Best way to estimate reward package shipping costs to US and International?
RECENTLY UPDATED...Option #3 - Collect shipping after the campaign. This keeps your manufacturing costs accurate, and thus your funding goal. It also keeps your funding goal lower so you can fund faster. But you still need to estimate shipping costs, and then tell people what those costs will be by country.Then for an album, you're not likely to go huge. Not yet. So you'll just want to check with your national carrier (USA = USPS; UK = Royal Mail), etc. Bring a CD in bubble mailer down to the post office, and get media mail rates. I can't imagine it's going to be more than $2.83 each (at time of writing). Then you buy the bubble mailers from ULINE.com, for .17c each, total it, and you have an even $3.00. Then you charge a couple cents (50?) for labor, cause it can take a long time. USA Shipping = $3.50! I do recommend offering "FREE SHIPPING" with your USA tier, by including the $3.50 in it. Then use the $3.50 as a SUBSIDY for international packages, and let international backers know it.UPDATE:So I wrote a massive blog post on how to do all this shipping stuff to cover all these questions step by step. Take a look here: http://www.gatekeepergaming.com/article-19-fulfillment-self-hired/As always, heart the answer if it was helpful. Thanks!John Wrot!Gate Keeper GamesKickstarter Campus Community Adviser
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 did you do to get through your project's "plateau"?
I'm seven-for-seven with regards to successfully funded Kickstarters, now, and I've developed a routine.- Announce the project at least a month beforehand. I sometimes start promo six months to a year beforehand! Let Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Instagram- wherever you have an established audience- know you're planning this.- I maintain a mailing list of ~5,000 folks who already know and like my stuff. I incentivize subscribing to the list by making sure everyone knows I'll be announcing the exact launch date of the KS there, so folks who want limited edition backer levels can get first dibs. (This also helps create the important first-day push for the project.)- I launch the KS, tell the mailing list, and then inform social media. The first-day push commences.- The initial excitement for the project has cooled by day three or four, in my experience. That's when I send out the press releases. I target blogs and reviewers who are already interested in my project's theme, or my general output. For the next week or so, I rely on promo from those outlets for bumps in interest, along with occasional social media reminders. I try to tweet about any Kickstarter I'm running at least once a day, preferably with images. I find reasons to talk about it. "We're just one pledge away from $1,000!" "Eek, who wants to be backer 666!?!" "Look, we're at $45,000! what a nice, round number." etc. - Day three or four is also when I announce/decide on stretch goals. How fast the project is funding is a big deciding factor in those; I've been caught out before making stretch goal graphics for goals the KS hit while I was playing around in Photoshop! Announcing the stretch goals give people reasons to keep promoting/pledging to the project, and i favor goals that would benefit everyone involved for that reason.- This will hold me until the halfway point of the project. If I think the project needs it, I do another round of promotion. If things are humming along smoothly, I hold back. It's important not to cross the line into annoying people. - After all this, when the KS enters its final week? I play it by ear. Does it need more attention? Does it need more aggressive promotion? Should I bother the mailing list again? Should I post an update about my new project in past Kickstarters? It varies from project to project, but when the countdown clock tics over into hours instead of days, that's always the beginning of the final big push from me. if I'm lucky, I've calculated a final stretch goal that can be feasibly reached on the last or second-to-last day; that keeps excitement high.If I do everything correctly, the project gets a respectable number of pledges every day. And while they'll always drop off after the first few initial days, I still experience promo-related bumps all throughout the campaign's slow, plodding middle.
Do advertisement or crowdfunding agencies help to spread the word about crowdfunding projects?
Some yes, some no.I use advertising on relevant sites. I create board games so I advertise on board game websites, forums, blogs (where applicable). I then contact directly with a personal letter and press release: blogs, articles, news agencies, and reviewers. I send them a prototype if available.Most PR firms for Kickstarter are a joke/scam/or ripoff. Try asking them detailed questions about their practices, for references, for stat sheets on success of multiple LIKE projects. They tend to get annoyed, defensive, or stop writing you back. If they are calm and collect and answer ALL of your HARD questions with good answers and integrity, then they might be worth using. Otherwise, Kickstarter alone drives enough traffic for you.Most of the time these agencies advertise on Google Adwords, and Facebook. ... You can do that yourself. Sure they "target"... but you can too, you just need to fill out the forms instead of them. It takes about an hour per site to do it right.That said, I advertise on Facebook for a measly $100 over the course of our campaign. That's usually enough. Films are larger budget with a wider audience, increasing this might be worth it. I haven't tried Adwords in a while. I found it a money sink-hole years back for another business, and never saw a single bit income from them. Though that was a while ago, and I'll probably try them again in the future just for the sake of experimentation to better answer questions like these.John
Success rate depending on project's country of origin?
Hi Samuel,First of all, you shouldn't be worried about your project not being seen in other countries. Every project on Kickstarter has equal chances of being seen by anyone worldwide and it only depends on the quality of your project that makes for its success. I've created two projects myself and the majority of my backers came from Austria, Germany and the US. But I also had backers from countries like Japan, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands.. I could go on. It's so exciting for me to ship packages to all these countries I wish to visit one day. If your project has the chance of attracting international backers then in my belief Kickstarter is a good place to reach them. If your project's good, you'll find the support from your local people too. At the beginning, your backers will be friends and family because it's hard to convince strangers to support your project if people who know and trust you don't.. you wouldn't go to an empty restaurant either I assume. Once you have your friends supporting you, more people get curious and will check out your project.I've seen many projects create their campaigns in multiple languages or they used subtitles to make their projects available to everyone (SolidLUUV from Berlin or Livin Farms from Vienna) and I've also seen projects done in German only (Nicht Lustig from Frankfurt or the Towell from Kiel). They were all hugely successful. What is your project about?Take care, Monika
How do you continue to grow your community after you're funded? Does it get easier or harder?
I'm still in the beginning stages of this as well, but for us, we've found that opening up additional pre-orders directly from our site has been quite helpful in continuing building our community. Of course, the most important thing is to ensure that you're focused on fulfilling your initial Kickstarter adopters, as they're the ones that got you to where you are now. Updates are, of course, the best way to do this. We've handled consolidating all of this by pushing all Kickstarter backers, as well as new community members into a single mailing list. So for anyone that joins in post-campaign, you're able to send out email updates to everyone associated, not just your Kickstarter backers. MailChimp is very helpful for this, as is Shopify, as they allow for MailChimp integration where new buyers are able to accept email marketing directly from our site, and are automatically added to that pre-existing email list.Finally, having a way for interested parties to put an email address down somewhere on your website will make it even easier to throw them in to your MailChimp account. I guess the bottom line is that having a consolidated list of emails for all Kickstarter backers, new buyers, as well as interested parties makes it a pretty seamless ecosystem to reach out to your community.
What tips do you have for making a great project video on a limited budget?
Keep it 2-3 minutes. Attention span is low, and everyone has a threshold for how long they'll pay attention (or can pay attention before the manager comes to look over their shoulder). The opening moments will have the backers judging your video and deciding if they want to keep going, so try and hook them early. Focus on audio quality. If you don't have a microphone and have to use the in-camera audio, then get the camera as close to you as it can. You can kill audio bounce by hanging a blanket behind the camera. A cheap solution is getting a Zoom H4n (or whatever device that works as a microphone/recorder itself) and holding it in your hand just beneath the frame. Also, make sure where you're shooting isn't riddled with background noises. Shoot near a window. As a filmmaker, I use a light kit, but for the natural look, I tend to just shoot near a window so the soft, diffused light can look good and natural. Just be careful to keep continuity on days where the sun peeks out from behind the clouds while you're filming. It's a cheap way to look well lit. Find the line between informational/inspirational. Some people pitch the big picture without satisfying the detail-oriented people. Some people focus on the nitty gritty without explaining why they're running the Kickstarter. Be fun. Not all campaigns can focus on this, but I'm more likely to keep watching if I'm entertained. I want to like you and if I like you, I'll be more likely to support you. Tell a story. Lastly, let the backers in on why you're doing this, and give them a sense of the origin story if it's interesting. These people are being invited to be on the ground floor of something cool, and as long as you don't come off as needy, a fun relationship can form between creator and backer. Most of those have no impact on the budget, but are important to get right.
What do you wish you had known before you ran your first project?
Kickstarter cannot deliver that *initial* audience.Once you have enough backers, and a REASON to promote your project (making your goal, then stretch goals and freebies), you hit a certain point where your backers will promote the project and you can, in principle, sit back and watch the money roll in. But you somehow have to hit that first critical mass. We thought we'd be visible on the front page for a day or so - but we were only there for a matter of a half hour or so...and then you had to already know that we existed or you'd never find our project. We didn't expect that...we thought we'd get hundreds of page-views per hour...what we actually got was crickets!Our first Kickstarter failed horribly because we didn't understand that. But after we retreated, re-tooled and did some up-front promotional work - the second one took off nicely. The backers from that first successful one then formed the core of people who started the third and now fourth (and soon FIFTH...you heard it here first!!) projects - so we don't need to be so concerned.But the first time out, it's tough. Nobody knows who you are, whether you'll deliver (lots of projects don't!) - whether you can deliver on time - whether the quality of the rewards will be up to your claims. Nobody is searching for your keywords - and initial failure gets you pushed down the search further and further. Unless you get a "Staff Pick" (we never did) or somehow find out how "Sort by Magic" works and exploit it - you're not going to get an audience.So the first Kickstarter is without doubt the toughest...and the only defense is to pre-promote it somehow.
Serial Backers - Describe your motivations!
100+ campaign backer here. I know the creator. I like to support friends, so they usually will get a backing. The creator backed one of my campaigns. It's not terribly frequent, but I like keeping a healthy crowdfunding ecosystem by supporting those who support me when I can. The reward will arrive quickly. It's fun to have campaigns with quick turnaround, especially if the reward isn't terribly expensive. The campaign plays on my nostalgia. I love that some of the architects of my childhood games have made a resurgence in the crowdfunding space. Keep tabs on the cultural zeitgeist. Some of what I back is for research of crowdfunding, honestly. Feeling mighty. Knowing that someone's dream can only be fulfilled if people like me help out lends itself a feeling of goodwill, as long as the creator doesn't come off looking desperate. The product is exactly something I've searched for before but couldn't find. Very niche reason here, but a bluetooth typewriter keyboard is something I've looked for, but could only find months later on Kickstarter. Usually if the product is something I could find something easily on Amazon, unless they have an awesome pitch video, I go for the thing I can have arrive at my house in 2 days.
Using ads to promote Kickstarter; Analytics tracking
Hey! We are currently live on Kickstarter and 7 days in at $234k. We allocated a budget to Facebook Ads and after testing with small $ across 20 ads in week 1, we've dwindled it down to 3 that are performing at 3-6% CTR & 3-6.0 ROI. That means for every $1 spent we are seeing $3-6 in return. our Total conversion (as found in Google Analytics - can explain more soon) is around 1.3% off of facebook in total but this includes more than just the Ads. My best guess is you are getting abotu a .5-1% conversion on Facebook Ads.This means, if you drive 1,000 clicks to your website (DO NOT USE FACEBOOK CLICKS, USE A BITLY TRACKER!) you would gain 1 pledge. This is NOT bad. We are about to upgrade to Google PreRoll because our videos are performing best and an ROI of 6 is not going to boost our campaign as much as we hoped given our small budget.In summary here are my key takeaways:1. Use Facebook Ads to generate pledges & brand awareness.2. Facebook Analytics (find "manage ads") are not 100% accurate and fail to track conversions and clicks accurately. Use BITLY to track your clicks (each ad has a custom Bitly, put that bitly with + after to see clicks&data) and use Google Analytics to track conversions.3. Conversions will still be hard to track, because lots of people will see the ad, open a new tab, go to kickstarter or google and search for your campaign. 4. Market CTR on Facebook is 1.8%. Try running 20-40 ads at $50 to get a good idea of what will work. Pick the winners and move on to other parts of your campaign. Gain an ROI of 3+ to really make a difference.I am beginning a campus thread HERE to track my experience about Google Analytics. This will be abit more intense. Maybe can also repost BITLY + FACEBOOK AD info. Once we run Youtube Preroll, will post that as well. SUBSCRIBE! THANKSWill from GNARBOX