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How to Decide Your Kickstarter Fundraising Goal

The first step in determining your fundraising goal for your Kickstarter campaign is determining the scope of your project:

  • Are you trying to raise enough funds to complete an entire project all the way to the end? If you're seeking backers to complete an entire project, you need a rough estimation of the complete campaign, not just a jump-start, before you begin setting up your campaign.

  • Is your goal to simply raise enough to launch your project or to take it to the next level? Think briefly about your entire project as you envision it in its completed form. Would there be a natural set of milestones en route to launching the project?

    Would you need funds to buy some essential equipment? Would money be needed to rent gallery space or studio time? These would be major milestones that the funding must reach before you can move farther along in the project.

One of the best tools for estimating a project budget is to use an Excel spreadsheet or other charting/calculation software.

Remember that, if your campaign is successful, Kickstarter will also charge you 5 percent of the money you raise and Amazon will charge you credit card processing fees.

Broad expense categories for your Kickstarter project

Even if you already have a rough estimate of the elements needed to complete your project, it's important to create a comprehensive, specific budget for your new project to ensure that you're asking for the correct amount.

Start your spreadsheet for tabulating estimated costs with six main categories:

  • Research/Licenses/Permits

  • Equipment to rent (including space)

  • Equipment to buy

  • Staff hours or temporary help

  • Production

  • Marketing

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Individual expenses for your Kickstarter project

Your spreadsheet is a good way to start thinking about costs, but you should refer to it several times before finalizing your budget, thinking about things you might have forgotten.

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How to estimate the costs of your Kickstarter project items

It's important to make your estimated costs as accurate as possible. Especially if you've never made a creative project like the one you're interested in launching through Kickstarter, estimating your costs might seem difficult.

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Research, licenses, and permits

Permits and licenses are typically fixed (hard) costs. To estimate the cost, contact your local, state, or regional agencies, depending on where you plan to work. For research, you may need to pull up old magazine or newspaper articles, access newspaper databases, buy copies of previous recordings, and so on.

Equipment rentals or purchases

For hard costs, try to get as firm a quote as possible. Call the studio where you want to record and get its current hourly rate or research camera lighting costs through Amazon or Google.

Be sure to try to get the most accurate pricing possible direct from the source.

Staff

For hiring extras or basic assistance that does not require education or training, estimate 20 percent above the minimum wage of your state.

Your project may require additional skilled staff for part or all of your duration. As you estimate these costs for your spreadsheet, the following resources can help:

  • Job search sites: Do some basic research on sites such as Craigslist or Monster to see whether rates are published for positions in these categories.

  • Industry message boards and websites: You can also search Google, using phrases such as "average hourly rate for makeup artist" (specify your hometown) to see aggregate amounts on message boards or industry websites.

  • Quotes from local professionals: You might want to also place a few phone calls when creating your budget to local skilled staff in your hometown to get their current hourly or daily rates for comparison.

Often these professionals are hired on a daily or half-day rate, so factor in the number of days you might need each type of staff and enter those values in your spreadsheet.

Production

Beyond the costs required to create all your raw materials, you may have an additional "production" cost, or a cost to put your project together in its finished format.

Production is categorized as everything that is not a hard line item (that is, fixed cost) as listed earlier; it's not hiring staff, securing location permits, paying for props or designers. It's that "finishing" step that takes the project from a raw product to a ready-for-delivery product or a prototype to a production model.

The best way to estimate production cost is to actually get estimates in advance and not to wait until after all your raw materials have been gathered or produced.

  • Get a firm manufacturing quote from at least three different suppliers if your design product requires mass production.

  • Research the cost of hiring a software expert or editing expert for the finished product; give this person a production overview and outline of the finished product (how many minutes, how many songs, and other such details that affect the amount of consulting time) and get a firm quote.

  • Get at least three printing quotes from different types of printers if you're making a book, comic or magazine; give the printing company as specific a set of requirements as possible, including number of pages, color requirements, cover type, and quantities.

Marketing

Your campaign budget needs to include dollars to promote your end result.

Marketing and promotion is an extremely broad expense, but start with the basics. At the very minimum, you should include the following costs in your project budget:

  • Creating and maintaining a website

  • Hosting a launch party, or a viewing or screening event

  • Mailing samples of your product to reporters, writers, and bloggers

  • Participating in fairs/festivals that showcase creative work

  • Advertising (if relevant)

    If the audience for a specific publication, website, or news source would be interested in your finished piece, research their advertising costs in advance by requesting a media kit.

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