So Your Project Blew Up. Now What? (Part Two)

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Many successful projects follow a pattern: first, there's an initial burst of excitement from backers in the few days surrounding the start of the project. After that, momentum slows down a bit, and the pledges steadily rise through the middle weeks of the project. Then, 48 hours before the end of the funding period, there's another burst of pledges as the people who opted to be reminded of the project's end return to the page.

But sometimes projects blow up quickly, reaching their goals many times over — often in no time at all. What should a creator do when the interest in their project is significantly larger than anticipated? How do they adjust their expectations on the fly?

Some of the projects below had pretty big goals, while some were smaller — but all of the creators reached at least 400% of their funding goals. We asked them to share what it was like and what (if anything) they needed to do to adjust.

Recently we ran part one of this post — read it here. This week, we're featuring two more creators, each with successful Games projects.

John Coveyou, Genius Games

Ion: A Compound Building Game, one of John's three successful tabletop projects
Ion: A Compound Building Game, one of John's three successful tabletop projects

We started pursuing some major media outlets months prior to the launch of our campaign, but we were not sure how this would translate as far as increased funding was concerned. Our original goal was for $7,500 and we did anticipate reaching two, three, or four times that, but we did not know we would reach those goals so rapidly, or if we would raise much more after that. We planned on using the funding received from the first few days as a gauge for what would likely come for the duration of the campaign.

Another thing we planned to do was leverage the small successes from the first few days to help keep the campaign growing. This translated into pursuing even more media attention, letting them know about the attention our Kickstarter video was receiving and how quickly we hit our funding goal, with the hope of enticing them to write about our campaign as well.

The only problem with trying to anticipate how much traffic each media outlet will bring, is that any given outlet could vary by magnitudes. One media article later in our campaign brought in more money than the whole first week combined. It just goes to show the power of media attention on a Kickstarter campaign.

We had to increase a number of things actually. We had to increase the amount of coffee we were drinking and the amount of anti-stress activities we were doing and decrease the amount of sleep we were getting. But, more practically… 

  • First, we had to increase the amount of games we were manufacturing. We requested quotes from our manufacturer based upon a larger order, to see how much money we would save as we scaled up our manufacturing.
  • Second, we added more stretch goals to the campaign using the savings we received from scaling up manufacturing. This helped to keep current backers excited about the growth of the campaign and give them a reason to tell their friends as well. But this meant we needed to add even more stuff to the game box... Which brings me to our third adjustment.
  • Third, since we were increasing the stuff inside the box, it meant the weight of the box would also increase, and the shipping costs would also increase. But at this point we were not sure how much.
  • Fourth, this resulted in even more time and attention spent on research. We needed to know how much more shipping would cost if we added more stuff to the game, and if the savings from manufacturing more units would make up for the increased shipping costs. There was a lot of time that went into that… and a lot of cortisol!
  • Fifth, we increased the amount of time spent keeping up with the campaign. More backers meant more questions and more comments — and that meant more time answering them.

Other than that, we tried not to let the influx of backers and increased funding go to our heads. We also tried to stay reasonable about what could add to the campaign in response to how well it was doing. We felt very proud of where it was heading but also didn’t want to over-promise new stuff if we were not sure we could deliver on those promises.

Matthew O'Malley, Knot Dice

Knot Dice: part game, part puzzle
Knot Dice: part game, part puzzle

While I was hoping Knot Dice would be successful, I didn't expect it to do as well as it did. However, I was prepared ahead of time for three possible outcomes: the project not being successful, the project being barely successful, or the project being very successful.

Jamey Stegmaier's Kickstarter Lessons were a huge factor in helping me prepare for every eventuality. He and several other experienced Kickstarter creators recommended making sure plans are in place for every eventuality.

My primary concern was making sure I could give my backers good stretch goal rewards without hurting the budget of the project. If you don't know what will happen in your campaign, it's easy to set your stretch goals too high (and not reach them) or too low (and not have anything left once you pass them). Your stretch goals definitely need to be tied to your actual budget because you can include more in a project when you get cost savings from a larger quantity order. But without knowing the final quantity, it can be hard to determine what to include.

I wound up only posting 1-2 stretch goals at a time, and setting new goals as we passed old goals. Backers were supportive, and it meant I could adjust to the changes of the campaign as it went along (though it was a lot of work to keep up).

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