For today’s post I decided to focus a bit on marketing and the different ways you can market your games for free. While everyone and their monkey is aware of the importance of social media as a (mostly) free marketing avenue, I thought instead that I would focus on some often overlooked methods for promoting yourself and in turn your game.
The best thing about the methods I describe below is that they are all also ways to give back to community. For better or worse, independent game development is a community, and as such contributing to said community is a great way to increase your profile, both within and outside of the community. These methods also go a long way to establishing yourself as a leader in the community, and therefor someone to listen to and take notice of.
1. Write an Op/Ed
This one is potentially tricky, which is why I decided to tackle it first. The risk here, obviously, is that if you opt to take on a controversial or “hot button” topic, you’ll need to be prepared for the inevitable fall out and be prepared to defend your position to your last breath. With that in mind, a lot of coverage and admiration can be garnered by putting into words what others in the community are thinking but are too shy/busy/etc. to voice themselves. Your piece could be on anything, from new technology to design tropes, so find a topic you’re passionate about and get writing.
2. Share a tutorial or tool
Did you need to create a tool or technique in order to get the results you wanted during your game development process? Did you end up using a tool for which there isn’t a lot of documentation? Consider sharing what you’ve learned and your process with others. For example, when indie devs Vlambeer needed to create a press kit for their games, they decided to create a simple tool that makes creating press kits a breeze and then share it for free with anyone who was interested. Not only has presskit() become a near defacto industry standard for indie game press kits, it’s also helped to position Vlambeer as community leaders in marketing and promotion.
3. Volunteer as a speaker, panelist or judge
There are dozens of independent game conferences, conventions and festivals, all looking for people to give keynote speeches, participate in panels and judge competitions. Look at what events are happening in your community and see how you can contribute. Passionate about the direction of free to play games? Jot down some key points and apply to be a speaker. Want to help others avoid your mistakes? Find people with supporting and opposing views and pitch a panel discussion. Know what it takes to make a killer RPG? Volunteer to judge an RPG competition and help mold the next generation.
4. Be a mentor
Another great way to help out the next generation of independent game developers is to volunteer as a mentor. Groups like Girls Make Games and WIGI are always looking for people to help guide and encourage fledgling game makers, both outside and inside of the larger industry. You don’t even have to be a woman or minority to help out. Ask around and find the communities that could best benefit from your guidance.
5. Create a whitepaper or case study.
Did your last game make a big splash? Did you take a risk and it didn’t pay off? Take all the info you have on how you got here and put it into one article or presentation. This one is good because your failures can teach just as much as your successes and a community is strengthened by the openness of the membership. Coming clean about where you went wrong (or right) can also help to clear the air and move on to the next step, while also providing your peers with invaluable information.