Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Daniel Zayas. I enjoy playing with my dogs, cooking, and, oh that’s right. BOARD GAMES! I have recently been honored with a pretty cool title as Kickstarter Expert from Kickstarter itself, which is what I want to talk to you about today!
How did you manage that?
I applied! I have this mantra that the harder you work the luckier you get. I have worked really hard the last three years, and while I have had just as many L’s as W’s, I haven’t quit. Losing has probably made me work even harder. So when I took on the 20 some odd Facebook admin roles I did, I had no idea a Kickstarter employee would post about this application opportunity to be listed as an Expert, but being involved in the groups allowed me to get in on the ground floor. I didn’t know one of the requirements for being listed would be to include various Kickstarter campaigns you directly influenced, both who were successful and some who were not successful. But having worked with countless individuals leading to that moment allowed me to qualify for this opportunity. Now I get to work even harder helping creators just in case the next lucky opportunity comes along!
What exactly is the Expert program and how does it work?
The Kickstarter Experts program is fairly simple. You as a creator either need to spend a lot of time gaining experience with Kickstarter as a platform as well as the industry you hope to sell in, or you can augment some of that experience to a Kickstarter Expert, and dramatically improve your odds of funding. Kickstarter Experts offer a wide range of services for widely different price points. I only work with tabletop game campaigns, and I only charge if we successfully fund.
Why and when should people hire you?
Creators can hire me whenever they like before the campaign has launched. But my fee doesn’t change, so I would advise potential clients get in touch with me sooner than later.
What is the most common question about Kickstarter you get and what is that answer?
The most common question I get is usually related to advertising but isn’t terribly useful to new creators. New creators benefit more through organic interactions building excitement for their game over a longer premarketing cycle. You only need 400-500 backers, depending on the game, so the goal is deeper connections, not the number of Facebook likes.
What do you think is the best way to build up an audience for your campaign?
Today, the best way is to create a Facebook group for your game and start to engage people online and offline by asking a lot of questions about what they like and what they don’t like, both about their game and about other games. Some people will not like your game, and that is okay! Tell them you appreciate their conversation and catch them on the next project.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
During the campaign, the best advice I have is to show gratitude. Always. Some backers test a creators’ resolve, but the trick is to stay positive, even if what you say isn’t the best news. Some people don’t respond well to fluffy talk, but nobody responds well to negativity.
When do you usually launch your campaigns?
When they are ready if I can help it. For Eagle-Gryphon, sometimes that isn’t possible due to the fast production cadence set by the powers that be. But no campaign is ever perfect, which is an important lesson for a lot of creators to absorb. Nothing is ever perfect!
How do you structure your days during the campaign?
As a consultant, I pride myself in being able to quickly put out fires. So I really need to be as flexible and available as the creators themselves. They are outsourcing their knowledge to me, so when an emergency happens, I need to be there with an answer. In rare cases, I need to outsource my knowledge to the people who deal with specific issues, whether that is the manufacturer or advertising platform, etc.
What’s the best Kickstarter advice you ever received?
New creators may be green to this, but you really do deal with a fair amount of animosity when you slip up. Mistakes I have made over the years always tend to crop up whenever I am doing something public, such as one of these interviews. As long as you own those losses, nobody can diminish your success. Know that everyone makes mistakes, don’t let it consume you, and focus on what makes you awesome.
The beginning and the end of the campaign are when most of the backers pledge. What’s your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop?
Share on social media the next stretch goal and the next and the next. If it is a slow-to-fund campaign, we have already made too many mistakes to avoid a mid-campaign slump entirely, but at that point, the job is to hustle as much as possible without damaging credibility through blogs and live demonstrations and increasing the marketing budget to make a funded campaign. I help creators navigate this as gracefully as possible.
What´s your tactic regarding stretch goals?
They are necessary to every campaign. Every single campaign. Unless you are being a nonconformist and your audience is celebrating that nonconformity. But if that is not the case, the game is not fully developed for a Kickstarter campaign unless you have figured out what to add to the game in the event you fund quickly. As for what goes into stretch goals? Substantial content. Component upgrades are nice to throw in interspersed between the game content upgrades, but campaigns without gameplay upgrades might as well not have stretch goals at all.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The gameplay graphics. Teach someone to play your game succinctly and effectively, and you are very likely to trigger a conversion if the artwork is worth a damn.
Do you regret something you did on your previous campaign?
Yeah. I launched an offensive game when I myself was green to the industry that I learned from and continue to learn from when it is occasionally brought up as a snide comment on anything I am involved with. I don’t really mind drawing attention to it anymore because if I own my losses, no one else gets to. I am an Expert because I have learned from my mistakes and improved with every campaign I am a part of. My new clients get me plus the experience I’ve gained from my prior clients and other projects. That’s why campaigns with The Daniel Zayas Company logo on it keep getting better and keep making more money.
What is your favorite board game at the moment and why?
I keep getting Mint Works to the table because it is such a tight little game. My favorite is probably The Grimm Forest though. I got to play it a few times on the convention circuit before Druid City Games launched it on Kickstarter. It’s very very good and equally beautiful.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
If you read any of my content to any extent, you know that I hold the lessons from Jamey Stegmaier and James Mathe in very high regard. But the truth is, even though I have talked extensively with both of them, I haven’t met them in person, so it is weird for me to say that they are role models as human beings. In the industry, I have met a lot of very decent human beings, like Scott Morris and James Hudson and Kim Brebach and Patrick Siebert and Cory Goff and Mark Sierens and Tricia Sydney and Chad Krizan and Scott Alden… anyway, the list is too long so that is how I have to end it.
Anything else you want to add?
Creators! Talk to a Kickstarter Expert on kickstarter.com/experts and don’t get suckered by scam artists who use the Kickstarter messaging system claiming to help fund campaigns!
Check out Daniels web page at dzayas.com/contact if you are in need of an expert.