16 October 2013
Up until October 31, 2012, Kickstarter creators were limited to US citizens and US companies. Kickstarter requires creators to link their Amazon payments account to Kickstarter, and Amazon payments requires a social security number or EIN.
So for the first few years of Kickstarter’s existence, if you weren’t a US citizen or company and wanted to run a campaign, you had to essentially hire someone in the US to run the campaign for you or serve as your Amazon payment connection. That requires a lot of trust and accountability, so it wasn’t all that common.
However, Kickstarter has since expanded to the United Kingdom and Canada. A few days ago they also announced that creators in Australia and New Zealand will have access to Kickstarter starting on November 13.
Kickstarter graciously shares data for the first month after launching in new countries, and I want to highlight some of that data for today’s topic. Here is the breakdown of backer locations for the first month of activity for UK-based Kickstarter projects:
US backers: 23%
UK backers: 39%
EU backers: 23%
Other areas: 15%
And here is the comparative breakdown for Canada-based Kickstarter projects:
US backers: 44%
Canada backers: 22%
Other areas: 34%
Let’s compare those stats to Euphoria’s breakdown. I’m using Euphoria for this example because shipping was free to most locations worldwide, which helps to democratize the data:
US backers: 61%
UK backers: 8%
EU backers: 18%
Canada backers: 9%
Other areas: 6%
This data illustrates that UK and Canada-based projects aren’t fully accessing the US market (the same could be said for many US-based Kickstarter projects due to shipping costs, but because of Euphoria’s free shipping in the US, UK, EU, Canada, and China, I think those are the numbers to aim for. That could change as Kickstarter grows in other countries).
I believe there are two primary reasons why UK- and Canada-based Kickstarter projects don’t have as many US backers as US-based projects. The first is obvious; the second, not as much. Also, please note that I’m a US backer, and I am guilty of the things I’m going to describe below.
- Shipping: US backers are spoiled by free shipping. We expect the shipping cost to be built into the reward price, so when we have to pay extra for it, we feel like we’re losing money. It’s going to be hard to break us of that entitlement at this point, so you’ll need to be creative when finding a way to ship goods to US backers. Fortunately there are a bevy of fulfillment companies you can use in the US. You can even use the same methods I use to affordably and efficiently ship goods to US backers.
- Currency Conversion: Okay, US backers, admit it. When you see a reward level that says “Pledge £55,” you have no idea how much money that is in US dollars. Kickstarter will tell you the US amount at checkout, but not on the project page. So it leaves US backers confused and intimidating by how much £55 could be. The real answer? Right now, it’s around $89. Here’s what you can do to help US backers: Tell them the converted $ amount right there in the reward level. I advised Emil to do this for his Burning Suns project, and he even wisely added Euros too. You should make sure to note on the project page or FAQ that the converted amounts you post in the reward levels are based on the conversions at the time the project launches. UPDATE: Kickstarter appears to now add little notes next to the funding goal and reward levels that offer conversion estimates for backers, so this added notation may no longer be needed.
Before I go, I want to turn this around to non-US backers regarding US-based Kickstarters: What can we do to make our projects more accessible to you? Obviously better shipping rates (and shipping from within your countries so you can avoid high customs fees) would help, but would the currency conversion be helpful to you, or is that not needed? What else?