How do you maintain momentum throughout your campaign? Any tips for getting through that tough middle period?
Don't make the "in between" too long. People have short attention spans. Think about what gains traction on Facebook, twitter, etc. Quick bursts of headlines, short pieces of information, and so forth. Get down to the point of what you're asking for, and keep it relevant. Also, try and find a target audience through Facebook "groups" etc of people that you think would be naturally inclined to look at your stuff. - Ben
What advice do you have for making sure manufactured goods are high-quality while still staying on budget?
Estimate high! Problems will always arise, and if you slightly estimate higher than your predicted number, you are covering those issues, and saving your backers time potential lost time. If things work out as expected, you can use those extra funds to get your backers a nice surprise to deliver with your final product.Obviously you should be doing as much work as possible to get your numbers as close to final, but since most people on Kickstarter are not massive companies, you must plan for setbacks, both with time and money. Setting the expectations of your audience properly can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Lay Waste Games LLC
At what point is a prototype complete enough that you feel comfortable running a project to make the product?
I've found people can assume all kinds of things no matter how hard you tell them its a prototype. You have to use clear language saying it's a prototype and the contents will change - and even then some will discuss why the map looks bad lol! Personally I would get it looking as close to the real thing as possible - use 3D design or 3D print to create mockup parts, or hand make it, - it's the design and style that attracts a lot of people whether it's a beautifully hand printed cloth map or a plastic rocket, it's these things that get people excited so spend the time to make them. Cancel that friday night out where you'll spend the cost of making the 3D prints you so desperately need but think you can't afford. It's all or nothing when you get to launching the project and everything you can show up front or reveal through the project will give you so much more to say to people. People are visual and need cool graphics, awesome models, 3D visualisations - not walls of text. You don't need it to be production ready, it just needs to look cool!hope that helps!
Chris Birch, Modiphius
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.
What are some strategies for finding an audience for your project?
That's just about the most essential question there is, and I suspect there is not just one answer to it. I'll suggest one. Offer a sample. Costco offered you a bite. id Software let you play a few levels of Doom. Stephen King personally read you a few chapters. Maybe find a way to give people a taste of what they'll get if they decide to go all in for your project.
Are people more likely to back creators who have backed other projects?
I would respectfully disagree with Alex Eames.If there is a project I'm interested in, I will back it regardless of how many projects the creator has backed. And if I'm not that interested, I won't.I am more likely to make my decision based on the character that the creator displays via social media, their website, etc., than the amount of projects backed.Edit: I guess a majority of people would say that it matters - but here I am, a live project, 29 projects backed, and no one that I don't know has backed it. So I guess for others, it's completely dependent on the project. Hmm. Maybe that's because I back people who don't back others...
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 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'