“Time is money.”
We’re all well aware of the adage, to where the point of it being a cliche. But there’s truth to it, and it’s a truth you need to understand if you’re going to get into the crowdfunding business. Because if you’re not careful, you’ll do something really, really hellish. This is an issue I see friends do from time to time, as they get swept up with their campaigns.
You’ll offer stretch goals that seem easy at the time, because “it’ll only time, not money.” Creating new content falls under this, and it’s something I’m looking at as I wrap up Mythender & have the additional RKE rewards to create and fulfill.
When you say “At another $2500 dollars, we’ll release X mini-supplement,” that’s all well and good, but that means you’ll be on the hook for creating that. Seems like no big deal, right? Same if you offer bonus or custom content to certain backer tiers. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Thing is, that all piles up. If your stretch goals snowball, you’re suddenly on the hook for dozens more pages of content you have to make, have edited (ideally), laid out, etc. And if you’re not careful, you’ll give yourself a hellish timeline for it.
Let’s walk through a hypothetical:
You have a game, let’s say it’s Fiasco-style, with the capability setting playsets. You have a couple for the core game, and that gets funded. You make some stretch goals, saying “If we hit X, I’ll also release the Hong Kong playset!” Bam, funded, but you still have time left on the Kickstarter clock, so you come up with a new goal. You get three more of these funded before the Kickstarter closes, and you’d got a decent amount of cash for your project. What now?
Well, let’s say you were working on the pre-order model, where you’ve already got the initial content finished. By creating stretch goals, you’ve shifted into patronage, because now you have content to make. Let’s say each of these playsets takes a month to do — you could do them in less optimally, but a month because you have a day job or other financial obligations, as do your editor & layout peeps. (To say nothing of actually playtesting.)
Now the next few months are booked, as you have a responsibility to finish what you’ve been paid for. And when something happens to delay you on one part of the project, it’s like a traffic backup, and that will eat up more of your time. Stretch goals like this will always take longer than you plan for, because life happens.
And, if you’re a freelancer, your time is money. You’ve already been paid for this work, maybe already spent the money, and you still need to push forward with it. You’ll have to turn down work you need in order to catch up, or take on work and delay further. (Hence why Mythender took months longer than I anticipated, though in that case I wasn’t being paid for it at all in the first place.)
I’m not saying to avoid this, but to go in full well understanding the cost of adding more and more content goals on your crowdfunding campaign. There’s a point where it’s better to take the money from a stretch goal and use a portion of it to pay someone else to make that content for you, because you can only do so much at any given time, and life will get in the way of a perfectly formulated timeline.
 Incidentally, the next Master Plan ep should be out by the beginning of October.