39

subscribers
International shipping -- is it as outrageous as it looks?
Last activity on  |  13 answers
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
John Wrot!

25

subscribers
What do you do when your project is WAY more popular than expected?
Last activity on  |  7 answers
I was expecting a couple hundred backers, but got vaulted to 3,400 backers very quickly. "Would be nice to get $5,000" turned into $105,000 over a couple weeks. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fringefocus/the-acme-corporation In fact, the majority of my backers were in the final week of my project. On top of that, my project ended on December 24th, with only one week left in the year.That means I needed an accountant, really fast. What started as a personal project became a thing that pushed me several income tax brackets higher, with only one week to get the numbers straight (to avoid paying self employment tax on 100 grand of unexpected income). Here are some important notes regarding the actual money:1. Hire a professional accountant (or accountant + bookkeeper), and explain to them the mountain of cash that is approaching your account.2. If you didn't already set yourself up as a business, do so immediately (ideally before your project even closes). An accountant can usually help you choose between an LLC, or S-Corp. I prefer an S-Corp (more paperwork, but no self employment tax!). Your mileage may vary by state.3. Make sure you have a business checking account (easy to set up anywhere) completely separate from your personal accounts. This is not only easier to manage mentally, it will help immensely if the IRS ever comes knocking for an audit. Keep your business finances separate from your own, and save yourself a headache 5 years from now.4. Catalog every expense, to insane detail. Every piece of tape, every sheet of paper, postage, materials, staff costs, etc. You're basically gonna pay tax on profit, but not on expenses. And no matter how large your pile-of-cash is, the majority will be expenses for rewards. Make sure you're profitable by envisioning worst-case-scenario prices for materials, postage, delays etc. (although this is obviously a step you should have tackled before even starting a project.)5. If your item is still available, make sure you notify your backers / future customers / new people that missed the Kickstarter where you work can be bought. I developed https://fringefocus.com into an easy-to-browse art store to capture those post-kickstarter customers (as well as new people).That's the immediate stuff, and is boring. Here's the fun stuff that happens when you get a much larger community than anticipated.1. Your backers are now your fans, your testing grounds, your audience for future projects. Instead of working in a mysterious vacuum, you have hundreds / thousands of people excited to see your new work! More than all the project revenue, the #1 resource I gained from Kickstarter is the 3,400 cool people willing to check out, share, and enjoy my future work. My Fringe Focus Newsletter http://fringefocus.us5.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=31d2b1187f4779a02d1a464eb&id=1cf81bdf22 is more popular than any social network, advertising, etc. combined. And it's been steadily growing long after the Kickstarter project ended 2 years ago. Super fun.2. A bigger project means buying materials in bulk. That expensive paper that isn't affordable when buy 100, is super cheap when you buy 4,000. Same for shipping materials, storage, etc. Volume discounts and economies of scale are hugely beneficial, so seek out any volume discounts you can from your suppliers, partners, etc.3. INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS. You had a project explode, don't let that be your one success. Whatever equipment you've been dying to acquire. Whatever location you want to move into, whatever resources were not possible prior to project, now are. Don't spend a single cent of project money on anything wasteful (okay, maybe a little). Use your savings on resources that will allow you to continue your creativity. My ACME Poster project allowed me to pay for my first entire year of rent on a new workshop. I bought a bunch of woodworking tools, poster storage, even a laser cutter that I now use to produce fun wood projects in my store: https://fringefocus.com/store/housewares/4. Respect. Whether you feel you have earned it or not, a hugely successful projects screams to the world "Hey, I am capable of kind of cool things that people generally kinda like." or even "This person is good at some stuff!". This means you can reach out the media, new bloggers, potential employers (if that's your thing) with some recognition that you can tackle tough problems / big projects. A lot of the attention I get on current projects probably stems from people knowing I successfully completed a big project on a public stage (Kickstarter). You aren't a stranger anymore. :)5. Straight up happiness. People would email me from all over the world just saying how psyched they were by my project, or how much they loved my work. It was (and continues to be) unreal. That kind of positive feedback makes all this hard work worth it, and makes every day a little more fun (knowing a large number of people are happy with what you've made). It's just fun.I could write a lot more, so ask away! I should add that hiring help (ideally in-house with you) for fulfillment is a very good move. As is researching the hell out of postage, postage weights, and best practices. Please feel free to reach out to me at https://fringefocus.com or on Twitter http://twitter.com/fringefocus anytime if you have specific questions about what to do. Thanks! - Rob Loukotka | Fringe Focus Inc. | Chicago
Rob Loukotka

52

subscribers
How long did you spend building your project page before you launched?
Last activity 3 days ago  |  27 answers
More time doesn't always mean "better". And I think all the previous comments display that perfectly. Two important things to consider are:1.) It's never too soon to hit that "Start a Project" button on Kickstarter and start rummaging around! 2.) While it's great to have a rich and detailed page covering all your bases, sometimes the 'less is more' approach is more than enough. As long as your passion is properly represented and your goals are clear, I think a lot of people will respond and lend their support.Personally, I spent about 3 months crafting my Kickstarter campaign page tweaking the message, the images, the video, and the reward tiers. Honestly, I wish I messed around even longer than that, but we were on a time crunch and set a launch date before we knew what we were doing. Again, I recommend just getting started and going from there. For me, I think the longest part of the process was shooting the featured video. Writing and actually shooting the video without any external company helping out took quite a bit of time. It was a fun process for sure, just time consuming. Knowing when to be ready to launch is a whole other story. And there's two sides of the coin. On one side you do need to be moderately prepared. Becoming a Member of the Kickstarter Community AND Building Your Email Lists are a good start! On the other hand, waiting for "perfection" can be the worst thing you can do to yourself and stop you from launching. I feel like launching your page is a lot like searching for a new apartment or house. It just feels right at one point and you need to follow your gut. Not sure if that makes sense, but I remember just hitting launch because I personally felt prepared and proud event though there was a lot more I could have done. Spend some time setting your goals and expectations, create a realistic project timeline, budget some stuff out, and be realistic with your time and energy needs.Hope this helps!
Jason Furie

60

subscribers
I have no community. And it feels fake to actively build one. Thoughts?
Last activity on  |  27 answers
Hey Blaine. Here's my two-cents. Continue to own who you are and keep making what you want to make. You're already a creator and if your ideas and art come from a place of passion, follow that passion. Maybe that path leads you to Kickstarter, maybe not.When I scour all the campaigns on Kickstarter, I'm not solely looking for an item or a thing that will make my life better. I'm looking for individuals who have a passion and are doing something about it. It's their story that I'm interested in, not just the thing they are creating. I enjoy following creative minds as they navigate through all the highs and lows involved in running a campaign. Living a bit vicariously through them along the way. And I appreciate a balance between introverts and extroverts examining how they navigate this space. Knowing that my support, and sometimes my feedback, helps them on their creative journey is a priceless feeling and motivation. So what do you do? Well, if you have an idea (which you do) and want to see it become a reality, do something about it. Again, this may or may not involve launching a Kickstarter campaign, but it sure is a great option. And if I'm allowed one really corny moment in this response it's this: Sometimes the journey informs the destination. Position yourself to be surprised and don't hesitate to challenge your assumptions. If that advice seems bad, or makes anyone uncomfortable, re-read it pretending Master Splinter is lending his wisdom to the Ninja Turtles.So let's assume, for the fun of it, that you decide the ideas you have would benefit from being on Kickstarter. Cool! Now we're cookin'! Start small. You mentioned you have a few friends that you value, you may have a few family members who would like to help, and you have 2-3 teachers that you respect. Start there and compile them into a list. Sounds gross I know, but trust me, it's a very necessary step that a lot of people overlook. And I think it would be a big mistake to think of these individuals as mearly 'friends and family charity'. Instead, consider them a solid foundation that you can now build upon. It's more than okay to have these important people as the base of your project. And chances are, they will want to be there. Let people define how and why they support you. I know nothing about being a pianist, but I'm still intrigued and inspired to join your community to gain perspective on something I'm not familiar with.At the end of the day, it sounds like you may have more support than you think. And it's obvious by your articulate and heartfelt post (and reply!) that you have the skills necessary to deliver a great message. Besides your aforementioned friends & family, you have about 53 people within this thread alone that would love to see you run a campaign. I know I'm curious. You're an active member of the Kickstarter community already and that's a great start. Further along than most!I could go deep in the weeds here, but I think the first decision you need to make is if your art and ideas can translate on a platform such as Kickstarter. It's a great way to build community in a genuine way as long as you define what your North Star is and stick to the path you create for yourself. And I think I speak for most reading, if you ever do decide to run a Kickstarter campaign (apologies if you already have and I missed it!), let me know.
Jason Furie
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