Successful Kickstarters have helped make movies, launch innovative products, and build successful entrepreneurship endeavors of all kinds. However, there are a number of cautionary tales of Kickstarter campaigns being swallowed up by the costs of fulfilling all of their promises to backers. Before you put together your campaign, incorporate a few cost-saving maneuvers so you can put the maximum amount of your donations possible toward your project.
Plan Your Shipping Strategy
Plan your shipping strategy before you start your campaign. Buy software to print postage and to calculate the most affordable methods of shipping. Decide whether to ship by first class, media mail or priority. Compare the rates of major shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS to USPS rates. Research shipping costs around the world, so you know how much to charge both domestic and international backers and still pocket some of the donation.
It may dissuade some international backers, but international shipping is much more expensive than domestic shipping, so you might need to charge quite a difference for the reward. For example, a domestic donation of $20 gets someone in the U.S. a book, but it might have to cost $60 for an international backer so you can afford international shipping and an equal donation to your project.
Offer Digital or Intangible Rewards Too
Because shipping products internationally costs more, some international backers may hesitate to participate. In addition to physical rewards, offer digital rewards to reduce costs for some of the prize levels. That way, you can ask for an equal contribution from both domestic and international backers and encourage more donations from a global audience. Suggestions for equal level rewards might include:
- The donor’s name in credits, on your website or somewhere else related to your project
- A digital audio or video file
- An e-copy of a physical book
- A drawing, a poem or short story, a graphic or any other artistic thing that can be given digitally
- A coupon to spend in your online store
The best Kickstarter campaigns offer both physical and digital rewards. You might think you’ll save time by not having to worry about calculating international shipping costs and only offering digital rewards, but with shipping software, it requires less effort than you think to organize your shipping campaign. Some people don’t want digital or intangible rewards and are willing to pay more for physical copies, especially if they’re contributing to something like a book or product that will be produced physically. Options are essential to a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Have Contributors Add Shipping
Take the cost of shipping out of your donation level equation. Take advantage of the Kickstarter option to have backers manually add the cost of shipping to their donation when they confirm payment if they want the physical reward. Perhaps someone international is willing to donate $20 but not $60 to get the physical reward; when she sees the cost of shipping to accept the reward is $40, she can decline and just donate to the campaign. The option to add shipping costs at checkout frees people to donate without paying extra for a reward they are not interested in. It also allows you to offer reward levels equally, no matter the location of the backer.
The drawback of this technique is that some people won’t donate without getting some sort of prize, so you might at least offer a digital or intangible reward across the board even if the backer declines the physical gift. It also may take some backers by surprise and upset them, so clearly mark in the description of the donation level that additional optional shipping fees will apply.
Kickstarter reports more than 50,000 projects have received a combined $850 million in donations since the site launched in 2009. The platform can potentially earn you your dream budget and beyond for a project, but you must take care that your profits aren’t swallowed up by costs you didn’t fully anticipate. With the help of shipping software and a feasible rewards fulfillment strategy, you can avoid some of the worst Kickstarter mistakes.