Marketing for indie devs is a daunting and somewhat unwelcome task. No developer looks forward to marketing after putting in 2000 hours on their creation. After smashing through bug fixes, Steam release chaos and finally getting that early access level finished… who really wants to spend hours trying to get exposure on Twitter for their game?
Marketing Your Game
We know it is not easy. We understand because we have this conversation at least three times a day. Indie developers are hard working and dedicated people. Seriously. If you’re reading this, and you’re an indie game dev, chances are you just finished coding for the last few hours or just got off Discord after talking to your game artist about that new NPC you have to create animations for. Or you just managed to complete the design on that new game level you dreamt about last night. Yep, we’ve heard it all, and we get it.
As dedicated as these devs are, when it comes to marketing, they usually have zero experience and zero enthusiasm for trying to get exposure for their game. That’s one reason we started our Developer Marketing Hub, but its not all we’re going to talk about today.
Your starting point is long before you have a demo, screenshots or anything else. You need to get your socials in order, and you need to start when the design for your game is in the early stages. Like, just a little idea in your head.
Of course, if you are already knee deep in screenshots, videos and the like, then that’s fine too. This will work whether you have got something to show off or not.
Get yourself equipped with a Twitter account, a Reddit account and download Discord. A LinkTree account is also recommended (and there’s others out there that offer a similar service).
These are your tools to gain your first 500 followers, and they will do all the hard work for you.
So here’s your first tasks (if you haven’t done so already):
Make sure you get your account on Twitter verified using your phone. Make sure you’ve got a photo on your profile on Twitter, so people can see your glorious mugshot.
Upload a background image, profile image and then complete your profile bio. You’ll eventually add your LinkTree URL here, too.
The beast that is Reddit. Yeah, we hate it. Or love it. That’s Reddit for ya. There is literally no better place on the internet to showcase your talents like Reddit. If they like you, then they’ll be your most staunch supporters and do everything they can to help & validate you. Or they may not like you, or be apathetic. Either way, Google loves Reddit, so we need to use it!
Discord is the way forward. An amazing platform that has thousands of channels that are full of developers & gamers just waiting for you to chat with them and start networking!
Once you get your LinkTree account set up, start adding links to your email, your press page, your YouTube channel, your game on Steam, your Twitter, your Reddit profile – you name it. If you have a link for it, then add it here. This is a great way to get people clicking through and finding out about you & your game. It’s a fantastic link aggregator that everyone is used to using, and you’ll need to post your LinkTree link in your Twitter & Reddit bio too.
Good to go!
✅ Create a Twitter account, complete your profile/upload photo, and get it verified
✅ Create a Reddit account, add a bio
✅ Create a LinkTree account
✅ Add all your links & contact info to LinkTree
✅ Add your LinkTree URL to your Twitter and Reddit profile
Where To Start?
Whether you are right at the beginning of your indie dev journey, or you just finished your early access demo and uploaded it to Steam, you are going to follow the same steps. We’re going to start with Twitter.
Twitter is an amazing place for indie devs. The community support is phenomenal. Look at this screenshot from our tweet (#ScreenshotSaturday):
These are the results after just TWO HOURS.
Not only did we get to interact with some of our old indie friends, but we also saw some new games added (thanks to the retweets) and we followed some new accounts. The indie devs on Twitter all retweet each other’s games, and they comment & like too. It’s a great community that you cannot discount if you want success with your game.
Twitter has become one of our mainstay marketing platforms. Whether we are trying to get developers to appear on our podcast, or looking for the latest and greatest games that have just been released – Twitter is where we go. Moreover, this is where devs go to help each other out and promote themselves (and each other).
Before we get anywhere with the method, you will need to tweet a few things. If you have screenshots, level designs, a demo or whatever – TWEET IT!
If you have nothing to show, just talk about various aspects of what your game WILL be. Tell the world what you hope to build. When do you want to complete your first milestone? Why are you doing it? Who inspires you?
Tweet at least TEN times, and include media like gifs, images, videos or whatever you have. People like to see media in tweets.
IMPORTANT! Use hashtags!
Some popular indie dev related hashtags are:
#indiedev #IndieGameDev #solodev #indiegames #indiegaming #indiegame #MadeWithUnity #indiedeveloper #ScreenshotSaturday
Once you have your first tweets done, you can move to the next step!
Note: You can tweet as many times as you like, but spread it over a few hours (or days).
Basic Twitter Growth Formula
To get your first 500 followers, you are going to need to spend at least one hour every day following a very simple formula. It’s one of the oldest and most viable methods, too.
If you cannot spend at least one hour every single day on this, then you need to find some time. It’s important and it works. Furthermore, once you see it working, you get a bit of a buzz, I won’t lie. You start to interact with new people and you start feeling excited every time you get a notification of a follower or a retweet. So, let’s get started.
Step 1: Start Finding Fellow Developers
You are going to start by searching for indie devs and begin following them & engaging with them.
We do this by searching for hashtags.
Remember, your main hashtags for indie dev are:
#indiedev #IndieGameDev #solodev #indiegames #indiegaming #indiegame #MadeWithUnity #indiedeveloper #ScreenshotSaturday
Go to Twitter and search for a hashtag such as #indiedev.
Select “People” from the search filters. You’ll see the following:
You’re not just going to follow these people. You are going to interact and engage.
“Ok… Mark… this sounds like a pain.” I hear you whisper, grudgingly.
Here’s the thing: There is literally no point in being part of a community unless you are going to support other people and do the things you expect them to do for you. Right? Right.
This is what devs fear the most. The work and the possibility of getting no results for their efforts. You feel like it is a waste of your valuable time, and – maybe because it is out of your wheelhouse of coding/creating/developing – your start to fear the worst.
Step 2: F.E.A.R.R.R: Follow, Engage, Ask, Retweet, Rinse, Repeat
Neat little acronym, right? Why, thank you. I made it myself.
Here’s how it works (and its painless, I promise).
Open up a developer’s Twitter profile in a new tab. Tip: You can log in to Twitter in your browser so this part is easier.
Now scroll through their most recent tweets and if you see any that you like, hit the “Like” button (the little heart)
You need to like at least FIVE of their posts. You can like more, of course, but five is the sweet spot.
You will never, ever find a better way of engaging with another human being than asking a question.
You have a few things in common, remember. You are a fellow developer. You are both on a journey that is (for the most part) pretty damn hard. You are both doing something you loathe – marketing.
So ask a question that is pertinent to the context of a tweet. Find a tweet that you are actually interested in asking a question about. Maybe its some cool animation and you want to know how they rigged their model? Maybe you like a parallax cloud they have got going on in their background. Whatever it is, ask a question.
The humble retweet has so much power. it shows that you are very interested in the person or their game, and you want others to know about it. You are doing something FOR that person. It is super powerful.
You can retweet as many times as you like, but you should retweet at least TWO of the tweets. Not only that, you need to QUOTE RETWEET.
A quote retweet means you can make your own comment on the tweet, and share it on your profile. the comment can be anything that works. “Great level design!” or “This is stunning” will be just fine. Or you can go really in depth… “I love this level design. It makes me think of retro classics like Metroid!”.
Once you have done all of this, you go right back to your list, and you do it again with another developer!
Let’s talk about what the developer will see. The person will see you pop up in their notifications A LOT.
5 x Likes
1 x Retweet
1 x Quote Retweet
1 x Comment
That’s EIGHT notifications with your name & profile next to them. What do you think they are going to do next? here’s what usually happens: –
- The developer responds to your question. You can reply, and continue the conversation
- The developer will engage with your tweets
- The developer will retweet one of your tweets
- The developer will FOLLOW YOU
If you can do this for an hour a day, then you will immediately see results. It will take around one minute per person (follow, like x 5 tweets, retweet, quote retweet, ask question). So that’s SIXTY people you can reach and engage with every day.
Here’s where it gets fun.
As developers are retweeting your tweets to their thousands of followers, their followers will organically start checking you out and following/retweeting/liking your stuff. And those followers of followers will do the same. This is the virality of simple, smart engagement with people in your industry. Cool, huh?
Generally speaking, it will take you around a month to reach 1000 followers if you do this daily. But we’re not all robots, are we. Some days you won’t do your Twitter marketing. Some days you’ll be too busy. As long as you do it as often as you can, you’ll see incredible results.
✅ Follow developers using hashtags
✅ Like min. 5 x recent tweets
✅ Ask a contextual question (using comment)
✅ Min. 1 x retweet
✅ Min. 1 x quote retweet
Reddit is a fantastic way to get your game out to a massive amount of people and send them to your socials. They will follow you and interact with you. Of course, Reddit is only really useful if you have something to show off and talk about – but it shouldn’t be discounted if you are just starting out and have nothing to show.
If you have some screenshots, game demos, or level designs etc. you should visit the following subreddits and begin posting in the most appropriate ones: –
Here’s an example of Reddit done right:
Simply posting a screenshot or video and asking for community feedback is a great way to get a bunch of new followers & fans.
Every time you beat a bug or get over a milestone, tell Reddit. Every time you hit a snag, go ask Reddit. Every time you add something cool to your game… yes, you guessed it. Go tell ’em.
Reddit is full of interesting articles and very knowledgeable people, so if you see anything you can comment on – do so. This is a good way to build you profile’s “karma” which will help when you start posting your own stuff. Some subreddits require you to have a decent karma before they will let you post.
This is how you build a massive supporter base on the world’s largest evil kindergarten. Sorry, on the world’s largest content discovery & social media platform.
When developers need somewhere to kick back and talk about their game, or ask fellow devs advice, they go to Discord. There are many fantastic communities that continue to grow exponentially on Discord, and we’ll discuss some of the better ones here.
#1. Chasing XP Developer Hub Discord
It goes without saying that The Chasing XP Developer Hub is definitely a Discord server you should join. Our Discord server is a chill place to go and chat with fellow developers, discuss your game and get advice on the stuff you are struggling with.
Started by the YouTube legend Brackeys, this Discord server is a vibrant and friendly community that can help with everything from finding assets to marketing your game. Highly recommended.
#3. GameDev (Reddit)
The Reddit subreddit r/GameDev has its own Discord. No introduction needed here, I feel.
#4. Heiny ‘Indy’ Reimes
This is a superb server that we have no hesitation in recommending. Heiny is more known for his prolific indie dev support on Twitter, but his Discord is growing like wildfire right now.
Even though this might seem like a competitor of Chasing XP, we recommend you join their server. It is a chill place to talk gamedev, but a fantastic place to get exposure, too.
#6. Work With Indies
This Discord is more about working as an indie dev in a freelance capacity – although you will be able to promote your work here, too.
#7. Making Games Together
This Discord was started by YouTube indie game hero, Jonas Tyroller. he is a great voice for the industry, and supports developers of all types. The server is full of useful advice and a great community spirit.
The Wrap Up
That, as they say, is that.
We hope you enjoyed this editorial piece, and we hope you enjoy growing not only your following, but also your friends list on Discord! You are now set up to get exposure for you game, and find people who are in a similar boat as you. Not only that, but you’ll be able to network with developers who have been there, done that and can advise you on your next step forward.
We are, as you know, very supportive of indie developers of all sizes, and we’re only too happy to help you get exposure for your games – or just offer advice.
We’re Here To Help
Chasing XP is a multi-platform indie game and development magazine. We’re here to help you, if you need it!
Alternatively, drop us a message by clicking the contact link in the menu.
This post was Written By Mark Byrne, Senior Editor & Co-Founder of Chasing XP