- Kickstarter keeps 5% of your donations and Amazon (their payment gateway) charges a 3-5% transaction fee (rest assured, it's 5%). I cannot over-emphasize how important it is to fully comprehend that percentage, and the fact that their pricing not tiered. Consider this: if an artist raises $10k for a project, Kickstarter/Amazon takes $1000 just for providing a template profile page and pledge management account on their site, none of which allow custom branding or styling. If an artists were raising a budget for a small film, say $50k, then Kickstarter/Amazon would take $5k, despite the fact that the functionality they are providing in the $5k scenario is the same as the functionality they provide for a $100 scenario (albeit with more credit card transactions). This seems suspect to me, and that cost to a project budget must not be underestimated - an artist must increase their goal amount considerably to account for it.
- Pledgers and artists are only allowed to use Amazon Payments for all transactions, which requires an Amazon account. No Paypal, no cash, no checks, no easy credit card form (unless you have an Amazon account).
- Even though the funds can be instantaneously collected, artists cannot get paid until two weeks after their campaign ends. They then have to wait 5-7 days for the funds to transfer to their bank account. These delays are not explained anywhere on Kickstarter.com. The only explanation I can come up with is that Amazon is giving itself an extra two weeks to make interest off of the artists' collected monies.
- Artists cannot change Rewards descriptions or quantities after publishing their campaign. I understand doing so is a bit dicey, as allowing artists to change a Reward's description after a pledger has signed up for it may be objectionable to the pledger, but I think that editing should be allowed, as it is the artist's reputation that would suffer should they choose to do something unethical. Running a campaign like this is always a learning experience (especially since the majority on the site are first-timers), and there is a strong likelihood that incentives will need a few adjustments as the artist learns what's working, what's not, and what is just unrealistic. It is important to be able to optimize a campaign as it is underway.
- If a campaign is successful before the end date is reached, the payment process still won't start for 14 days after the end date. I understand that in doing so Kickstarter is honoring the agreement that pledgers donated under ("my card won't be charged until this date") but I think offering a "charge my card as soon as the campaign is successful" option during the pledge process would allow for both cases and better accommodate artists working with no funds (ahem, all of them).
- I do not believe Kickstarter has cultivated a network of philanthropists that browse the site trying to give away money to cool projects. It is my impression that traffic is not one of Kickstarter's value adds. Artists should not expect to get a project funded if they haven't already amassed the fans and generous family members needed to do so.
All this being said, I was very impressed with the Kickstarter user interface and admin section, as well as their propensity for collecting donations - therein lies their true value. I'm not convinced that their interface should be credited with any campaign's success, though; I believe that a campaign's success is very much dependent upon the quality of its associated video and the cleverness of its incentives. If an artist has the technical ability or the kind of budget where that 10% deduction is large enough to pay for web development, building a microsite with similar functionality may be more cost-effective and allow for more branding and flexibility.