It’s a Campaign

I want to print some calendars. I’d like to sell them in shops and online. But I don’t have them yet. They’re really big and costly to print.

For that reason I’ve decided to use Kickstarter to raise the funds to get them printed. This reduces the risk of investing $26,000 to get the calendars printed, and the potential of no one wanting to buy them and getting stuck with 1,000 calendars that no one wants. This is what Kickstarter is for.

I started working on this project in early September and launched the Kickstarter project on September 25th. At the time of writing, the project is 29% funded with 54 hours to go.

In the world of Kickstarter and fundraising, it’s pretty easy to scoff at those numbers and consider the project a failure. But hold on!

Let’s take a step back here.

178 people have pledged a total of $7,741.

That’s incredible! It’s easy to put large numbers of people into groups and detach from what’s actually happening. 177 different people made the decision to buy something that I made. That is amazing to me and I consider that a success already. Not to mention the fact that $7,741 is a whole lot of money.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the campaign so far. You guys are the best!

Lessons learned

The process of running a Kickstarter campaign has been pretty intense. Talk about an accelerator program. In three weeks, I’ve learned about manufacturing, wholesale pricing, shipping, running a marketing campaign for a physical product, customer service and it’s been an emotional roller coaster to boot. I put together a few quick thoughts on what I’ve learned:

  • Selling a product one-at-a-time takes a while. Wholesale orders are much more efficient, but you lose the feeling of knowing an individual has purchased something you worked hard on.
  • It’s not just about the product. For some reason, I had it in my head that if a product is good enough, it would sell itself. Not the case. I’ve found that it’s called a Kickstarter “campaign” for a reason. Yes, you need a high quality project, but the bulk of the work is spent telling people about it.
  • Marketing is hard. People don't have time for you or your idea. If do have a window, make it worth while and don't waste their time. If I was to start over, I would plan the campaign out ahead of time instead of making it up as I go.
  • Asking friends for help is difficult, but important. It’s not in my nature to ask for help from everyone I know. But the most successful Kickstarter project are ones that have a community behind them.
  • Loving strangers.The first dozen or so backers were people that I already know. I extend my gratitude to all of my friends. But once I saw a pledge come in from a stranger, it really hit me, someone who I don’t know believes in the product I’m making. They have decided to spend their hard earned dollars on this. How humbling is that?
  • Everything is not for everyone. Just because I want a giant type based calendar on my wall doesn’t mean everyone else does. That’s OK, as long as my expectations are realistic.

What’s Next

The campaign isn't over yet, but I'm already thinking towards the future. I may not make the minimum goal to be funded, but I am still excited about this project. 2015 is fast approaching and it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to print these by then without proper funding. But this experience has been an excellent proof of concept for the project. I know there are at least 177 people out there that are interested in buying a giant calendar and I'm looking forward to providing them with a calendar someday soon.

I plan to start the 2016 calendar project in the first few months of next year. I’ll have time to find additional ways to cut costs, print more prototypes, get into trade shows and actually market the calendar.

I’m also working on putting together a smaller calendar for the days of the week, so look out for that!

Buy a calendar!

The campaign is still running. Help me reach this goal!