In the previous part of this article, I went into some of the key learnings that Zeke and I acquired in the process of making and selling our first indie tarot deck.
That post mainly focused on product creation. This time I’d like to talk a little more about what happens after you’ve created your product. More specifically I’d like to talk about how you can raise awareness of your deck by finding the right advocates. That's why I've included the the image of our "Patron" card. We made The Patron specifically as a thank you to our strongest advocates!
It’s a pretty broad term, and it covers a bunch of different people who will help you on your journey. Advocates include early backers, those who provide feedback on your deck, and importantly reviewers and marketing partners.
To paraphrase the old saying: Nobody is an island
You simply can’t get a deck made and sold without the help of others. I think this is important to emphasises because there is a tendency for people to hold their projects very close to their chest. This makes a lot of sense because we live in quite a competitive, and sometimes honestly cut-throat, world. I’m not saying you should give your ideas away for free, or just trust anyone you come across. But you do need to start building a bit of a network in the tarot community. Luckily, the tarot community is one of the friendliest and most encouraging communities that I’ve had the pleasure of working with!
If you have decided that you have a tarot project that is worth following through on, then you most likely already have somewhat of a vision about how you want it to look and feel (if you’re still ideating, then maybe have a read of the first post in this series). I’d encourage you to get something together that is good enough to show others. This is how you will find people that love what you’re doing as much as you do. I think of these people as early backers! Funny story: my earliest backer was actually my mum, who encouraged me to make a tarot deck when I was about 7 or 8. Those scribbles didn’t make it into the final deck. But her DIY spirit did.
In more recent times, I had a lot of friends who ended up becoming early backers of the project. You won’t get any help unless you ask. On my birthday I reached out to all of my close friends, to invite them to a tarot themed birthday. And I said that if they wanted to give me anything this year, I’d like them to purchase my (not yet made) tarot deck, or at least give me a bit of money towards getting it started. Not everyone chipped in, but a lot more people than I expected did! More early backers. Then there were all the incredible people in the tarot groups on Facebook and tarot readers who I showed early versions of the cards to, all of whom helped us with feedback and support. There was even a group of card makers, the Flaminko Playing Cards guys, who gave us invaluable design and Kickstarter advice. None of these people came to us, we had actively seek them out and show them our work.
Of course, Zeke’s incredible fan base (shout out to all of you guys!) were also quite literally the ultimate early backers, by helping us fund the Kickstarter. But I’ll talk about that more another time.
Now, this is a different type of backer. They may not support you directly with money or positive feedback and advocacy, but they are just as important. Why? Because they give you feedback… some of it may even sting a little! As I said earlier, if you’re on the path to making a deck, then you probably already have a strong vision. I would never tell you to compromise that vision based on what others say. What I would however feel fine telling you is to weigh off and consider every piece of advice and feedback that you get from others. And more importantly take it all with grace! You don’t have to agree, but you should still say thank you and make clear that you’ll take it on board. Don’t lash out at people for giving you feedback. Otherwise that valuable resource will soon run dry!
Reviewers and marketing partners are advocates too
Now we’re getting to some of the advocates that you will find when you have the deck ready to go and everything is locked and loaded. I’ll get into these in more detail in Part Three. But let me just say one thing here : I think framing these people as advocates rather than “influencers” or “product placements” is crucial. Most fundamentally, because they are people and contain multitudes. But there are some practical reasons too that I will go into next time.