The skills needed to design a deck of playing cards are many and very diverse. Obviously it is important to know something about design, but many creators overlook the marketing part. This article tries to summarize all the skills needed to design a deck of playing cards, and sell it on Kickstarter or elsewhere.
Skills needed to design a deck: Design
The first thing that should come to mind is that the deck needs to be designed. Designing a deck means, at the very least, take standard faces and customize back and tuck case. In my opinion, though, in this oversaturated market, it is impossible to strive with something that is not heavily customized.
I am not a designer myself, and for those like me I have to recommend Illustrator. It is not great for illustrating (fun fact), but it is absolutely perfect to design geometrical patterns, and rather easy to use. Photoshop is the next level – I have not made it there just yet, but at some point I might look into it more seriously.
There are many other software to design, but Adobe is in my opinion the absolute leader. GIMP offers a free alternative that is not too bad, but it is not quite as versatile.
Skills needed to design a deck: Marketing
Now you designed a great deck, but nobody knows about it. Hard to sell it.
Even though Kickstarter is great at channeling organic traffic to solid projects, it is absolutely key to gather interest well before the campaign launches. Creating momentum has the benefit of having early backers, which gets the project funded earlier and in turn it brings more organic Kickstarter love and thus more pledges.
Even though marketing a deck is definitely among the skills needed to design a deck and launch it successfully, it is often overlooked. Many people like to think of this world as art, and that something good does not need marketing. I disagree.
The market is very crowded, lots of very good projects, and to be seen you need to be known and spread the news of the launch at least two months before.
And the skills needed to design a deck and sell it are many. Social media are very important, and not easy to master. Instagram in particular requires continued attention. Daily. You need to interact with creators and potential backers.
Copywriting is fundamental: you are selling a story, not a product, and choosing the words is not easy. A well written story is incredibly powerful in attracting backers.
Other skills needed.
As the launch date approaches, even more things become apparent.
Kickstarter suggests to create a video. Even a simple video requires to understand how to use a software (Camtasia, Adobe Premiere or similar). Do you want to add mockups or renders? (Yes you do). Look again into Photoshop, or possibly into Cinema4d and similar software. Not easy to learn, but every additional bit makes the campaign better.
Make or buy?
One of the biggest and most obvious decision is: what do I do internally, and what do I outsource?
If you’re starting off, the answer is very simple: you do everything because you are broke. Even $100 is an impossible amount to add to the budget.
As (hopefully) the business grows, it becomes possible to pay someone to help. There are websites, such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, that allow to hire freelancers to do something you are not great at doing. Look into that.
But finally, in deciding to outsource, the question needs to be asked: why am I unique? In my opinion, a playing cards company is unique because of the design, and therefore outsourcing design is a risky decision.
If you are thinking about designing your own deck, think again: what do you need to do and have? It is so easy to underestimate the skills needed to design a deck, and to think that design is everything. Design is key, and no deck should be created by someone who is less than great at that, especially to start a firm. But many other skills are needed, and should be taken into consideration.