In the last week I’ve read 3 great articles about mistakes, traps, and red flags crowdfunders make that can significantly decrease their chances of success. I’m going to link to those articles below and highlight the biggest mistakes (in my opinion) out of the 27 options listed in those articles.

Top 10 Worst Things to Do in a Kickstarter Campaign (Board Game Quest)
10 Red Flags for Kickstarters (The City of Kings)
How to Avoid Crowdfunding Traps That Can Ruin Your Campaign (Gamefound)

I’ve focused my list on the mistakes crowdfunders can make that are visible to backers on the project page itself–these are the things that can quickly turn a potential backer into a non-backer.

5. Launching Too Soon: If you launch before your project is ready, before key elements are in place (see below), or before you’ve attracted enough of a crowd to have a strong first day, any potential backer will notice and is less likely to support your campaign.

4. Lack of Details and Third-Party Opinions: The vast majority of highly successful projects have a mix of detailed content that demonstrates exactly what the product is–without such details, a product feels more like a concept than something real. Such content can include the rulebook (even as a work in progress), a playthrough video, previews, and third-party reviews.

3. No Hook: With such an abundance of options on and off crowdfunding, the projects that catch my attention are those that instantly grab me with a hook and further entice me with other hooks. For a game, hooks can include must-have components, themes, and mechanisms (ideally at least one of each).

2. Low Price-to-Value Ratio: Even if you have an amazing product and a perfect project page, if the value of the reward is too low for the price you’re asking, backers might hesitate to pledge. This is particularly important with the now-common practice of charging parcel shipping costs post-campaign. I’m not suggesting that creators break their budget with an artificially low reward price, but I think the price-to-value ratio can be the difference between failing or barely funding and wildly overfunding.

1. Poor Aesthetics/Presentation: A crowdfunding project is largely a visual pitch, so unappealing art, amateur graphic design, typo-riddled text, and unclear rewards can bury a project before potential backers look for any of the elements I mentioned above. Creators who depend on the funding to hire artists and graphic designers can still pre-spend a little bit to commission samples to demonstrate your vision for the final product.

Honorable Mentions

These are still a big deal, but I would say that 80% of backers won’t dive deep enough into the project to realize that these mistakes are present. But there’s no reason to miss out on the other 20%, especially since that will often end up being the most passionate advocates for your project if you win them over.

Lack of proactive, reactive, and transparent communication: A creator’s ability to proactively communicate with backers via project updates, reactively respond to backer questions on the project page and on social media, and to be transparent throughout the entire process (through good times and bad) are crucially important for maintaining backer trust and loyalty.
Overconfident/inaccurate scheduling: A project page is a platform for building trust with backers, especially the trust that you’ve done your research. If you launch a tabletop game campaign for which you estimate delivery to backers in 1 month, potential backers will question if you’ve researched the manufacturing and fulfillment process. This will lead to other doubts, like about your ability to make something awesome and your budgeting skills (inaccurate budgeting is probably the most behind-the-scenes mistake that creators make).
Including early birds and exclusives: An early bird perk is something provided to only a select number of backers based on when they backed the project, and an exclusive is something that you’re promising to provide only to backers. These are widely debated, and sometimes only the most discerning backers even know that they missed out on an early bird reward. My recommended alternatives for both of these methods are (a) offer a bonus that can be unlocked for ALL backers if you reach a certain threshold pre-launch or within the first 48 hours; if you miss the target, move it to a stretch goal for later and (b) offer promos for free with the campaign that aren’t exclusive so you can later sell them to people via your webstore or at conventions.

Thanks to the articles that inspired this post! I’d love to hear from backers about this topic: Have you been intrigued by a project, only for one of these mistakes to instantly dissuade you from backing?


Also read:

Top 10 Reasons Your Kickstarter Campaign May Fail
Anatomy of a Great Kickstarter Project Page
The 10 Reasons I’ll Back a Kickstarter Project
The 7 Mistakes Crowdfunders Make the Day Before They Launch

If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on this blog each year, please consider championing this content!