I learned a lot during this conversation with Seven, creator of Publishing Goblin and the force behind the most-funded oracle project in Kickstarter History. We discuss marketing, international shipping, and the transition from Kickstarter to Backerkit as the source for crowdfunding.
- Pre-Order the Alleway Oracles: https://the-alleyway-oracles.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders
- Music by Old Romans: https://www.instagram.com/old_romans
You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:
Chain Assembly: In this week's episode I speak with Seven who is the creator of a bunch of amazing tarot projects. I honestly felt like this was a huge get because anyone who can make over a million dollars on Kickstarter in a single project is definitely doing something right. So we get pretty deep in the weeds here but I really enjoyed every second of it. One thing that I really took away from this was that maybe Kickstarter isn't the only option out there. I mean I know there's Indiegogo and GameFound has been doing things, but Kickstarter is definitely the place where people go to browse and shop for new projects to fund. And because 7 has been very successful with BackerKit recently, I am setting up a meeting with a contact at BackerKit to kind of present my next project and get their feedback if they think it's something that would work well for their interface. I didn't really think that this would even be an option for me until I had this conversation. It was also really great to see all of the money that was put into advertising to have a project reach that height. I never really put too much money into advertising and just kind of hope for the organic growth. But it is also really nice to see that you can use the advertising money from money that's going to be collected from the campaign. That definitely helps solve things in that regard. So I'm also definitely very excited to talk to BackerKit about their advertising tools. Advertising is something I don't enjoy doing, like creating the Facebook ads and scheduling Facebook ads and then trying to do A and B testing to see which version of the copy or which image seems to get the most clicks. That's exhausting. I would much rather pay someone to do it, but the problem is you have no idea if you're paying someone who's good at doing it. Because they have the name BaccarKit behind them, I'm more inclined to mkind of offload it onto those people. So when I do that for my next project, I will come back and debrief on how that worked. That being said, let's go ahead now and move into my interview with the incredibly smart, talented, helpful Seven from Publishing Goblin.
A Conversation with Seven
Chain Assembly: So today we are joined by Seven, the creator behind the Alleyway Tarot, Alleyway Oracles, as well as a bunch of other amazing divination projects and games. Seven works under the name Publishing Goblin and seven has put together some of the most impressive Kickstarter projects I've ever seen and in the history of Kickstarter to I have ran a lot of Kickstarter projects, but none of them have come nearly as close to the success that Seven has found. So I know I'm gonna be learning a lot from this conversation and I appreciate you for giving me some time to talk to me.
Seven: No, no, absolutely. Thanks for having me on. You know, it's so funny because you're like saying you've done a ton of crowdfunding yourself. So you're no stranger to like any of the things I'm probably gonna talk about. And I think there's gonna definitely be points in this where we just realized that a lot of what happened was just strokes of luck.
CA: Well, so I know imagine I imagine a lot of people want to ask you questions like how do you reach a million dollars in a Kickstarter project? And I'm trying not to have generalized questions like that. So I want to be more pointed and specific about the things I ask you. So I could say personally, I don't think I've ever put more than $100 in a Facebook ad. But I believe I have seen Facebook ads for your Kickstarter project. So I want to know what you ar your budgets, balances, results look like, I assume you use also the targeted links that Kickstarter lets you do to track the success of those. Can you tell me what that looks like for you in some of your projects?
7: Yeah, so I also have had a bit of a long crowdfunding history as far as how many projects I've done. It's really not that long in actual time, though. I think my first project was seven years ago, thereabouts. And I've I've done about 20, I think, at this point. A couple of them were crash and burns, and especially my early ones were just super, super small. Right. So when I started, I was doing role playing game books and stuff, and that was. Not lucrative for me at that time, I obviously had no following. I just like walked into with no real idea of what a budget needed to be. So I did a bunch under a different name, Cosmic Mirror Games. And then I moved over to 713 books and then publishing Goblins where I finally established as a business. I never ran ads almost at all until I got to the point with the normal tarot gold and silver campaign, which was. What 2020. And on that campaign was my first time really diving into ads in any meaningful way, and I was using backer kit for my after pledge fulfillment stuff. And you kind of have to buy into them wholly. You get there at pledge management campaign stuff, but you also get targeted ads. And that was a huge part of the success, like the Alleyman's Tarot, for example. On that project though, we made $1.4 million on Kickstarter, but we spent $300,000 on ads.
7: That was at a return rate of like 2.5 or three. So it was still either breaking even or slightly making money or in the end making money by raising the numbers of how many things were printing so everything gets cheaper. And that was hugely a matter of, I was totally chasing the number one spot. I really wanted to be the most funded tarot campaign. That sounded really fun. I had no expectations for that before it launched. I thought it might make a hundred thousand. I had no concept I could go as big as it did. But like, for example, on the Alleyman’s oracles, which just wrapped, we spent around $45,000 on ads. And we did, you know, $650,000 on the project overall. So that still worked really well. We relied a lot less on the ads. We put a lot less money into the ads, but it still always was making sure we were at a good return rate, minimum 2.5 or three.
CA: I got to say, it's funny. I am now realizing how I am such a terrible podcast host because I just started off with my first question rather than letting you introduce yourself. So thank you for taking the reins on that. But so many questions from what you just said. Yeah, yeah. So you mentioned that you started off with role-playing games. Yeah. But how many years ago was that your focus?
7: So I've actually been independent publishing for About 15 years um Mostly self-publishing stuff that was doing I got my master's in poetry I've always been writing things fiction and poetry and stuff and Like I can just pull up my first campaign that I ever did You can easily find out this information When it actually happened. Uh my first role playing game that I pushed on the kickstarter I kept trying to go for something I thought might be a little easier to be a first time outing was umbra and mirn umbra and m-i-r-n mern umbra and mirn the kazakmi rpg Um, it's really fun to go look at we had 38 backers who gave us 1,687 dollars Gosh, it's it doesn't look good. Project Funded June 22nd, 2016. So yeah, it was seven years ago when this project ended. It was a funding goal of $1,500 because in my brain, yeah, that would be a reasonable amount of money. I had no concept. I hadn't budgeted at all. I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up making like a 330 page, eight and a half by 11, like full, big role-playing game book and I only have $1,500 to try to put art in it and then print it and ship it. It was a very big learning experience and then I had 13 created projects on that account. Some of them I canceled almost immediately for different reasons. Like one of them was an accident and I couldn't put out a different project until I canceled one that I had in the queue. But yeah, from 2016 on until 2020, I was doing stuff on that account. I did Umbra and Mirn, which is my first book, which is over on the shelf and so ugly. I tried to do Confluence that failed. I did Generations that worked. I did New Aether that worked. I tried to do Confluence again. And then again, both time failed. I did Dogs the Game, which was a small game that was kind of silly and fun. And that did fine. Failed zoetrope number two worked Moth children I had to cancel that one the second go-around of moth children worked atrocity archives worked then zoetrope second edition failed This was uh my learning account where I figured out all the things and at most Uh, I think moth children might have had the most money of any of those and it made yeah, 2800 dollars So I did that I learned a lot. Uh, and then I was like talking to someone who had a bit of an online following, and I was like, hey, I could make this book for you out of your posts, and it'd be really fun. We did that, it made about $5,000 on my new account. And I was like, this is really good. That's the most I've ever made, $5,000, oh boy. And then built from there, project to project, just slowly growing an organic audience. And if you ignore the Alleyman's Tarot, which is like the lightning in a bottle, 1.4 million. The other projects I've run, everything is always growing at a fairly nice, steady organic pace. If you just remove that anomaly from the data. So the latest project making $650,000 is like really, really wonderful. It's a nice like stepping from my project to project. That's a lot more of a reasonable estimate for what my next projects might make.
CA: So this is great to see because I was just looking at your other Kickstarter account, the current one. And those all looked very successful. I'm like, where did this guy come from? And so it makes me feel a lot better seeing this history. Oh, God, yeah. And it's funny that I think you came from role-playing games and have found your way into the divination world. I'm the other way around. I started in like the divination world on Kickstarter. I guess my first things were coloring books, enamel pins, very small testing the waters with things that I won't get financially screwed over. Something doesn't work. Then I did my first board game. Then I did a tarot deck and that was very successful for me. And I just kind of focused on divination. But my most recent Kickstarter project, which has been my most successful so far, was almost $17,000. It was a role playing game in the Mark Borg space. Oh, heck yeah. Yeah. And so since then, I've been more obsessed with role playing game stuff. And it's like I just in the last two years, I discovered the world of quote unquote, zines of like small one-off role playing game scenarios. And I've been so hooked on that. And I've been developing really big role playing games now. And it's just such a fun world to be a part of because you, I don't know if you're like me, but I want to control every single aspect of every project I do. The writing, the art, the publishing, the product design, the marketing, all of it. I don't have time for it, but I do it. Oh. And so I just love that with a small zine, you can do something from start to finish in a solid weekend if no one bugs you. And you can have a nice eight, 16 page thing that you're proud of and could maybe turn into two, $3,000.
7: I took part in ZineQuest on Kickstarter and did a little role playing game out of old art assets I had already made and then just wrote up the system. Yeah, zines are really, really fantastic spaces and I really wish that I spent more time working in small game spaces, because everything I've been working on lately and all the things that are forthcoming feel like they're a little bit bigger and they're just so much more costly and I'm working with a lot more people on them. Like I started in role playing and now I've been in Divination and now I'm trying to do it where I rotate. So I do one Divination project, one game project per year. So I've got that set up for the future, probably a ways into the future. So yeah, I'm trying to go back and forth. So like on Kickstarter I did, I'm sorry, I'm backer kit. I've done two projects on their new crowdfunding platform now. I did my Oracle Dice second edition, which did 200,000, which was really good. It's a new platform. I wasn't sure if we'd get people over. And then New Avernus was a board game, which was kind of my first step back into getting into games. And it did 30,000 over on Bacricade. So that felt really, really good to know that I can try to tap both markets. So now it's a matter of figuring out how to rotate that well.
CA: A few more questions. Specifically about BackerKit, because probably about three projects ago, I used BackerKit Launch for the first time. And at the time, I believe it was $100 just to get access to it. And I scheduled a meeting with someone on BackerKit. They gave me a little tour. I complained about the price. They gave it to me for free. And now I think it's free for everyone, Launch. But for anyone who is Kickstarter curious, BackerKit Launch is basically just a landing page. You can create a similar one through SurveyMonkey or one of those email providers. EmailMonkey? Monkey? There's some monkey related email.
7: MailChimp, I think.
CA: That's it. Yeah, it's a monkey thing again. I don't know.
7: We really like monkeys with emails.
CA: Yeah. So the reason why that is helpful is that Kickstarter will not give you a landing page until the project gets approved. And even so, their landing page is just a picture, four or five sentences, and people click OK. By having this pre-launch page, you can slowly fill it with details about your project, but really you'll be collecting leads that you can then transfer into the Kickstarter, transfer into all of your marketing post-Kickstarter. So any type of lead-generating page is one of the most important things to launch a Kickstarter project. So if you have an idea, create the launch page and then worry about whether or not you're going to do it later.
7: 100%. and you know there there are ways around even some of the Kickstarter stuff. So like When I was doing the alleyway oracles, I wanted my pre-launch page to be up way sooner before the project was gonna launch so I Put most of the information in and the campaign page was empty and in it and I just wrote hey I'm not actually launching till May please approve this so I have a place that people can like hit notify me on launch. A lot of the time Kickstarter is like pretty flexible with that stuff if you just can reach out to someone and talk to someone. So you can't actually get that up earlier but exactly what you said all it is is one picture and the briefest description you can't have anything else put up there and the other problem with Kickstarter's pre-launch page that doesn't collect emails for you right all those other ones obviously do people who follow your project on Kickstarter you'll never know who they are until they convert and even when they convert I don't think there's any place to see did this person follow before they converted into a backer. I don't think that exists on Kickstarter. So BackerKit or MailChimp or any of these places are all really, really useful for that functionality of gaining a mailing list. I would say that the best part about BackerKit is that they have all of the services just kind of together. So you start with launch, where you're generating a landing page and you're collecting people's emails, and then you have an email list to ping later to try to get them to back your projects. But the other thing is like they'll do the advertising, which is generally very effective and they keep eye on it. So you're like, I'm not willing to go below a 3.0 return on ad spend. So if I spend $30, I wanna make $90. And they'll be like, okay, we're watching that. And if it gets below that, we'll start spending less until maybe we cancel the ads. And then obviously they have the post-campaign stuff. So they have all of that packaged together.
CA: So about the ad specifically, I looked into it very briefly for my most recent Kickstarter project, and I couldn't find any information on the interface. Do you need to like communicate with someone over a telephone or Zoom meeting to initiate that?
7: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CA: Or maybe I just couldn't. Their interface is kind of a mess.
7: It is. You know, that's one of the big tragedies, I think, of BackerKit's backend. Especially when you move to the pledge management part, you essentially have to rebuild your entire Kickstarter campaign into BackerKit so that it can match things up. Like, oh, someone bought this thing called this and it was $70. You have to build that in our system so that we know that these things are related and then you have to connect them. It's a little complicated personally now that I've had like a lot of hands-on experience with BackerrKit. I really, really like the depth of stuff that I have available on their stuff, but it is 100% what you just said. There are a lot of people who connect to BackerKit, try to use them for something. And if they don't get into a call with someone, they don't know what they're even doing. They don't even know if they have anything coming from BackerKit. Like, am I getting a service from you? I have no idea. Yeah, you totally need to talk to someone at BackerKit. And that's one of those things that I also experienced a lot with Kickstarter, where after my 15th project, I finally got a named person at Kickstarter to talk to. And that changed everything for my experience on Kickstarter. Because now I had someone I could be like, I want to do this. Can you just make this happen for me? Um, and the same thing in the backer kit where like, whenever people come to me and they're like, can you give me advice about my Kickstarter? Can you look at my thing? And I'm like, yeah, I will consult for free on people's projects at almost any time. And half of the best thing I can do for anyone is just give them named contacts at Kickstarter or backer kit, because that ends up answering most of their things. Yeah. So yes, you have to talk to someone. I don't know why. I don't know why it's like this. I don't know. It just is. You just have to talk.
CA: Do you know if there's a minimum required ad spend to use the BackerKit marketing?
7: The way that it works is that when you are talking about your project to people at BackerKit, they walk you through what their services are, and then they're like, OK, let's hear from you about what your project is, what you're trying to accomplish with it, what your price points are, your margins. And then they tell you whether or not it would be worthwhile running ads on your project. And I think that, you know, if they realize like the space of design you're working in or whatever, this market, this niche isn't really good with ads we have found in the past, they might just suggest you don't use the ads. I don't think that there's ever a point where they're like, oh, you have to spend minimum this. They will decide whether or not it would be worth it to even try. And then if it is, it's entirely up to you on like how much you want to start with spending-wise, what you want your return on Ad spend to be, what your margins are and they work with you from there. Cause like I've run on projects where the ads just get turned off at some point. Cause we realized they aren't gonna make anything and that's not a big deal. You're still gonna be paying for whatever they spent on the ads after your project is done. And that's the other big thing, right? Is that they will pay for the ads upfront for you and you will pay for it after your project money comes in. So like obviously on the Alleyman's Tarot we spent $300,000 on ads. I didn't have that kind of money. That happened after the project was over.
CA: OK, that was going to be my next question. Do you like pre-budget that going in? But that's good to know.
7: I couldn't do that. I am a poor person who lives paycheck to paycheck, and my paychecks happen maybe once a year if I'm lucky.
CA: So that's really rewarding to know. I have a project that I've been working on with this other artist. And it's like it's in the divination space, but it is not a divination tool. It's more about building community and sisterhood with women around you. That's really a hard thing to describe to people. I know it's going to be a successful project, but I figure talking with them about advertising will help position it correctly. You're definitely opening me up to the possibility of working with them on that.
7: I would highly suggest, and I do to pretty much anyone I talk to, working with BackerKit, even if it does very, once you start it, it really helps you build up a base faster. The launch thing is also, you know, of course really good. But the thing with ads is like, even if you just set it to the point where it does nothing, it's like net neutral to the campaign, if it brings more people in, it brings more people in, and that's always useful. So even if it doesn't make you any money, as long as it doesn't lose you any, it's still a useful service.
CA: I always tell people that the most valuable aspect of Kickstarter isn't so much the pre-orders or sales I'm making. It is the advertising of growing my brand way more organically. It's like a huge adrenaline boost to what you would... I'd never be able to possibly get that many people interested in my products in a local area. I'm sure you've seen the same. Maybe 20% of my orders are international when it comes to a Tarot Kickstarter project. And are you also always tempted to just say no international orders? It's so exhausting.
7: Oh, God.
CA: To arrive and then resending them because they get shipped back for some reason.
7: Yes. You know, I have vastly back and forth. So up until. I think the last project that I hand fulfilled was my. Well, actually, I just did one because it was small. But up until my first edition Oracle dice, I was hand packaging all my stuff and sending it out and it was always like such a problem especially after Brexit and then UK started doing VAT and then the you start doing VAT stuff to International shipping is such a headache. Not only is it expensive you need different licenses you need to worry about these fees that people are gonna receive when they receive it you have to make sure that you mark things correctly because it could get turned around because You actually have two books in here and you only said you had one you lying scum And then you have to repay for that shipping again. It's such a nightmare Once I started using a fulfillment center to handle the packages going out I became a lot less worried about it because even though I knew it was going to be costly still It was no longer something that I personally had to do but I just ham packed and shipped The alleyman podcast cd set and that just happened like this year I my storage unit two blocks away is still full of the extras. And yeah, no, I'm getting people reaching out. Like I live in Germany, my box arrived and it's empty. And I'm like, well, I know I put stuff in it, but I guess, I don't know, what does the box look like? And they're like, oh, well, one of the sides is missing. And I was like, well, yeah, okay. So everything came out. I was definitely paid so much money. I hate international shipping. And the other part that I hate about it more than anything is the cost to backers because so many big companies can subsidize that cost. So they're like, you pay $20 for international shipping, even though I'm paying 60, because I know that most of my orders are gonna be local and I can make that difference. I can't do that generally. I have to pass on the full shipping costs. So they're like, how are you charging me $70 for my tarot deck and these extras? I'm like, well, your package is five pounds. It's going to this weird part of the UK. It's what it costs. And it's really hard to get people to understand that and not be mad at you. It that is really.
CA: Yeah, I agree. One of the hardest parts, like I got a lot of messages for this most recent one from people saying, why are you charging $40 for shipping? Just like you said, it's I'm sorry, but that's what it costs. And I. I hate this, but I say I will give you an extra 20 bucks for your paypal if you check it out, just so you don't feel bad. And that's 20 bucks that my wife would yell at me if she knew I was doing that.
7: Oh, I do that all the time. I'll add credit to people's accounts on backer kit when I know they're not going to be able to afford the shipping or something. And I'm like, I shouldn't do that. I can't afford to do that, but I keep doing it. Cause then I feel bad that I did it to them. And like, you know, I said $70 for the UK and the thing that people keep missing is like, it's going to be 40 or 50 to ship it, but then the VAT cost is like another 20 and and then I get people in the head and they're like, you're costing me $7 in shipping. I'm like, no, it's 50 and then your country's charging you 20 more. I'm sorry, I can't help it. This is just where we're at.
CA: This most recent project, I'm using BackerKit for fulfillment for the first time. Just like you said, I was incredibly confused with the interface. I had someone walk me through what all the buttons do. But before that, what I always did and always worked out really well is, I would just give everyone a coupon code for my online store. They go to my online store, enter that coupon code and check out. So all they're paying for shipping. And that worked really well because then they could see other items I have for sale. And I keep it all in house. I get full control over everything.
7: Did you ever get guff from Kickstarter about that?
CA: No, no, they never complained. It's one of their terms is that you can't. Um, your, your pledge rewards can't be coupons or they can't be, yeah, they can't be coupons. They can't be raffle tickets. Um, but I know that I, you're not the first person I've heard who does it that way, where it's like, I'll give you the coupon. You go to the store, you do it this way and it just helps streamline the fulfillment a little bit. But yeah, I was just curious.
CA: I did have a project where one of the, um, or most of the pledge levels gave you 20% off similar related things from my online store.
CA: They shut that project down when they went to the approval saying that that was not, but in this case, I don't know it's still it is technically a coupon code, but it reduces it by 100 percent. So you're getting the thing. And so it's the same thing as them. Just paying shipping through back. You know, this is better. Kate gives you whatever. Anyways, so that's always worked for me. But with this newest project, I'm working with a couple of other people. So we wanted to have all of their items available for sale when people check out not just my items, which is why it made sense to use backer kit. I was also surprised to know that they charge you to use the backer kit. Fulfillment portion.
7: Yeah, well, it's they pretty much just do the same thing that that Kickstarter does where Kickstarter takes, you know, five percent and then three percent in credit card fees or whatever. Backer just does the same thing. So any funds you raise through their preorder system or through their surveys and stuff. They just take the 5% for them too. So yeah, I mean, no matter where you go, there's always gonna be a cut disappearing.
CA: Yeah. Well, I think for my next projects, if it is again, just me involved, I'm gonna keep doing it to my website because no point in paying that 5% if I'm already paying shopify,
7: Right, right.
CA: My monthly fee.
7: My favorite part about it is the pre-orders that you can just then point the Kickstarter to. There is definitely a thing, some weird marketing experience, social experience, where you were saying earlier, I could never pull enough weight locally or online social media to get the returns I get on Kickstarter. And it's because Kickstarter has this whole dimension around it where it's like, you get to be on the ground floor of this exciting thing, you're creating something, there's limited time to get it, even though you'll be able to get it later, but there's limited time, even though there isn't really limited time, because there'll be pre-orders later. And that always activates people's brains in a way that my online store doesn't, right? So that's one of the big reasons that I think that the pre-orders on Backer Kit is still kind of worth it. Just because it creates that same kind of weird Kickstarter space. They're not buying it from my store. It's something that's coming in the future. They're still supporting it in a weird way. I don't know. I think I just for me, I find it still very useful to have. But I think that if you have the system really well done and you have it on a website and you can avoid the fees. I mean, yeah, do that.
CA: So can you tell me a bit about your experience using the BackerKit crowdfunding feature?
7: Yeah, absolutely. So I was kind of on the base floor, only a couple projects launched before I launched on there. And it was kind of like their beta testing, I guess, kind of before their big official launch. I did my second edition of my Oracle Dice. The first round of my Oracle Dice, I think, to like $25,000 and the second edition did two hundred and thirteen thousand. Which is which is very, very good. It was right after the Alleyman's Tarot did one point four million. So I had a lot of like uncertainty about what would happen, how big it would get.
CA: It is funny how quickly your expectations grow. Five minutes after clicking launch.
7: God, they sure do. And then you can sit there starting crying over half a million dollars. I've been such a pessimist, like all my crowdfunding time, like I never expect anything to make anything. The Alleyman's Tarot, I originally had stretch goals that went to a million dollars. And before it launched, I took them down. So I was like, that's stupid. We're never going to get there. And I took it down to 500K. And then, of course, you know, it did like one and a half. So for the Oracle Dice, I just wasn't sure what it would make. I was also dubious because I was moving to a brand new platform. You know, people go to kickstarter.com to shop. People do not go to backerkit.com to shop. They don't expect there to be a marketplace. So I was very dubious. I knew what I was kind of stepping into. I wanted to try it. I was frustrated with the Kickstarter for policies they were doing. The experience on BackerKit's crowdfunding is pretty smooth. There were obviously bumps because I was doing a brand new platform. But one of the best things that they have going for them is the fact that they have a very active Discord where creators can be there and talk directly to employees and be like, I really want this for my campaign. Do you know when this feature will be implemented? Or I want this feature. I know it's probably not one you're planning on doing. Is that something that can be added? If you went to Kickstarter and you ask for stuff like that, they would say, we're not doing that. Or maybe in two years, we'll get to it. BackerKit will, if it's something they can just put in or they can hack for you, they will get you set up within a week or two. That's just probably the best part about it is that it's very easy to talk to people who are directly working on the platform and influence what you want out of it. That is number one, really, really awesome. For example, when it started, like when my project was live, there was no easy way to get to my project on their website. And I was like, this has to change. This needs to go here. Enough of us were like, yeah, there's an issue that they changed it. I know that's just not something you'd ever get out of kickstart.
7: Now, if you go to a backer, get our comments right there, you can see everything.
CA: I remember a few years ago when Kickstarter, some story came out that they like laid off like 200-something employees. My takeaway was they have 200-something employees? Because they'll release one platform update every three years. It seems like so it's really rewarding or refreshing to hear that about backer.
7: Yeah, you know, there are people bringing kicks at Kickstarter. I've met them. I've hung out with them. I've drank with them at a convention.
CA: I've met people there, too. Like I forgot the name, but this guy was in charge of like the board game representation. I met him at Origins.
CA: And that's it. Yeah. John.
7: Very sweet guy.
CA: Yeah, he's awesome. Everyone I've met who works Kickstarter is awesome. And ironically, like Kickstarter, they like whined and dined me a little bit because I was moving to Backer Kit and then I was like, but backer kit, the people are really great. They are really lovely to talk to. I do think that there's a little bit of tech guy brains going on there where they're like, we're doing this really cool feature that will engage your audience in a way you've never even heard of. And I hear about the feature and I'm like, I don't think I'd use that. I don't think that I think that the reason it doesn't exist because it's not useful. Can you instead do this? And they're like, oh, we'll get to that.
CA: I think what BackerKit has that they really excel at, sorry, what Kickstarter has that they really excel at is interface design.
CA: There are so many ways that people find my projects. I'm sure the same with you. Like when you look at all the Kickstarter lead generation successes, whatever they call those, those specific links like, OK, we got this many people just from weekly emails, we got this many people because it's similar to another project they looked at, we got this many people because it was on the landing page, we got this many people because they clicked on the magic button. It's really impressive the way they lay all that out. And I think they're really just worried about messing with that successful interface that's working so well for them.
7: Yeah, some of the questions that I've asked of them, and requests I've made of them, are usually about some nitpicky things on the project pages themselves. So for example, the alley on the alley man's tarot-
CA: Table of contents would be so great.
7: A table of contents. Excuse me. Kickstarter backer kit launched their new stuff and they have a table of contents on the left. You can just click through people's campaigns. My campaigns always end up being so freaking long that I wish I had a way to put anchors in somewhere. Please let me do that. Alleyman's terror hit the character limit. I didn't know they had a character limit on the campaign story, and they didn't either. So on this one, I requested that they increase it and they doubled it for me. Which was good.
CA: So I always start my I always start my Kickstarter project design with the Google Doc.
CA: Because I'm obsessed with Google Docs. They always use the different levels of titles and things like that. And I like that at least that translates copy and paste-wise. But again, it should have a table of contents.
7: Yeah, it's really silly. There's not a table of contents. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that.
CA: And if you delete an image, it scrolls all the way to the top, which is obnoxious.
7: Oh, God. I have all these stupid images I'm putting in and it takes forever to load it and it finally gets in and then it adds space before and after and I delete them, but every time I go back in there, like, I don't know. There are some things about it.
CA: And it won't play an animated GIF while you're editing there. But, so you did mention Zinequest. I wanna know what are your thoughts about Zinequest and Witchstarter?
7: Oh, Witchstarter is a rough one. The person who championed it and created it at Kickstarter no longer works there.
7: Um, which really sucks. Cause that was actually like my person who I would go to about all my questions. And well, and again, that's, that's their business. But, uh, yeah, I think that we're starters really great. I think that Tarot and divination stuff have such an obvious big community on Kickstarter that it's really annoying that we have to pick whether we're going to be in games or design, cause there's no other place to put our projects. And yet, Witchstarter didn't really fix that. It didn't really give us a category. It created a super category on the site that like found our projects. But man, they just need to accept that divination and magic generally have such a big presence there. Witchstarter shouldn't be a once a year thing. It should just be a category on the projects. So that's kind of what I was getting at.
CA: When I did my last project, my divination project, I did it under the Witchstarter name. And I had a feeling that if I had not done it during that- witch starter for the listeners, which starter was one month a year. Any project that's hashtagged witch starter or whatever gets special visibility. Same thing with zine quest and anything that is hashtagged zine quest more or less gets special visibility during a specific month. And from my opinion, my feeling of that was if I had not launched during witch starter, I would have made more money.
7: Oh, yeah.
CA: Because you're competing with so many people who get paid the same that month as they do any other month. But now there's way more projects trying to fight for the wallet. So I think to be really successful during one of those months, you have to have either the greatest project you're gonna be doing over the next three years, or something so cheap that people will back it and not think about it. There's really no room in the middle for your customers.
7: That's such a really good point. I wasn't even thinking about the witch starter. Witch starter frustrated me because it's obviously a really important category to their website year round, and they should just have divination and magic projects in their own categories so people can find them more easily. But that's a really obvious point. I think zinequest and the smaller things like make 100 campaigns really work because they're very niche. And especially for zinequest, usually pledges are very cheap. So for something like that, it's very easy to be like, look at this market of zines, people come in and get a bunch of them. But yeah, for a witch starter, people are dropping tarot decks that are 50 or $70 and losing most of the pledges because everyone else is going to a different one.
CA: Yeah, that sucks.
7: Not ideal.
CA: I have this project I'm working on. It is a role playing game of design that utilizes a tarot deck. So we're creating a custom tarot deck for the role playing game. So it'll be the first time I actually get to combine my two main audiences for the things I make. And I have a few other people who are making campaigns based on my same rule set for the role playing game. So one thing we were thinking about doing was if you pledge to my campaign, you get this free supplemental material for this other campaign and vice versa. So that we all launch at the same time to help bring visibility to the core rule set, which I already have for free on itch.io, as well as give people an incentive to back multiple things at the same time.
7: That's all just my my my experience with that is that it can be really hard to. Have multiple campaigns at the same time or or like with the LA oracles, I've been thinking about this a lot, because one of the things I heard from people is that that like the buyer's paralysis thing where they went and looked and there were three decks here and they don't have to get all three, but they feel like if they don't, they'll be missing out. But getting all three was too expensive. So they chose to just not pledge at all. And I think that that is always going to be a potential issue for any time that you overlap things like that. But at the same time, what you just said is also true. Like your core rules and the game itself might not be that visible, but if people are seeing it in multiple spaces, from multiple angles, from different perspectives for the different game styles for the other people's versions of the game, like that could be really helpful. But it's also going to lose you some. And the question is like, will it gain you more than it lost? You don't know until you do it. And that's the fun part, I guess, of running businesses, is not knowing what thing will work until you've tried it. My experience is I'm probably never gonna overlap projects again and try to keep one main product in each thing, just because I found it frustrating.
CA: Another thing to think about too, is when you're thinking about your potential audience, you're either making more money by getting your existing customers to buy more stuff from you or finding new audience members. So you have to try and think about what is easier for you to pull off the tools you have at your disposal. For example, if you have an item as an add on in a Kickstarter project, it's probably less likely to be selected than if it was built into one of the pledge levels.
7: Yeah, I think that's changing over time. But yeah, I think people are still hesitant to just grab out on sometimes.
CA: I know I'm kind of the same way when it comes to board games. Back in the day, I'd be like, I'm all in for everything. As I start to run out of space in my house, I need to be very judicious about what I'm actually bringing into this home. I do I need the metal coins for the the game? Probably not. So I'm going to lay off on that. I wanted to ask you about your fulfillment partners. How did you find one? What you know, how many people did you check with before you found a location? How does logistics work for you?
7: Uh, so yeah, my first time doing a fulfillment partner was on the normal tarot gold and silver campaign, which was a two-different tarot deck campaign. Uh, worked really well. It was awesome. I had never used a fulfillment partner before, but it was getting big enough to the point where I was like, I can handle like a thousand packages. I don't know that I want to try to do 2000, 3000. This is getting a little much for me because I'm doing everything out of my apartment at the time. I do. I wasn't. I had not yet gone and got a storage unit to like do it out of, which I did for a big part of the Alleyman's Tarot. And so I was like, yeah, I shopped around. I talked to multiple people. I was trying to figure out good prices. I was trying to ask people what they had used. And what I kept finding is like a lot of people didn't like their fulfillment centers and really I'm a try someone else because I don't like them. I struggled. I used and this might be the wrong name because there were two with very similar names. I think it was like easy fulfillment or E fulfillment, it was E fulfillment. And I fought them every step of the way about everything. They kept adding more nickel and dime charges. I kept being like, I don't need that service. They'd be like, you need to have barcodes on your items. They're gonna be in our warehouse. And I was like, no, because you're shipping literally everything out immediately. I don't need it to stay for you to do inventory. And they're like, well, you have to have them. So we're gonna charge you for adding barcodes to your items. Just every part of it was frustrating. I did not like it. When I was shipping, when I was looking for a new fulfillment partner, but also a new manufacturer for the Alleyman's Tarot, because I couldn't find any printers willing to do it, because I was having different foil and edge gilding on cards that were all different colors and everything. A lot of printers just turned me down. When I finally found one who was willing to do it, it's New Titan, who I've been working with them a few times now. They are a relatively small place but they also do fulfillment. We did fulfillment for the elements terror with them and it overall went well. It was a little difficult because it was way bigger for project than either of us had expected. They were kind of a small company, but I've done my best to stick with them for any of my divination stuff because they will manufacture and fulfill and warehouse things for me. And all of that's just so massive. Is it costly? Yes, but because I have like a direct connection with them and we were working on multiple projects together now, they're willing to be like, we won't charge you this or that, but we will also handle your late sales and we'll take a cut of that. And that will be how we make that money. And I'm like, fine. I just worked with Magic Craft to do New Avernus, the board game, and they did not fulfill for me. So they were like, we have a fulfillment partner will suggest to you. Send from China, because they were a Chinese manufacturer. Send from China has been pretty good. I haven't had any big issues, and I don't know, the ship stuff. My general experience is that I wish I could still handle all my fulfillment, because I have so much more control over it. The worst part about having fulfillment centers is when you get emails from people who are like, my package didn't arrive, or I talked to your fulfillment center, and they gave me the runaround, they won't help me. And I'm like, what am I paying for? If I did it myself, I would be able to handle this immediately. But because I didn't even have your tracking number, I have to go look for something or go ask someone for something. I think that as long as you can keep handling fulfillment yourself, you should always do it yourself because it skips some hurdles. If it gets massive or the money is there to do it. Fulfillment centers do make that portion of it so much simpler as far as what your actual day to day work life looks like. The afterwards of dealing with people's packages that go missing, and then the shipping people won't send another one unless they repay the shipping. That gets a lot more difficult.
CA: So. So I've been using the fulfillment lab for my last four projects.
CA: I found them just because I was-
7: Where are they located?
CA: Tampa. I live in St. Petersburg, and I was just Googling fulfillment centers near me, and that one came up. They at the- This was pre pandemic. They also had a warehouse in Salt Lake City, as well as connections with warehouses in Germany and China. So I thought this would be half to me. But then during the pandemic, that network fell apart. They closed the one in Salt Lake City. So it's just the one in Tampa. So luckily, still fine. But I really liked the idea of having my Chinese manufacturers ship products to me. I keep the ones I want to keep for like local markets and stuff. And the rest, I just drive to the warehouse. And They've been very fast at shipping everything out the same day. But it is not cheap. It is like between 10 and 13 dollars to fulfill a single tarot deck in the United States, which I mean, I would probably be paying. Maybe a dollar less if I'm also counting the cost of boxes and stuff. So the fact that I don't have it in my house makes it absolutely worth it. But the biggest issue I have with them is they only ship DHL, which is weird, right?
7: That's a really weird one. But also DHL is just not my favorite.
CA: Yeah. And like a lot of times the international orders, specifically Italy, is a big problem.
7: What is wrong with Italy? Stop losing tarot decks.
CA: But yeah, I've had to ship something to someone in Italy three times. But the last project I did, I was able to ask my manufacturing partner in China if they could just ship out some of the East Asian things themselves. And they were happy to do that. So that was fantastic. It only cost me like maybe twenty five, thirty dollars to have them ship out. I think it was like 60 decks to Australia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong. Hong Kong loves their tarot decks, too. I get a lot of yes, I do.
7: That is that is one of the big things. If you are willing to ask, people are willing to answer. And sometimes it's as simple as being like, you are already there. It'll be cheaper. I will pay. And they're like, yeah, whatever. Always ask.
CA: I would love to do that more, but like with this upcoming project I'm working on, we're going to have to assemble these kits ourselves because we areusing multiple manufacturers. So then I wouldn't be able to ship them back to China to have them do that, which is annoying. But having fulfillment partner it's funny how your stress gets reduced so much so quickly, but then it just gets replaced with other types of stress.
7: It does, but it's still lesser to do it myself.
CA: Yeah, yeah, it's like it got replaced by new stress, but it is less stress overall.
7: Yeah, it's worth it. It's just a new thing. You have to learn a person's email.
CA: So I did originally try to work with like quartermaster logistics, who is the the go to for board game fulfillment. But they I didn't have the numbers to work with them they needed at least, I think it was 5,000 units or something like that. And I was looking to do 500 units. And a lot of fulfillment partners also don't want to do with the traditional fulfillment partners don't wanna work with Kickstarter related things because it's all that action upfront and then just slow trickle outs. But what's nice about the fulfillment lab is they have an app that integrates directly to my Shopify. So when I do have people just checking out with the coupon codes, I send them the order goes directly to them and it updates them with the tracking number. And then I keep that hooked up throughout the rest of the life of that product.
CA: So when it comes to you choosing how many items to get made, do you do like double what was collected or do you have a specific number?
7: I just, you know, made my bed and laid down on it with the Alleyman's Tarot, where we during the life of the campaign, 25000 decks were claimed, right? Like it was a sizable amount. I looked at that, I was like 25,000 in 30 days. Granted, there were probably a lot of extenuating circumstances, it was lightning in a bottle, people were really excited about the time. When I was like, how many more is reasonable to do? Because it was also one-time printing by contract with all the artists. So I was like, I have to be mindful that whatever I order is all that will ever be. So I wanted it to be a decent amount so that I could have some for the future to sell. But I also wanted it to be a one-time printing and in a way that felt special for people. So I was like, okay. We moved 25,000 during the campaign. I will order 10,000 more. I thought that by the end of that year, those 10,000 would be gone and spoiler alert, they're not. But my manufacturer was like, okay, you're gonna do 10,000. What if we do 5,000 beyond that, that we will pay the cost of? And then we will sell them, you will get a cut of them. And I was like, 15,000 is more than I was thinking, but that's a really fine thing for me. It doesn't put any stress on me. I said, sure. So we did 15,000 extras and to this day, we just have so much of it still left. And it's been a year since we finished all of our fulfillment for that project. And that's so frustrating for me. So right now, for example, on the alleyway oracles, I haven't picked my numbers yet. But if I look at my preliminary-
CA: You did have the alleyway tarot as an add-on for that, right?
7: Oh yeah, I mean, I'm trying my best to get that. We only we only ended up selling like, I think, 200 of them there. We sold that thousands. It's such a hard thing to sell because of how I designed it. It's not good to be on store shelves. It doesn't explain what it is on it. It's a very diegetic artifact to its lore. It's supposed to be an in-world thing that like is real. Like the alley man actually collected this in a giant matchbox. And so it doesn't have a marketing blurb on the back. You can't sell this to people. They don't know what the hell it is at conventions. You have to explain it every time. That was my decision, I guess, whoops. But for the Isle of Wight oracles right now, it looks like each of the three decks sold about 4,000 units. So reasonably, I think that I could order something like 6,000 of each. And this is also one-time printing, of course, but I think once those are gone, that's fine. I think the Alleyman's Tarot is tragically going to be around forever because we can't make them go away. My best estimate is like you can do half again what you made on the project depending on what the project was. So like the podcast CD sets I did, I still have, I had to order minimum 500. We moved about 250 on the project. So I was like, we're ordering 500. We'll just have 250 extra. I My ultimate goal would be to like never order as many as I did on the Kickstarter because Kickstarter is the lightning in the bottle moment. People are excited to go get it afterwards when it's actually available. People are like, oh, that's cool, but I could get it anytime. And it just floats for a long time. That's been my experience. I am curious what your numbers look like. Like, do you typically order twice what you made on the Kickstarter to have inventory to sell? Or what what what is your approach?
CA: It there's a lot of factors that go into it, so. For example, if say I raise $12,000 and it costs me $500. No, that'd be way too cheap. Sorry. But sure, go for it. Hypothetical, I raised $12,000 for a tarot deck and it's gonna cost me $6,000 to get that printed for just the minimum order quantity. But. So I not minimum the minimum I need for the claimed decks sure if I double that Quantity it's not gonna cost me double the amount right, so I probably God that's such a tough thing to answer. I don't even know why I asked you Project sometimes you know, I'll sell more of this. Sometimes you think whoever wanted this got it now.
CA: Yeah. So like my erotic tarot deck sold incredibly well post the Kickstarter project, because there's a market out there for it that doesn't know Kickstarter exists.
CA: I try to do double whatever I need, but I also want to make sure I get to keep some profit for myself and for subsequent projects. So I guess I want to ask you, how do you pay yourself? Do you have a structure? Do you like, because that's something that artists struggle with.
7: So yeah, I'm really bad at it. To rely on Kickstarter. I'm I'm I'm tragically bad at it. Whenever money comes in for my business and it goes in the business account, my first thought is, all right, who can I pay what to get another project moving? Like, is there enough to do this to pay this artist to illustrate all of this stuff for this new game or whatever? And that's that's always where I begin. For the Alley Man's Tarot, you know, it did one point four million dollars. I always need to tell people this because a lot of people don't understand that I underpriced like the whole freaking thing. Because my goal was to get in as many hands as I could. That's always my project's goals. So there's not actually a lot of money left over at the end of these things. So it made $1.4 million and it ended up being two and a half years total from, I did a year of gathering all the artists before the project launched, because it was really hard to sell people on taking part in a deck like this when it didn't exist yet.
CA: Well, first explain how it works.
7: Yeah, so the AlleyMann's Tarot is a 137 card tarot deck that was licensed card by card from pre-existing tarot decks by me reaching out to the artists, pitching the deck, giving them the contract, trying to get them to sign on. The Allie Mann's Tarot was a really hard sell for artists because this had never been done before. I was not very big at the time. My biggest project was $150,000, which is big. But it's not like, I want to sign on with you for this ridiculous project where on that, I let artists set their license fee. It could be anything they wanted from zero to a thousand dollars was I think the biggest one I agreed to. Most people went for a hundred, which is why on this new one, I just started with a hundred. But long story short. You know, I'm trying to get all these people to sign on to this. It was really hard to do. It took a year to finally get the deck together. Because after I got enough people involved who were kind of good names in the art world, I could be like, this person signed on with this card. Look. Then the project happened. Then, you know, COVID was really, really bad for shipping and manufacturing. And it took a year and a half to finally get to people. So it's two and a half years where I couldn't really do other projects. I couldn't really make other money because I was waiting for this to happen and it was getting delayed. And I knew if I launched a new project, people would give me shit for it because the other one's not only not dumb, but it's delayed. So I paid myself $75,000 pre-tax and it ended up being two and a half years of work where I couldn't really make more money. So on a $1.4 million project, I made per year less than I did when I managed an ice cream shop. On the alleyway oracles, which just finished, which did $600,000, I, the money was basically already pre-spent on so many different things and projects that are running in the back, but I paid myself $50,000. And I think that'll be my pay for the year. And that's kind of where I'm at is I usually pay myself once a year. And I think my goal is 50,000 a year pre-taxes, which is, again, it's not really any better than when I ran an ice cream shop. But I'm at least doing these things I love. And I think that over time I can start to increase that. But yeah, so much of the funds when they come in, I'm like, okay, that will help cover the team who's working on Confluence. This will pay Ricky for illustrating the stuff for Zoetrope. This will pay Ezra for doing normal tarot three, which is launching next year. And that's how I'm always thinking is like, how can I keep the other projects moving? So I don't pay myself as well as I could with the amount of money on these projects. I know a lot of people when they saw the over $1 million in Ali-Mans, I had people who were like, so are you a millionaire now? And it's like, no, I don't even have six digits. I wish, I wish I could, maybe someday.
CA: Aside from the Kickstarter projects, how else do you diversify your art business? So, goodness, that's a question. Or is it just Kickstarter at this point?
7: I work on so many different projects. Most everything sticks to Kickstarter. I do have a Square store where I have some things that I try to sell every now and then, but most of the year I just take the store down because I'm working on too many different things and I don't have time or I miss that I got an order. And then someone messages me and they're like, I put an order in two weeks ago and it doesn't even have tracking. And I was like, I didn't even realize. I'm not good at managing a bunch of different avenues like that. And like right now I'm working on like five or six different projects. The ultimate goal for almost all of them is always gonna be Kickstarter. I don't plan for an aftermarket for most things. I don't be like, I want a bunch extra Alleyway Oracles so I can sell them on my Square Store because I end up taking my Square Store down most time. So I focus predominantly on my Kickstarter stuff. And then that's why I'm really excited about working with New Titan is that they are running a store and a warehouse and fulfillment for some of the late stuff from the Alleymans. They agreed to do it for the Oracle Dice. And I'm like, honestly? If I can set it up that way and they handle it, I just can't handle the additional avenues. I lose track of things too fast. So Kickstarter, that's where everything is. I'm trying to do more conventions. I'm trying to be on more convention circuit-y things. I am going to two Pagan festivals in October. One of them I was invited as a headlining guest. One of them I'm returning to this year after going last year as a headlining guest. So I'm trying my best to become public face of my business, you know, and and get into those other spaces. I'm going to GenCon this year I didn't get a booth again because apparently you have to be on those booths By the time the con ends if you want to be there next year But I will be at Big Bad Con and Pacs unplugged and those places like I'm trying to be a company presence Maybe sell things maybe be I Don't know networking which is a gross term.
CA: Yeah, it is a gross term.
7: I hate being a business owner. I just want to do art.
CA: I love the networking.
7: The networking is good. I don't like the term.
CA: So I know the struggle you're describing about having so many Kickstarter projects lined up, or I guess we should say crowdfunding projects at this phase.
CA: I'm excited that the one that I'm working with somebody else on, this is my first time ever collaborating with somebody because I'm not usually used to it. Having the patience for someone to complete their portion. I don't like sharing control, yeah. Yeah, but this one, I'm setting it up on her own personal Kickstarter account. So at least it won't prevent me from doing my own projects when I get to that phase. But I'm also really excited about the idea of this being a jumping off point for her to create more projects in the future.
CA: I'm excited about that.
7: I've been collab on a few people's projects and I've brought people on, I was like collab on a couple of my projects, but it's usually just like to give them access to a particular part of the campaign. I literally have a team who is helping me with social media during the life of the most recent project, which is very abnormal. I don't typically work well with others, but during the actual project, they were like, answer questions, reply to comments. I was like, no. I'm not willing to let go of that. When I run a project, I run it, and it's just me. There is no team. I respond to the comments. I respond to all the messages. I'm making the updates. I'm writing the campaign copy. I don't like sharing certain parts. I'm doing better over time sharing other parts of control. But man, you know, especially when it's a thing where you built it from the start. Yeah, like I feel you have to get this like you did this from the start. You made all the systems. You made the things that work. I don't want to hand that to someone else. I love consulting for other people's projects. I like sitting down with them, explaining to them what I've done that has worked and then letting them figure out what they want out of that. But I don't like sharing my nook of it. I'm like, this is my campaign. Damn it.
CA: Well, it's funny you do that, too. I've consulted on a few projects, too, and I tell them step by step what they need to do. They don't do those things. And I'm like, just give me the passwords. I'll do it for you. But I need to stop myself from doing too much.
7: I've done a little bit of that. Like, there's a really, really sweet person who lives out here in Denver with me who was launching a project. I was like, I will consult to the nth degree. Like, I will be there to handhold you the whole way. And I basically set up her campaign for her. And I was like, I was happy to do that one because It wasn't something I did out of frustrations. It was out of love, you know? But there are people who, like, I give free consultations to anyone who wants them on Kickstarter stuff because I wish I'd had that when I'd started. Maybe my first 12 projects wouldn't have been garbage. But there are times where people are like, well, if I pay you, will you like help me run it? And I'm like, no. I do my, I already do mine. I've done this. I will help you in every way possible, but I will not run your project for you. I will not be your community person. Like, you can't pay me. It's a struggle. I want to help. I want to see success. I don't want to see people fail, but I don't want to give them all my time. Yeah, no. There are limits. And I'm learning what the boundaries are.
CA: Well, aside from you have Alleyman's Oracle, available for pre-order. Is there any upcoming projects that you're really excited about that you're hoping to show off soon?
Oh my gosh, so I mean I will be at Gen Con, which is the biggest games convention in North America here at the start of August, so it's really in just like two and a half weeks here, which I'm not fully ready for. And I will be…
CA: I'm terrified of Gen Con.
7: I'm so excited. I'm so excited. I'll be taking Zoetrope, which is my time travel role playing game. It's card based and it's set up for one shots and you don't have to have any plans when you sit down. The whole game can be generated while you're playing. And I'm really, really excited about it. It's a delightful game. Every time that I go Gen Con, I run it and everyone's always like, this is awesome. Where can I get it? And I'm like, you can get it print on demand for like 80 dollars because it's a bunch of cards. But In October, I will be launching the second edition. I've worked with an artist to redesign the whole thing, and I will be able to sell sets of the full game for like 25 bucks, twenty dollars maybe on Kickstarter or back or wherever I end up going. So in October, that will be launching. I'm super excited about it. I will be playing it with people here in a couple of weeks. And it's just such a fun game. It's such a silly, fun time to go be time agents and stop time crimes or cause them. Like it's it's uh kind of made for you to just have some silly dumb fun with friends So i'm really excited about that and that's kind of my next big thing. I think
CA: Where can people go to be signed up for notifications on that on your link tree?
7: Isn't that such a cool question? Uh, i'm i'm currently working with backer kit to get a Set up page for it, which I think is happening here at the end of the month. So zoetrope is the name zoetrope time travel role playing. It's a very, very fun time. But you will definitely be seeing it probably on all your Facebook ads yet again here soon.
CA: OK. And then if they wanted to get the pre-order of the Alley Man's Oracle, would they find that at publishinggoblin.com?
7: Yeah. You can go to the publishinggoblin.com or the Link Tree. The pre-orders are linked in both places. And it just takes you to the backer kit pre-order page. You can get all of the fun items there. There's the alleyway tarot, the Oracle secrets, the Oracle play. There's art prints. There's two booster packs. There's three booster packs. There's a really fancy wooden box I designed, which I'm so hyped about. It's like a triangle box. It's really cool. Love this box. It's just so much. But yeah, lots of fun things.
CA: How are you getting that made, by the way?
7: One of the fun things is that after a while and you've talked to enough different manufacturers, you just know people. And then you'd be like, I drew this. Can this be real? And they're like, yes, for $200, we'll make you a prototype and then maybe we'll make you more. And that's actually one of those moments where you said, like you asked your people in China, can you ship this? It's just ask, ask questions. Once you have talked to a manufacturer who's made you a wooden box, say I've designed this weird wooden box, what would it cost? And that's it. There is no limit, apparently. You can just make whatever you want if you just go ask people.
CA: My favorite part of designing games, tarot decks, whatever, is the box design.
7: Oh, yeah.
CA: And now that I know what was on the table. Oh, my God. Something crazy for my next ones, I'm sure.
7: We got the wooden cigar box that we did with this company who I just met through my manufacturer for the decks. Hit my mic. And then we did the wooden Oracle Dice box, which I designed, which would fit the dice. You can't see it if you're listening, but it's a really beautiful round box with these little holes for 22 dice. It's like a clamshell that opens up. It's got a felt on the top. It's incredible. Little latch, it's awesome. And once they had made this one for me, I was like, all right, I've got a much more ambitious, bigger wooden box I just designed. Can we make this happen? And they were like, that's going to be expensive. And I'm like, yeah, I know. And that's okay. That whatever it costs is what it costs. So, you know, sometimes you just get excited and you throw manufacturers really weird things. And if you can design it and like fully map out like what all the size and everything is, it's really easy for them to convert that into a prototype. So if you have thoughts and plans, just, just let your people know.
CA: So I'm usually just browsing Alibaba for ideas. Is that where you go to find manufacturers?
7: You know, if you have a manufacturer in China, ask them about you say, I want dice. Do you know a manufacturer in your area who does dice? And they will either put you in contact. Or what I tend to find is that they will be like, yeah, we talked to three different people. We found one we really like. They hear samples of the thing you wanted. And then they will be like the middleman because they're going to get a cut. Yeah. And I'm like, that's reasonable. I'll let you do that because the prices are still pretty good. And that's that's my experience.
CA: It's also beneficial to say, for example, with one of these projects I'm working on, I have the manufacturer I'm working with in China. They're doing like 80 percent of my collectors edition box. So they're doing the hardcover book, the character sheets, the big UV spot coated box oracle cards, all this stuff. But the leather bound journal is being made by different manufacturer in China. So they actually reached out to that manufacturer, had them send a sample over to them so they can make sure the sizing of everything fit. So that's another reason to use that one company in China as a middleman. They wanted to make sure everything fits together, especially if they're gonna be creating the overall package and then shipping the final product to you. But I do want to tell people to try not to use a middleman in America for a Chinese manufacturer, because they'll just like triple the price for you.
7: And yeah, don't do that. So expensive. What I found to find them in the first place, right, because that's the hard part, is like if you have someone in China and you can start asking them, they can lead you places, is reach out to other Kickstarter creators and just ask them who they're using. Because that's how I always try out a bunch of different people and a bunch of different printers is I just talk to what other people are doing. Most Kickstarter creators or any creators in general are pretty forward to that stuff. There's very little gatekeeping of that kind of knowledge. It's like, yeah, I'm using these people. That's fine. Here's their email. So don't be afraid to just go ask questions with other people who are in your area doing your same kind of stuff. Just find out where they get their stuff made. Like what you just said is 100% the case. With the Oracle Dice, second edition, I used the people who did the Alleyman’s Tarot, even though there was only one deck of cards in a book and then it was like dice, a dice box, a dice cloth, velvet bags, none of that stuff they made. They found like five other factories in the area who made all these things and gathered it all together for me. And yeah, I'm paying some amount of premium, I'm sure. They're not telling me the proper prices because I'm paying them for the middleman. That's fine. You just still budgeted around that because they're gonna get it all together and turn it into the, yeah, one cohesive thing where you would have to do that yourself otherwise, or you'd have to pay someone in the US to pick and pack 18 different things into one package. That's so expensive.
CA: All right, well, I think we've talked about a whole bunch of stuff. I could probably chat with you for hours. Might have you on at a later time to talk about your newest projects. But this has been a wonderful conversation.
7: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me on. I love chatting about the stuff. Just again, the biggest thing for me is always that when I started, and I'm sure you had the same experience, just kept failing and failing and failing and no one was there to help me out or figure out what was going on or what was doing wrong or how to do better. And just any chance that people have to have these kinds of conversations with other creators or just to ask people for advice and stuff, just take them and find out who is doing really well in the field that you're in and just ask them questions. If they don't respond, they don't respond. But sometimes it's very worth it.
CA: That's pretty much the thesis of this whole podcast. I'm just talking with artists on where they find the profit in their business. And for me, Kickstarter is my number one source of income throughout the year for my business. So, so thank you very much again, Seven, for your time. You have been a wonderful guest. Anyone who is curious can find Seven's work at publishinggoblin.com and link tree. I don't know how to say that. L-A-N-K-T-R dot E-E slash seven DA. And I'll put all these links in the description too.
7: Yeah. Alright, thanks so much for having me.
Chain Assembly: Art for Profit’s Sake is recorded through Riverside FM, edited on Adobe Audition, and distributed through Spotify for podcasters. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you found anything helpful, interesting, or useful in this podcast, please rate and review us 5 stars. If you want to learn more about Chain Assembly, head on over to ChainAssembly.com.