How to Successfully Fund Your Indie Game on Kickstarter

Or, Why Your Kickstarter Failed and How to Improve

So you've got an idea for a short film or game and you're looking for funding. Or maybe you already tried to run a crowdfunding campaign and things didn't turn out exactly as you'd planned.

Sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have been tremendously successful in securing funds for numerous creative projects, but you can't expect to simply throw your idea online and watch the cash pour in.

Running a successful Kickstarter campaign takes ​a huge amount of pre-planning and a well-balanced course of action for generating interest and publicity for your project.

Here are some valuable tips for putting together a Kickstarter campaign that people will want to support. Remember, you're asking for their money based on an idea and the good-faith that you'll follow through, so you should be putting as much time and effort into your Kickstarter presentation as you can possibly spare.

The Idea Isn't Enough--You Need to Have a Proof of Concept

3 young female entrepreneurs discuss plans to launch startup company.
David Shopper / Getty Images

This is probably the single most common mistake we see on crowd-funding sites. Someone has a good idea—even a great idea—and in the initial rush of excitement they cobble together a pitch and release it into the wild.


The idea isn't enough!

Unless you're someone with a legendary track record like Tim Schafer and can raise three million dollars on the power of your legacy alone, the Kickstarter community wants to see more than just an idea before they'll offer you their support.

Ideas are a dime a dozen—execution is the hard part, and if you want to see your project successfully funded, the consumer needs to know that you can make good on your promises.

Take your project as far as you possibly can before you put it up on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. The campaigns with the greatest success rate are the ones that are furthest along at launch.

The Presentation Needs to Be Polished

We live in the DSLR era, and the average web-denizen has grown to expect a certain level of polish when it comes to video presentations on the web. Don't film your pitch with a smartphone in some poorly lit corner of your apartment.

Make it nice!

If you don't have a camera that can shoot professional looking video, think about renting a DSLR and a decent lens for a couple days. There are several websites that rent out really good camera equipment at very reasonable rates—take advantage of it!

If you're not up to the task, think about hiring someone to handle it for you. Don't balk at the idea of spending a little bit of money on your presentation—there's risk, but if it's going to give your campaign a leg up then it's ultimately worth it.

In addition to your video, try to make your presentation visually enticing with a well-executed logo, cohesive color scheme, and plenty of multimedia. Sketches, concept-art, 3D Models, storyboards—this stuff can really add to a presentation, and your pitch needs to be as good as you can possibly make it.

The More Funding You Need, the More Awareness You Need!

The best presentation in the world won't yield a successful campaign if nobody sees it, and the more money you're asking for, the more backers you'll need to find.

Films and games don't come cheap, so if you need five digit funding you need to dig deeper than your 200 Twitter followers for support.

The best way to raise the sort of awareness required for a major development project is to receive legitimate media coverage from an industry news outlet like Joystiq, Kotaku, GameInformer, Machinima, etc.

Make a thorough list of all the publications you can think of in the niche you're trying to serve. Put together some sort of press package and find out how you can reach out to the websites on your list. The more interviews you give, and feature posts you score the better off you'll be.

Think of creative ways to get your project out there. Don't be afraid to ask for plugs or mentions, even from well-known personalities (especially from well-known personalities). I can't tell you how many Kickstarter projects I've see Neil Gaiman retweet. If people see something they're interested in, they're often glad to help you out.

Develop a Well-Rounded Marketing Plan

Alongside your media blitz, you should be promoting from every angle you can think of.

Buy a domain as soon as possible and set up a landing page with an email opt-in form. In web-marketing there's a well-worn trope that “the money is in the (e-mail) list," and when you actually have a product you're trying to promote, there's a lot of truth to it. Get as many people to your landing page as possible, and make sure the page is interesting enough for them to want to cough-up their contact info.

In addition to Twitter and Facebook (which should be a no-brainer), start uploading incremental progress updates on both YouTube and Vimeo in the weeks leading up to your campaign. Link back to your landing page as often as you can without being spammy—forum signatures and profiles are perfect for this sort of thing.

Don't Go Live Too Early, But Don't Wait Too Long Either

Last but not least, put some thought into how you time your launch.

Because Kickstarter and IndieGoGo make you set a finite campaign length to raise the cash, timing can be incredibly important.

Try to begin your marketing push at least a few weeks early, and then launch your campaign just as public awareness begins to peak. But don't wait too long. If you know that your project is going to be featured on a well-trafficked blog, for example, make sure your campaign is up and running at least a few days in advance.

There You Go!

Obviously this isn't the "definitive guide to Kickstarter," but hopefully you learned something and came away with a better idea of what it takes to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.

If you missed it, be sure to learn why now is the best time ever for indie development!

Good luck!

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