Understanding Profit Margin and Costs

When someone backs your project and selects a reward, there is a cost associated with producing that item. The difference between what it costs you to produce the reward, and the amount of money a backer pledges, is the profit margin. Kickstarter projects aren’t really about making a “profit,” but it’s one of the most important metrics in business and can help you structure your project effectively.

Lets say you are offering a DVD and DVDs cost about $5 to produce. It also costs a dollar to ship the DVD to your backers. That means the total cost to produce the DVD is about $6. If you sold a DVD for $10, and it coats you $6 to produce then you are making $4 of profit. This profit is going to be used to complete the rest of your project, and having a poor profit margin can hurt your ability to complete it.

If the example project got 100 backers who chose the DVD, then one might think the project creator has received $1000. However, when the cost to produce the DVDs is removed, the creator only made $400 in profit. You need to make sure the profit margin is great enough to honor the reward system and still cover the project’s cost. I will get into how to price rewards later, but right now, you need to know what it will cost you to produce all the items you want to make.

Not every Kickstarter venture is launched with the intent of making money. However, if you want to launch a project as a business, having a healthy profit margin is important.

“‘If I was being realistic, we probably needed $10,000 to $15,000 to get started, and these things should cost at least $750,’ she added. ‘Below $750 is a losing enterprise.’” – Paula Patterson On Kickstarter, Designers’ Dreams Materialize, NY Times

Fixed Costs and Variable Costs

When creating your budget, you need to account for both the fixed cost and variable costs.

Fixed costs – The costs that will not change as the number of backers increases. This could be the cost of supplies, travel, or any other expense related to the creation of your project.

Variable costs – The cost that will change depending on the number of backers you receive. These costs can go up or down, but the important thing is that they change. For example, if you’re making a book the more backers you receive, the more shipping costs you have. However, it will be cheaper to produce the book since many publishers give discounts for larger orders.

A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

pssst…you can read all of this offline by downloading the e-book.

A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter: Introduction
How Kickstarter “Kickstartered” it’s own website
Understanding Kickstarter
The Basics of Kickstarter
Kickstarter is an updated version of the Parton Model
Kickstarter is like girl scout cookies…without the calories!
Make sure your project has an ending
Some additional benefits to running a Kickstarter project
Perry Chan’s Six Principles on why Kickstarter projects are successful
Yancey’s thoughts on getting funded
Brainstorming Your Project
What is this damn thing about?
Simplify your project for success
Is your project a Purple Cow?
Making Lemonade And Telling A Good Story
Reward The Patrons
Naming Your Kickstarter Project
Doing Your Homework
Before you launch, do your homework
No one cares about you
Some People Care About You
Who is Your Audience?
Where is Your Audience?
Resonating With Your Audience
Crossing Chasms
What Will it Cost?
Understanding Profit Margin and Costs
Setting Your Goals
Make or Break Decisions
Running the Numbers
Focus on what you need
Reasonable funding goals
Why be Reasonable?
How long your campaign runs depends on one thing, momentum
30 days or less
Managing Deadlines
Going for the BIG bucks
The Allure of a Large Backer
Pricing theory, thoughts about pricing your Kickstarter rewards
The Paradox of Choice
Crafting Your Pitch
Creating a compelling pitch for your Kickstarter project
Four questions people want answered when visiting your Kickstarter page.
Show some credibility to get more backers
Clarity is your friend
How to ask for Support
Kickstarter is a video-driven site
Examples of great pitch videos
Launching Your Project
Launching your project
How to track the progress of your Kickstarter campaign
The 30% Kickstarter project “Tipping Point”
How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story

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Separated from my family during El Salvador's civil war, by death and adoption, I was reunited with them at the age of 16. I do entrepreneurial art projects that are meaningful, relevant, and push me creatively.

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