How to PledgeMe.

Top Ten Tools for Crowdfunding

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Connecting with your crowd can be tricky. Luckily, there are lots of great sites and apps that can help you at all stages of your campaign: creation, organisation, promotion and connection. Check out our top ten tools below, and see what they can do for you and your crowd.

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1. Google Docs

This extension of Google allows you to create documents online, and is a really good place to write your pitch – it’s free, easily accessible and simple to use. Plus, multiple people can edit a document simultaneously, which gives you an easy way of collaborating with other people in your team. It’s also sort of freaky.

2. Google Drive/Dropbox

It’s important for your team’s sake that you have a way to store the files you’re creating, so everyone can access them easily. Drive and Dropbox are both great tools for this – they let you and your chosen group upload or download files which you can access from anywhere, any time.

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3. Trello

When you’re organising a campaign, the sheer list of things you need to get done can be overwhelming. Trello helps you keep track of you and your team’s to-do list. You can upload and assign tasks, and keep an eye on how your different projects are progressing. We especially love the check list function, tick tick tick!

4. Google Calendar

You need to be able to visualise the timeline of your project, and ensure that everyone in your team is in the loop. Google Calendar syncs easily with Gmail, and lets you invite members of your team to specific events, as well as reminding you about upcoming appointments and deadlines.

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5. Social Media

In order to keep in touch with your crowd, you need to think about how you will use social media. By using sites like Twitter and Facebook you can give your followers updates on your campaign on their own turf, and they have the opportunity to connect with you too. Photo-sharing sites like Instagram are great for this too; they’re an easy way to check in with your crowd and remind them what you’re up to. But not in a spammy way, make sure to have conversations not just promotion fests.

6. Canva

Canva is a super-easy design tool that makes creating images simple, even for people who’ve never designed before. It has specific templates for different kinds of social media, making the process of creating and sharing images online straightforward and enjoyable. We even used it for the images in this blog (just to prove a point, we still love our designer Rory).

7. Squarespace

Having a website is a great way to inform people about your projects. Squarespace is a very easy-to-use website builder, with customisable content and a professional look.

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8. MailChimp

MailChimp is a great way to email your crowd en masse. They have beautiful newsletter templates, and make it really easy to design sign up forms. Plus, if you have fewer than 2,000 contacts your account is free!

9. Google Forms

Feedback from your crowd is always useful. Google Forms lets you build free surveys to send to your followers quickly, and turns their responses into a spreadsheet so you can analyse what they had to say.

10. Attending.io

This app helps you make event pages that look great, but that are simple and easy to create. Your followers can choose to RSVP with any of their social media accounts or email, which allows you more freedom in bringing different parts of your crowd together. Use this to create your launch party, or your celebration picnic when you meet your goal. Organise investor Meet and Greet’s, or tea parties. Go wild, with your crowd.

That’s our top 10 (or 13 if you count some of the cramming we did under Social Media), but we’d love to hear what you’re using at the moment. So comment below, and happy funding!

How to PledgeMe.

Don’t forget the crowd in crowdfunding

We keep on reading articles that don’t seem to get the importance of your crowd in crowdfunding – so we thought we’d give you the top 5 reasons we think your crowd is the most important part of your campaign. Maybe even more important than you….

1. Your first follower is what turns a lone nut into a leader

That first person that pledges might be your mother, but they’ll also be the person that everyone emulates. They’re the first person to show that they believed in you. We think Derek Siver’s put it best, when he said that the first follower is an underestimated form of leadership in itself.

2. They’ll give more than money

If your crowd believes in what you’re doing enough to pledge – they might have even more to give. They’ll give advice, share your project, maybe even help you out with the skills that they have, or provide you with rewards to offer with your campaign. Some people seem to think that this money isn’t as smart as traditional investors – we’d like to counter that and say it might not just be smarter and more diverse, but also immensley more practical.

3. They’ll ask the right questions

Some research has recently been completed in Germany to show that consumer investors ask good questions because they actually use your product. So while they might not all be financial experts, they’ll know if your product sounds like something they’d use. And some accountants might be in that mix asking questions about your financials as well. You never know who will come out of the woodwork in your crowd.

“As is true with markets, transparency produces fairness.” Michael Bloomberg wrote in his 1997 book “Bloomberg by Bloomberg.”

4. They’ll love you – and if you’re sticky enough – that’ll spread (not like an STD)

This is a chance for you to rally your crowd around you. It’s your chance for Great Uncle Jim, Aunty Margaret and your best friend from high school to all give you some help, and get something in return. It’s also the chance for your engaged customers who tell all their friends about what you make to get involved. They’ll be along for the ride, and maybe even bring some of their crowd along too. The social cohesion around crowdfunding is often under-estimated, but it’s the secret sauce that makes this different from pure financial plays or simply buying a CD.

5. They’ll keep you real

There’s nothing like your bestie or your mum to keep you real. They’ll push you to greater things, but also question your plans and expectations with real honesty. And that transparency and honesty will keep people engaged even when things aren’t going well. But what you need to remember is that communication is key – just keep people updated folks.

The importance of your crowd resonates across all types of crowdfunding. Without a crowd, you won’t get your funding. And that crowd always starts really close to home.

How to PledgeMe.

Top 7 Quirky Ways to Market Your Crowdfunding Project

We love it when our creators get creative, and quirky. Here’s just a few (there are many more) examples of quirky rewards on some of our projects.

1. Panda Onesies

To celebrate raising $7000 for their film Hold Your Breath, Candlelit Pictures posted this pic of the team in their panda onesies along with a big THANK YOU to all their pledgers. We love this because it’s not a generic thank you. The expression on Alix’s face (right) says it all.

2. Create a Religion Dedicated To Your Pledgers

Mangle and Gruff took rewards to the next level when they promised to create a religion dedicated to anyone who pledged $1000 to help the band record a new EP. And someone did that. We’re still not sure if the band has worshipped in front of the pledgers house yet though…

3. Promise To Shave Off Your Beard

When Milarky needed to raise $5,000 to refill his graffiti stocks after painting a shark mural in Wellington central, he promised to shave off his fully vegetarian-fueled beard if he met his goal. Now Milarky is a big beardless PledgeMe success story.

4. Homekill

To raise the money needed to build a measurement tower for their wind turbine planning, Blueskin Energy went out to their crowd of Blueskin Bay residents to source rewards for their campaign. They had everything from artwork to blues lessons offered back to them, and even one resident who offered to “homekill” chickens for each $15 pledge.

5. Everyone Loves A Good Pun

Who doesn’t love a good pun? The Christchurch Art Gallery used lots of bull puns in the copy on their project, Back the Bull, which aimed to buy back Michael Parekowhai’s bull sculptures. “Bull-iever” “Unbullievable” “Unbelieveabull” “Unstoppabull” certainly livened up their copy.

6. Costume Changes

Not only did Liz Kirkman ask her crowd to send her to Perugia, Italy to work with vocal experts, but she asked her crowd to help her decide what to wear. Liz posted her costume ideas to Facebook, and her crowd could vote for the costume they thought was best.

7. More Panda Onesies

When James Shaw needed to raise the money to get himself to Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Programme, he promised to travel from New Zealand to Chicago in a panda onesie, if he got a big $500 pledge. Any reward involving panda onesies is alright with us.

How to PledgeMe.

How to PledgeMe

Obviously, we often get asked for tips on how to crowdfund well – so, we dusted off our old guide recently and created this extended version guide (thanks Lewis!). Here’s our advice on the three P’s: Planning, Pitching, and Promoting.

1. Plan

You may think this is the boring part of a campaign, but it is the most important

1) Idea – What is your idea? Define it. Be succinct. Imagine you were in a elevator with a potential pledger and you only had 60sec to pitch to them. What exactly would you say to them? What is the hook that piques their interest?

2) Budget – How much $ do you need? You have to factor in cost of the project, rewards, success fees and credit card fees. We recommend starting with the project and rewards costs, and then adding the 8% for fees.

3) Length – How long will your project go for? We recommend between 30 – 45 days. Longer projects require more time spent promoting, but they give you more time to raise awareness (and $$). Shorter projects aren’t promoted as long, but do create a sense of urgency to raise funds quickly.

4) Team – Who is your team? A team runs the campaign. Identify the set of skills within your team. For example, who is good on the phone? Who can create a killer pitch video? Who has the largest network? Who is a social media maven?

5) Crowd – Who in your crowd will help you? A crowd is made up of pledgers or people who can connect you to pledgers. Everybody in your team has a crowd. No matter how big or small. List the friends and family of each individual team member. This is who they will ask to pledge first.

6) Marketing & Promo – How will you get people to pledge? Identify a strategy for each communication channel – it can just be a one liner.

The next few sections will help you flesh out some of the finer details.

2. Pitch

Everything on your project page must turn an apathetic person into a pledger, starting with your description:

1) Text – Explain your idea. Keep it short. Give a brief synopsis of the project, why your project is vital, how you will create change, why you need the money and what you will use the money for. The synopsis must contain a hook, what makes the project unique or interesting.

2) Photo – Boost your synopsis with images. Remember that old saying “An image says a thousand words.” If you can replace a thousand words with a single image, do it.

Rewards

Rewards drive people to pledge, and honour those who do pledge. People want to support you, but a reward should inspire them to open their wallets and pledge.Remember: Rewards should depend on the amount pledged. For example, a $5 pledge could be a simple thank you, but a $1000 should be an experience that only you could deliver.

1) Warm Fuzzies – A low cost reward that makes pledgers feel warm and fuzzy inside. For example, postcard, thank you note, shout out, mention in the credits of your film or the liner notes of your album will do. Make sure it is personalized to them. Not a generic cut/paste.


e.g. Kiwi artist Max Bellamy wrote his/her pledger’s names in the Sweden snow. (OK, this one is more like a cold fuzzy! ….)

2) Gifts- A gift might not cost you much money to make, but it’ll hold tremendous value for pledgers. The fact that they can hold the reward in their hands makes the connection between project & pledger all the more real. The trick with gifts is low cost, high return. The gift doesn’t have to be directly related to the project.

e.g. Motueka Community Garden gave beautiful bouquets of flowers as rewards. Tattletale Saints and The Feast gave totebags.

3) Outputs- Offer what you’re making/crowdfunding for as a reward. It sounds like a no brainer, but you have to actually offer what you’re making as a reward. You might be crowdfunding for a play, but it’s critical to offer the opportunity to come and see the play as a reward. The output has to be directly related to the project.

e.g. Rust and Stardust gave cushions, Seasons Eating gave calendars, and the Super Power Baby crew gave copies of their books.

4) Experiences- Anytime you meet directly with your pledgers face-to-face, it qualifies as an  “experience”. The “experience” can be any experience that only you could deliver. Backstage passes, meet and greets, a song (or even a religion) dedicated to your pledgers totally count. Again, the trick with experience is low cost, high return.

e.g. Uncle Berties Botanarium offered a “dinner party extravaganza” with music provided by Lawrence Arabia, readings from Duncan Sarkies’ novel and a sketch souvenir from Stephen Templar plus the chance to meet the cast. Ashei offered to cover the pledgers favourite song and put it on YouTube, even if it wasn’t their typical genre.

5) Crowd sourced- To really involve your crowd, ask them what they think is a fitting reward or better yet, ask them if they can offer any rewards!

e.g. Blueskin Energy asked their local community for rewards, and they responded with everything from blues and unicycle lessons through to home killing chickens as a reward.

Video

A killer pitch video is vital. You’re 117% more likely to be funded if you have a video. This is your opportunity to talk directly to your crowd. They will see your passion. The way you light up when you talk about your idea. And that is what convinces them to pledge. Videos help you connect more directly to your audience. So what makes a good video?

1) Transparency – Be honest. What is the money for? Tell them. Talk to the camera as if it was a pledger. Be transparent. What are you going to do with money? Tell them. Don’t be afraid to show your excitement or passion.

2) Credibility– To establish credibility, you need to show and tell your potential pledgers why your project is awesome and why you are awesome. Credibility is important because it makes pledgers feel confident and comfortable that their money is in good hands.

3) Visuals – To establish credibility, you need to use visuals. For example, if you’re a filmmaker raising money for your film include footage of you calling the shots on set. It will create an indelible image in the mind of the pledger and shows them that you are for real.

4) Call To Action – At the end of the video, you need to be clear and ask people to pledge. Give them very simply, easy-to-follow instructions. But it’s vital that you ask, politely.

5) Point of Difference – Find one way of making your pitch video look different from the rest.

For example, your pitch video could be special effects driven or a stop motion animation. But, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Keep it short, sweet and simple.

3. Promo

“Don’t be afraid to throw your PledgeMe page out there…at anyone. You have nothing to lose by telling people about it and you’d be surprised at the amount and variety of people that are interested and will contribute.”

What matters in crowdfunding is your ability to convince your crowd to pledge. OK. We know that sounds obvious, but it truly is half the battle. We all have crowds. We have friends, family and fans who can pledge. The challenge is howyou convince your crowd to pledge. The wrong way is to send the same copy/paste generic message to all your Facebook contacts. The right way is to post human, engaging and quirky updates about our progress on your Facebook profile. That’s just one example. Don’t do the “hard sell”, but invite your crowd to participate. Here are some ways to get your crowd involved:

Directly

1) Pledge Drive: This is when your crowdfunding team comes together for a limited time in the same room with the goal of raising enough money to reach (all of or part of) your funding goal. Think it like a good ol’ fashioned telethon. Only your team is using a plethora of 21st century communication tools. Make sure they have plenty of food, water and wifi! We believe the combination of a limited timeframe, close proximity and funding goal is an excellent motivator. And fun! It motivates your team to perform better than if they worked independently.

2) Email: The power of your words – Email 20-30 close friends and family. Be personal. We recommend that you send the emails to 20-30 people separately. It must be personalized to them. It cannot be the same generic copy/paste email message. Ask them to support you by pledging whatever they can afford. Teach them how to share your project. Telling a neighbour about your project is just as good as a share on Facebook, if Facebook isn’t their thing.

3) Phone: The power of your voice – Ring 20-30 close friends and family. The phone is powerful because it’s hard to say no on the phone, especially the person knows you and your phone manner is polite, warm and friendly. Don’t apply any pressure. Be light and breezy. Don’t ask “How’s life?” “What have you been up to?” And then awkwardly segue into your pitch. You will be “that guy” who only asks when he wants something. Be honest about why you’re calling up front.

4) Skype & Google+ Hangouts: A video chat is twice as powerful because they can hear your voice AND see your face. Skype is powerful given its popularity, Google+ Hangouts is powerful too. Its screenshare features allows you to demonstrate how to pledge. And you can record the video as a tutorial to send to those friends and family members who are not tech savvy.

5) Text & IM: Urgency – Text and IMs should be used sparingly. Remember that to receive a text or IM often results in an alert on the recipient’s phone. This can be invasive. The recipient may look forward to receiving a text from you, but then get disappointed when they discover you’re trying to “sell” something. You could choose to use text or IM as follow up to a phone conversation. When a friend or family member promised to pledge, send a text or IM as a reminder – but make it personal.

6) Networking: Attend events. Set up coffee dates. Go to parties. Whatever gets you in front of your crowd. Use the opportunity to tell people about your campaign. We find that the appropriate time to pitch is when somebody asks you “What have you been up to?” “What are you working on?” Keep your reply short and sweet. Don’t bore them. Raise their curiosity enough so that they ask questions about your campaign. It’s better to be asked about your campaign than to “sell” it.

Social Media

The purpose of using social media is to tell the story of your campaign. Tell the story of how you went from “WOA” to “GO”! However, to tell your story effectively using social media, we recommend that you create highly-engaging content perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms. That is content tailor made for Facebook, Twitter and many more. Listed below are the many more possibilities. Some obvious possibilities. Some we hope to introduce to you. You don’t need to use everything. Be strategic, but tell your story. Make it a journey. Don’t spam.

1) Facebook: 80% of New Zealand’s online population visit Facebook. New Zealand the highest proportion of the online population who visit Facebook compared to Australia (74%), the USA (69%) and the UK (68%). So, it makes sense to leverage New Zealand’s most popular social network to promote your campaign. We believe that your personal profile is more valuable to your campaign than a dedicated Facebook page. Send personalized Facebook messages to your friends. Post updates to your campaign, post a link to your campaign from your Facebook profile.

2) Twitter: Due to the real time nature of Twitter, it’s a powerful tool for creating urgency. Use it wisely at the start and end of your campaign. For example, at the start of your campaign, you can create buzz by tweeting/anticipating the launch of your campaign. The goal is to arouse enough curiosity about what you’re launching and why you’re launching it. Near the end of your campaign, remind your Twitter followers how much you still need to raise and how much time you have left. The feeling of “time is running out” may just convince that apathetic person to pledge at last minute.

3) LinkedIn: Post a link to your campaign from your LinkedIn profile in the same way you would on Facebook. The difference with LinkedIn is its professional community. So, you may emphasize how this campaign could move the needle on your career or emphasize why your campaign is attractive to entrepreneurs and business people. You could also target your campaign to specialized LinkedIn groups or particular companies. A fleshed out LinkedIn profile will quickly establish credibility and inspire those people who are not sure about you, to pledge.

4) Instagram: Gorgeous Instagram photos and videos are a great way of updating your crowd on your progress or showing your gratitude. Find a visual way of saying “Thanks!” Post a photo to your Instagram profile and says thanks to a group of pledgers. Or, post a photo via Instagram Direct, and say thanks to an individual pledger. Incorporate Instagram Direct into a high level reward. Or, use Instagram video to tell a story about how your idea will make a difference.

5) Snapchat: Snapchat gets laughed off as the “sexting” app, but it’s the only app that almost guarantees attention. Because the recipient has mere seconds to view the photo or image, the recipient can’t help but take a look. And Snapchat tells you if the recipient has opened the snap or not. Add text, filters or doodle on your snaps. Snaps are only temporary so this an opportunity to be silly or quirky. Or, use Snapchat stories to give your crowd exclusive updates.

6) Tumblr: You could use Tumblr as a campaign blog. Post little pieces of content that tell the story of your campaign. Post funny animated .gifs. Post interviews with your team mates. Post links to media mentions. Post amusing anecdotes. Open up your ask box to start a dialogue with pledgers.

7) Pinterest: Pin your pitch video. Pin your rewards. Include link backs to your campaign to drive traffic from Pinterest to your campaign. Pin images that inspire you to do what you do best.

8) Vine: The six second loop videos you can post on Vine are the perfect way of creating and sharing anything from stop motion animation to short skits about your campaign.

Media

1) Press Releases: Your goal is to gain media attention and pick up from print, television and web outlets. For example, your local newspaper or ONE news runs a story on your campaign. The exposure from this media attention can increase your likelihood of gaining new pledges. Think of media as a giant lever. If you have a small crowd or you’ve successfully leveraged your crowd already, then you need to find a media outlet with a bigger crowd than you, and successfully leverage that. A good strategy is to send targeted press releases to media outlets drawing attention to the parts of your campaign that would be interesting to that media outlet’s target audience.

2) Blogs: Make friends with bloggers. You should consider creating an electronic press kit containing all the materials (high res images, great quotes and statistics) that make it easy for a blogger to blog about you. You want them to include a link to your campaign and/or embed your pitch video. A mention or shout out on a blog is great, but the objective should be to drive more traffic and attention to the campaign, where people can pledge of course.

Download the full guide: How to PledgeMe – detailed version.

 

How to PledgeMe.

Why Your Mother Is The Most Important Person To Your Crowdfunding Campaign

We want to honour all the Mothers who help make crowdfunding campaigns a success. Here’s just a few examples of the value your Mother can will add to your campaign.

Because she is often the first person to pledge

You may joke that the only person who reads your blog is your Mother, so what? The audience of one is still an audience. In his TED Talk “How To Start a Movement, Derek Sivers said “The first follower has a crucial role. He’s going to show everyone else how to follow.” So, ask your Mother to do you the honour of being the first person to pledge to your campaign. In crowdfunding, every little bit helps. Your Mother’s pledge didn’t just help you get started, but it validated your project’s existence, it demonstrated to other people that there are signs of life and that people are already interested in your project.

We had one project creator who consciously sent her project out to three people the day before she started publically promoting – to her mother, her best friend, and her best friends mum. They all pledged, and gave the project it’s first boost.

Remember: Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. And your Mother will convince others to stop and look simply by being the first person who showed up.

http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html

Because her wisdom will only make your campaign better

Your Mother doesn’t have to be a crowdfunding expert. She just have to give you helpful answers. Ask your Mother “Is this a good reward?” “Is this text easy-to-read and clear?” “What do you think of the photos?” “Would you pledge to this campaign?” Remember: It’s busy people like your Mother who will take a look at your campaign. So, her feedback matters. Absolutely everything on your campaign page (the text, photo, video and rewards) must convince busy people to pledge. If your Mother finds the text too wordy or too much, or the photos too busy or too crappy, or the rewards too lame, make changes based on your Mother’s feedback.

Because she will help keep you honest in your pitch video

To make a good pitch video, you need to be real, honest and transparent. You have to be yourself on camera and tell people why you need the money and what you will do with it. Ask your Mother “How do I come across?” “Is the “me” in this video the “me” you know?” “Do you smell bullshit?” My Mother will tell me if I come across as anything but myself. If I come across as a fake, desperate or anything but honest and transparent, my Mother will tell me. She knows me better than I know myself. And for that reason, she is the best first person to watch my pitch video before it’s uploaded to the web for the world to see.

Because she will be an advocate for your campaign

To run a successful crowdfund campaign, you need advocates. Advocates are people who will campaign for you on your behalf. They ring people and send messages. They turn apathetic people into pledgers. They get pledges rolling in! And what better advocate is there, than your own Mother? All those times your Mother shamelessly bragged about you at a get-together might have embarrassed you as a kid or teenager, but now, those brags are highly valuable to your campaign. Her brags are what make her a great advocate. Her brags turn her social network into pledgers. So, let your Mothers do what they do best: brag.

Because she is networked

Your Mother has a network. Your Mother’s network connects you to more potential pledgers. Remember: Your Mother is already an advocate, but what makes her an even greater advocate is her network. Look at how your Mother is networked in your community. She might be involved in a church, sport, community, or hobby group. She might be a volunteer. She might simply know the neighbours. The chances are high that your Mother is not only willing to talk about your project, but she has somebody she can talk about your project to.

She could be a part of your campaign

Pink Ribbon Calendar Girls fundraised to produce their first calendar – and this image showed Jean and Cushla, mother and daughter cancer survivors. We were so touched by this mother – daughter duo, and everything the campaign tried to do, that we had to share.

How to PledgeMe.

Tip #3 – Make the best video EVER

“Asking people to give you money is like asking people to get into bed with you, and that’s weird if you don’t know them” is my favourite crowdfunding video line ever. Joceyln Towne’s kickstarter project for her debut film “I am I” has one of the best video asks ever. She relates the journey of creating her film while walking through her LA home, introducing each of the key members along the way. In the living room you meet her producer, the kitchen the supporting actor, and in the bathroom her husband slash star of the movie. You meet everyone, and when you get to the bedroom she has a conversation with her husband about the bed being a metaphor for giving money, and it’s a bit weird if you don’t know who you’re giving to.

That’s why a good video is so important. The project creator really needs it to connect to their audience, and the project backer really needs to see why their money is needed.

So what makes a good video?

1) A concise ask — what is the money for? what is your project?

2) Credibility – you need to show why you’re awesome, and why you’ll be able to undertake the project.

3) A point of difference – be it an awesome metaphor, a parrot, or a killer zombie, do something to differentiate your video from the rest.

Want to see some great PledgeMe videos? Check out:

Square Eye Pair – they had a computer camera and just talked to it. But, they made it personal and funny, and told the viewers exactly what the money was for.

St Rupertsberg – this is beautifully shot and edited, and tells the viewer exactly why they needed the support, and the rewards they had to offer in return.

Loomio – these guys did a mix of talking to the camera, and explaining their project through the wonders of a Prezi (www.prezi.com).

and Talente – the lovely Suni created a concise ask without talking to a camera – so for those shy project creators out there, this might be how you want to create your video!

How to PledgeMe.

Mastering the webcam pitch

I’ve been really impressed recently by some of the articles on Screentime’s website, and Steve helpfully sent through a few tips for me to share with you dear readers. The article below is all about what you need to think about when making a home made pitch, so if you’re in the throws of making your PledgeMe video read on!

Better Webcam Recording

Obviously the recording equipment- webcam, microphone, video camera- play a part but as the saying goes “you can’t shine a turd”. If the recording environment isn’t right, and your recording technique isn’t carefully considered, it won’t matter how strong or heartfelt your message is. Your audience will be distracted by the bad presentation just as much as they would if you stepped into the room with them dressed in shorts and singlet, crouched behind a chair and belched it.

 

So here are some key things to consider when recording yourself for later video playback in any format. Of course they work just as well for recording pieces to camera on a handycam or other traditional video camera. No embarrassment is intended to the subjects in the examples- thanks to them you’ll be able to avoid the same pitfalls. And of course the quality of the shooting is nothing to do with Vator.tv (where I grabbed the examples from), who have developed a fantastic marketing channel.

 

1) The background: Nothing too distracting, and definitely not a bright window (or a white wall for that matter)- see Examples 1 and 2.

 

A darker background is better as you’ll stand out against it more if there’s enough light on you. A simple picture (abstract, scenic, diploma) is fine, as are plants, but be careful they don’t look like they’re growing out of your head.

 

2) Shot size: mid shot or slightly tighter. This usually means from the waist or chest up. You should be sitting in the centre of the frame, or slightly to one side if your sitting or standing on a slight angle to the camera. If standing, it’s a less threatening and more comfortable looking pose to start by facing your body at a 20 degree angle to the camera and then turning your head directly to it.

The camera should be as close as possible to head height, slightly higher is OK, but shoot from below you’ll start to look intimidating (and ladies, it accentuates the chins…). And watch the “head room” (remember Max?)- you need just a small gap between the top of your head and the top of the video frame. Too much and it looks like you’re sinking, none at all and the effect is just as disconcerting. Examples 3 and 3A are examples of bad framing… Example 4 is good.

3) Lighting: more is better- but from the right direction. That’s not behind you (see point 1) or directly above or below you (unless you’re going for the “Blair Witch Project” look). You might not always have much control of this but if all the lighting is from overhead- like the ubiquitous office fluros- placing a large white desk blotter out of shot on the desk in front of you will bounce some up from below and lessen the heavy shadows that can be created under your eyes and nose…or cap (take it off…). See Examples 5 and 5A.

A large diffused light source such as window situated off camera to one side of you (and ideally more in front) or even a large table lamp or light pointed at a wall will give nice even modeling (Example 6).

 

Most cameras, web or video, have auto white balance settings (so that white looks white and not cold blue or warm orange) no need to override this unless you’re comfortable doing so- to warm your skin tone up for instance.

 

4) Sound: get the microphone as close as possible to you.Again, this may be controlled by the type of mic you’re using. If it’s part of the camera or webcam- then get close as possible to it (remembering the optimum framing covered in point 2).

If you have a clip-on or lavalier mic, then obviously you should clip it tidily to your lapel or chest (not directly on your chest… unless you’re recording while sunbathing). It can sometimes even be hidden behind a lapel, under a shirt collar or inside a top made of lighter material, but this requires a better quality mic than you probably have access to.

Take a moment to consider the ambient noise where you’re recording. Is there noisy aircon above the desk? Loud street, office or machinery noise? Tropical birds mating outside the window? If it’s a noisy location (inside or out) this will compete with the level of your message so close the door, ask those working close to you to keep it down until you’ve finished recording, or find a quieter space.

5) Presentation: larger than life! (See Example 7- the backgrounds a bit of a sty, but the lighting, framing and animated delivery of the presenter overcome this) This is a whole separate topic which I’ve covered in other articles on this page. But in general, present your message with more expression, animation and volume than you would in normal conversation. Trust me- you won’t look stupid- you’ll probably find that if it feels a little over the top then you’ve pitched it about right.

But don’t critique this part of the process yourself- get a peer, trusted business associate or your boss (preferably not a friend or underling who won’t want to offend or embarrass you) to tell you what they think.

Steve is Executive Producer/Director for Screentime Communications with over 25 years in the corporate communications business.

Source: http://www.screentime.co.nz/index.php/page/communications-resources/pi_resourceid/16

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How to PledgeMe.

Tip #1 – You need inspiring rewards

One driver of crowdfunding successfully is creating compelling rewards that relate to your project. People want to give you money, and these rewards should inspire them to open their wallets and help. These should be creative and quirky, but not too complicated. We recommend 5 tiers of rewards tops, with a range of small to large (ranging from $5 – $1000 plus depending on the project size/scope).

Want some inspiration? Here are some of the best rewards we’ve seen on PledgeMe:

1) Beautiful Surrender Music Video – Christchurch band Ashei wanted to fund the costs for their their next music video, and they offered everything from a copy of the single to youtube clips covering a song of the pledgers choice. This particular reward really helped them connect to their pledgers, and here’s one of the covered songs that they made:

2) Mangle and Gruff – this wellington band wanted to release their first EP and they decided to create a range of cahrazy rewards – everything from a calendar of Will (their guitarist) to creating a full blown religion for $1,000. And – someone pledged for that!

3) Ralphi – this Tauranga based up-and-coming illustrator wanted to fund her attendance at a comic workshop. And, her rewards of various sized “doodles” went like wildfire. She ended up funding her project in under 24 hours.

And, here are some of the best ones we’ve seen internationally:

1) Kris White wanted to write a graphic novel – The 36.  He had a range of different rewards for his pledgers, but the one that captured the hearts of four big spenders was his offer to immortalize their names as a supporting character in his novel for the small fee of $1,000 each.

 

2) Ted Rall, an american journalist and cartoonist, needed $25,000 to get to Afghanistan and write a book of cartoons on what was actually happening there. He spent a month there reporting on what he saw there, with regular cartoon updates uploaded via satellite phone. His comics touched on everything from taliban biker gangs to pizza. Who received these? The backers – of which he had over 200. Rewards ranged from  a bast $10 for updates to $10,000 for drinks with him in New York once he returned.

3) Emily Richmond wanted to travel the globe by boat – 24,000 miles in 24 months – and her rewards ranged from an origami boat, to a sailor hat, to a polaroid taken in one of her many destinations and posted back to the lucky pledger. This polaroid reward inspired over 70 people to back her, and she managed to raise over $8,000 for her project. My personal favourite though, was her offer to mail a coconut ($125)  from one of her island stop offs (though I imagine there may have been MAF restrictions on that!).

 

So hopefully this gives you an idea of what rewards you should try to incorporate around your project. It really can be ANYTHING – do some research, see what similar things have been done, but focus on your audience — what would you spend money on if the tables were turned?

How to PledgeMe.

How long should you run your campaign for?

A spool of string.

Well… how long is a piece of string? It really depends. We wouldn’t really recommend running a campaign for longer than 60 days. 30 days we think is really ideal though. Especially, if you prep your crowd for what’s to come.

Because, crowdfunding isn’t a piece of cake. You do need to tap into your crowd, you do need to promote what you’re doing, and you do need to get the word out there. We find the longer you run your campaign, the longer you need to try and keep the momentum going. And, when you find that the most pledges come in the first few days, and the final few days, the longer you run the more down time you have in between!

One interview I recently heard about crowdfunding a micro budget feature film in the US had some good pointers. They recommended having blog posts, media releases, and social media activity pre-prepared, and just ready to send once you start. They also promoted the idea of having multiple crowds – your friends, your family, your fans, people with the same niche interest that your project was exploring (in their case, blue grass music) and the media. They pushed tailoring your message quite clearly for each, and in the end they not only met their goal but exceeded it – with media releases to spare!

How long do you think you should run a campaign for? We’d love to hear from people that have run campaigns (successfully or not) around how timing / length affected their campaign.

How to PledgeMe.

Crowdfunding: a new approach to the music business

When Amanda Palmer launched her music project via funding plaform Kickstarter in May of this year, her accompanying video declared “This is the future of music”.  Palmer’s initial goal was to raise $100,000 towards her new record, art book and tour; she ended up raising over $1m.  Palmer believes crowdfunding is where the recording industry is heading, she says “The music industry has long needed a new system and crowd-funding is it. The game is reversing – the media and the machine are following, rather than creating, the content.”

Crowdfunding is changing the rules for the music industry with fans now having the opportunity to become both consumers and investors; the latter traditionally carried out by record labels.  In an industry affected by severe financial losses due to illegal downloads, the prospect of people actually paying for music is appealing.  And in the case of established acts like Dresdon Doll-Palmer, the potential to generate revenue from your existing audience is huge.

So, what are the benefits for musicians?  Primarily revenue and creative control. 

Record labels typically take a slice of everything generated by an artist, including album sales, live shows and merchandise.  Record distribution and promotion are additional costs that, once factored in, leave many musicians with a < 20% profit.  Using a crowdfunding model, artists retain the rights to, and control of, their work, as well as a higher percentage of the profits.

OK, that all sounds good, but I wanna see stats!  What are the success rates for fan-funded music projects?

Since April 2009, $38m has been pledged for music-related projects on Kickstarter.  This makes music the second most successful category in terms of dollars pledged, after the film / video category.  Last year, $19m was pledged in the music category, resulting in 3,653 successfully funded music projects, making music the most successful category on Kickstarter.

In the New Zealand neck of the woods, the music category has achieved the most success on PledgeMe, representing 25% of all dollars pledged.  It is also the most successfully-funded category at 30% of all categories:

Wellington band St. Rupertsberg were the first successfully-funded music project – their goal was to raise $1,800 for their next EP, and set their campaign to run for 30 days.  They met their goal in seven days and ended up raising $2,117.  Read our interview with Kate Whelan, their singer and trumpeter, about her positive PledgeMe experience.

I’ve got a beard, a guitar, and a flannel shirt.  I’m ready to launch.  Let’s do this.

Settle down!  There are a few things you need to do to increase your chances of funding that tour with the Fleet Foxes.

1. Identify and mobilise your existing fanbase.  You will need a supportive audience to help spread the word and start pledging.  If you don’t have an established group of followers, approach your family and friends for funding and word-of-mouth promotion.

2. Offer a range of rewards.  You’re a music fan – what would you want in return from an artist?  Be creative – offer both physical keepsakes (exclusive downloads; posters) and experiences (dinner with the band; an opportunity to “handclap” on the album).  Ensure rewards are available for different budgets – i.e. anything from $1 to $500 (or more, if you’re feeling lucky).

3. Generate interest via social media.  Use a variety of social media tools to establish and build a relationship with fans and potential pledgers.  Services like Facebook and Twitter will allow you to build a relationship with your audience and post regular progress updates.  Information can quickly and easily be spread far and wide, promoting your project and ensuring you remain top-of-mind amongst the crowd.

Crowdfunding for music projects requires work, but it can work.  Whilst its greatest potential is with established artists that have a ready-built fanbase, as in Amanda Palmer’s case, it is also a business model with potential benefits for new and up-coming musicians.