International shipping -- is it as outrageous as it looks?
Greetings Jill, Melody, John, and everyone else dealing with this issue.International shipping can certainly be a beast and I feel you on that. There are a few ways to dance around it.#1) If you are pre-production, plan a size and shape and weight that ships cheaper. Once you get past certain dimensions the shipping rates jump tremendously. If it's a board game, ensure it fits in a medium flat rate box (there are 2 shapes), or small flat rate if that size. And don't underestimate the value of a flat rate bubble mailer. They fit way more than a small flat rate does and ships the same price. - First class, not flat-rate, is often your best bet.#2) (Best option) You can freight ship a fair stack of your product (book, or game, or else) directly into a foreign region, then ship from there.ie: Freight 3 cases of books directly from your printer (or self) to Germany. This will cost you a couple hundred dollars ($100-500 depending on size and total weight), but once you divide price by the # of books in the cases it's only a couple bucks each, then you pay only the local in-region shipping per book, and charge the total to the backer. - Imagine a foreign seller shipping a pallet here, then paying USPS rates... ah, that would only total about $9 per person that way. - This only works in bulk. It won't work very well in small quantities, but UPS's shipping calculator will help you price it out. Try it.#3) Understand this: Nothing is "free". Subsidize the shipping price in your pledge amount.Got free shipping on Amazon or KS? Somebody paid for that. It's subsidized into the price. It might feel free to the buyer, but somebody paid a cut to the shipper-man. If you're paying $50 for something sizable on KS with "free shipping", they subsidized at least $X of shipping into that $50. Can you do the same? Increase the price of the book $5 and then charge only $15 shipping?#4) Eat it. Charge less than the full amount and eat that percentage (ONLY if still profitable to do so). Does +$5 make your pledge value seem wrong somehow? Then #4 might be for you. But know this: You budget this into the net project before you start, and then it's just part of the net goal. This is basically #3, but a harsher-way of looking at it, when increasing Tier Price is to be avoided.(For #2 & #3 - the more you make and will sell will greatly affect your ability to do this. The more you make, the lower you cost per unit is, so you can pass that savings on, and the more you make the more likely it will become for you to shippThese are the main ways. Shipping is real, and it's never free. You can A) Make it cheaper with great planning early, B) Freight ship directly into the region and ship from within it (a great service to provide for your EU customers who worry about VAT), and/or C) Hide the price of shipping by putting in the pledge amount, and calling shipping free, or D) Eat it (ideally budgeting this plan in in advance.Finally, yes, if you're doing shipping yourself to reduce costs to backers, use Stamps.comI have a ton of advice on Freight Shipping (aka Logistics) and Fulfillment (aka shipping stuff) on my blog, and as much on budgeting, and even a how-to for Stamps.com. Take a look for detailed step-by-step advice for each.As always, heart this post if it was helpful to you.Best on your projects!John Wrot!-Community Adviser
How can I use Shopify in tandem with Kickstarter?
The way this is written it looks as if it's been posted by KickStarter staff as an official announcement. "Kickstarter and Shopify have teamed up to help creators/entrepreneurs make this transition more seamlessly." I'm sure it's not deliberate, but I was well into the article before I realised the above post was not written by a KS staff member.
Alex Eames - RasPi.TV
What are some great ideas for rewards that DON'T involve creating and shipping something physical?
For £1 we're proposing to plant one Ash tree and one Oak tree. Then we'll dedicate it to all our backers. It fits with the theme of the picture book campaign that we're developing; it's about a mystical creature who lives in an ancient forest that has been reduced over the centuries to the confines of a traffic roundabout. Now I'm not sure if this is a great idea (feedback please!) but the trees should still be around when Chris and I are old and grey... although we're getting a bit like that already.Jamie Shaw xhttps://twitter.com/SkyMntMedia
Jamie Shaw & Chris Harrendence
How did you decide which fulfillment company to work with?
We decided to use Integracore in the USA and Ideaspatcher (now renamed "Nift" - please note the edit note below) in the EU. The main reason for choosing each of these is that they offered a combine-assemble-shrinkwrap need that we had at the time (rare, but needed). The secondary reason we chose Ideaspatcher is that they will act as your "Importer of Record" in the EU. That means they pre-pay VAT on the manufacturing side of things, so customers don't have to front-door pay VAT on the retail value side of things.Integracore was ok to work with, but pretty pricey. I don't think we'd choose them again unless more shrink-wrapping shenanigans was needed. Shipnaked (aside from their not-so-household-friendly name) is now really trying to storm the Kickstarter fulfillment market with a pretty solid business and pricing model. We'll see if they accomplish what they're setting out to do. We'll be working with them on our next project to assess what they bring to the table.Happyshops in Germany has been pretty great, but there's a pretty significant language barrier, otherwise has been excellent.EDIT: I dislike saying something disparaging, but I'm here to serve you, not the companies I've worked with. To this end I share that working with Ideaspatcher has been a terrible experience in the long run. They delayed shipping our products over 6 weeks (costing us over $3500), and are still holding our excess items that should be returned to us for over 5 months as of the time of this writing, and are now ignoring my emails on the topic. We are not the only company they have wounded in 2016, and so they have renamed themselves "Nift" to dodge the bad press. They are strictly to be avoided. Sorry for the negative news.Warm regards,John Wrot!Gate Keeper GamesMore advice at www.gatekeepergaming.com
How long did you spend building your project page before you launched?
We took almost a month to get the page ready for launch, starting with about 2 days to plan out the skeleton and flow of the campaign page, then 2 weeks to shoot whatever photo/video assets we needed to populate the page, then a week to edit the video and touch up our photos and to insert texts and plan captions. Once we had all the assets we needed, the actual "creating" of the campaign page took about three days to complete.During the campaign we were also constantly tracking the google analytics metrics of our page and looking for ways to improve and optimize the flow of our page. For example, the first couple of days the bounce rate was super high (people came to our page, didn't engage and left), and we made some assumptions as to why that was (first couple scrolls of the page was not engaging enough, title was not clear and didn't resonate with our audience) and we made incremental improvements like making the title more relevant to the reader, and putting a point-form summary of our campaign in the first portions of our project page.Hope this helps!
The Arc Boards Team
Is it possible/smart to have an "add on" reward?
Add-ons might be smart. If you instead make a Cartesian product reward matrix that might get confusing for backers. Though if it is something you'd expect a lot of people to do, then maybe it's worth a separate reward. Then save the add-ons for the less popular items.
What kinds of plans and preparations do you need to make before your project launches?
I always tell people who are contemplating doing a Kickstarter project to seriously research the projects already done in their area of interest. You can learn so much from what other people have done.
What is on your how-to Kickstarter reading list?
I'm currently on my 15th Kickstarter project, so I don’t read anything about crowd-funding anymore. But initially, for my first few Kickstarter projects, I read and reread all the info on the KS site. I mean everything. There is plenty of sound advice scattered there.I haven't found any crowd-funding bloggers that have content that helps me. They often seem to be focused on blockbuster technology projects. That's not me.Let me explain where I think I learned the most about running Kickstarter projects. I supported several projects before I even thought about doing my own. I'd say the best way to learn about doing Kickstarter projects is to support Kickstarter projects and pay attention to what people do well. Copy the stuff you like. But more important, I learned from the mistakes of others. Pay attention when you see updates complaining about schedule problems, wonky prototypes, manufacturing fiascoes, shipping delays, and problems with customs inspectors. These are vital lessons from the front lines. Much better than some author or blogger pontificating about their theories. Plus, these glimpses behind the curtain can be highly entertaining.
What service(s) do you recommend for printing a self-published book?
Print on demand has higher unit costs, lower financial risk, and doesn't require a lot of money up-front. If you end up needing more than 500 copies for rewards, consider getting quotes from some offset printers. I've used Worzalla http://www.worzalla.com/, but there are tons of options out there. The downside to offset is that there typically isn't an option to handle distribution, like there is with POD. You need a distributor to get books into Amazon, B&N, etc. If you get a distributor, be prepared for the big ugly secret of publishing... returns. You can sell 1000 copies and get a nice check and then a few months later 600 are returned and you could end up owing money back to your distributor PLUS returns fees. (Getting a distributor is hard. Particularly if you only have a single title scheduled.)Ingram and Createspace are the two big players in POD. It pays to look at the prices and terms and figure out which (or what combination) works best for you. Keep in mind that books through a POD printer/distributor are harder to get into brick and mortar bookstores. Most will only take them as special orders, particularly if you have them set as non-returnable. It does get you into the big online stores. Here, Amazon is critical. You'll make most of your sales here. Sadly, your per-unit profit is lowest with POD, but at least it's all profit and almost no risk.You should be releasing a print book with a digital edition. If you don't know how to make an ebook, find someone who does (same goes for the print book or cover). It's important to put your best foot forward with a book, so work with people who know what they are doing or the project will suffer for it. The last thing you want is to look amateur and you may not be the best judge of that.Once again, Amazon is the big player for ebooks, but other places may be big too (talk to people in your genre). There is no excuse not to put it everywhere. By the way, if you manage to get an offset title into bookstores that will drive ebook sales. I've done both and can speak from experience. Consider the bookstore a marketing opportunity for the ebook. Sometimes that can offset any smaller returns costs.And of course, none of this works without marketing... and that's an even bigger topic for discussion.