Be honest about your crowdfunding risks and challenges

At the bottom of most Kickstarter pages, below the pitch, is something often overlooked. Way down at the bottom, there is a little section labeled “Risks and Challenges”.

Most project managers don’t take it seriously. They should.

Kickstarter implemented the Risks and Challenges section in September 2012. This was announced as part of a push to remind backers that Kickstarter is not a store. Kickstarter backers assume a measure of risk, and that should be reflected in every campaign pitch.

The goal is to help project managers be thoughtful about potential stumbling blocks. The reality though, is that many campaigns treat this requirement as a threat rather than an opportunity.

Risks and Challenges aren’t your enemy

Too many Kickstarter projects fear Risks and Challenges. Therefore, that part of the campaign ends up sparse, saying nothing at all.

The thinking goes like this, “If I tell people what might go wrong, they won’t back the project, because they’ll assume it will go wrong.” As a result, some project managers tend to avoid even thinking about potential pitfalls.

Kickstarter backers have gotten smarter about evaluating crowdfunding pitches, though. Tell people what might go wrong. If you don’t, experienced patrons are going to question your credibility. They will assume you either you aren’t being honest or you aren’t savvy enough to consider where your project might run into trouble.

Therefore, it’s a smart idea to be detailed and thorough when considering Risks and Challenges.

Use Risks and Challenges to your benefit

The Risks and Challenges section is your chance to seal the deal (even though it’s lower on the page). This is your opportunity to show off your planning prowess and build trust with backers.

If your campaign is for a digital release, consider how stretch goals, certification, ratings submissions, etc. might impact your delivery date. This is where you can also talk about how you’ve built in extra time when considering your estimated delivery date. If you’ve already accounted for the possibility of additional time, you might just surprise backers with an early release.

Are you using new or unfamiliar tools? Explain how learning curve could delay delivery and why those tools are the right choice for this project.

If you are working with a physical deliverables, there are quite a few things to consider. Are you manufacturing in China? Remember that Golden Week can disrupt both creation and shipping.

Shipping and customs can be unpredictable. Have you considered this in your estimated delivery date?

Likewise, if the design phase takes longer than anticipated, manufacturing won’t be able to start when you anticipate. You could run into a busier than expected manufacturing period, which will ripple out delivery delays.

Be thoughtful when writing your Risks and Challenges section. Not only are you offering transparency, but you’re showing off how thorough your planning process has been.

You can read more about crowdfunding in The GameDev Business Handbook available now in digital format direct from Bithell Games or on Kindle from Amazon.

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