Crowdfunding, primarily through Kickstarter and Patreon have replaced bootstrapping in the table top RPG scene. Creators are going directly to their fans to get money to get a project made. Anyone paying attention knows this and probably has their own thoughts about how this has come about. I want to share a few of the criteria I have when I support a crowdfunding project. I want to be clear that this is merely how I personally make the choice whether to support a project or not. You may find it a useful data point for your own project.
I won’t support a creator on Patreon anymore. Period.
Mainly it’s just a situation that the output of these projects tends to be erratic; not just in quantity but in quality. Some months what you get is great. Some months it sucks.
I also think the business model of Patreon is predatory. They charge a rather high platform fee plus the payment processing. With some effort, a creator can do the same thing from their own website just using recurring payments on Paypal, which is the company that processes the fees for Patreon anyway. I suppose Patreon is the easy button for a creator. Set up an account and away you go but if getting paid for your work is important to you then make the effort to do it in a way that makes it easy for your customers.
There is always the simple “donate” button. Podcaster Dan Carlin has been making a living from the donate button, Amazon affiliate links and sponsorship by Audible for years now. I kick him a buck every now and again.
My basic requirements for supporting a Kickstarter
As Seth Godin has said; it should be called Kickfinisher. When the campaign goes live on the website, you should be mostly done before I will support. Any number of things can happen to prevent a project in its early stages from being completed. If your book isn’t written, edited and mostly laid out then I’m not your guy. I recently supported a deck of playing cards illustrated by a local artist. He had completely finished all the art and was ready to go to press, he just needed the money to send to Bicycle. I feel very comfortable that he is going to deliver.
You need a track record of finishing something. I want to see that you’ve taken a project to the finish line before. That could be a lulu book, a zine, a series on your blog, a PDF, whatever. Show me that you can close.
Don’t go crazy with the stretch goals. I have seen stretch goals kill Kickstarter delivery times. We’ll give you all this great stuff if you give us more money! It feeds in the the first bit. Stretch goals tend to be things the creator hasn’t actually done yet. If you give us more money we’ll hire another illustrator to make a thing! That means you don’t have it ready, in hand to go to press, you have to change around the lay out in the book. It just leads to delays. If you are going to do a stretch goal, make it something you already have in place.
The basic version of your thing should be available at a lower tier of support. I’m not really into memorabilia. I don’t need a challenge coin, a patch, a shot glass or probably not a t-shirt. Sell those things on your etsy page or something as another revenue source. Don’t make me buy a bunch of crap to get the book and if there is a softcover inexpensive printing that has the content that’s great. I don’t need silk ribbons and cloth bindings. I like those things. I think they are nice but a lot of the time I am looking for function over form.
These are the basics. I could go on for awhile about it but these are what I want when I’m looking to support a Kickstarter. Your mileage may vary.