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
What service(s) do you recommend for printing a self-published book?
Print on demand has higher unit costs, lower financial risk, and doesn't require a lot of money up-front. If you end up needing more than 500 copies for rewards, consider getting quotes from some offset printers. I've used Worzalla http://www.worzalla.com/, but there are tons of options out there. The downside to offset is that there typically isn't an option to handle distribution, like there is with POD. You need a distributor to get books into Amazon, B&N, etc. If you get a distributor, be prepared for the big ugly secret of publishing... returns. You can sell 1000 copies and get a nice check and then a few months later 600 are returned and you could end up owing money back to your distributor PLUS returns fees. (Getting a distributor is hard. Particularly if you only have a single title scheduled.)Ingram and Createspace are the two big players in POD. It pays to look at the prices and terms and figure out which (or what combination) works best for you. Keep in mind that books through a POD printer/distributor are harder to get into brick and mortar bookstores. Most will only take them as special orders, particularly if you have them set as non-returnable. It does get you into the big online stores. Here, Amazon is critical. You'll make most of your sales here. Sadly, your per-unit profit is lowest with POD, but at least it's all profit and almost no risk.You should be releasing a print book with a digital edition. If you don't know how to make an ebook, find someone who does (same goes for the print book or cover). It's important to put your best foot forward with a book, so work with people who know what they are doing or the project will suffer for it. The last thing you want is to look amateur and you may not be the best judge of that.Once again, Amazon is the big player for ebooks, but other places may be big too (talk to people in your genre). There is no excuse not to put it everywhere. By the way, if you manage to get an offset title into bookstores that will drive ebook sales. I've done both and can speak from experience. Consider the bookstore a marketing opportunity for the ebook. Sometimes that can offset any smaller returns costs.And of course, none of this works without marketing... and that's an even bigger topic for discussion.
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 have you successfully reached new audiences?
Work your project HARD. Email relevant people and companies, find forums, twitter, facebook, contact news outlets and for serious connections, believe it or not, send them a handwritten letter.However you decided to reach out, have a clear message, be polite, understand if they can't get their heads around your idea or product. If they say no it is not personal, don't be offended.And most important, learn from this fish:Dory of Finding Nemo - Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming, what do we do we swim.
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!
When does it make sense to relaunch a project that didn't hit its goal the first time?
Personally, before asking the question 'when', I would take a good, long look at the reasons behind the original project's failure to fund, and ask myself 3 questions:1. Was I asking for too much money? Take a look at your bare minimum needs, and if the only thing that killed your project was not quite reaching your goal, lower your goals, tweak your rewards, and try again.2. Did I build enough of an audience before launch day? If you still haven't done this by the time you are ready to restart your failed campaign, you might not see a different result this time around. Take what you learned from your failures, and use those lessons to help build a good following before you relaunch.3. What did other similar projects do to succeed where mine failed? Did they have better presentation (graphics, videos, write-ups, reward levels, etc), do they have a support base that you could tap into (blogs, social media groups, fans with similar tastes), and finally - did they do more research before hand (ideally, 90% of the work should be done before launch day - if not, do a little more prep before your relaunch).
Blackstone Entertainment, Inc.
How do you decide on your project's funding goal?
Hello everyone,The Kalculator is a proof of concept that I made to help creators budget their Kickstarter project, set a realistic funding goal and estimate how many backers they may need to be successful.I invite you to give it a try! And if you have any feedback, please add a comment below. This is a personal project that I’m building on my own. If you participate, you’ll be helping me—not Kickstarter—understand how to improve this tool.
When is the best time of day / week / year to launch a Kickstarter project?
This is a great question and that's some great data. I'll say that some of it could be potentially skewed. Why?Well if everyone starts to believe that Wednesday is the best day for pledges, then people start campaigns on wednesday, or ending them, and there ends up inflation on that day. What matters is what day is the best for pledges MID-CAMPAIGN and START of Campaign, and END of campaign. So I'd take those daily numbers with a grain of salt.Weekdays are KNOWN for being better than weekend, anyone can tell you that, so Wednesday being at the center gets a lot of "Tuesday Launches" and "Thursday Ends". The differenece from 1 day to the next on those charts are also minimal during the week, so while they're fascinating to study, there's simply not enough information to draw conclusions.FOR YOU...#1) Launch ONLY after your project is fully built and been reviewed and revised at least 2-3 times (by strangers).#2) If your product is seasonal, launch in the same season. It's shown to be better than delivering in the right season.#3) Don't end on a Sunday. It won't kill you, but it won't help. Don't launch on one either.#4) Project length should should stick close to 30 +/- days. It really does help.Best to you!John
What is on your how-to Kickstarter reading list?
I'm currently on my 15th Kickstarter project, so I don’t read anything about crowd-funding anymore. But initially, for my first few Kickstarter projects, I read and reread all the info on the KS site. I mean everything. There is plenty of sound advice scattered there.I haven't found any crowd-funding bloggers that have content that helps me. They often seem to be focused on blockbuster technology projects. That's not me.Let me explain where I think I learned the most about running Kickstarter projects. I supported several projects before I even thought about doing my own. I'd say the best way to learn about doing Kickstarter projects is to support Kickstarter projects and pay attention to what people do well. Copy the stuff you like. But more important, I learned from the mistakes of others. Pay attention when you see updates complaining about schedule problems, wonky prototypes, manufacturing fiascoes, shipping delays, and problems with customs inspectors. These are vital lessons from the front lines. Much better than some author or blogger pontificating about their theories. Plus, these glimpses behind the curtain can be highly entertaining.
How do you get THAT much PR?!
Hey everyone -- Stephanie from Kickstarter here. We just posted a whole slew of new videos from workshops and talks we have hosted here at Kickstarter HQ over the past year on the Advice playlist on our YouTube Channel. There are two short video clips that made me think of this excellent conversation in particular -- linking to them below. Hope its insightful!1) In this video clip, early entrepreneur Kit Hickey from Ministry of Supply talks about how they built their PR list before they launched their campaign, and how they pivoted once they went live.2) In this video clip, Heather Delaney from Dynamo PR (has worked on numerous Kickstarter campaigns), shares some very sound strategies for getting and working with press.(Chris Birch: If you are still reading, check them out -- Love your take on this advice!)