Kickstarter Lessons Learned and Budget Breakdown

by Kirby Ferguson

Below is the final Kickstarter Update for our successful fall campaign in which we raised enough funds to produce this spring's video Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens. We're sharing it here on the site in hopes that it may be insightful for backers and crowdfunders alike.


Hi everyone!

We want to close out this amazing Kickstarter experience with a little recap of lessons learned and some behind-the-scenes numbers.

Here’s our frank assessment of our performance on Kickstarter thus far. We’ve done one good campaign (this one, The Five Year Anniversary Celebration) and one so-so campaign (This is Not a Conspiracy Theory). This campaign for the Five Year Anniversary Celebration went pretty much according to plan. We made the best quality rewards we could, and delivered them roughly on schedule. And we got to make an exciting new installment to the Everything is a Remix series that was an instant hit with fans and media alike. We hope we’ve pleased our backers and we’ve heard lots of good feedback along the way. In sharp contrast, This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is a gigantically ambitious project that outgrew the bounds of its funding and timeline. Kirby is very proud of the work he’s doing on TINACT, but has lingering guilt about how long it’s taking.

So we’ve done a good Kickstarter and a mediocre one. Here’s some of the lessons we’ve learned and mistakes we’ve made.

Lessons Learned

  • Pulling off a Kickstarter campaign on your own is tough. Kirby designed and executed the campaign for This is Not a Conspiracy Theory on his own and it proved very difficult to handle all the creative and logistical challenges. 
  • There were two of us working on and supporting this Five Year Anniversary Celebration campaign. That means we had two people designing it, running the numbers, promoting it, executing rewards fulfillment, and communicating with our backers. With a two-person team we made less mistakes and had the required manpower to get everything done. 
  • Doing a crowdfunded project means you are getting into the customer service business. You need to have the time and resources to devote to keeping your backers happy and meeting your promises. 
  • We kept the scale of this project as small as possible. The bigger and more ambitious the project, the more likely it will change shape dramatically as it develops. That means you might deliver something much different than you intended, and it means it might take way longer than anticipated. For those large-scale projects, we recommend doing as much work as possible before Kickstarting, which will vastly reduce its complexity. 
  • Kickstarter takes a percentage of the funds raised (obviously), but this is also applied to shipping money collected, not just reward pledges. We didn’t take this into account which decreased our margins a bit. 
  • We ran the Kickstarter in fall 2015 and postage increased in January 2016. So shipping collected for the campaign didn’t go as far as we calculated. And for one reward level, the price changed enough that we lost $3-5 on shipping on every international backer. 
  • Printing expensive $15+ international postage is really nerve wracking. Hoping you got the address right, hoping it makes it through customs, hoping it makes it to the backer, hoping it has the right combination of rewards. If any one of those goes wrong, it’s a very costly mistake. If a batch goes wrong, it’s a disastrous mistake. 
  • Adding the color options to the rewards greatly complicated prepping, manufacturing, packing, and shipping. We wouldn’t do it again and recommend keeping the combinations of rewards as limited as possible.

Budget Breakdown

  • Total Pledged: $24,125.00 
  • Dropped Backers: 2% (people who pledged but didn’t end up giving us money)
  • Kickstarter Fees: 8% (Kickstarter’s cut of the campaign) 
  • Shipping and Handling Costs: 17% (packing and mailing rewards to backers)
  • Manufacturing Costs: 26% (getting the t-shirts and posters made) 
  • Taxes: 12% (well, we all know what that is) 
  • Net Profit: 35% (the money that went into our bank account and funded video production)

The new Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens video took seven weeks full-time to research, write, and produce. The net profit of $8,443.75 funded six weeks of that production time. Costs for our two person operation include the hours it takes to research, write, produce, and promote the video, as well as direct expenses like media and research materials, software, hardware, administrative infrastructure, and health insurance coverage.

Final Thanks

In these final moments of this project, we’d like to express our immense gratitude for your support. All backers large and small made this possible and we really enjoyed getting to make another Everything is a Remix video. We hope you enjoyed it too, and that it gave you a new tool of thought for how to approach your work and creative life. As a reminder to keep aiming for both the novel and the familiar, go grab the new Everything is a Remix desktop wallpaper.

We also want to thank the backers who pledged at the sponsorship level. These funds were essential to reaching our stretch goal and underwrote much of production. Thank you so much to Ramon Vullings of Cross-Industry Innovation, Mike Pendleton of pro-voke, and Ray Kimber.

If you’d like to keep up with the latest videos and other projects from us, sign up for our (infrequent) newsletter.

And there you have it. This Kickstarter is done! Thanks so much everyone!!!

Best! Kirby & Nora

Kirby & Nora