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Things I'm learning from my first Kickstarter  RSS feed

 
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Here are some things I've learned over the last two weeks.  

here's a link to my kickstarter.  
It to raise funds for a book about growing your own linen - a truly awesome topic - but also a proof of concept test to see if people want to know about this topic.  We made funding in just a few days and here I am now, with two weeks left to go and things are looking pretty good.

  • people are amazing.  They believe in this project so much that they are willing to pledge money to make it happen.  They are willing to buy the book before it's printed.  I love you guys!
  • This means I have a lot to live up to.  Making the book the best book possible was a lot of pressure before, but now it's even more because these people show they have faith in me.  I don't want to let them down.
  • I wish I had known that shipping was included in the pledge total.  I looked all over but didn't see this anywhere in the instructions.
  • Asking people who I thought would be enthusiastic to spread the word is tremendously tedious.  And yet, there are also wonderful people who discovered the kickstarter and were happy to spread the word without me even asking.
  • Because I have some clout with permies, I'm making a list of who was helpful and who didn't have enough time to post to Facebook.  I'll refer to this list when the time comes that they ask for my help to promote their stuff.
  • very few pledges came from kickstarter sources.  About half the pledges came from permies.  Permies is a powerful promotion engine and I'm going to put a lot of energy into increasing this power in time for my next book.
  • Permies is by far the largest source of pledges.  We have all sorts of tools to help people promote their stuff, I used about a quarter of the tools so far.  We have a targeted audience that participates in what they find on permies.  This is fantastic!
  • 30 days is a really long time.
  • When people say this is a lot of work, they are understating.  When they (or Paul) says it is a "fuck Tonne" of work, they are coming nearer to the truth, but still very shy of how much work it is.
  • I'm glad I spent several months researching how to hold a kickstarter
  • I'm glad I listened to Paul Wheaton's podcasts on kickstarters
  • I'm sad I'm so camera shy.


  • I'm glad to be working with such tallented people.

  • more thoughts to come.
     
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    raven ranson wrote:I wish I had known that shipping was included in the pledge total.  I looked all over but didn't see this anywhere in the instructions.



    So if I pledge $15 and it adds $5 for shipping, it adds $20 to the total pledge bar? I always thought it would be $15.
     
    Shawn Klassen-Koop
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    I just did further research on my previous post. Apparently I have been wrong all this time. Wow, I really hope your campaign still makes enough to cover all the shipping!

    I don't understand this setup. Doesn't it seriously (and unnecessarily) complicate campaign budgeting? It seems to me that you have to know in advance how many people you expect to support at each reward level, whether those reward levels involve shippable goods, and what the distribution of shipping locations will be. On the other hand they could just collect shipping and not include it in the total. And then you'd get exactly as much shipping money as you need and not need to worry about budgeting for it.

    Gonna go write to Kickstarter support...
     
    raven ranson
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    Shawn Klassen-Koop wrote:I just did further research on my previous post. Apparently I have been wrong all this time. Wow, I really hope your campaign still makes enough to cover all the shipping!



    Me too.  It ate up all my zombie attack buffer budget pretty quickly.  But I think we're on track to make this work.
    Now, if only I could sell half my flock of sheep, this would give me a nice cash buffer to help with other unexpected surprises.  But, if things keep going the way they are and the kickstarter makes a little more, I think we'll be alright.  
     
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    Because I have some clout with permies, I'm making a list of who was helpful and who didn't have enough time to post to Facebook.  I'll refer to this list when the time comes that they ask for my help to promote their stuff.



    I 'shared' twice on facebook and that is probably my limit there as I always feel uncomfortable posting something that is asking for money no matter how wonderful and worthy.  

    I'm assuming others might feel then same?

    It's awkward when I know many of my friends would love your book but can't afford it...many are craftspeople also, and this is one reason I pledged at the three book level so I could share two of them.

    Somehow I'm thinking you didn't intend for this statement to sound like it does?
     
    raven ranson
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    Thank you for posting.  It's appreciated.

    It is awkward asking for money.  I worried that I might be seen asking for charity which isn't what I want to do.  I want to create something that people can hold in their hands and be useful to them.  I see this Kickstarter as selling a product.  Or more, accurately, pre-selling the product to pay for the production.  



    I know what you mean about cost.  It's a difficult balance to produce the most affordable book possible while still remaining financially sustainable.  It's a very difficult balance and means we've sacrificed a lot of content we wanted to include in the book to keep the final price affordable.  I have to be very careful how I spend my money - it's often a choice between books or food.  My Library has been the best resource for me on this journey.  I'll be donating copies of the book to my local library.  In Canada we are required to donate a few copies to a national library service - one will be archived and one or more will be spread around the country so that people can borrow the book.  I don't know what the system is like in the US.  But I like the idea of encouraging people to use local libraries and most libraries have a place where you can request books.

    I've also set up a model that encourages shops to carry the book so the customers can save on shipping and it helps local economies.  I'll be adding the book to amazon eventually, but not right away so that the physical shops have a chance.

    But that brings us to another thing I learned from the kickstarter.  It doesn't end with the production of the book.  Once the kickstarter is finished, the book printed and rewards sent out, there's still a lot of work left to do.  
     
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    Judith Browning wrote:

    Because I have some clout with permies, I'm making a list of who was helpful and who didn't have enough time to post to Facebook.  I'll refer to this list when the time comes that they ask for my help to promote their stuff.



    I 'shared' twice on facebook and that is probably my limit there as I always feel uncomfortable posting something that is asking for money no matter how wonderful and worthy.  

    I'm assuming others might feel then same?

    It's awkward when I know many of my friends would love your book but can't afford it...many are craftspeople also, and this is one reason I pledged at the three book level so I could share two of them.

    Somehow I'm thinking you didn't intend for this statement to sound like it does?



    I shared it once on my page, and then on a bunch of pages that I thought would be interested in it, and that I'm already a participating member on. I don't want to spam people because,

    (1) If I look like I'm spamming, people will think your stuff is spam, and that's no good!
    (2) If I post on pages where people aren't interested in that kind of thing, they'll be really unhappy with me and maybe ban me. Being a moderator here on permies, I totally understand that mentality!
    (3) I don't join new groups just to share stuff, because, well, that looks like spam, and then #1 happens.

    A few days before the kickstarter is over, I'll probably share it again on my page, and bump it in the groups I'm in, so people remember it exists and make their pledges. I know a lot of people are probably like me and wait until the last moment to make a pledge.

    ================

    I really wanted to get info out about this book, because (1) I think it's such an important book, (2) There's probably people out there who really would want to know about it, and would be bummed if they didn't hear about it until after, (3) I want to support Raven!

    I think a large reason that Raven has gotten so much support here on permies is because people already love and know her. SOme might be supporting her just to support her. Other's know her book will be great because they've seen her writing here on permies. She's got a lot of "street cred."

    I think building those connections is so important, and permies is a great place to build connections just like Raven did.
     
    raven ranson
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    Having something physical to give to people has reached a whole new audience I didn't expect.

    I made a postcard ages back - more to motivate myself than anything else.  It announces the deadline to the world and it has pretty pictures in it.  Every picture has about 20 stories attached to it, so I can customize my pitch depending on who I'm talking to.  Most importantly, it's blank on the back, so I can write things on it, like my contact details and details about the sheep I have for sale right now, before I give it to them.  They turn it over, see the pictures, ask questions... it begins.



    I left a stack of 10 of these at my local import grocery store (they get a lot of foods from Europe and the Middle East).  Not really the kind of audience I expected to be interested in my book - it's mostly immigrants and refugees from the Middle East, foodies, and people like me who want to eat healthy foods from countries that don't use so much toxic Ick on their crops.  I'm friends with the owner so he encouraged me to place a stack at the till.  

    Yesterday I went back and the cashier asked for more postcards.  He said they are incredibly popular and lots of people are talking about it the book.  I had noticed that there has been more traffic to my website from typing in the address.  There have also been more kickstarter pledges coming from my website.  I didn't know where that traffic was coming from, but now I think it's coming from this shop.  From my postcards.

    I wish I had used some link that could do tracking instead of just crowinghen.ca
    I'm glad I didn't use the kickstarter link because I want these postcards to be perennial - as in useful if I have any left over.

    The rate things are going, I'll be out of postcards before the kickstarter ends.  

    Mostly I made these because I like sending postcards and I was too lazy to go into town and buy a dozen (which was about the same price as printing 250 when we factor gas and time into the equation).
     
    raven ranson
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    I wish I had signed up for google analytics.

    I'm getting a flurry of pledges from "Direct traffic no referrer information" today.  I wish I knew who they were so I could say thank you.  
     
    Shawn Klassen-Koop
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    My first attempt at writing Kickstarter was not successful. I think I was misunderstood. So I'm trying again. Maybe if a bunch of people would say something...
     
    Shawn Klassen-Koop
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    Just heard back again. I think they are choosing not to understand.
     
    raven ranson
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    I just got off the phone talking to a lovely person.  He interviewed me for a magazine article.  It's an odd feeling being on the receiving end of an interview - now I know how all my victims the people I've interviewed over the years feel.  

    I didn't think about mass media before, mostly because I didn't think so many people would be interested in this topic.  But now I know people want to learn about growing yarn, maybe a press release would be a nifty idea.  Something for next time.

    If I do create a press release, I would have it ready before the Kickstarter begins and maybe start sending it out a few days in. This late in the game, it's a bit difficult to get the word out about the kickstarter.  This late in the game, I'm focusing my energy on after the kickstarter is finished.  How am I going to sell the rest of the books.  With the response I'm getting, I wonder if I'm printing enough books.  
     
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    I posted on Ravelry again today - in a different group than before. I've also posted and bumped the post on a Textiles group on Facebook. Hopefully we can sneak up to $16K!

    Congrats on the interview. And I don't think you are too late for this Kickstarter - local radio might be able to get you on really quickly. If you have time to craft a press-release, I'd say give it a try!

     
    raven ranson
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  • I was hesitant approaching people I thought were just too famous or big because I imagined they were too busy to be interested in promoting my little project.  When I asked them, it turned out they were very enthusiastic and were happy to help me get the word out there.  
  • I discovered that I have a lot of assumptions about how niche my topic is - A lot of people supported my belief and helped prepare me for disappointment because my topic is so niche.  And yet, now that I'm looking back, all those people wear clothing.  Clothing is a huge contributor to climate change.  It's time to change how we think about what we wear.  Maybe it's not so niche.
  • You know how I said in the first post about this being a fuck tonne of work - well, I had never seen a fuck tonne before so I wasn't really sure how big it would be.  For the next kickstarter, I might take a vacation from work.  I might also put a timer on my computer so I can't use it past one am, thus forcing me to go offline and get some sleep.
  •  
    raven ranson
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    I didn't sign up for kickbooster and have promised very few kickbacks.  I think with these two elements, I could get a lot more funding.  But I'm also very nervous about these for several reasons.  The biggest reason, my budget for my Kickstarter was very tight.  I didn't want to let it go over 10,000 so I kept seeking ways to limit the expenses and didn't add any kickbacks into my budget.  

    The more I learn about crowdfunding culture, the more I understand that kickbacks are a major part of promoting your Kickstarter.  This is a new and strange idea to me, so next time I'm going to dedicate a  lot of energy to learning about how this works.  
     
    raven ranson
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    There are a lot of goodies I wanted to add to my rewards.

    I'm worried about how long it will take to fulfil each reward, so I didn't add it.

    This one idea I had was to make a reward where they get a one-hour online lesson with me every month for 6 months, where I basically teach them how to grow flax and spin yarn, as well as answer any questions they have.  But what if I only got one taker?  That would be a pretty boring lesson; I like to base the class content around the questions and feedback from the students.  As fun as this would be, I can't see it working.
     
    pollinator
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    Thank you for posting this thread Raven.

    When I started I had no idea about the shipping costs being included in the total, so reading this before launching my Kickstarter has saved me a lot of potential stress!
     
    raven ranson
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    Two weeks is a very long time to wait for money.  I got as far as I can without paying anyone, now as I wait for the kickstarter money to come in, I'm thinking about everything that can go wrong.  I also don't know yet how much money will come my way.  Kickstarter takes 10% plus swipe takes fees too.  Not sure if that fee is on top of or after kickstarter's fee.

    Feeling uncertain and eager to get a move on, but I can't do anything else until I can pay people.  
     
    raven ranson
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    I was getting a bit worried as I hadn't heard from them since just after the campaign ended.  But I got an email from Kickstarter today saying the funds are on their way and a break down of the fees.  There's quite a lot of fees.

    It also says to expect several business days for my bank to process the payments.

     
    Kate Downham
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    Do the fees work out to be 10% of the total? Or are there some sneaky ones there that they don't tell us about when we begin?
     
    raven ranson
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    The kickstarter fee is 10%.  Then there is a fee for handling the money which (at this time) is done by SWITCH.  This seems to vary depending on what country you are in, but it doesn't seem to be more than 10% (but is that 10% of the total or 10% of what's left after kickstarter takes its fee, I can't tell).

     
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    I haven't been on Facebook most of the year. In fact, I'm avoiding it. Otherwise I'm always happy to share things that might be of interest to my friends and family.

    I've got a vague recollection of a Kickstarter that did NOT include shipping fees in the pledge, and said they'd be an additional amount. I think they were still charged upfront though.

    This is great info. Thanks for sharing it with us raven. I've been looking into KS for a while, taking my time learning things before I decide to do one of my own. Of course I also have to finish a book first.
     
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    I'm curious to hear how much ends up being skimmed off the top by Kickstarter.  

    Do they take a smaller percentage for the "Quickstarter" type campaigns?

    Back in the day, you'd have to find a deep pocketed individual or organization, like a bank, to front the money you needed to pursue your dream, and those folks would certainly take a substantial cut of any profits, so it's not like Kickstarter is bad.  They are performing a huge service.  I'm just curious how much they take.  
     
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    Molly Kay wrote:I haven't been on Facebook most of the year. In fact, I'm avoiding it. Otherwise I'm always happy to share things that might be of interest to my friends and family.

    I've got a vague recollection of a Kickstarter that did NOT include shipping fees in the pledge, and said they'd be an additional amount. I think they were still charged upfront though.



    Same here.

    I think I pledged a different amount and got notified I will be charged a sum that was bigger than that, so I think the extra amount goes to cover the shipping on your reward. But I could be wrong here, it's possible I just got confused with the all the different currencies. The pledge was in USD (or was it?), now Kickstarter gives it in Canadian dollars in the email confirmations and my credit card company will charge me in euros... so in the end, I'm not sure of the exact amount, what goes where... But I certainly hope you get to keep all of the pledge and shipping will be separately charged.

    Edit: I just got a confirmation email after sending my address and there it is clearly stated, I will copy it here:

    Amount pledged
    CA$ 32.00

    Reward

    JUST BOOK! (CA$ 20)

    I just gotta have that book! No thrills. No gimmicks. Just send me the book damn it!
    Includes:

    Physical copy of the book (CA$24 value)

    Estimated delivery
    Jan 2019

    Shipping to
    Finland (CA$ 12)

    Even though I originally pledged 20 Canadian dollars, I will be charged 32 Canadian dollars. Fortunately it looks like shipping will not be substracted from the pledge.
     
    raven ranson
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    Nina Jay wrote:

    Molly Kay wrote:I haven't been on Facebook most of the year. In fact, I'm avoiding it. Otherwise I'm always happy to share things that might be of interest to my friends and family.

    I've got a vague recollection of a Kickstarter that did NOT include shipping fees in the pledge, and said they'd be an additional amount. I think they were still charged upfront though.



    Same here.

    I think I pledged a different amount and got notified I will be charged a sum that was bigger than that, so I think the extra amount goes to cover the shipping on your reward. But I could be wrong here, it's possible I just got confused with the all the different currencies. The pledge was in USD (or was it?), now Kickstarter gives it in Canadian dollars in the email confirmations and my credit card company will charge me in euros... so in the end, I'm not sure of the exact amount, what goes where... But I certainly hope you get to keep all of the pledge and shipping will be separately charged.

    Edit: I just got a confirmation email after sending my address and there it is clearly stated, I will copy it here:

    Amount pledged
    CA$ 32.00

    Reward

    JUST BOOK! (CA$ 20)

    I just gotta have that book! No thrills. No gimmicks. Just send me the book damn it!
    Includes:

    Physical copy of the book (CA$24 value)

    Estimated delivery
    Jan 2019

    Shipping to
    Finland (CA$ 12)

    Even though I originally pledged 20 Canadian dollars, I will be charged 32 Canadian dollars. Fortunately it looks like shipping will not be substracted from the pledge.



    When you made your pledge CA$ 32.00 were added to the Kickstarter total.

    I understood it would be CA$24 added to the total.

    Oh well.  It will all work out in the end.
     
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    Do you have a waiting list or some other alternative for those of us who missed you kickstarter?  Sometimes life just gets so darn busy...
     
    raven ranson
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    Valerie  Dawnstar wrote:Do you have a waiting list or some other alternative for those of us who missed you kickstarter?  Sometimes life just gets so darn busy...



    Once the kickstarter rewards are fulfilled, the book will be available for sale.  I'll announce it on my homegrown linen kickstarter support thread and lots of other places.  

    At the moment I am taking a waitlist for wholesale orders from shops (I'm a huge fan of the local farm, garden, and yarn shops).  But I worry about keeping track of too much stuff, so I'm not taking a waitlist for individual orders at this time.
     
    raven ranson
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    Some of the Kickstarter I supported are using backerkit to fulfil the order and allowing backers to add more to their pledge.

    In some ways, I like this.

    In one experience I had negotiated with the campaign to have an extra reward during the campaign.  They agreed and set the price.  When I went to backerkit to choose this, then it charged me extra shipping above and beyond what was agreed.  It left me with a slimy feeling and a strong dislike for that brand.



    Speaking about slimy feelings, another thing that I'm not enjoying as a Kickstarter supporter.  One company I pledged with did very well.  They got several times their funding goal.  But within hours of completing their Kickstarter, they opened an IndieGoGo campaign.  As if they needed yet more money to make the project work.

    I would have expected they would focus on fulfilling their Kickstarter obligations first.  Then they could add their product to their online store (which they already have).  

    It bugs me that they are treating crowdfunding as a shop.  That's not the spirit of the event.  It's to pre-sell an item so we have the funds needed to make it a reality.  They did that with their Kickstarter campaign, why then do they need another?  It makes me suspicious of their brand.
     
    Kate Downham
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    Things I am learning from my first Kickstarter (still four days left, here’s the link):

  • It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be. It took a lot of time to write everything up for the Kickstarter and do the maths for it, I thought that once it was up I could relax… Now I have put so much work into it, I am eager for it to be successful, and have been busy promoting it and generally being a bit distracted by it - makes me glad in some ways that mine is only for 20 days instead of the usual 30. All of this I’ve managed to do on less than 90 minutes a day of computer time, but I haven’t been able to continue editing my book during this time, as I initially thought I would.


  • If I do a Kickstarter again, I’m going to do it in a less busy time of the year, probably late in winter instead of during our late spring planting time.


  • There’s a lot more emotion involved than I originally thought. Having put so much effort into it, and really wanting it to be successful so I could publish in this way, it was a nervous time at the beginning, when there were only a small amount of pledges coming through. There’s also a happy feeling that comes when people promote the Kickstarter and make a pledge, it is really nice to have people believe enough in the book to actually help to publish it.


  • As an introvert, it’s not easy to do this, even for a small campaign like mine.


  • I think if I do a Kickstarter again, I will budget 10% extra in order to offer affiliate links from the very start. I will also have a better plan in place of how to promote it, who to contact, and so on.


  • I made assumptions about what rewards would be the most popular, set up the budget around that, and my assumptions turned out to be right. I might have been in trouble if everyone had wanted hardcovers and I only reached 100%, but I had a buffer amount of 20% to cover anything like that, and my guess that most people would pick a paperback, some people ebooks, and some others hardcover books ended up being right. I’m not sure how the printing and shipping costs will work out in the end, but because I have that 20% buffer it makes it easier.


  • It’s hard to work out a budget when there are different rewards that cost different amounts to produce. It would have been simpler if I’d just done a paperback, but I wanted a hardcover for myself so I’m glad it all worked out in the end.


  • I am really, really appreciative of Permies, and everyone here who has supported my Kickstarter.


  • Overall for me it’s been a good experience, and I’d consider publishing this way again.
  •  
    Kate Downham
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    Posts: 89
    Location: Tasmania
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    I set up google analytics a few days ago just in case the affiliate links shared on Facebook ended up showing up as Facebook or other traffic instead of direct links (fortunately it all shows up on Kickstarter with the correct referral links, so the analytics weren't needed after all). Something I've learned from this is that nearly half of all views are coming from mobile phones.

    When I view my Kickstarter on my phone, the video is the feature of it, with the rewards section shown below it instead of the description. Knowing this now makes me think about how important it is to put the right information in the video, and to find the balance between having a video that may be seen as too long or too boring, and having one that just doesn't give enough specific information.

    Having Pip magazine offer a free copy of their goat issue to all pledges above a certain amount was a very nice and unexpected surprise. When they offered, I thought I was still able to edit the rewards, but it turns out that after people had picked a reward I could no longer add extra goodies to these reward descriptions (only new rewards, or ones that hadn't been picked yet). If I'm ever doing a Kickstarter for another book and think that Pip or anyone else may want to be a part of it in this way again, I should contact them first to find out so that I can have the correct information in the rewards section as well as the description.

    I was contacted by a supporter who wanted to buy two copies of the book, and set up a new reward for him. Someone else picked this reward too. I hadn't thought of doing multiple copies as a reward to begin with because it seemed like there would be too many rewards to choose from, but now I can see how it would be a helpful option to have.
     
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