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Neil Carr
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I've stepped onto the path of being an amateur RPG publisher via Kickstarter. I want to see how far I can travel from zero-to-hero and I'm looking for help along the way. These series of posts are in part just me thinking aloud, but also asking specific questions as I put the pieces together to achieve rpg publishing victory.

What about marketing your crowdfunding project? What should you do? What I've already gleaned from copious forum reading is that you should start with a “soft launch” prior to the actual funding campaign to begin. You send out press releases, write on forums and basically announce that a funding project is going to begin soon. You take every opportunity to talk about the project and just start spreading the world. That way when the funding finally begins there is hopefully already a pool of people ready to contribute.

So where do you broadcast?

Obviously you do it on the Geek. Send off a geekmail to one of the RPG newscasters, post something in the press release forum, and depending on the specific item your producing, there might be other places on specific system or game pages that might fit.

The Geek is great, but you have to range much farther out. Next go to RPG.net and post in the stickied thread there that covers RPG crowdfunding projects.

Giants in the Playground's forums also have a general RPG area where you could post an announcement.

After that though, at least from my corner of the net, things begin to contract into more specialized sites devoted to certain genres of RPGs. At that point the kind of product you're creating may fit within that game's culture. If you're making some kind of D&D offshoot product, perhaps under the OGL then you still have plenty of places to post. Paizo for Pathfinder related material, Dragonsfoot for OSR material. Enworld for a little bit of everything D&D related.

Once you've spread the world through forums you're going to have to consider if advertising on RPG websties is worth your time. I'm seeing plenty of Kickstarter ads now so plenty of creators think it's prudent. RPG.net sells in $25 chunks. The Geek doesn't publish their prices, you have to contact them directly.

You could also consider using Google and Facebook as advertisers, not because it is necessarily dramatically effective, but rather because the price is very cheap. You can set your budget very low, like a dollar a day, and have thousands of impressions get tossed out each week. With Facebook in particular you can drill down and target very specific demographics, so the benefit there is that you could spend $30 over the course of a campaign and hopefully the highly targeted ads will keep hitting RPG gamers over the course of that month, it could be a little reminder which they eventually click on.

You should have a page on Facebook that is devoted to your product or publishing studio and promoting that as best you can devise in your own social network. Likewise having a Twitter account needs to be assumed, and just tweet updates galore.

As for banner ads, presumably you'd have some artwork already developed by the time the funding campaign begins. It seems like standard practice to just crop a part of your cover art, add in some text, or if you get fancy create an animated gif. Since reaching that 30% mark early in the funding period it seems fairly persuasive to at least pay for advertising to cover the first week of the campaign and then the final week.

Overall my impression is that it make sense to budget around $100 for advertising for the campaign, though that's just my own vague read of it. Perhaps you ought to be spending more, but at least in my situation that would mean cutting deep into the budget for the initial artwork that would be getting presented on the Kickstarter page.

That brings us to the core part of the marketing is the crowdfunding page itself. You really ought to have something compelling and presentable on the page when it launches. In the previous question about artwork, it was pretty clear that there is a huge variance in what you'll get with your dollars from artists, so it's possible that you could pay someone $25 and get a fantastic piece that lights a fire under the backers. Still, it seems far more prudent to spend at least $100 on art. I'm aiming more towards $300 spent by the time the campaign begins.

Questions

What other RPG sites should people be paying attention to when they want to post to forums and promote their work? Aside from the Geek and RPG.net, are there any other big generic RPG sites?

Does anyone have tips or suggestions for software that deals with creating banner ads? Sure you can make these in Windows Paint if need be, but are there more flashy packages that will help the novice create an animated ad that grabs the eye?

What about initial budgets? What sounds like a good amount to budget for advertising? What kind of initial art budget should be aimed for before the campaign launches?
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Jacob Wood
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Great questions. Thoughts, anyone?

As for me, I haven't figured all of this out yet either. I am spending $100 on art that will go onto the Kickstarter page itself, and I'll definitely start considering some of these other advertising routes you've mentioned.

Since December, I have been posting regularly (about ocne/week) on my Psi-punk Developer's Blog over at Blogger. I do try to drop word of it whenever it's appropriate, and I have a fair number of readers (at least it would appear that way according to the Google Analytics statistics; I don't seem to have anyone actually *commenting* yet).

IMO, a blog is still a good way to get people interested in the game while serving as a creative outlet, or even just a subtle marketing push (by talking about what is going to be in the game at launch, people can get excited about it early).

Of course, I promote the blog on Google+ as well. I'm not a Facebook or Twitter kind of guy so I've been reluctant, but I know that at some point (and soon) I will need to start looking into those venues as well (pride be damned).

I'm still not sure what my overall budget should be yet either though.
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Neil Carr
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Right now I'm working on part two of the survey I did and I found I needed to pass through the whole 150 sample again to get more proper detail. Where in my previous passes through the sample I was mainly paying attention to the numbers and the behavior of the backers, in this pass I'm paying a lot more attention to the behavior of the creators.

Unfortunately I didn't think to figure out any kind of data point to collect that might help with marketing, but just from a general impression, the successful projects had in one way or another invested some chunk of money into their campaign. I think a lot of it depends on scale. If someone had a target funding goal of $1000 or below, then the amount of art and other widgets might have amounted to only a few hundred dollars. If it was a more ambitious goal though then my vague impression is that there is enough creative media content invested in the project that might be more along $1000 or so, or it's equivalent in talented skill on the part of the creators.

I was just marveling again at Tephra, at first perplexed at that outcome. No PDF offered, no industry credit, and a modest $1000 goal. There is nothing particularly unique or special about their rewards (beyond the lack of a PDF), the text isn't extensive and all they have is a single piece of art that is clean and bright, but neither mind blowing. However when you go over to their website you find out that they've spent five years on this project, even founding a company at it's beginning and have been playtesting and attending cons all this time with revision after revision as the project, and investing in trade dress along the way. So in the end getting $24k is both appropriate and likely too low for the amount of time and energy put into what they made.
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I'm actually surprised to hear that there are Kickstarter project ads out there! That's what comes from really only frequenting RPGG (with ad blocker) and Paizo (who advertises themselves only).

I think the RPG kickstarter supporter community is mostly made up of the hard core fans, so I think you want to find ways to reach them. I think word of mouth is still the best way, since it's a very small community. These days it seems like podcasts are a way to get yourself into that community - there are a lot of them out there, many based on interviews, and they seem happy to grab folks. There are also some that act as news sources.

This is all free advertising and builds your project a community.
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Chad Bowser
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Don't forget to go old school. Business or post cards with snazzy art and the kickstarter URL can be left at cons and game stores. If you can't make it to a con, contact the organizer and see if he'd be willing to drop some on the freebie table if you mail some to him.

A few months back I received a post card in the mail about mcookman's zombie kickstarter. It was clever enough that I checked it out.
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Jacob Wood
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As an update to my previous post about social media, I went ahead and set up Twitter and Facebook accounts for Accessible Games (the business name I will be publishing under) and started promoting them on my blog and on appropriate forums. I keep hearinga bout the success of social marketing campaigns, but I'm quite stunned at just how well they seem to work.

In just two days, traffic to my blog has more than doubled. @FudgeRPG and @GreyGhostGames (on Twitter) both retweeted a link to my website, and since the game is based on Fudge I'd say that's pretty promising. I am hoping that this isn't just a phase; I know I need to continue to promoting my game until I turn blue in the face, but hopefully with a bit more time and effor people will start talking about the game without my prompting them to do so. Once that hapepns, I'll know I'm finally on to something.

That being said, the total cost for this marketing investment is $0. I'm going to stay realistic and keep in mind that I will likely have to spend some cash once the Kickstarter gets going to make sure more people find out about it, but I'll consider myself a proponent of social marketing for now.

If you haven't already, set up a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and a Google+ Page for your game ane make sure people find out about them.
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Neil Carr
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This is something I should have asked a month ago, but what do people suggest for RPG related twitter hash tags for projecting your game out into the world of twitter?

I've been using:

#rpg
#pathfinder
#roleplaying
#roleplay
#games
#tabletop

along with broader things like:

#kickstarter
#crowdfunding
#fantasy
#geek

You can get a sense of their use at hastags.org, but it would be great to just hear what others are using. I have yet to see some comprehensive list of roleplaying game hastags to use for systematically getting the word out as wide as possible.
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Those all seem pretty solid. I'd also suggest #BestofKickstarter and perhaps following @BestofKickstarter.
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William Hostman
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cjbowser wrote:
Don't forget to go old school. Business or post cards with snazzy art and the kickstarter URL can be left at cons and game stores. If you can't make it to a con, contact the organizer and see if he'd be willing to drop some on the freebie table if you mail some to him.

A few months back I received a post card in the mail about mcookman's zombie kickstarter. It was clever enough that I checked it out.
My FLGS doesn't appreciate buisiness cards nor post cards being left. They destroy them as soon as they discover them... unless prior arrangements were made with management.

So, check before leaving. No point in wasted effort, or worse, effort that annoys a retailer who might very well otherwise want in.
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*Personally* I wouldn't back an RPG KS because there are *so* many PDF RPGs out there (and free ones to boot). But many RPG'ers want a hard copy, so a PDF and hardcopy bundle is an obvious candidate for a KS project.

I'd advocate making your PDF available to the public. This can be a beta version or final one (especially if you got good layout skillz), and you can choose to charge for it or not -- including a discount for a hardcopy version if they bought a beta PDF. DriveThruRPG is *the* site for buying PDFs. I noticed some companies use both KS and DriveThruRPG.

OTOH, If your RPG product is something that will make RPG time out of thin air or get some buddies to play a game without any of us having to organize it, then, YES, lemme know about it!
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Hal Greenberg
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I do check out the ads on ENWorld.org for Kickstarter projects there is also http://rpgkickstarters.tumblr.com/ that gets its info from ENWorld.
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Chad Bowser
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Are you at a point yet where you have metrics on what advertising (at least on which websites) proved most effective in driving traffic?
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Neil Carr
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cjbowser wrote:
Are you at a point yet where you have metrics on what advertising (at least on which websites) proved most effective in driving traffic?


I'll post the end results of the analytics that KS provides creators. Unfortunately it isn't as detailed as something like Google Analytics, so there are a few categories that leave me scratching my head as to what they mean. It might also be that how they categorize some vectors to the site is just lumped together too broadly and so I'll never really know.
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Deane Beman
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As Kickstarter becomes more popular the sheer volume of projects has become overwhelming; and needless to say the quality of some projects is lacking.

I think the first trick is to create something that no one else has done or do something that has already been done in a unique way. In short you need to do something that sets you apart from the pack and that, in and of itself, will garner you some exposure.

Take as an example this project from the Music category:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1430248724/the-bwbq-debu...

In a nutshell these are four cute, young girls playing the bassoon and performing their own arrangements of popular songs as well as classical selections and original compositions. This is so absurd it's bound to generate buzz...and the fact that they are actually talented and entertaining helps to create a perfect marketing storm.

In the gaming world finding that original project can be difficult. Carnival was an original concept that captured my attention, as did Garden Dice.

Reward levels that allow backers to become a part of the game can generate a natural buzz as well. Allowing backers to name or even have their likeness worked into the game will get lots of attention.

I think the bottom line is to get other people talking about your project...and talking about it in areas that some gamers don't necessarily travel. For example it is likely that many of you hadn't heard of the Breaking Winds Bassoon Quartet; but I'm sure most checked them out based in my link and some may have even backed them. So imagine if a bassoon afficianado were to sing the praises of your game on whatever forums bassoon players frequent? You'll find your project exposed to an entirely new (and quite possibly bizarre) demographic that otherwise may never have stumbled upon your creation.
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