Petals and Thorns Kickstarter: One Week In

As of the writing, the Petals and Thorns Kickstarter campaign has been going for a week and thirty minutes. Success has been explosive compared to my expectations. My initial group of supporters was several times more generous than I had anticipated, as were the people who first discovered my Kickstarter and the friends-of-friends my supporters linked it to directly. I was able to hit my initial funding goal in 12 hours. Things hardly budged for another 24 hours after that, but when I feared things might be slowing down and my Kickstarter wouldn’t have much reach beyond the few dozen people who already knew my work, a link to Giant in the Playground brought in several hundred more dollars.

The success of the first two days left me scrambling for stretch goals several days before I thought I’d need them, but this turned out to be for the best, as it allowed me to figure out what stretch goals were in popular demand. I thought that the game being designed specifically for virtual tabletops would be a big selling point and that a .pdf version would be a pretty “meh” stretch goal, probably something I would’ve put near the back because it was both a bit expensive (I need to hire a freelancer for the layout to get anything remotely professional) and I thought it’d be seen as an inferior product to the VTT version anyway. This is not what happened. What happened is that tons of people wanted a .pdf version, I moved that stretch goal up to the top of the queue, and when the surge from GitP carried me over it, that caused a second surge of people backing for the .pdf version.

That surge petered out around $1,250 on day three. It was well below my next stretch goal, the Pathfinder conversion at $1,500. I expected I’d get there eventually with the $30-$60 Kickstarter’s own community brought in each day, but it’d be several days to get there. I kept posting the Kickstarter around the internet, trying one new subreddit each day, hoping to get another surge, while also looking for a way to bring the cost of the Pathfinder conversion down.

I got the stroke of luck I needed to break through when someone started a flame war in the comments of one of my Reddit posts. They were trying to convince people I was a scammer, but it became obvious so quickly that they hadn’t even watched my Kickstarter video that they wound up with like six people yelling at them. The fight drew in attention and I went from about $1,350 to $1,650 on day six. Partly that was from the Reddit thread, but a chunk of it was from getting over the Pathfinder stretch goal and getting that surge. This is also when I sold out my limited $50 reward to get a character of the backer’s design featured as an NPC in the main town Ramshorn, something now only available from the really ridiculous reward levels at $100 and $400.

Day seven has so far reverted back to the ordinary trickle of Kickstarter backers coming in. I did break $1,700, which is a neat milestone, but not an actual stretch goal. Not only that, but I’m out of stretch goals that might prompt a surge. Everything from here ’till $4,200 – and that goal is a stretch for sure – is just more tokens. I think that’ll be a huge improvement to the production values of the adventure, but it’s not the kind of thing that gets people on the fence to donate. I can’t actually show people the tokens until after the Kickstarter is over, I collect the money, and can pay the artists to draw them for me.

The campaign has already far exceeded my initial expectations, so I won’t complain if the next week is spent limping over the $2,000 mark, but I’ve also been putting together a Facebook campaign. Maybe that’ll be a dud, but I’ve been told $10 of advertising money can go surprisingly far on Facebook, so maybe it’ll end up with another surge that brings in another few hundred. I’m just about out of cards to play, but the game’s gone pretty well for me so far. And I should get an ending surge in the last week for free, as people on the fence are forced to fall one way or another, and some of them fall on my side. After day one, I decided I’d consider the Kickstarter a success not just for convincing my existing supporters to help me, but for actually expanding my audience if I could get $750 and 45 backers. I’ve already got over $1,700 and 70 backers, so mission very accomplished.

Right now my only real worry is that maybe once people actually have the adventure, they won’t like it. I’m pretty confident in the quality of this adventure, but not so confident as to quiet the gnawing uncertainty about the future that tends to haunt my every action. I mean, I’m really bad at marketing. It’s one of my biggest weaknesses. It would be super weird if I were able to get a Kickstarter campaign 300% funded in a week on the strength of my marketing. But I won’t know for certain until it actually ships.

I should probably drop a link to the campaign in here somewhere. If you play D&D 5 or Pathfinder and haven’t checked it out, give it a look.

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