Do you send a 'thank you' message to each backer as soon as they pledge?
I wish I could! I've tried to use Project Updates to do this on my own projects.When I back others' projects, it's a mixed bag. With some I'll get what is clearly an automated thank you encouraging me to tweet/share their project. I get the utility of those, but as a backer it leaves me feeling emotionally unfulfilled.Because of my role with Kickstarter I do get a fair number of "oh snap it's YOU!" messages after I back a project. Those I do love and always reply back with a "because yr awesome" response.The perfect middle ground could be some kind of global thank you video that we as creators could make, and the site could host in some kind of way. Good one to consider.
What do you do when your project is WAY more popular than expected?
I was expecting a couple hundred backers, but got vaulted to 3,400 backers very quickly. "Would be nice to get $5,000" turned into $105,000 over a couple weeks. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fringefocus/the-acme-corporation In fact, the majority of my backers were in the final week of my project. On top of that, my project ended on December 24th, with only one week left in the year.That means I needed an accountant, really fast. What started as a personal project became a thing that pushed me several income tax brackets higher, with only one week to get the numbers straight (to avoid paying self employment tax on 100 grand of unexpected income). Here are some important notes regarding the actual money:1. Hire a professional accountant (or accountant + bookkeeper), and explain to them the mountain of cash that is approaching your account.2. If you didn't already set yourself up as a business, do so immediately (ideally before your project even closes). An accountant can usually help you choose between an LLC, or S-Corp. I prefer an S-Corp (more paperwork, but no self employment tax!). Your mileage may vary by state.3. Make sure you have a business checking account (easy to set up anywhere) completely separate from your personal accounts. This is not only easier to manage mentally, it will help immensely if the IRS ever comes knocking for an audit. Keep your business finances separate from your own, and save yourself a headache 5 years from now.4. Catalog every expense, to insane detail. Every piece of tape, every sheet of paper, postage, materials, staff costs, etc. You're basically gonna pay tax on profit, but not on expenses. And no matter how large your pile-of-cash is, the majority will be expenses for rewards. Make sure you're profitable by envisioning worst-case-scenario prices for materials, postage, delays etc. (although this is obviously a step you should have tackled before even starting a project.)5. If your item is still available, make sure you notify your backers / future customers / new people that missed the Kickstarter where you work can be bought. I developed https://fringefocus.com into an easy-to-browse art store to capture those post-kickstarter customers (as well as new people).That's the immediate stuff, and is boring. Here's the fun stuff that happens when you get a much larger community than anticipated.1. Your backers are now your fans, your testing grounds, your audience for future projects. Instead of working in a mysterious vacuum, you have hundreds / thousands of people excited to see your new work! More than all the project revenue, the #1 resource I gained from Kickstarter is the 3,400 cool people willing to check out, share, and enjoy my future work. My Fringe Focus Newsletter http://fringefocus.us5.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=31d2b1187f4779a02d1a464eb&id=1cf81bdf22 is more popular than any social network, advertising, etc. combined. And it's been steadily growing long after the Kickstarter project ended 2 years ago. Super fun.2. A bigger project means buying materials in bulk. That expensive paper that isn't affordable when buy 100, is super cheap when you buy 4,000. Same for shipping materials, storage, etc. Volume discounts and economies of scale are hugely beneficial, so seek out any volume discounts you can from your suppliers, partners, etc.3. INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS. You had a project explode, don't let that be your one success. Whatever equipment you've been dying to acquire. Whatever location you want to move into, whatever resources were not possible prior to project, now are. Don't spend a single cent of project money on anything wasteful (okay, maybe a little). Use your savings on resources that will allow you to continue your creativity. My ACME Poster project allowed me to pay for my first entire year of rent on a new workshop. I bought a bunch of woodworking tools, poster storage, even a laser cutter that I now use to produce fun wood projects in my store: https://fringefocus.com/store/housewares/4. Respect. Whether you feel you have earned it or not, a hugely successful projects screams to the world "Hey, I am capable of kind of cool things that people generally kinda like." or even "This person is good at some stuff!". This means you can reach out the media, new bloggers, potential employers (if that's your thing) with some recognition that you can tackle tough problems / big projects. A lot of the attention I get on current projects probably stems from people knowing I successfully completed a big project on a public stage (Kickstarter). You aren't a stranger anymore. :)5. Straight up happiness. People would email me from all over the world just saying how psyched they were by my project, or how much they loved my work. It was (and continues to be) unreal. That kind of positive feedback makes all this hard work worth it, and makes every day a little more fun (knowing a large number of people are happy with what you've made). It's just fun.I could write a lot more, so ask away! I should add that hiring help (ideally in-house with you) for fulfillment is a very good move. As is researching the hell out of postage, postage weights, and best practices. Please feel free to reach out to me at https://fringefocus.com or on Twitter http://twitter.com/fringefocus anytime if you have specific questions about what to do. Thanks! - Rob Loukotka | Fringe Focus Inc. | Chicago
Should I trust a company to promote my project for a fee? Is it a scam? Does it work? Help?!
Dustin, There are some that are legitimate and do work. You will see some of these are being used on the most successful campaigns. I would check into those that you see being used again and again and perhaps reach out to specific creators for their feedback. A lot will depend on your product and if it is able to be promoted. Good luck!
Advice for starting first Kickstarter?
Emily, It will be important to remember that Kickstarter is not someplace to just get funds for a channel. It is designed to help you launch something. Perhaps it is just your writing and animation career. Are you going to be creating projects that are available for purchase? Are you hoping to get equipment or supplies to launch your business? Think about what the funds would be used for if you received them. Take some time to look at other KS projects and perhaps you can mirror a successful one tailored to your specific goals. Good luck!
My product is not "cool and funky" how do i get it noticed?
It's hard to say without reference to a specific campaign. It is a great question! It seems to me that getting noticed includes a number of things - cool and funky goes a long way. Generating sales through your own social media is also key. Plus marketing to blogs, website, magazines also seems to be key to the most successful campaigns. Looking at your projects, I have a couple of suggestions. You need to have some text at the start that explains very simply what the project is. On the current project, it isn't until way down the campaign that I can read about what it is. Some may not want to invest the time to watch the video without at least some introduction of the product. Graphics. It's unnecessary to show your graphics on a form document as full page forms with headers and footers. I'd work on the graphics. Perhaps you might make a simple installation gif. Good luck!
Would you recommend any third-party services to help with managing backers and fulfilling rewards?
We use Backerkit.com for managing post Kickstarter pledges and add Ons and generating the final data that will go to our warehouse. With Backerkit we were able to pull in an additional 25-30% funds on one project and 20% on another project (through a combination of late pledges, people upgrading pledges or choosing more add ons over time and offering paypal as an alternative payment service) Backerkit say projects often get 5-10% uplift through them and they charge 1% of your project but for the ease of managing backers after the event it's VERY worthwhile.
Chris Birch, Modiphius
How do you handle customs declarations for international shipping?
A great question!Here's the facts: Your backer rewards are absolutely Merchandise. They are not gifts, and no government in the world will see them as such. Period. : OCan you mark it "gift" and get away with it? Probably, but it is international tax evasion. If you get caught... you're gonna find yourself in a lot of trouble. : / Simply not worth it.-Anecdote: We sent out rewards all over the world. We sent all items to the EU with properly declared customs forms as merchandise and the actual values of the products. Many of them came back to us anyway because the customs agent (as every one is different) couldn't find a packing slip with item-by-item value declaration on it, and he wanted to be 100% certain to milk the person of every penny ..err euro. - And that was on properly declared items.So yes: Merchandise. And yes, you should mark it the full value (of the pledge level). If you included shipping in the pledge value you can reduce the declared value of the package by the amount of included shipping. When they are charged VAT it will be on the value of the package + the cost of shipping. This new total will roughly reflect the actual pledge amount, and thus they will charged the correct amount of VAT without being charged on shipping twice.-Suggestion: Use E-declarations by using an online service like USPS.com, Stamps.com, or paypal.com/shipnow. - Filling out paper forms by hand is murder; the e-declaration is really really easy as it imports data from previously filled out fields, then asks simple questions like: Merchandise or Gift? ; )Always open to private or specific help as well,John Wrot!