To date, there have been over 135,000 successful Kickstarter campaigns. Though Indiegogo doesn’t share their numbers, they deal in similar numbers. From those successes there have been lots of great insights that creators have been willing to share. We’ve dug through some of the creator communities online to find a few answers to the question “What do you wish you knew before you started?”
Have A Plan For Different Funding Levels
It’s hard to create a budget for your project. At the end of the day, you really cannot predict the number of backers you’ll receive. That’s why getting your minimum funding level right is critical. If you got funded and didn’t receive a penny more, would you be able to deliver? Did you account for unexpected or unpredictable costs? Give yourself a little runway, because the one common theme from almost every successful project is that something will come up
How ever much money you think it’ll take you to complete the project… there will ALWAYS be additional unexpected/unpredictable costs. Set your goal at 20-40% above what you THINK you need. Better to risk not fully funding your project, than to successfully fund something you’re unable to afford delivering on.
On the flip side; what if you exceed your wildest expectations? Do you have the staff to pull it off? Plan ahead and have contractors, friends or freelancers lined up to give your 1,000th backer the same quality of customer service as your first.
We were so worried about getting the word out that we never stopped to think "what happens if this actually works" - as such we didn't plan to be completely overwhelmed with customers.
While we’re on the subject of wild success; most manufacturers and fulfilment partners want to know a specific number of units they should prepare to make, but the nature of crowdfunding means you could be making double, triple or ten times what you originally discussed. If it isn’t a conversation you had ahead of time, it can cause a huge headache with your partners producing items in batches, forcing you to stagger your shipments to backers, or worse, storing finished product while you wait for the entire run to complete. Though it may seem optimistic, make sure you have this discussion with your partners, and assure their capabilities, just in case.
Understand the Nuances (and Costs) of International Shipping
It’s easy to forget that your campaign can (and will) reach users around the world. Limiting your project to one or two countries can prevent your idea from really taking off. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo are available in over 200+ countries, making them a global marketplace. But even looking at IndieGogo’s top 5 countries shows how far you’ll have to send your product if you open yourself up to shipping internationally.
Basically, the product development isn't done until you have final packaging, weights, and shipping costs.
Know exactly what it will cost to ship to every country you plan on serving. To know that, you first need to know your package dimensions, weight and packing materials. Is it a fragile piece of tech that needs lots of bubble wrap? Or is it a simple deck of cards that can slip into a padded envelope. What about customs? VAT? These considerations are part of your development process, not an afterthought.
Prepare for Lack of Backer Communication
Hopefully your project is rewarded with countless backers, ready to support you and your project. But you might be amazed at how many people back your project and never check back in until your product arrives on their doorstep. This is tough for two reasons. 1. You’re not just trying to sell a product, but build a community around your idea and 2. When it comes time to fill out surveys, you might be waiting weeks or months for your backers to check their spam folder before you can ship out their reward.
Lucky for you, CrowdOx has #2 handled, so you don’t have to worry about that. But as far as building a community goes, I believe in quality over quantity. Don’t get bent out of shape if you solicit feedback and only a handful of people take the time to respond. A few pieces of insightful feedback is worth way more than dozens of people all simply saying it’s “good.” Identify the backers that are the most enthusiastic and focus your efforts on them, including them in the decision-making process where appropriate. They’ll in turn evangelize on your behalf, bringing more backers to your page. For the people that go radio silent? Remember this:
It's rewarding to know that they believed in you enough to back you. That's the thought that should keep you going full force ahead.
Friends & Family Might Not Know How Crowdfunding Works
If you have a supportive family; congratulations! Having people in your corner, cheering you on not only helps you pursue a great idea, they can keep you going through the inevitable setbacks and hiccups. They are an important resource to have, but when it comes time to support you on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, they may not completely understand what crowdfunding is, let alone how to do it.
Thankfully, with a little hand holding, the process is quite straightforward. But instead of having to repeat yourself every time an aunt or uncle needs help, put together a step-by-step instruction that you can email to anyone interested in supporting you, but feels intimidated. Link to your campaign page, explain the reward tiers, use screen grabs—make it as painless as possible.
Stretch Goals - Do So Deliberately
Many successful creators have detailed the friction that comes from offering stretch goals, especially if it is their first time on a crowdfunding platform. Some say it smacks of ego and overconfidence, while others point out that it creates more complexity in your fulfilment process, potentially adding to your timeline.
A good suggestion is to have one specific ace up your sleeve should your campaign hit the big time. Something you’ve already planned for, but held back on when you launched your campaign that is now attainable with a larger-than-expected influx of cash. Make sure it doesn’t add to your timeline (too much) and make doubly sure it won’t cost your current backers a penny more. There’s nothing that can sink a reputation quicker than asking for more money from your backers.
You don't need stretch goals if you're selling a piece of physical tech (Knives, a Watch, etc). Just about everything else can benefit from them. Board Games can offer component upgrades. Any software can easily offer in-app upgrades or bonuses… Offer easy upgrades to encourage something to continue to work toward.
Crowdfunding creators are generally very helpful and transparent, especially when a first time creator asks for advice. Don’t be afraid to create a profile on Reddit or the Kickstarter Campus and ask a few questions as you prepare to launch your own campaign!