You’ve spent months, if not years, leading up to your Kickstarter campaign. You’ve spent tons of time and effort on brainstorming, developing, testing, marketing, networking, and campaigning. When your Kickstarter successfully funded, it seemed like the apotheosis of your board game career. But with great money, comes great responsibility…
Before you reach this point, there are a few things you’ll need to do first. I cover these in depth in Kickstarter Math: How to Deliver Your Board Game On-Time and Within Your Budget and How to Order a Print Run for Your Board Game Kickstarter.
For the sake of a simple recap, here’s what you need to know. “A lot of creators get into trouble by giving Kickstarter backers their most optimistic timelines which they are unlikely to meet in even the best of circumstances.” It’s one thing to miss deadlines before your campaign launches. At that point, you’re only making promises to members of your team and fans who would be likely to back you no matter what. After your campaign, though, once people’s hard-earned money has been taken, you’re on the hook to meet deadlines. If there’s one time you shouldn’t slip, it’s after the campaign. (Granted, 84% of people do…)
You have five hurdles to clear after your Kickstarter campaign ends. They are:
- The Kickstarter funding payment must clear.
- The game must be printed.
- The game must be shipped to your warehouses.
- Your backers’ orders must be fulfilled.
- You must resolve any issues related to fulfillment.
Though all of these hurdles occur after your campaign is funded, you have to forecast how much time they will take before you even start your campaign. You can get these by talking to your printer and your fulfillment companies. Kickstarter funds usually take two weeks to clear, but their policy could change in the future – so always double check!
Let’s take each of these hurdles one by one.
The Kickstarter funding payment must clear. You don’t get your funding immediately. Kickstarter takes two weeks to process the payment. You’ll get most of this in a lump sum, and a few people whose cards errored out will correct their information and you’ll get their money late.
The game must be printed. This process often takes well over a month and usually involves asking someone overseas to process extremely technical information with hard-to-use equipment. While many printers are great at their jobs, the amount of things that can go wrong is staggering. Misaligned prints, bad ink coloration, water damage, tears, snags, and unexpected time off. Your game’s not done until it’s done.
The game must be shipped to your warehouses. Of course, it’s not enough to simply manufacture the game. It has to be shipped to warehouses for fulfillment. If your game is heavy or there’s a lot of it, you’ll probably have to ship by sea. This can take a month or two. You might be lucky enough to have a game that you can cost-effectively ship by air. This is faster, but it’s still not immediate.
Your backers’ orders must be fulfilled. Once your game is delivered to your warehouses, they have to process the inventory and get it ready to ship to customers. This can take a couple of weeks. Fulfillment is a complex operation, especially the way third-party fulfillment companies do it.
You must resolve any issues related to fulfillment. Even if you never touch the merchandise, you’re on the hook. You are, after all, the face of the company. Throughout the next few months, you’ll have the occasional dropped package or return. It will be up to you to handle those issues in a timely manner, contacting the appropriate parties as you need to.
As you’ve likely noticed by now, most of these things are out of your direct control. You can’t make Kickstarter or the bank release your funds faster. You can’t print your own game. You can’t steer the boat from China to the US or Europe. You probably won’t even end up fulfilling your own game, since it’s usually better to go through a third party. Yet when you encounter problems, you will be accountable. Fun, right?
Most of what you can do has been done by now. You have to be proactive well before you get to this point if you want your campaign to fulfill on time. Even then, you can do everything right and still miss your deadline. Boats get lost. Customs opens random packages and delays their shipping. Printers lose electricity for a few days. Bad things happen.
To some extent, you can prevent delays by adding time to your schedule. Add too much time, though, and it looks like a padded estimate. It’s a delicate balance. Once you reach this stage, your best option may very well be to focus on your next game.
I talk a lot about project management. It is, after all, the backbone of successful Kickstarter campaigns – board games or otherwise. We all want to make amazing games and make people smile. One of the best ways we can do this is simply by keeping our promises. There’s a lot that goes into this, but a little bit of preparation goes a long way. It is on the pillars of pragmatism that we support our dreams.
Good luck on your projects! If you have any questions, feel free to ask below 🙂