How do you approach your annual or recurring projects?
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.
If you are printing artwork, do you send it directly to your backers from a third party?
It ultimately boils down to the conditions of your campaign, and the rewards that you are offering. A few points to consider:1. How many kinds of prints are you offering?2. Are your prints your main reward, or are you also offering other items?3. What's the lowest amount of backers that you anticipate having for this campaign to be successful? For example, if you run a $2,000 campaign, do you anticipate having 200 $10 backers that you need to send prints?4. Where is your product being manufactured?Some manufacturers can ship product directly, while others require that you come up with a shipping solution. It's quite normal for larger campaigns to make use of a fulfillment partner to ship out rewards, but many campaigns of all sizes opt to ship their packages themselves through the USPS.As a practice, it is also a good idea to consider assembling an entire reward package before sending it out for fulfillment. Some campaigns offering mixed reward items choose to fulfill part of an order at a time, rather than all at once. (printed pictures through one provider, t-shirts and mugs through another). This can increase complexity for keeping track of which backers have received everything, and which backers still need to be fulfilled.Full disclosure - this commentator works at BackerKit, a post-campaign platform for project creators.
Stretch goals: when are they a good idea, and when should they be introduced?
For my last short, we had no concept of launching stretch goals, but we funded on day four and had to put our brains together to come up with ideas!I think stretch goals are a great idea, but I've seen some people succumb to the pitfalls of getting too excited about their success and then over promising on their stretch goals by promising things that amp their costs up more than they anticipated. (hard cover books vs soft cover, for example)I think stretch goals, like any other rewards, deserve very specific consideration in terms of what is being offered, what they'll cost, and the logistics of delivering on those promises.In terms of when to announce them, I feel like they tend of best serve their purpose when you're close to your goal. You can come off as overly confident by launching with stretch goals built into your campaign, but if you're hitting 80% of your goal and still have a lot of time left, launching stretch goals could be a great way to motivate your community to get you over the finish line and beyond.
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
How do you extend your reach beyond your friends, family, and contacts to a broader audience?
Facebook! (And other social sites)I have had half of my traffic come through Facebook for each of my campaigns. I find pages with a similar genre and contact them. But here is the KEY. I don't ask them to support my campaign, I don't ask them to buy. I simply ask them to share a link to my campaign on their social page. (Most social sites are always looking for content for their fans) One page posted about our Kickstarter and we had 2000 likes, 2000 comments and 2000 shares. (There was a big boost in our Kickstarter backers that day)IMPORTANT: Look for pages that have a lot of interaction, where the fans make comments. (I have seen pages will millions of likes but nobody ever comments or anything.)
Are you backing on Kickstarter too or just creating?
I think I've backed something like 33 projects. I backed 2 or 3 before my first campaign, which did so well that I wanted to continue to pay it forward a bit and help other projects.You should definitely back other projects before creating one for several reasons... It makes you look like you're a nice person It helps you to understand the backer experience It gives you a feel for the system It helps you to see how other people do it. What do they put in their updates that you wouldn't have thought of? If I'm not bothered about what they're offering or if it's too expensive for my taste, I usually bung them £5 for no reward just to be supportive.
Alex Eames - RasPi.TV
Ship internationally and VAT
Das,It's my pleasure to help answer this if I can. : ) The system is actually a good deal easier than you'd think. I plan on adding a full on post about this on my blog sometime soon, but for now, let me give you the brass tacks version.#1) In the USA, unless your product is very large, you probably want to ship USPS. The rates are much much better. Use Stamps.com to get the shipping rate discounts, you'll save as much as $1 per package or more. Then cancel after the first month (which is usually free anyway).#2) In the EU, contact a fulfillment center. Spiral Galaxy is in the UK, Happy Shops are in Germany. I know there are more you can hunt down. I strongly do not recommend Ideaspatcher (aka MorningPlayers). They were once great, they are now sadly unreliable.Make sure when you contact them you ask if they act as your "Importer of Record" and will pre-pay the VAT for you. You can then pay them for it together with the shipping fees.Plus, shipping from within the EU will be cheaper per package than shipping TO the EU from the USA.Of course, freight shipping it there will be a very noteworthy extra cost, that somewhat offsets with the per-package savings.#3) You can also try to avoid VAT in other areas (Canada / Australia) by doing similar things. I've found that Canada has far fewer VAT restrictions than the EU (which is the ultimate VAT factory), and Australia has about the same low level (especially for less expensive products). Here you'll have to decide what's worth it for you and your backer pool. You'll have about 6% of backers in Canada and far less in Australia. This % can certainly vary by product, price, and shipping costs, etc.Aside from the missing detail associated with the unique process for your product and the company you choose, that's really all there is too it. Companies like Spiral Galaxy and Happy Shops have taken advantage of the Kickstarter model and the difficulty VAT poses for USA companies to create a solution for us. It works out for everyone as you don't have to ship as much yourself, EU gets the taxes they want, and your backers don't have to be the ones paying it. (BTW: YOU pay VAT on the manufacturing cost at 19%, backers pay VAT on the product price at 19%, so if costs you $1 but you charge $10, you'll pay 0.19c, but if you made backers pay by shipping from the USA they will have to pay $1.90!)Hope this helps you and many others! Heart it if it helped. : )John Wrot!
What is the best advice you have for finding and working with a manufacturer?
I work with Scott at Dragon Innovation. First, I wanted to say thank you for starting this discussion and including us in it! I wanted to share some other free resources we provide that augment the video you shared. Design For Manufacturing video course. Over 12 hours of lectures to help you understand the basics of manufacturing and where to apply manufacturing thinking in your design process. Our blog has consistently relevant info about navigating from prototype to production (with a focus on hardware). A few recent posts in particular talk about what kind of relationship you want with your factory and what to expect in a RFQ process. The Dragon Standard BOM. We built a free Google Sheets Add-on to help hardware teams have a well structured Bill Of Materials that will make communicating with manufacturing partners easier. I hope these help!
How are you dealing with shipping?
We are UK based and of our 3000 orders around 80% of out backers were international with around 20% - 30 % being in the US. So yes I would say that limiting your backers to just the US will hurt you. What we have learnt is that backers expect a tracking number but they are not willing to pay extra for one. We have also learned that certain countries have awful postal systems and I would now say that tracking is 100% essential in these countries. So far the list of bad countries is Saudi Arabia, UAE, Yemen, Russia, Mexico, Chile, India, Indonesia and getting quite bad it seems is Canada. This is based on the number of orders that have gone missing.When we run our next campaign we are going to use a fulfilment house overseas not so much to help with the packing but more as International shipping rates with tracking seems to be much much cheaper than using Royal mail in the UK.Regarding prices don't just look at the obvious people like Shipwire as we found there prices at least 50% higher than others and we could actually buy postage cheaper than them. Hope this helps
How can a first-time creator find collaborators to help with a project?
I think during the development and research portion of putting your project together it is a great time to look for projects, creators, backers, etc. which might have something in common or might have interest in your project. I have found the kickstarter community to be very helpful, for example sharing my project with a few key individuals who I feel could help my campaign has paid off for me several times. Others were helpful in critiquing yet not as helpful in promotion and development. Usually you'll understand just how helpful people might be in your initial contact with them.There are a plethora of places you might need collaboration with your project, design, manufacturing, advertising, promotion, etc. I think campus would be a great place for anyone to start. I would not hesitate to throw out a very precise inquiry on the type of collaboration you are looking for. I think you will be amazed at how awesome this kickstarter community is. Good luck and keep the creative juices flowin'