I guess I didn't really know what I was getting into.
When I first had the idea, I was psyched. My mind swam with dreams of a space with at least 6 printers set up, all working 'round the clock. Providing something of value to people who enjoyed the things I did. Becoming a name people could recognize in a community that I enjoy being a part of. Being known as "the guy who did the amiibo stands.”
I spent hours upon hours, days upon days, working on this project. I couldn’t even tell you how much time I actually spent on it. I didn’t even think about it – it didn’t matter. All I knew was I really wanted to do this. When I worked day shift, my afternoons were for designing – if I was on arvo shift, my mornings were spent building. Every spare moment I worked on this project - every other moment I was thinking about it.
I spent $1000 of my own money leading up to the beginning of my project – a printer to use to prototype with, materials to make those prototypes, fonts and sounds that were used to make the project the best that I could. That money was worth spending to me – knowing that I could actually do this, I could make this happen, was more than enough drive for me to work through it all.
I had posted a few photos about the place, on social media feeds, garnering some pretty positive feedback. One photo gained more likes than I’d ever had on any photo before – a good sign! I was getting a few questions here and there – “that’s awesome, can I get one?” I was feeling pretty positive about the whole deal.
All of this culminated into something I had wanted to achieve ever since I first became a backer on Kickstarter – create my own project. I spent so long figuring out the right combination of numbers – print times for my stands, dollars needed to break even, how many of each stand I’d be able to print in an allotted time. I poured over the descriptions of everything in my project over and over again – tweaking here, adjusting there. Even though I dreaded the final piece of the puzzle, albeit the most important one – the video – I managed to come up with a great idea that I loved and was so happy to put out into the world. When the time came when everything was ready, on Friday morning... I launched.
The beginning was, by all accounts, pretty good. I immediately got a backer on a high tier and my announcement post on a facebook page I frequent was getting some positive hits. A few people from that group were also interested enough to go about backing me as well, helping me hit $300 pretty quickly – things were starting up really well!
I was excited but nervous going to bed Friday night. I placed a few more posts on various social networks, silently hoping I’d wake up in the morning to a flood of interest, with questions all over the place, hopeful with a decent chunk of funding on the project. I noticed one comment by a woman on one of my posts that was fairly negative, which made my confidence stutter a bit – but I was ready for this. Negative comments have to be expected. Not everyone is going to be on the same page. I pushed through the thoughts, and went to sleep relatively happy – apart from that slight nagging feeling in the back of my mind.
I woke up several times through the night. I couldn’t sleep thanks to a mix of anxiety, excitement, dread, elation and nervousness. I resisted the urge to check my phone – I just went for walks and tried to force myself to think of anything but the only thing I really wanted to be thinking about. When the time came and I awoke to the hint of light creeping through the blinds, I lay there, frozen.
Do I grab my phone and check to see what has happened overnight? What if it’s exactly what I had hoped and the project has exploded – can I even handle that? As much as I would’ve hoped, I knew the most likely outcome was that very little would have happened.
It took about half an hour, but I finally grabbed my phone and started scrolling through the notifications. A few likes, a few comments. Not much, but some traction – that’s good. I was right - there wasn't much in the way of responses, so I would have to use the morning on Saturday, as originally planned, making my first real push to get some coverage.
My first port of call, before any of that – the project. 3 backers. Total. Damn. Didn’t even gain a single backer over night.
I go to one of the posts – a few positive things are said, but there’s a few more that are negative. I feel a bit disheartened, but again – this was part of my expectations. I generally believe in the thirds rule – One third of people are going to be happy with you, one third are going to hate you for reasons you can’t control and the other third just won’t give a damn about you. I could see how the people who had seen my posts were slowly being divided amongst these groups.
Through the morning, while I’m eating breakfast, I begin my “market push”. I message outlets that I think might be interested in the project, I post my social media posts, I start contacting people I know and hope they will support what I’m trying to do. The early morning is a whirlwind of emotion – I’m getting pinged with a good comment then a bad one, I reply to tweets - I even manage to get a retweet by an influential person in the community that I want to be a part of. This starts of a flurry of favourites and retweets, gaining further reach – and yet, no more backers.
The tides start to turn. Everywhere I seem to post, people are hammering me. I’m getting comments that don’t really seem to bring anything constructive to the table. I post a reminder on the facebook page that was such a positive springboard for me in the beginning – I’m met with only negativity. Comments from multiple sources, asking me why I’m doing this project, saying my goal is to high, telling me my project is pointless.
I was crushed. All this work I’d spent weeks preparing, and people were spending less than a minute knocking it all down. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find anything good about the project anymore. I didn’t even want to look at any of the social networks I so often frequent, for fear of more negative backlash. I’m told by one commenter that I “should probably can the kickstarter page”, with the added bonus of “I read your page and all I want to do is ask more questions not hand over my money!”
Late Saturday morning. I’m lying on the couch. Blanket over me. I can’t move. I have my phone within reaching distance, but face down and on Do Not Disturb mode. It’s 11am and all I want to do is go to bed... For this nightmare to be over. My girlfriend leaves to go shopping, and all I can do is lie there and watch her go.
I feel like I’d never been this low before.
After a while, I slowly come around. I think about all the work I have done so far – it wasn’t all a waste. It was still something I had done, something I could still do. I had a few other ideas still, other things that I wanted to try. I could still do this, I just needed to move in a new direction. I slowly got up and turned on my Wii U – the Splatoon demo was due to start soon.
My girlfriend came home, with my favourite pizza in hand, as well as 4 (!) boxes of chocolates to cheer me up. For the next few hours, I don’t worry about the project –I just sit back and had a good afternoon the girl I love.
On Saturday night, before going to bed, I made the decision to pull the plug on the project. Rather than potentially see the project get an even worse hammering, I decided to message the people that actually did support my project and offer them an alternative. I contacted any outlets I thought might still promote my project and let them know to cancel; I said a massive thank you to the ones that already had.
I don’t think I really was prepared for the roller-coaster that was this project.
The important thing is to learn from everything that has happened and move forward. Through everything that happened, I still have the work I put in; I have the experience I gained through putting my work into action; I have the people I met and the people I got to know better.
Where do I go from here? Well, we’ll see. I still have a few ideas.