You’ve probably heard people say Kickstarter is a lot of work: a LOT of work. If you haven’t heard that, and you’re considering a Kickstarter campaign for a Wargame, tabletop miniatures game like The Drowned Earth, or pretty much anything else, put everything on hold and do some more research! It isn’t only that the workload is large- there is a large diversity in the types of tasks which you need to undertake- everything from shipping fulfilment to social media marketing and beyond. This is compounded if your project has many areas of expertise you are not competent in, such as commissioning of miniatures or 2D art. But provided you can pay people to take that workload off you, you should be ok. Managing others is a task in itself, but less of one than learning how to do it yourself, from scratch!
I’m speaking from the perspective of a soul producer. Honestly, I much prefer working with others, but after a few years of trying to find the right people I decided to go it alone. I have no doubt that being part of a team comes with its own problems, but it does at least share the workload. So for most of us, preparing the Kickstarter is only part of the process- there is of course, developing the product you wish to launch!
As you know, in my case, that’s a tabletop miniatures game, which has a unique development process of its own, as the products are very modular in comparison to a board game, where everyone gets an identical, single product. There are also a great deal of very important parts of what I call “The Presentation” which are not direct products- for example, the background story and world building. In my case it was these things which really drove my passion for the project, and so I made a very conscious effort to put them aside after some very basic work, and concentrate hard on the game rules.
A Skill Audit
I guess we can divide the tasks in to several main categories- game -(rules)development – artistic direction – marketing – kickstarter and logistics – Business and Admin –
For me “artistic direction” included creative writing and background story, as well as visual art. In fact, with the exception of graphic design, the visual art and sculpts side of things are way beyond my level of skill, and I hired people to do them (the absolute best people I could find!). If you’re artistic then you really do have a lot of diversity in the skill base.
Is this starting to sound fishy to you? It should! I’m not going to be one of those people who says that if you can’t afford to hire people you shouldn’t undertake the project, but just be aware of what there is to do, and ensure you really do have the required skills to pull it off. Do an audit of what there is to do, and what your skills are. Here is part of mine:
- I’m not a graphic designer, but I have some basic knowledge of the programs required, and a few years at art school under my belt.
- I cannot sculpt or make 2D art to a professional standard, but I have the budget to hire others to do this work.
- Limited artistic training also helped hugely when commissioning art- I felt confident in my ability to get the best out of the artists (not an automatic result- and will be covered in the next part of this series).
- I have written creatively as a hobby for most of my life, and got a respectable degree in Ancient History, so felt confident in my ability to write a professional standard of both fiction and non-fiction background for the world I wanted to create.
- I am reasonably computer literate and so felt able to design a website and conduct an extensive social media campaign. I also have several friends who have expertise in these areas on whom I can rely for advice.
- I can edit video.
- Although I am not gregarious by nature I have a number of friends in the industry and so have a pool of resources for advice.
- I am mathematically competent and can use spreadsheet software (although I am aware this is not one of my strengths and so I will enlist help
- I have been involved in a mail order business and understand a little about dispatching parcels (although am aware that the scale of a kickstarter is quite different to what I have done in the past, and I need to research this area thoroughly).
- More generally, I know several people who have conducted successful kickstarter campaigns, and so can rely on them for advice, or answering my questions.
Getting in a muddle:
When you’re by yourself it’s easy to concentrate so hard on one aspect of the project that you lose sight of the others. I’ve combated that by switching around quite often, and concentrating my efforts on the various different spheres such as fluff writing, core rules, graphic design, in intensive bouts rather than trying to handle six jobs at once. For me this allows perspective once I return to a task, and allows me to keep sight of the whole by constantly checking up on the moving parts. I ensure i don’t stay in one area for too long, but try to make significant progress before moving on.
This approach worked for me, but ultimately, how you handle multi-tasking is very personal. The important thing is to be aware of the challenge, and ensure that you tackle it head on, instead of windmilling at it- eventually you’ll burn out.
Dealing with the Blues:
I’ve already mentioned in the first part of this series that I use whiteboards and lists to keep perspective on the project. I’ve also found that marking my progress by crossing things off the list, but leaving them there (for a while, at least), is good for my morale. I’m quite capable of feeling as though I’m getting nowhere, after a few tricky setbacks, but looking back at how far I’ve come helps with that enormously.
Perhaps you don’t have this quirk, but I do think a visual reference of your progress is helpful in motivating you anyway. The important thing I suppose, is to identify potential problems with your work morale, attitude and strategy, and think around them creatively. Constantly seek for things which make you work better and happier. Remember, when it stops being fun, you’ll stop being good at it. Positivity is incredibly motivating, but for me at least it must be based in reality, not “positivity for its own sake”. Bad moods stifle creativity, and so it’s important to work through them in sensible ways.
Next time: Art!