A little bit of background
My name is Tommy Bergeron and I’m developing a game called “Indie Game Story”. I fundraised 1106$ for 30 days on Indiegogo, you can still see our campaign page here.
Here’s some numbers. During the 30 days of the campaign, we managed to get over 10 000 visitors on our development blog, over 5000 visits on our campaign page, 200+ followers on Twitter and 50+ likes on Facebook.
All generated without any marketing scheme or anything but simple networking. These numbers might not be impressive for you, but for a lonely indie developer these numbers are fantastic!
The whole campaign went fine, but could have clearly gone even better.
Now that the campaign is over, I took some time to think about what went right and what went wrong and think about what we gained from it.
This article will be list based, each point being a pro or a con. I want to share these thoughts with everybody because I’m sure there’s other indie game developers out there who wonders the same questions.
PRO: It will definitively help getting you known.
It’s not the fact that you’re fundraising that will get you known. It’s because you’ll be 24/7 screaming about your campaign. The adrenaline rush of getting it done is so strong that I simply couldn’t stop tweeting, posting on reddit about it, etc. About one week later I had comment such as “Holy crap, why is everybody talking about your game?!”.
Another very good thing is: people who give money will feel as a part of the game. They will be your most loyal fans, some of them might bring some negativity but it’s just a matter of opinion, they love your game anyways 😉
PRO: Let’s be honest, having a little bit of money helps.
I needed a very modest amount of money to get started. I needed some apps and lots of help from an artist.
Since I got the funding money, development has doubled. Not because I’m more productive with more money but because instead of waiting a week before getting Y animation I can get it now and focus on implementing it instead of waiting for the money.
PRO: You will meet awesome people.
Every other developer will feel empathy and will want to help you. I personally encountered a bunch of super cool developers that hangs out on IRC. Go join us on #GameDev on IndieIRC! Don’t be shy and talk to everyone on Twitter, everywhere. Ask about their projects, what they do, who they are. People love to network and to share, make this your advantage. Follow everybody you meet, they’ll follow you back.
One day you’ll wake up and spend 3 hours simply replying to people: that’s when you’ll know you’re doing your job right!
CON: You must make sure to estimate what’s needed, every little detail.
Initially, the idea of the campaign was about getting funds to pay for an artist. 1000$ sounds good for that matter. But then it became bigger, we needed a real forum, then I needed better tools to do the job, etc. I’d say I done a pretty good job for my estimations, but still there’s always room for improvement so make sure to cover every little thing, website template, hosting fees, domain names, applications, etc.
CON: It psychologically super demanding.
You love your product aren’t you? You poured your heart and soul into it? What if it was failing to reach a goal? Would feel pretty bad uh? Think this multiplied by OVER 9000! It’s a sentimental roller coaster worth every tear.
Always try to keep an outside look to the project, talk about it with your friends or your girlfriend. Even your parents damn it. Every person will have some advice to give you, about life, about money, about marketing, about anything. Listen to it and take it. You never know when you’ll need to keep your head out of the water, make sure you keep in mind everybody’s advice. (Stay logical, if anybody tells you to go jump of the 30 floor, don’t do it)
CON: It will eat all of your time.
Thought of going out with the boys on a Friday night? Nope, nope nope nope and nope. Friday is the day you have to get ready for Screenshot Saturday! Post on the /r/gamedev what’s up with your game, make sure to get featured on Screenshot Saturday by using the #screenshotsaturday hashtag on Twitter.
There’s so much you can/have do, and there’s a deadline at the end of the road. So take every little amount of time to focus on your campaign. (You might go insane, but that’s just the bonus of being an indie game dev XD)
Finally, I’d like to share a few important tips that I wished I knew before starting.
TIP #1: Be super annoying.
Most important ever. Spread the word like there’s no tomorrow. Tell your friends, your family, your pets, your children, every person you meet. Everybody must know it and must talk about it to other people. That’s rule #1. Send emails to every gaming website (you think would talk about you). There’s plenty of super awesome indie game news website that simply can’t wait to hear about your game. Go tell’em!
TIP #2: Be everywhere.
What helped me the most is the fact that I was “omnipresent” on the social networks, mainly on Twitter. Never would I have thought that Twitter would bring so much people to my campaign. But networking, knowing, trusting new people is a key element is success. Make other game devs talk about you, gaming websites, and very important YouTubers.
TIP #3: Publish updates every day.
Most important thing. Don’t know what to say? Just say hello and thanks to all your backers. They gave you there hard earned money, they deserve all the credit they can get.
I used Indiegogo for my campaign. They have something called the “Indiefactor” which is an algorithm calculated every day to define who will be shown on the website and at which position. The more you update your campaign page, the more you’ll get shown on the website. I was so annoying that I’ve been on the front page for more than a week! Which helped a whole lot.
TIP #4: Read about it.
Read other article like this one, try to define what will go well and what will go wrong in advance. Nobody can predict this but you surely can present some major letdowns.
Indiegogo and Kickstarted has massive documentation about how to properly fundraise, which is very important.
I personally printed the 60-ish pages Indiegogo fundraising document and read it all at the start of my campaign. Believe me it helped a lot.
TIP #5: Open forums early.
Forums are, IMO, the primary way of building and keeping touch with your audience/future community.
I personally decided to open forums way too late in the process. Try to open it BEFORE the campaign that way you’ll be able to invite people over for questions and who knows? Maybe they’ll become your #1 fans!
Try to maintain your community by starting popular threads like “What are you playing right now?”, “Present Yourselves”, etc. Or even better, give freebies!
There’s nothing scientific in there, only human relationships, networking, continual online presence, etc.
I hope this post-mortem helped any aspiring fundraiser to get ready for the big day.
Any questions? Feel free to tweet/mail me or ask directly in the comments!
Thanks for reading!