This list is not necessarily an advice column, it's only a step-by-step highlight of my personal process for using Kickstarter as a funding source. I have yet to see how successful this process ends up being. This is certainly not a guaranteed source for successful Kickstarter tips. However, I hope that it offers you some new thinking points if you're also considering Kickstarter. It does provide some useful links, though.
I've known people who will toss a project on Kickstarter simply because they can. Needless to say, this didn't work for them. I started making ZORP mostly for fun, as well as for the challenge of completely finishing a board game. However, as it began to spark interest among my friends, I began to believe that I had a real chance of Kickstarting it if I was willing to commit the time and energy.
Launching a successful Kickstarter involves a lot of things that I hadn't necessarily considered. For the things that I had considered, I wasn't always sure how to go about accomplishing them. Fortunately, there are a ton of blogs and websites that exist to inform and educate the Kickstarter community. Here are just a few that I found particularly helpful:
Perhaps the most important thing to do when preparing for a Kickstarter is to lock down all of your potential costs and expenses. Obviously, with a board game you will need printing costs, so you'll want to get quotes from multiple companies and find out if they require a minimum number of units before they are willing to print. 500 units is a common number. You'll then have to consider shipping and fulfillment. If the units come from China they will be cheaper to print, but more expensive to ship. You'll have to consider if you are going to use a fulfillment service to get each unit to the right backer, or if you plan to ship each unit yourself. If you're doing it yourself, remember that shipping a unit overseas means you have to fill out a customs form for each unit you ship. You'll also want to think about if you're to use a backer management service like BackerKit or PledgeManager.
Once I felt comfortable with the first three steps, I decided to create my online presence. Therefore, I needed a company name. I needed to check for trademarks (which you can do here). I also needed to consider search engine optimization (SEO) for my company name. Early company names included "Frumpy Troll" and "Wonky Monkey", however, both of these had much more search engine competition than "Wonky Rhino". I also considered whether the name was catchy and easy to spell. Once "Wonky Rhino" passed these tests, I was ready to buy the domain and set up social media accounts.
I decided that I was willing to buy a booth at Indy PopCon. I wasn't sure what the actual pay off in backers or exposure would end up being, but I knew that the best way to learn was to give it a try. In this case, the knowledge alone was worth the cost of a booth. It definitely helped that it was a cheaper convention compared to many other options. It definitely didn't help that it was happening the same weekend as Origins Game Fair-which I couldn't afford.
I started by trying to get my personal social network involved, but I needed a reason to keep people engaged. My main strategy was using cheap Photoshopped zombie art to promote the game on social media. This reflects my sense of humor (as well as the game's sense of humor) and hopefully gave people a reason to remember that Wonky Rhino has a game coming out soon! It's also important for board game designers to add the game to Board Game Geek. This adds legitimacy to your game, it serves to help your SEO and it provide additional information to potential backers.
Don't underestimate the amount of work that simply goes into building your Kickstarter page. Obviously, you have to shoot and edit a video for the campaign, and in the case of a board game, you should have a full playthrough video of the game as well. After that, you need to be certain of what your pledge tiers are and how each tier affects your overall printing and shipping quotes. Additionally, you need to create a lot of images and write a lot of text. Then edit, edit and edit some more!
The next big step was to contact professional board game reviewers. I used this list from Board Game Geek as my primary source for finding reviewers. After getting agreements from various reviewers, I had to get prototype copies printed to send to each reviewer. Everyone recommends that you don't launch a board game without at least three reviews, so make sure you have the budget to print and ship at least three extra prototype copies.
Another thing to do is write up a press release that includes some high resolution photos of the game. As far as board game press releases go, Jamey Stegmaier compiled a solid list of contacts for Stonemaier Blog. I was also able to contact the press department at my university (Purdue). Other considerations may include your high school and hometown newspapers/TV stations-just make sure you are willing to invest the time into finding those contacts. You'll always want to send your requests well in advance of the Kickstarter release and ask the writers to hold off on publishing the release until around the time you launch.
I'll just have to cross the rest of the bridges as I get to them, so stay tuned!