Home What to expect when you're Kickstarting (part 1)

What to expect when you're Kickstarting (part 1)

This article is based off of a 2021 Twitter Thread.

What to expect when you’re Kickstarting (Part 1)

Or, what I learned from my first three campaigns.

Before the Kickstarter


Budget! Remember that Kickstarter takes 10%. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where you make enough to fund, but not enough to fulfil.

Figure out how much you need. Some people will only back after you’ve funded. Is it better to go ambitious, or to play it safe and do stretch goals? I tend to err on the side of playing it safe, but there are differing opinions here.

Some people advocate figuring out how much you’ll need to invest before you would lose money by not funding. Others suggest aiming for the best possible version of your product.

Personally, I say go for the smallest number that enables you to provide a product you’ll be proud of, especially for a first-time product. Use stretch goals to improve it.


Decide if you need Backerkit. Backerkit lets you delay shipping charges, as well as deliver add-ons after the campaign has finished. Since initially writing this thread, two changes have occurred: Kickstarter now allows add-ons during a campaign, and BackerKit now offers a front-end, allowing fundraisers to eschew Kickstarter entirely.

Some backers prefer to pay shipping up front, and feel ambushed by delayed or large shipping charges. It’s a common practice, and experienced backers know to expect it.


Figure out your shipping plan BEFORE you Kickstart. Are you planning to use a fulfillment service like Blackbox, Pirate Ship, or Ship Naked? Will you use the USPS directly? Are you eligible to use Media Mail rates (for books only)? If so, this is usually the cheapest way to mail books. Don’t forget to account for envelope costs!

If you’re using a fulfillment partner, reach out before your campaign.

I have seen many campaigns ruined by shipping. Do you need an international partner? probably not, unless you’re doing a huge volume in one country. Remember that stretch goals can change weight — hardcovers are more expensive than softcovers, and a little bit of weight can push you into a new category.

For me personally, I subsidize shipping domestically and internationally with digital options, as well as luxury pledges. More on these later.

Whatever path you take, get a quote beforehand.


Day 1 is THE most important day of your campaign. Kickstarter cares about velocity, so the more support you have on day one, the better.

You want people to be excited, not surprised, by your launch. They should know about it well in advance. Make a prerelease page early and share it widely. All people can see is a one sentence description and an image. There’s no need to perfect your page before sharing it.

People who sign up to follow your page will get an email on day one, as well as reminders at the end of the campaign. You can see the number of people who have signed up, which will help you set goals accordingly. There’s no promise that people who sign up will back, but they are more likely to, and there’s usually a relationship between number of followers on a campaign and final number of backers. In my own projects, that number tends to be about 10x, in favor of final backers.

Play Your Game!

Another HUGE thing you can do to build excitement is to play your game in person! Win people over, they will be your advocates. It’s hard for people to distinguish between a good experience and a good game, and no one is better at running your game than you are. Sell them on it.

If you can’t run in person, run online, but, if you can, stream it. Spread it widely. People who see you playing it in a game store or a mall will notice and ask questions. Have QR codes nearby that people can scan to get to your pre-release page.

Go on podcasts and Twitch streams to talk about your game — but give lead time! No one can accommodate you two weeks out, and even four may be a stretch.

You can pay for ads. Historically, Facebook ads are the most successful, with Reddit and Twitter having a negligible effect. Word of mouth is still your best friend. Tell your friends (if they’d be interested). If you’re active on Discord, go there. You can try to post on Reddit, but various subreddits have strict rules around self-promotion, make sure you’re following them. Other people posting about your game is better (first it’s allowed, and second, people like hype from folks not involved. It’s another reason pull quotes are so effective).


If you’re posting somewhere like Reddit, consider your time — if you post at night, no one will see it.

Post constantly. Whether you use Twitter, Bluesky, Threads, Instagram, Tumblr, or TikTok, you will not be as annoying as you think. When I was launching Cyberrats, I apologized in advance for how much I’d be yelling about it… and I gained 200 followers during the month where that was the main thing I tweeted about. And at the end of the campaign, I STILL had followers who hadn’t realized it was going on!

Take advantage of designated threads for sel-promotion (like self-promo Saturday). It’s a lot of work, it’s exhausting, but it can spread your reach. You have to engage with other people (and follow the rules).

Shout out your collaborators. People know you, different people know them. Lots of people came to Cyberrats because of our wonderful artist. Not only because his art is incredible, but because he talked about our game. Right now, I have 1800 Twitter followers, and he has 1500. Only 20 of those overlap. By each of us boosting the game, we doubled our audience.

It’s also a good look to shout out other people, and it encourages a good energy. You won’t feel like a shill for talking about how great people are to work with.

Post at different times, and in different time zones. Take advantage of features like scheduling and queues.

Be clear about who your product is for, and advertise accordingly. With Cyberrats, I spent 99% of my time advertising to players. I tweeted twice pitching to game masters, and got WAY MORE engagement on that front. Remember who is buying games.

Sell the idea of your game, and what it feels like to play it. Why should I bu it? You aren’t buying perfume to smell nice, you’re buying it to make friends, or seem interesting, or feel prestigious and intriguing. These are the ideas behind advertisements. You’re not selling a game, you’re selling a night of fun with friends, or the opportunity to live out a childhood dream.

Refine your pitch. For Gratitude: A Horror Game, I used more than 100 different pitches. Three of them were really effective, and people commented on them. I used those more.

For Cyberrats, I only used about 40 unique pitches. Once I found one that worked reasonably well, I stick with it. If someone tells you you have a good pitch, stick with it.

A picture of a Twitter user replying "Best elevator pitch I've seen in a long time" in response to the pitch, "I just launched a zine about stealing power and making sacrifices. You can ride giant golden retrievers, if you can get them to sit still long enough."

More in part 2

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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What to expect when you're Kickstarting (part 2)