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.

Why Local Matters

Bibliography

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Most of the numbers were crunched in our database, and:

– Statistics New Zealand (2008) ‘Degrees of Separation in the New Zealand Workforce: Evidence from linked employer-employee data’ available online.

– Sorenson, O., and Stuart, T. (2001) ‘Syndication Networks and the Spatial Distribution of Venture Capital Investments’, American Journal of Sociology, 106(6), 1546–1588.

Thanks Mike Gray and Josh Forde for the thoughtful feedback (and design support) during the making of this infographic 🙂

A budget and a plan walk into a bar…

What's the plan, Stan?

The success of Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign in May of 2012 highlighted the potential revenue opportunities for crowdfunding creatives.  Initially setting out to raise $100,000 for a new record, art book and tour, Palmer ended up exceeding the $1m mark.  This enabled Palmer to cover the costs of album production, goods manufacture, promotion and touring, as well as remunerate her management and staff and repay some personal debt.

However, things got a little messy when she put a call out for additional musicians to play with her for free on her tour, proposing to pay them with beer, hugs / high-fives, merchandise, and gratitude.  In light of her phenomenal Kickstarter success, the public response was swift and largely unfavourable; the creative community stating that playing = work, which deserved a paycheck.  Palmer posted a break-down of Kickstarter expenditures on her blog in response to initial public reactions, but the furor failed to subside and she ultimately agreed to pay the additional players.

The controversy has been discussed extensively online, with arguments for and against her approach dissected like a frog in a biology class. There was even this piece in The New Yorker that suggested the affair was an accidental experiment with communism.  The dialogue was important and timely, and provided an opportunity for creatives to check their approach to sourcing funds from the crowd, especially when budgeting for, and planning a project.

So, what things should you consider in this space?

Your budget

Your budget is the financial breakdown of how much money you need to complete your project.  It is important that your budget reflects all of your expenses.

For example, if your band is raising money to go on tour, you will first need to consider the costs of food, accommodation and travel costs – per day, per person.  Driving?  Petrol and insurance is costly, but necessary.  Hiring or buying a vehicle is an extra expense, and you may also need to hire a trailer.  Budgeting gives you space to consider different travel options, e.g. is it cheaper to fly than drive?  Is a return ticket cheaper than a one-way ticket?  Should you rent a bus and driver instead?

You’ll also need to factor in any additional costs; these may include equipment rental, touring crew members, management / booking agent commissions and merchandise.  And what about the unexpected costs?  Instrument repairs.  Vehicle repairs.  It’s important to include these unforeseen expenses, as they can quickly blow out a budget.

And remember to allow for PledgeMe costs – including any dollars you’ll need to create / deliver rewards to your pledgers!

Your plan

Unless you’ve got The Roots as your support act, anticipating a million dollar result might be a little ambitious.  Even so, you will potentially receive more money than you asked for, so it is a good idea to consider what you’ll do if your expectations are surpassed.  Enhance the project?  Donate the excess?  Having different plans based on different budgets will help you prepare for a variety of outcomes.  You can then explain how you will spend the money to your pledgers, being specific about what their donations will allow you to do.  Planning to this level of detail will ensure you’re really clear about what you’ll do in each situation, and your pledgers will be really clear about what you’ll do with the money.

Your obligations

So, what are your obligations once you have the money?  Firstly, keep to your word by rewarding the pledgers that contributed to your success.  They donated in good faith – be respectful of this.  Secondly, going forward, and throughout the duration of your project, it is important that you keep people up-to-date and informed on your project’s progress.  They have already signaled an interest in your ongoing success, so tell them all about it!  And heck, you may need to ask these people for their support again, so remember that, and be good to them.

Where to find more help

If you’re looking for guidance and a starting point for planning and calculating your expenses, there are a bunch of free online tools available.  The excellent Sorted website, run by the NZ Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, can guide you to identifying your targets and goals, provides a template for listing your expenses, and the calculator function helpfully totals them as you go.  The Event Planner calculator is a great place to start.

For many, budgeting and planning is right up there with cleaning the bathroom – an unpleasant but necessary evil.  And whilst it may bring out momentary brain ache, it will also enable you to be clear and transparent with your intentions, and better position you for success – be your target $100 or $1m.  Hey, you never know your luck!

And in case you were wondering…

Here are the PledgeMe 2012 stats for successfully funded projects by budget size:

Tip #7: You need to get your project out there

“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.” says Ryan from Motions and Memories.

This blog articles sounds sort of obvious, but… getting your project out there is really half the battle. You need to let your family, friends, and fans know what you’re up to so they can help. And, you need to make your comms as engaging, personal, and quirky as possible! It’s not you asking for money, it’s you giving them a chance to participate in your rocking project (be it by pledging, sharing, or just generally cheerleading you on).

We’ve compiled a bit of a promo plan outline, so you can think of all the channels to get the word out there.

  • Individual emails – Go to close family/friends. Focus on 20-30 close friends to ask for support, and to share the project on.
  • Group email – Contact your entire gmail contact list (ever). Richard from Loomio told us “ I sent a spam out to everyone in my entire email history (“Dear friend/former employer/person who bought something off me on TradeMe…”) and got a few hundred dollars that way”    This is just to let people know what you’re up to, to send through any updates (new rewards!) and just generally tell them why you rock.
  • Facebook – Go out individually and in your status updates to ask for support (pledging and sharing). Try to focus on specific people/audiences, and make it fun.
  • Twitter – 140 character updates / tweets on what you’re up to. Thank your pledgers, tweet some famous people, and try to be as engaging as possible.
  • Blog – This should be personal and interesting, keeping people updated on the process.
  • Media – Try for media coverage catering to specific audiences, eg. NZ Musicians Magazine for a musical project, local newspapers where the team are based, etc.
Getting the word out there is a MAJOR part of crowdfunding, but don’t listen to us – listen to some of our project successes:
“The best advice I read was that people are only going to give money if they think they’re getting something in return. Whether it’s giving your audience the option to preorder your product, or creating generous/thoughtful/kooky rewards for them, or simply giving your audience a sense of worth -that they’re integral to how successful your project becomes. Everything should be focused on what your audience wants. Plus most of your audience will be friends/family/people with a similar vibe to you, so they’ll want to see YOU in your element… a great video pitch is crucial for this”. says St. Rupertsberg

“Be clear about what the project is and what the money will be used for. I found sending out personal emails was the best way to get the word out.” says Julie from Broke But Sexy.

“Use as many avenues as you can to raise awareness about your project – through friends, family, colleagues, social media, radio.  It also takes time to build up awareness so factor that into your project time on Pledge Me.” says Rebecca from Pink Ribbon Calendar Girls.

“Use your networks. I email, blog, facebook and Tweet. This is a platform for social media- the pledges I got were all from people who read about it on Facebook. If you set up a project and then hope someone will see it without putting the word out there via social media you’d have less chance of people getting with it I think” says Fifi from the Burlesque Art Exhibition.

It probably doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people to stick their hand out and ask for support, but I found it an interesting experience – viewing the project from the point of view of potential supporters is useful, and the sense of moral support / encouragement that I got from people being prepared to stump-up any amount of money (large or small) was priceless. The usefulness of the money was one thing (and this enabled me to see the project through without massive stress), but I found the fact of people being willing to get behind what I was doing provided me with motivational fuel.” says Andrew from Safe Little World.

Tip # 6 – It’s about you!

People are going to give to you as much as they’re going to give to your project. So, tell them a bit about yourself. What you do, where you’re from. It’s like any good business pitch – it’s as much about your idea as it is about you.

So, you need to talk about yourself so your crowd will connect, and the best place to do that is in your profile.

What should you include?

  • A photo (for your profile page and avatar)
  • A headline about you (think twitter length)
  • A blurb telling a bit more about your, your past work, anything.
  • A link to your website, facebook page, blog (whatever!)

Make sure it’s personal – not just about your organisation or company. Because, people like you – and they want to connect with you. They want you to succeed as much as the idea.

How do you update your profile? When you log in, go to my profile (top right) and edit your page details

Here’s a video we did on what crowdfunding is about – and you’ll see – it is about you!

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?

Fiona’s Tips for Newbies

I was pretty astounded by the in depth and thoughtful response I got from Fiona and the Penny Black crew to my normal “do you have any tips for newbies” question. So good in fact, I thought I should devote an entire blog to sharing em!

Fiona’s tips

Don’t be afraid to ask people to pledge. Even if they only pledge $5 you need the support as well as the $. And try not to be too crushed when the people you are sure will help don’t…

Give lots of info about your project. You can’t not have a video, and make sure your video is good quality as it represents your project.

Think about what kind of rewards would motivate you to pledge. Would ‘mention on our facebook’ really be something that you’d be interested in? Think about what kind of value you’re offering. If they have to pledge $100 for a video, that they could wait and get for $20 when it’s released is that fair? They are paying up front for something that doesn’t even exist yet. We set our DVD at $25, which was low, but we thought it was fair since they were taking a leap of faith that there’d even be a DVD in the end.

Sending something personal was great (postcards) and it didn’t cost much. I was surprised at how many people were actually excited about receiving the postcards. Glad, because it turned out to be more work that I’d expected.

 

Think about the best time to run your campaign. Before your project starts might not be best, perhaps waiting til you have work to show, footage or whatever, and people will feel more inclined to be supportive.

Want to check out their successful project? Click here.