5 Tips for Crowdsourcing Content as a Kickstarter Reward

crowd surfer

Folks asked if I could share some best practices on crowdsourcing content as a part of a Kickstarter campaign. Ooh boy, yeah. Crowdsourcing is a very fun way to engage your backers in the project. It's like a giant mad libs. I've incorporated crowdsourced content into Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (letters, characters), Happy Birthday, Robot! (examples of play), and soon Utara (island names). There are a few basic tips I've learned.

1: Survey your real estate.
"We're releasing a role-playing game with a random citizen generator. Want to be listed as a resident of our world? Pledge now and join up!"

What are you offering and how much of it can you offer? If you can, offer examples of the context in which your offering will appear. For example, if you wanted to include a d100 random citizen generator in your game, you could offer space in that list for high-level backers. Limiting the availability increases the value of that space. As the spaces get sold out, that also gives you stuff to post updates about throughout the Kickstarter campaign, ie screenshots of the page with the generator.

2: Keep submission guidelines clear and constrained.
"[Tier Description] Backers at this level will be listed in the book as a citizen of the worlds. See the description details. [Then in the body description...] Each listing can be up to 100 characters. Please submit by January 1st. All submissions subject to editorial approval, so keep the language clean, folks. For example: Jenn Wong raises striped unicorns for their magical feathers."

Make the submissions as easy to create as possible, with clear guidelines. Short text is usually a good standby, as you can see from any rapidly trending Twitter hashtag. If their submission doesn't fit, gently offer alternatives and explain why their submission doesn't fit your guidelines. These are paying customers, but they also respect your vision.

3: Declare your default format.
"If you prefer, or if the deadline has passed, we'll make up a submission for you based on your name."

People are busy, so be prepared to come up with this content yourself. Write these up ahead of time with your team and leave open blanks for backers' names. Twitter can be very helpful in this process, but also call for ideas from all channels: blog, google+, facebook, etc.

4: Take requests.
"If you'd like your entry to be named in honor of someone else, let's talk!"

We got lots of backers in Do who wanted their children, friends or family to be named instead of themselves. That, or we got requests to incorporate their interests or occupations. We tried to accommodate those requests whenever possible. As soon as you get a request, make special note in the Kickstarter backer report for that person.

5: Use custom survey questions and the Backer Report functionality.
"Congratulations! You're a citizen of the worlds. Tell us in under 100 characters, what's your name and what do you do?"

When you ask folks for their shipping information, you can append custom questions to the survey to get their content all at the same time. I can't overstate how useful the backer report is for keeping all this information in one place. Export the CSV, load it onto Google Docs and share it with your team so you can all collaborate at the same time.

Any more tips you'd share for crowdsourcing content?
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.