In this the second of my RPG Kickstarter blog post series (check out the first on campaign page structure here), I will outline what to post in your Kickstarter campaign updates. Some of the best advice I've gotten from RPG Kickstarter veterans is to thoroughly plan out if not pre-write your update posts before your campaign goes live. In your scramble to promote your Kickstarter, answer questions and put out fires when your campaign launches, you'll thank yourself for every second of preparatory effort.
To complement these guidelines, take a look through the updates from the following campaigns. The Mork Borg crew, Exalted Funeral, and the folks at Tuesday Knight Games handle campaign updates with a professionalism everyone should strive to emulate:
Aim for 5-10 update posts over the course of your campaign (one roughly every 2-3 days). Over-posting generally isn't an issue for RPG Kickstarters, but under-posting definitely is. Frequent posts help reassure backers that you're active, present, and dependable.
Good update posts feel like content rather than dull administrative affairs. Before posting, review your updates in this light. What could you add to make this post more interesting and engaging?
Pack your posts with eye candy like you would for your main campaign page. Even on a dry post about shipping updates, try to include some new bit of art or design to grab people's attention.
Save juicy surprises and updates for the mid-campaign lull. Between the first and last 48 hours, Kickstarter campaigns slow to a crawl. Try to hook people back in with cool announcements, well-known contributors, and new stretch goals.
Combine multiple topics into single updates. Don't be afraid to write meaty, almost blog-length posts. Remember, update posts are content.
While a matter of taste, many update posts read more informally than main campaign page copy. In your updates, you're writing directly to your backers and perspective backers. A more intimate, conversational tone often feels appropriate. Just make sure to clearly state any critical info.
After your campaign successfully ends, try to update your backers once or twice a month.
If your project runs into problems and deadlines get broken, post honest, consistent, and frequent updates. The last thing you want is for your campaign to appear abandoned.
Issues and questions about a particular aspect of your project will inevitably come up during a campaign.
Address any concerns swiftly and clearly, and update your campaign page if necessary.
Kickstarter has a built-in FAQ section but I find it rarely gets used in smaller projects. Even if using the FAQ, double-up your clarification in an update.
We're Funded Celebration
When your campaign funds, post an update letting everyone know!
Thank your backers. Include them in your celebration.
If funded with impressive speed (within 24 hours), note how long it took.
Remind your backers to help spread the word and post your social media links. Marketing people would probably say something about a "call to action."
Adding Stretch Goals
Unless you've revealed all your stretch goals from the get-go (or aren't using them at all), you should be heavily featuring new stretch goal announcements in your updates.
Double-up on new information. Even if also updating your main campaign page with new goals, tell people about them in an update.
Go into detail. Talk up your fancy reward, add contributor bios if the goals involve other creators.
Use art and mockups. Particularly for physical rewards, give your backers an idea of what the thing is going to look like.
Exciting new stretch goals while cross promoting a smaller project from Mork Borg: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jnohr/mork-borg-cult-heretic/posts/3074102
Hitting Stretch Goals
Like adding stretch goals, but with more celebration.
Add even more detail about the goal.
Pair successfully met goals with new ones in your updates.
Project Status Updates
What's going on with your project right now?
Did you just do a round of playtesting? Got back some paper samples or proofs? Some sweet art just came in? Post about it.
Pepper these into your other updates. Peeling back the curtain so people can see what you're doing is a great way to get people excited and make them feel involved.
Highlight an aspect of your project not fully covered by your campaign page.
Be it a deeper look at your zine's contents, a bonus item from a higher backer tier, work from a particular contributor, or a look at your fancy book production--people like to learn more stuff about your project.
This is a good way to tap into those longer, blog-like content posts.
Sean McCoy particularly excels at these detailed looks behind the curtain: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gerdling/gradient-descent-module-for-mothership-sci-fi-horror-rpg/posts/2799086
Promoting other projects concurrently running with your own in an update is great way to help support your fellow creators.
If making content for a particular system, genre, or RPG scene, talk to other creators doing similar things about promoting each other.
Particularly if your campaign is doing well, highlight smaller campaigns that might be struggling to get across the finish line.
Use cross promotion sparingly in updates. No one will mind some campaign recommendations in a post or two, but as always avoid veering into spam territory.
Did you go on a podcast, record an actual play, or get interviewed for a blog? Tell people about it in an update and share the links.
Time Remaining Reminder
When there's 1 or 2 days left in your campaign, tell everyone!
Encourage undecided backers to help you squeak across that "funded" finish line, or reach just one more stretch goal. Get excited!
Again, direct backers to help spread the word on social media. This is your last marketing push, so make it count.
Campaign Success Celebration
Take a breather, you did it! Celebrate with your backers.
Thank your backers for supporting you.
Sketch out next steps. Get your backers oriented for the post-campaign page. When should they expect another update, and what will it contain?
Pledge Manager Update
Are you using a post-Kickstarter pledge manager like Backerkit to collect shipping and add-ons? Walk your backers through exactly how that's going to work.
Add a short FAQ: How will you be notified when the manager goes live? Who do I contact for support questions? I'm moving, how can I change my address? Etc.
Note if your pledge manager will accept pre-orders from non-backers (consider headlining or making a separate update focusing on this, you'll want to get the word out).
See how the pros over at Exalted Funeral handle it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/exaltedfuneral/putrescence-regnant/posts/3029731
Survey/Pledge Manager Reminders
After you've sent out a survey or went live with your pledge manager, remind your backers about it in every single following update post. Do your best to make sure backers don't slip through the cracks.
Give a prominent last call notice before you close your pledge manager or shipping survey for fulfillment.
Project delays are a fact of life for most RPG campaigns. Be honest and prompt about explaining delays and you'll keep rabid backers at bay.
Tell backers about specific problems. They're more likely to empathize with "the cargo ship my pallet of books was on sank to the bottom of the ocean" than "delayed by unforeseen issues."
When things are going well, update your backers about that too. Show off a fancy new layout spread, tell them when your books arrive from the printers.
A painful message from Luka Rejec about a delay-prompting tragedy. UVG has quite the storied history of unexpected delays, but their nearly 70 updates kept backers steadily informed throughout the ordeal: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/exaltedfuneral/the-ultraviolet-grasslands/posts/2597470
Did you release another project or launch another Kickstarter? You could tell your backers about it if you dare.
Use with caution! Backers will get annoyed if you use the campaign update feed as a marketing platform for your other stuff. If you do this, make sure you do so sparingly and tastefully.
Include self-promo as an addendum to other updates in which you've shared some good news. Don't announce a delay along with a new book.
If you've already fulfilled your book, limit yourself to a single self-promotional update (if you post one at all). A notification that you've launched another Kickstarter can work if you phrase it correctly, your previous campaign delivered smoothly, and your new one relates to the old.
As in mid-campaign Detail Spotlights, post blog-length content updates about production.
Stretch Goal Completion
If you have stretch goals getting fulfilled separately from your main book/zine (like digital bonuses), update backers with clear directions for how to get them.
Tell backers when their books get shipped, when you've heard back that backers have started getting their books, and/or once most of the backers receive their books.
Let backers know who to contact if they have a problem with their order.