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'
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.)
Less is more or more is more rewards levels?
Personally I find less is more. Initially a lot of people who backed my Kickstarters were confused by Kickstarter as a concept in the first place let alone reward levels. Make it simple, keep peoples focus and if you reach your goal then that's the time to start adding wizards, shooting stars and whistle blowing bells.
How important is USD currency and shipping cost for US backers?
I too wish that Kickstarter would let us choose our currency. We post what our rewards are approx in USD, but I think for backers from the USA it makes a big difference to see it in their currency. I have friends in Denmark, but I don't keep up with what the danish conversion rate is to my currency or the USD. If you are asking for 400DKR, is that a lot of money for me, or not much money? I can look it up, but I have to really want to back a project to do that - so I think it really harms the amount of money you can gain.Its not just backers in the US either, the majority of our backers were from the USA, Canada, Australia and then Europe. Most people understand what their currency is doing against the USD as its what most trades are pegged against and what most online stores will use that sell internationally. Even for you, just the choice to use Euros rather than Kroner would be good right? Does someone in Austria know what a Kroner is in Euros, or USD? I'd guess on average probably not. They probably know what the Euro and USD are doing, maybe the Pound if they are keeping up with the state of financial affairs around the world?It would be nice of Kickstarter would just display the rewards, goal, funds raised as "CA$40, Approx (your currency based on your ip address)" if they wont let us pick the currency for our project.Furthermore on the currency selection, its not just about backers - its also about creators. We have two local purchases for our campaign - postage and our retail boxes. Postage is included in our reward price, so that doesn't count for us. We've spent about $20k of our $29k we recieved so far in USD purchases. The Canadian dollar is still slipping relative to the USD, some purchases we waited a week on and it cost us several percent more because of it. If 90% of our funds will be spent on USD priced test gear, components, and services it makes sense for us to run our campaign in USD.
Do I need to get "Staff Pick" to do well on KickStarter?
I don't know what that "staff pick" business is about but I've made a conscious decision to ignore it. I also, don't try to predict what the backers want. I figure I only have 90 to 122 years to live. I've already squandered 42 of them. No more. I'm just doing the projects I want to do. If only 8 people support my project, awesome! Nice to meet the eight of you. This project is going to be awesome!
What are some good places to share your Kickstarter campaign for feedback?
I think it depends on the community that people's products target. The people in the community who would buy the product are the best choices outside the "circle of friends" in my opinion. Find people who are respected in the community and reach out to them, ask them if they would mind giving some feedback on your Kickstarter preview. If your product might go to distributors/retailers, reach out to some of the mid level ones.
Which media outlets are the best for backer conversion rate?
I agree with Mark: if you're going to promote, two things that definitely don't work are the "We'll-promo-your-project!!!" outfits that flood your inbox on launch day, and the shotgun approach to press releases.All it takes to be a "professional Kickstarter promoter" is an email account and a Twitter account. The majority of these "promotional services" aren't doing anything you can't do yourself: Tweeting about your project, and emailing links to blogs. Sorry you had to learn about that the hard way.The key to promoting a KS project is relevance. Be surgical in your efforts! For example, I recently ran a project for a collection of sci-fi comics. I emailed a sci-fi blog that had run stories about my projects before, and offered to let them run a 10-page excerpt from the collection, authored by a popular writer. When they ran the story, it sent $5,000 my way. The blog, its audience, and what I offered them were all relevant to my project, so it worked.Which is why I can't really offer you (or anyone!) A top 20 list of "Best Places to Send My Press Release." You would know that better than we would!All I can suggest is emphasizing relevance in your quest for promotion. don't bother Kotaku with your theater project, y'know?