I spoke with Jim with the Miniature Building Authority while I was at the 2016 Cool Mini or Not Game Expo. They produce very high-quality terrain sets for miniature gaming. If you follow tabletop gaming on Kickstarter, I am sure you will instantly recognize their work. As the designer and sculptor of the models, Jim is right at the center of their creative enterprise. The Miniature Building Authority has raised $260,000 for their projects on Kickstarter. That number will go even higher because their Castles II project is live right now. I asked Jim for the one piece of advice he has for creatives who are trying to get started. Let’s listen to what he has to say:
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Jim’s advice about knowing the true cost of your project is so important. Knowing everything about the finances of your project is the only way you can confidently set a funding goal that you know will allow the project to be completed. (Having your project 95% complete before the campaign launches will be a major help in this.) Then, when the campaign is live and doing well, don’t get caught up in the excitement of the campaign and start adding stretch goals or other additions that have not been rigorously budgeted for and planned in advance. Don’t let a moment of exuberance during the campaign cause you to promise something that will ruin your entire project.
The is one reason I don’t give too much weight to raw dollar amounts raised on Kickstarter. Large numbers are flashy and draw attention, but just knowing the amount raised tells you nothing about how financially successful, or even financially sound, the project was. If 2,000 people all pledge $50, you have run a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign. But, if you have miscalculated and lose $3.00 on each Kickstarter reward you send out, you actually ran a $-6,000 campaign. Plus, the project creator may have already spent thousands of dollars developing the prototype and thousands more to market the campaign. These might be expenses he or she is not planning to recoup until post-Kickstarter sales. The bottom line is, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of variables that influence the financial success of a Kickstarter campaign beyond raw dollars raised. Make sure you are aware of all of them before you press the launch button.
Jim also noted that the Miniature Building Authority was originally conventionally funded. It was not until much later that Kickstarter (and the crowdfunding model in general) allowed them to expand their line of products as they have. Even though I tend to focus on raising money for creative projects through crowdfunding, that is not the only way. Starting a business with a capital partner remains a very viable alternative.
If you would like more information, you should check out the Miniature Building Authority’s main website, their Twitter account, Facebook page, and—of course—their Kickstarter campaign for Castles II.