Over at Tenkar’s Tavern, Erik has been keeping track of the timeliness of many of the Kickstarter projects he has backed. He puts each Kickstarter he has backed into one of three categories – significantly overdue, late and has shipped or looking like it is going to be late, and finally on-time. It is good to see someone keeping track of this and posting updates. I know at least one or two of the projects backed that we have in common have been more forthcoming with updates.
I am not going to try to replicate what Erik already has going on. For one, the number of projects I have backed is significantly smaller and he is doing a great job already.
I will post up some of my musings on Kickstarter though. I do think Kickstarter is a very useful tool. It allows people with ideas to present them to a much larger crowd and if folks agree, throw some money their way to make it happen. A great concept and one that does help get some great new content out there.
I think a lot of the smaller operations doing this bite off more than they can chew or fail to accommodate for unexpected success. A couple of things to remember for these smaller operations. This is your moment to shine. Depending on how you handle the delays and hurdles that come up as you attempt to get a product out the door are going to set an impression on a lot of people in a niche hobby.
Updates. Kickstarter provides you with a great way to keep people updated on progress. Use it. So you’ve missed your initial goal. That’s fine, it happens. A lot of people who back things on Kickstarter understand these are people dealing with production processes for the first time. We can be patient. But keep up informed! Tell us it took two weeks longer to get something done or something shipped to you. We’ll understand that.
Maybe you had a family medical emergency involving yourself or relative. Give your backers a heads up. It happens. You might be a one person operation. Just send your backers an update to let them know you have not forgotten them. It is important and will buy you more goodwill than hoping people won’t notice the delay.
How many updates are appropriate? For me if you are running behind on a delivery date, I think seeing a well-stated update every two weeks would be enough to keep me pretty patient. Enough should have happened in the period of two weeks that there should be some progress or reason as to why there wasn’t any progress made in a period of two weeks.
Keeping your backers updated is the single most important thing you can do in my opinion if you are running behind.
There are some things you shouldn’t do too. Or reasons that you are running behind that probably won’t buy a lot of good faith.
The biggest? Don’t start another project and announce it – whether you are kickstarting it or not. People will interpret that as a reason why things are delayed on the kickstarter. That may or may not be true of course, but that is what folks will think. Sure you might be waiting on someone to deliver something to you for you to wrap something up. And maybe you do have some time to get that other project rolling. But announcing that to the public is just going to generate ill-will.
Con crud. We see that one listed as an excuse in an update a lot. Unexpected sickness is a legit reason that something might be delayed. But we’ve all been gamers for a long time and many have attended our share of cons. Build that into your delivery date! Even if you do not pick up some sickness at the con, you know will come off that con-high and have a couple of days getting back in the groove. Remember that if you are planning your delivery date for your Kickstarter.
Set good expectations and keep people updated. These are the biggest things you can do to keep a reputation intact if you see yourself missing delivery dates.
I have a lot of patience with small operations, I really do. I want to see you succeed and I know you might be going through a steeper learning curve than you initially expected. Just keep communicating with us and eventually we will get our product we wanted and you’ll come out with reputation reasonably intact at the end.