The one thing you’ll read everywhere when it comes to marketing your indie game: you need to start marketing your game as early as you possibly can.
You might just dismiss this – put it down as one of those things you’ll worry about later. Or you might think that you don’t *have* anything worth marketing yet.
But marketing your game from the very beginning is so important, and even if you’ve only got a few sketches and a vague idea, you still need to start your marketing at that point. If nothing else, you can start getting people interested in *you* – your opinions, sharing useful advice, or even reviewing other games – and then you can tell them more about your game as and when you develop the idea further.
Here are the four things we think you ought to be doing from the very beginning:
Make a plan
While you’re working on the development plan for your game, you ought to be start work on your marketing plan at the same time.
Figure out at the very beginning how much time you’re going to have to devote to marketing activities around the dev work you need to do. Decide who you are aiming the game at, and research which are the key marketing platforms you ought to be on to reach that audience.
You should also highlight any key milestones in your development process – at what points you’re going to be able to put together some important marketing materials (a trailer, screenshots, a blurb), and when you’ll have something new to send out to press.
And finally, you should use this time early on to think about anything unique or unusual you might be able to do with your marketing to make it more fun, and to make you stand out from the beginning.
Could you run your social media accounts from your character’s POV? Do you have a stellar artist who could turn your game dev journey into a cartoon? Could you put out snippets of your story each week? Turn your marketing campaign into a competition?
There’s loads to think about when it comes to marketing your game – so make sure it’s planned out and on your mind from the very beginning!
If you want a basic template for an indie games marketing plan, there’s one available here.
Start a dev blog
One thing you can do immediately is to start a gamedev blog with updates on what you’re working on.
Host it on your own site if you can – then when you have enough material to put together a proper landing page advertising your game, your site will have a better ranking (and hopefully a bit of a following!) because of your blog.
Write about everything – from your initial concepts to how you got into indie games development to finding other people to work with. Blog posts which provide advice to others, or stir up conversation about the type of game you’re developing, will attract attention. You want to keep putting out content that keeps your site current and which would be interesting to people who might be interested in your game.
You can also offer to guest blog for other indies, and invite them to post on yours – having your own blog will make this possible.
Set up your social media accounts
Set these up now! You might not have as much material to post at this stage, but that will actually be helpful to you later on – you can view this early development time as an opportunity to test the water, and see what works for you. You want to make sure the time you’re spending on marketing goes as far as possible, so see where your audience is growing while you don’t have much to post, and you’ll know where to devote your time and energy later on.
Share your dev blog posts, start chatting to other indie developers, join in any conversations with relevant members of the press – use this time to make yourself a familiar face.
And again, when you have something more substantial to share, you’ll already have a bit of an audience built up, so you won’t feel like you’re yelling into the abyss.
Start a mailing list
A mailing list is one of the best ways to keep in touch with people who are interested in your game.
Get it set up for anyone who wants to follow you from the very beginning. It doesn’t hurt to start collecting email addresses early on – many email providers (such as Mailerlite or Mailchimp) won’t charge you until you have more than a thousand addresses.
Plus it means you eliminate the risk of suddenly realising you have your game almost ready to go and no list to announce it to…
Did we miss anything?
These are our thoughts on how to get started on marketing your game – but what do you think? Did we miss anything important? Is there anything cool or unusual you tried which you found worked really well?