their queue, so it pays to contact them early.

Figure out if you have any budget for paid promotions or if you’re going to stick strictly with free reviews. Know who provides what and who would be a good match for your game.

Kickstarter page

It’s never too early to start working on your Kickstarter page. I’d recommending giving yourself at least 3 months to get this finalized. That way, you can work on the page over time, getting feedback and improving upon it with every iteration (kind of like designing a game!).

Figure out the order, headers, images, videos, and everything else you’ll need, giving yourself plenty of time to put it all in place.

Also, get your promo page up early. All you need is one image and a title, so there’s really no excuse not to have this available early. That way, people can click the “notify me” button and get that notification email as soon as you hit “launch”.

Fulfillment and shipping

About 2 months out, you’ll want to be figuring out how you’ll get your game out to backers. Sure, you can do this yourself, but it’s a lot of work and you might not save any money doing it this way.

Reach out to fulfillment partners to determine who you want to work with for worldwide or regional fulfillment. Look at their pricing and reputation. You’ll need to have an estimated box size and shipping weight from your manufacturer before this step as well, in order to get accurate pricing. And don’t forget to factor in the box and packing materials when you are talking with potential fulfillment partners!

Finalize pledge levels, pricing, and stretch goals

It’s a good idea to finalize all your pricing models in advance, about 1 month or so before your campaign. This will let you set a reasonable funding goal and understand exactly what it is you plan to produce.

Also, know what you’re willing to offer as stretch goals. You may not know exactly when each will be introduced, which is fine (it’s often better to see how your campaign starts so that you can better space them out). But you’ll want to have an idea of how many you can offer, what they will be, and what additional costs will be incurred by adding them to your game.

Backers may come up with other ideas and you also might want to survey them to see what they are most interested in seeing out of the ones you’ve developed yourself, but you still want to have a good idea of this going in.

Improve your campaign page

Now that you have your campaign page together, along with pledge levels and a funding goal, you’ll want to get feedback on this.

About 1 month prior to launch, post the preview link in some of the Kickstarter creator Facebook Groups. You can also share this with a few other trusted people. Ask them if everything is clear and what could be improved.

You’ll get their impressions of the page layout, pricing, shipping, and all other aspects.

Then take that feedback and make improvements (again, just like designing a game!).

Run some ads

Finally, you can run some ads for your campaign in the month leading up to your launch.

This is of course optional, depending on your budget and methods of promotion, but if you’re able to invest a small amount on Facebook ads, you could potentially bring in more backers.

Word-of-mouth is even better (if people are willing to share and talk about your game organically). It all depends on what you’re comfortable with and how engaged your fans are.

I hope you found this summary helpful! There are always more things you can do, but all of the above are some of the most important aspects of preparing for your campaign.

As I mentioned, next week will be all about getting those all-important manufacturing quotes.

Do you have questions about running a Kickstarter campaign?

Comment below and let me know! Your question might just be featured in an upcoming article.

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    This post came at a perfect time! I am exactly one year from when I want to launch my campaign.

    Oh my, I didn’t make it 100% like it says here, but I’m launching my Kickstarter tomorrow!

    That’s ok, Talita! Think of these as guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

    Good luck with your launch tomorrow!