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How do you approach your annual or recurring projects?
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I may be unique, but I view projects that do annual campaigns for the same project as poorly run businesses. I might cut you some slack if you do a second, but I won't support a third. I view Kickstarter as the place for raising the seed money you need to start something new.My view on this is probably tainted by the fact that I run a monthly science fiction magazine and podcast that I have been trying to turn into a full-time career. Feast or famine fundraising just doesn't make sense to me (nor does the stress of an annual campaign). I think it is more important to build stability and with recurring projects, the natural way to do that is with subscriptions or recurring pledges. I save Kickstarter for new initiatives. For example, last year, we launched a campaign to help us fund the addition of Chinese translations to each issue. If that campaign failed, the project, not the magazine, would have been a bust. In the campaign, I promised not to return to Kickstarter to fund year two. That gives me one year to secure the recurring funds through expanding my business in a traditional way.I love Kickstarter, but it's not always the best tool for the job. I think something like Patreon is better suited to funding the second, third, etc. year of a project. You can leverage each audience to promote or support the other and switch the Kickstarter campaigns to moving you forward rather than sustaining what you have. I think those types of KS projects are more exciting to your community.
Neil Clarke

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120

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What makes a great Kickstarter reward? And what's a terrible idea for one?
Last activity on  |  38 answers
As someone who both makes their own kickstarters, and consults for clients, stress-free high impact prizes are where it's at! Here's the process i usually use with the folks that I work with:To start, consider yourself as the project creator, and think about your budget, time, and energy. Remind yourself that you'll be feeling stressed out and neurotic during the project, and exhausted once it's over. Great prizes for YOU are: Already in existence or $0 to create  Requires no shipping (can be emailed, hosted digitally, or are experience-based) Exist towards the ratio of one thing serving many backers rather than needing a 1:1 thing per backer (ie, a party that all backers at that level can attend or a video that can be emailed to the group rather than a tote that needs to be sent to each backer) Now (still thinking about yourself) think a little more strategically. Planning for the kickstarter is great, but playing the long game and planning for whatever work you're making three years from now is even better. Great prizes for YOU are: Prizes that further your brand or product Prizes that creatively fuel the work or process itself by giving feedback or interacting creatively Prizes that (if you're making a purchase like tote bags or products) will have a demand past the life of the kickstarter and can be sold at events, on etsy, on your website, etc, allowing for continued income Prizes that allow for a cultivation and development of your donors and supporters I would say that this last one is KEY! Kickstarter is a great way to connect with folks who are truly interested in your work, and a prize that furthers that relationship (say, inviting a backer to a showing/open rehearsal, or giving them special access) go above and beyond the simple delivery of a prize. Getting face-time with your backers is great, as is facilitating a relationship where there's actual dialogue and exchange rather than just the handing over of a prize. This facilitates relationships that may outlast the life of your kickstarter!So, after you've thought about all of that, clear your mind, and try to get as far out of your own head as possible. Before you even think about the prizes your backers might love, you need to articulate who those magical future backers might be. Are they friends and family? People within your community? Or are you trying to attract people from outside your community? Are there any specific groups you're targeting? Backers who don't know you might not be into personal access or feel-good rewards, just like your mom might not really want the glitch watch you're creating, but would love to get to come to that backers-only dinner party you'll be throwing. Keep in mind who your rewards are courting. So - after that's established, think about what might be most exciting to your backers. My general guidelines are: It's great to have at least one thing that's physical and one thing that's not. Some folks love tote bags, some folks really hate clutter. Make sure you have a range of options that play to people across the spectrum. Access to the thing itself is always key. If it's something like a performance where you can't directly give access to the thing itself, think about other ways to give access, ie: open rehearsals, preview performances, etc. Exclusivity is always exciting. Is kickstarter the ONLY way for them to get this thing? Or is it signed/personalized? Is it available months or years of when it will be available through retail? The best prizes are things that someone would really want to buy anyway, at a price point for less than they'd buy it retail. These prizes feel like a steal, and will generate the most buzz and excitement. Ideally, this would also be your $25-35 reward, the average donation point.  Then, it's great to have a prize that's all those things (awesome, exclusive, still a steal) but undeniably better at the backer tier right above it.  The short of it is this: You want prizes that encourage your backers to back one level higher (or hell, three) than they anticipated they would when coming to your project and watching your video. For the backer-centric part of the brainstorming, if can be helpful to pull in some friends for outside opinions. Make sure you ask a range of different people both inside and outside your community, different ages, different income brackets, etc. and make it clear that you want honest feedback rather than just encouragement. Think as practically as possible (ie: "Would YOU buy THIS THING for THIS AMOUNT" rather than "Do you think this thing is cool?") It always great to ask open-ended questions here as well (ie, "if you could create any reward for yourself having to do with this project, what would it be?")The name of the game (in my mind) is to kill as many birds with as few stones as possible. Of course, this isn't always possible, and sometimes it's definitely better to sacrifice something that benefits your process to wow backers with a really great reward. That being said, thinking creatively to create rewards that benefit all involved can create a more dynamic set of offerings, and one that will hopefully benefit you long after your project closes!Hope that's helpful!
Sarah A.O. Rosner

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