Guide

Welcome to Orbitmuse’s Project Creator Handbook!

This guide will walk you through everything from planning your project, telling your story, shipping your project, to communicating with backers.

Getting started

Your project can be anything that you want to create and share with others. It could be a book, a film, a piece of hardware... pretty much anything you dream up can find a home on Orbitmuse. Just keep your project focused, with a clear end goal, and you’ll be good.

Every Orbitmuse project should have the following:

  • A project page with a video and description that clearly explain the story behind your project
  • Rewards that backers will receive when the project is completed
  • Updates that share the creative journey as the project comes to life

Let’s go through these, one by one. We’ll get started with your project page — where you’ll tell people your story.

Orbitmuse is a vibrant community of people working together to bring new ideas to the launch pad.

Friends, fans, and inspired strangers money to projects on Orbitmuse, funding humanity's quest to live amongst the stars. Funding Space exploration has never been easier.  An Orbitmuse project does more than raise money. It builds community around your work. Most importantly, Orbitmuse works.

  • Orbitmuse is for NewSpace projects.

    We host projects from the worlds of Satellites & Remote Sensing, Planetary Exploration, Software, Hardware, Materials Research, Manned Missions, Launch Logistics, Exoplanet Research, and much more. We built Orbitmuse to serve Space projects and the explorers, scientists, and visionaries who make them happen.

  • All-or-nothing funding works.

    All-or-nothing funding protects creators from being stuck with a fraction of the funds they need and an audience expecting fully funded results. By minimizing risk, it also makes backers more likely to pledge. 

  • People love backing projects.

    Everyone loves being a part of creating something new. Backers from all over the world have used in to support creators on Orbitmuse. They’ve gotten some great rewards, and a unique look into the creator’s process in return. It’s about more than money. It’s people making something together.

  • We’re making Orbitmuse better all the time.

    We are learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t. We apply what we learn to improving the site everyday, we offer resources like the Explorer Guide to help you build a great project, and of course we’re available for questions.

Telling your story

Imagine explaining your project to a friend. What would you say? What might they ask you? And how would you show them you’re serious, prepared, and capable of doing a great job? Your project page is your chance to tell people that story: who you are, what you want to make, and why.

Wondering how to get started? Looking through successful projects in your category is another good way to see what kinds of information backers will expect. If your project is simple and straightforward, then maybe your project page can be, too. If you’re doing something more complex, share details to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing. Either way, there are some basic questions you should answer:

  • Who are you?

    Introduce yourself, your team, and any similar work you’ve done (show some examples!).

  • What are you planning to make?

    The more details, the better. Sketches, samples, prototypes — it all helps backers get as excited as you are.

  • Where did this project come from?

    Tell people how you got the idea, and how much you’ve accomplished so far. Sharing the project’s history helps others understand the kind of work you do, and how you go about it.

  • What’s your plan, and what’s your schedule?

    Lay out a clear, specific timeline for what backers can expect.

  • What’s your budget?

    A simple breakdown lets people know you’ve thought things through and have a workable plan, so they can trust you to use funds wisely.

  • Why do you care?

    Tell people why you’re passionate about your project and committed to making it happen.

A lot of your story can be conveyed with words, but there’s more to a good project page than text. Images and video are a huge help for bringing people inside your story. 

  • Choose a great project image.

    Remember: it’s the first part of your project people will see — you’ll want to make a good first impression. Choosing an image and grabbing attention is critical to a successful project.

  • Make a compelling video.

    It’s the best way to introduce yourself, and to give people a closer look at what you’re working on. It doesn’t have to be super slick; it can have a very DIY feel.

  • Still feeling a bit camera-shy?

    Try watching this collection — we promise it’ll leave you feeling more relaxed.

  • Consider adding captions and subtitles.

    Captions, subtitles, and translations help more people understand what you have to say and get involved with your project (whatever their language or hearing level).

Funding

Orbitmuse uses an all-or-nothing funding model. If your project doesn’t reach its goal, then funds don’t get collected, and no money changes hands. This minimizes risk for creators — imagine ending up with only $5,000 and a bunch of people expecting a $150,000 cubesat! All-or-nothing funding makes it easier for backers to pledge to your project with confidence that you’ll be able to get the job done.

Your funding goal should be the minimum amount you need to make what you promised and fulfill all rewards. The first step to setting that goal is figuring out a budget.

  • Make a list.

    Write down every possible expense — even less obvious ones, like shipping tape and bubble wrap. For larger expenses, research the best price. Total everything up. It’s okay if the number is bigger than expected: even if your project feels simple, it’s best to make sure every step is accounted for.

  • Consider your reach.

    Orbitmuse is a great way to share your ideas with new people. Still, most of your support will come from your core networks, and the people most familiar with your work. Consider the audiences you can tap into, from friends and fans to online communities, and make a conservative estimate of how many backers you can realistically bring in.

  • Give yourself a cushion.

    If your project is successfully funded, Orbitmuse applies a 5% fee; there are also additional fees for our payment processors. Every project’s tax situation is different, but that may affect your needs as well — learn more here. More than anything, you’ll want a little padding in case of unexpected costs or emergencies.

  • Set a deadline.

    Your funding period can last anywhere from one to 60 days. Statistically, though, projects lasting 90 days or fewer have our highest success rates. Shorter periods set a tone of confidence, help motivate people to back, and let you make a planned, concerted push to spread the word.

  • And if your project suddenly explodes (sometimes literally...) ?

    Unexpected popularity can be a nice problem to have. But when you designed a budget to make 100 of something, it’s tricky to suddenly have 10,000 pledges! If you feel like you’ve hit your limit, you can always cap your rewards. You can also stagger release dates — cap the original reward at a number you can handle, then add more with a later delivery date, so you don’t have to do everything at once. Let backers know in advance that the demand might affect your schedule.

Your Tools

  • The creator dashboard.

    Your project’s dashboard gives you an at-a-glance view of everything that’s happening: your funding progress, where visitors to your project page are coming from, a breakdown of which rewards backers are choosing — even a complete feed of all project activity.

  • The backer report.

    Your backer report is where all information about your project’s backers will be neatly organized. Everything from the reward that they chose to any messages that you’ve exchanged will be documented here. And once you send out reward surveys, backers’ responses will ALSO be documented here. The report can easily be downloaded as a CSV file.

 

Building rewards

Why do people back projects? To start, they want to support what you’re doing. But they also want to feel like they’re getting something in return — and rewards let them share in your creation.

Some rewards are simple. If you’re making a book, for example, you offer copies of it. Other rewards — like behind-the-scenes souvenirs or personalized work — get backers more involved in the creative process.

  • What should you offer?

    You know better than anyone what your community wants. Think of things that would get you to back a project. Offer copies of your work in different formats, unique access to your project or product, from digital downloads, limited editions, even engraving a backer's name on your satellite. Consider custom work and chances to be a part of the process. 

  • What should you not offer?

    There are a few things we prohibit, including offering financial returns and reselling items from elsewhere. We also ask that you don’t offer rewards in bulk or wholesale quantities. If a reward comes in a set or package, no problem — but taking pledges for, say, a fifty-pack of a $200 gadget gets into tricky territory.

  • How to price.

    Be fair. When people think about backing your project, they’re asking themselves whether your rewards are a good trade for what they’re contributing. The most popular pledge on OrbitMuse is $50 — it’s handy to offer something substantial around that level.

  • Offer a range of rewards.

    Some backers can spare $100, some $20, some $5. Every one of those backers counts. Make sure there’s something worthwhile at every level. You’ll need to produce and deliver every reward, though, so think through each tier and make sure your budget works!

 

Once you’ve decided on your rewards, you’ll find plenty of tools and options that let you organize them so they fit your schedule and budget.

  • Estimated delivery dates.

    These are your best guesses for when you expect to deliver rewards to backers. For each tier, choose a date you’re confident about hitting, and don’t be afraid to give yourself breathing room — it’s definitely better to under-promise and over-deliver. For complex projects, it can be useful to stagger the estimated delivery dates for different reward tiers, sending out rewards in batches over a period of time. 

  • Shipping.

    As you add each reward, you’ll be able to specify whether the item involves shipping, which locations you can ship to, and the shipping costs. (You can get very specific, if you need to. See our FAQ for more.) Shipping costs can sneak up on you, so make sure you have them covered — the costs you set will be added to backer's pledges as they check out, and count toward your goal. 

  • Limiting rewards.

    You can limit the available quantity of any reward tier — because, well, if you were planning to hand-knit twenty scarves, you might not want pledges for 2,000 of them! Quantity limits can also create excitement around special-edition rewards or signed copies. Limited “early bird” rewards, where a certain number of backers get something for a slightly lower pledge, can also help build momentum during the project’s early days.

  • Don’t forget the survey tool!

    You don’t need to build separate reward tiers for different styles of the same item. Once your project is successfully funded, you’ll be able to send backers a survey to collect information like their shipping addresses, sizes, color preferences, and so on.

Remember: once your project is live, you can add new rewards any time — but once someone has pledged to a reward tier, you can’t change it anymore.

Fulfillment

Fulfillment: that means completing your project, getting rewards to backers, and communicating with them to make sure the process goes smoothly. Like every other step, this one requires planning and budgeting. But fulfillment can be fun, too, and we’ve got quite a few tools and suggestions to help.

The Backer Report & Surveys

Surveys let you collect information from backers — their shipping addresses, sizes, choices of colors or flavors, or anything else. You can start drafting backer surveys any time after you’ve launched a project, but they can only be sent out once your project is successfully funded. They can also only be sent once — so think through all the questions you’ll need to ask in order to provide rewards, and prepare accordingly.

  • If you designated that a reward requires physical shipping, the survey will automatically ask backers for their mailing addresses.

  • Although you can only send surveys once, you can allow backers to make changes to their shipping addresses until you’re ready to actually ship rewards. Once you indicate that you’re ready to ship, backers will be notified that they have 48 hours to finalize their addresses.

  • We run the addresses that backers provide through a validation check to make sure they exist and are properly formatted. If a backer hasn’t answered your survey, we’ll show them a reminder on Orbitmuse next time they visit.

  • You can’t mark a survey question as optional, so if the question doesn’t pertain to everyone, remind backers that they can respond with "n/a."

  • All survey responses end up neatly organized in a report, which you can export as CSV files and open in pretty much any spreadsheet program. Remember: you’re responsible for using backers’ information responsibly.

Fulfillment Partners

If managing all the logistics of your project starts to feel a little overwhelming, or you wind up with more backers than you were prepared for, don’t worry: you don’t need to do everything yourself. There are businesses that specialize in things like mass mailing, warehousing, packaging — you name it. If there’s a part of the process you feel comfortable outsourcing, and you can find a partner you trust, it can help lighten the load and create a better, more efficient experience for you and your backers. With the help of many Orbitmuse creators, we’re compiling a list of services that help with everything from packaging and shipping to manufacturing, games distribution, and vinyl pressing. Check them out and research which partners will work best for your project and your backers.

 

Space is Hard

Funding & Launching Space Projects Does Not Have To Be.

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