Whoa! Has it seriously been a month?!
How time flies when you're programming and re-programming a Kickstarter Rewards shop for over 150 hours!!! :-P
At least now, I can proudly say, that ... :::drumroll:::: .... it's LIVE!!!
AND everyone who placed an order SHOULD have a functioning Reward Code!
(Oh man... at least I hope so. If you find any bugs, see that your code isn't working properly, ANYTHING... please feel free to email me. Your report could help lots of other backers from suffering the same frustrations!)
However, I think I've done a decent job of QAing my little site. There have been a couple emails pointing out issues, and I am responding as quickly as possible to each one! I want this "Phase 2" part of ordering to be as painless as possible.
So, I figure I can share my adventures with you, now that it's up and running. (Hopefully, this will help other Kickstarter folks... because I certainly wasn't as prepared as I should have been for certain challenges.)
I truly hope none of this comes off as too complain-y. Definitely not my intention. This has been an awesome learning experience.
So, here are a few obstacles I ran into after the Kickstarter ended:
Ohhhhhh add-ons. When my good friend Ericah told me about add-ons, I didn't even realize they were a thing. And yup -- they're totally a thing. A big thing. In fact, I wouldn't doubt if many Kickstarters ended up in the same position I did -- owing the success of their campaign to add-ons. Those few extra pledges DEFINITELY helped get the campaign over the finish line.
But they are a HEADACHE. Not just for me -- for everyone. Backers emailed constantly, wanting to know how they were supposed to deal with them. And why oh WHY hasn't Kickstarter offered itemized backing??? Allowing people to put the items they want into a cart and then pledging would be soooo much easier.
However, I do sorta understand why Kickstarter hasn't created an itemized shopping feature for their site. EVERY shopping site is itemized... and the tier structure is part of what makes them unique. If they just allowed people to fill up a shopping cart, they'd be just like every other ecommerce site out there.
I knew collecting info from everyone would be tricky once the campaign ended. Some reward tiers have up to 10 items in them... that's a LOT of info to collect. And it requires you guys to sit at your computer for a while, plugging in data.
In the end, it seemed like creating an online store was the best way to tackle this. Give you guys the online shopping experience Kickstarter never did. We're all familiar with how to shop online... and I was going to try and simulate that experience the best way I could.
One thing I didn't really consider after building 50% of the rewards site was that Squarespace hasn't offered a lot of tools that would make my job easier. For instance... every time you make a selection in the Kickstarter Rewards Shop, that had to be cut/pasted from a document. There are not many good tools for cutting/pasting.
There's also no tool that allows me to issue gift cards. This ultimately would have been the PERFECT thing to give everyone after the Kickstarter. "Get the Snorf Bundle? Awesome. Here's a gift card. Go crazy." Instead, I used the coupon tool to create special Reward Codes. It totally works... unless you try to spend $49.99 using a $50.00 Reward Code. Then you get a big fat error message.
Every transaction with a Reward Code MUST be equal to or more than the code's value. The simplest solution I could come up with for this was "Snorf Creds." Basically, if you only want to order items valued at half of what you pledged, you're ok.
For instance. Let's say you pledged $100.
But you only want $60 in Snorf stuff.
It's cool. No sweat.
Put that $60 in Snorf stuff in your cart. Then $40 worth of Snorf Creds.
This gets your cart to the magic number (your $100 pledge)... and then, I'll email you a voucher for those $40 in Snorf Creds to use later, give to someone as a gift, etc.
So... to those of you who will need to use Snorf Creds, my apologies if this seems complicated at first. It's the best way I could figure out how to not short you!
Hindsight is 20/15
The fact is, there are a few sites out there that actually make fulfilling Kickstarter campaigns like mine their bread and butter. They take a hefty chunk of your funding to do so, which is ultimately why I didn't go with any of them. I need every penny for manufacturing... and the only fees I knew I'd be ready to pay were ones going to Kickstarter itself.
Do I wish I could have used one of these sites? Sure. However, my background in digital marketing, site design, etc. is relatively decent. And I knew that if I could build it myself, I'd be able to produce more hats and hoodies in preparation for Fall/Winter 2015/16.
Advice for Future Kickstarter Hopefuls...
- Give yourself the gift of time. If you can, start prepping for it 6 months in advance. Start preparing friends who you might ask favors of. Research fulfillment websites. Prepare, prepare, prepare. I didn't have the luxury of time. And there are days when I wonder how the hell I pulled off this campaign at all. I was mentally preparing for three months, physically creating assets for four weeks, and I only finished my campaign video one hour before launch.
- PR. It's really not as simple as paying PR Web $350. I had started Snorf Industries about a year before the campaign's launch. I had hundreds of followers on Facebook and Instagram. I interacted with them every day, and on as personal a level as I could.
I became friends with many of them. This is a wonderful way to kick off any campaign -- friends, family, internet friends, customers.... whoever loves what you're doing, they can be a part of your united front.
By all means, definitely do a press release and send it out to everyone. And sign up for HARO emails... respond to every reporter query that seems relevant to your product. The reporter who profiled Snorf Industries for Boston.com -- she found us entirely by chance!! There really is no magic pill. Just really pound that virtual pavement. Good things could happen for you.
- Do everything the right way. By this, I don't mean "do everything the expensive way." However, if you're not great with a camera and you're planning on shooting your own video... you probably shouldn't do that. Bribe a friend who's really talented with a camera to help you. And there are so many moving parts to a campaign. Because I come from the world of advertising, I have had the great fortune of meeting many talented, knowledgable people over the years. I got invaluable help from PR pros, art directors, designers, producers, lawyers... you name it. Really wrack your brain about who you know... and who your friends know. You can always pay pros to handle stuff if you have the cash... but Kickstarter was never designed to launch a cottage industry of ad agencies who focus on crowd funding. It's a site designed to help people who DON'T HAVE MONEY to RAISE MONEY. You don't need to spend $10,000 to make $10,000. That's all I'm saying.
- Having a good Kickstarter campaign will make you a nicer, humbler person. At least it did that for me, or at least I'd like to think so. When you realize how many people have your back, how many strangers dig your ideas, how many old friends come out of the woodwork to just chip in... you will meet a different side of yourself. Don't forget how this feels. Don't forget how much you owe all of these incredible people. They are the greatest asset you will ever have on every possible level.
I'll be opening up a pre-order shop for people who missed the Kickstarter Campaign... probably sometime this summer. So, don't worry if you missed it!
Ok. Time to feed Enzo. Have fun shopping in the Rewards Shop!
Dara (& Hungry Enzo)