Heather Jacks, author of the new book The Noise Beneath the Apple, is a guest writer for the blog today. There is a chance to enter a second giveaway of this week after the jump (brought to you by worldwind book tours)! Scroll to the bottom for more info and your chance to enter. Don't forget to Like Inner Aspen on Facebook if you haven't for more ways to be connected. Want to guest write for this site? Find out how.
Heather Jacks was raised on an Indian Reservation in Southeastern Oregon, until age 15. Jacks was the first 'experimental exchange student' to Australia in 1982 with an organization called YFU, Youth For Understanding where she spent 10.5 months. Once she returned, she received her B.A from USF and followed that with 2 years of study at UC Davis. She has worked in the music industry in various capacities since the eighties: radio, production, A&R, booking, and music journalism. She was recently named a finalist in the Book of the Year Award in the Performing Arts & Music category for her multi-media project The Noise Beneath the Apple which was inspired by her love for street music, busking, and the people who make it. Contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Things To Do Before You Launch Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Let’s talk about a topic that is a necessity of any and all creative ventures, but will probably cause you to break out in a sweat, just thinking about it: Funding. No matter what your project is; a film, restaurant, music, clothing line, book, etc... You will need money for it. There are a number of ways to get funding; family—(which is always a bad idea), traditional lenders such as banks, venture capital, angel investors or loan sharks. But the reality is, the odds are against you in these models. Banks ascribe to a ‘no-risk’ or ‘low-risk’ philosophy; Venture Capitalists must be assured of a huge return on investment, and we’ve all watched The Godfather. However, there is another type of funder; the person who believes in you and your vision, but also wants a story with their investment; which brings us to crowdfunding. We’ve all heard of it, and probably know that in its simplest definition, crowdfunding is a way to raise for ventures via the internet. Many projects succeed, more fail! One reason crowdfunders fail, is not because the project wasn’t great or wasn’t presented well, but because crowdfunding is hard work, that requires a tremendous amount of pre-planning. If you don’t take the time and energy to pre-plan and establish a solid foundation BEFORE you launch a campaign; you will fail. In fact, according to Ethan Mollick of The Wharton School of Business, over half do fail! Here are five things I have learned through my own crowdfunding experiences, that I hope you will find helpful.
1. Build Your Network: How many times have you heard an entrepreneur say, “I will do A, B and C, once I get funded.”? Then they discover online crowdfunding and launch a campaign, which ultimately fails. Why? One reason is that people don’t take the time to build their network. Although I have run successful crowdfunding campaigns and met my goal in 30 days—(or less); it is essential to know that it took me three years to get there! That’s three years of building an audience, blogging, connecting with people and developing relationships. Your network is a cornerstone to a successful campaign. Use all the social media at your disposal; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads, YouTube, your blog, etc…This doesn’t mean, set up your social media today and launch a campaign tomorrow. It means you set up your social media and begin engaging with like-minded people today, tomorrow and every day, until you have a solid network. An interesting note about one of my campaigns was that nearly 1/3 of the people who supported it, are people I have never met; primarily finding me via Twitter! Which brings us to another hugely important aspect of your campaign: Know your network.
2. Know Your Network: A country singer is not going to promote to a Hip/Hop crowd. Documentarians are not going to send their film to the SyFy Channel and fiction authors aren’t going to submit to true crime genres. The same holds true for crowdfunding. You must know your audience. Who are they? What are their interests? Are they engaged with you? Do you have a personal connection with them? What do they talk about? Who are their friends? Who do they trust? How much can they fund? How can they contribute? Will they contribute? You can’t approach your network as if they are one big walking ATM, waiting for you to input your request. In the case of your network, half a dozen of one is NOT like six of the other. They have different needs, different stories, different backgrounds, and different interests. A key to success is to know and honor this fact. Whether it’s on or off line, it’s still a people business and you are encouraging people to believe in you and your vision. It was Dale Carnegie who said, that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Get to know your network.
3. The Story is the Thing: This speaks directly to the heart of crowdfunding and the type of funder you are trying to acquire. As mentioned before, our investor wants a story, a water cooler topic, bragging rights, a legacy. This is why they, unlike traditional funders, will invest in Broadway plays, films, art, music—and even books. Every crowdfunding site will require a project video, which can make or break a project. Some basic rules of thumb regarding the video are: be bright, be brief and be personal! Studies have shown that a 2-3 minute video is the most effective, and that the video must be personal. You are the face of the project, so show them your face! Talk to the people who are going to take a risk and fund your project. Tell them the story; the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of it. Make your audience a part of the story.
4. Set A Realistic Funding Goal: Again, this is contingent upon ‘knowing your network’ and ‘knowing your project’. In regards to knowing your project, the question is; how much do you really need--Not how much can you raise? A few years ago, I was engaged in Grant Writing. One thing I did was to contact actual board members and gather information. A very valuable piece of information that I learned is that, like a bank, what the grantors really want to know is; how are you going to do this project without the grant? Take a moment and really think about that, and it will help you with the success of your campaign. I view crowdfunding projects in tiers. For example; think of a wedding. What is the least amount of money you need to have a wedding? You might start off with a basic ‘Dixie Cup’ style wedding. No frills, not much fanfare, but the essentials needed to ‘tie the knot’. If Uncle Fred pops in with a generous gift and you get to replace the Dixie Cups with crystal, that’s fantastic; but either way, you are having a wedding. Projects on crowdfunding work the same way. For example; as a writer, the difference might be softcover or hardcover? Color photos or B&W? For a musician; MP3 download, physical CD’s or pressing vinyl records. It’s essential to think in terms of attainable goals, that you can build on, if you get a windfall.
5. Find Your Project Champions BEFORE You Launch: Think of crowdfunding as an online event, which it is. No one wants to be first on the dance-floor, so you must have a few key project champions who are ready, able and willing to hop up and be the FIRST to support your campaign the moment it goes live. Studies show that ‘funders react to the actions of other backers’. Creating excitement from the onset is key. However, ‘championing’ a project goes beyond the monetary amount someone may contribute. It also includes if they promote the project to their own network, media and outlets. If they share and tweet to friends and colleagues; perhaps an email blast. Every individual in your network offers something of value; it’s not always just about the money. In one of my campaigns, a friend handed my postcard to one of their customers; that customer found me via Twitter, visited my blog and has become one of my biggest supporters; not just during that campaign, but long afterwards as well. By the way; my friend who handed out the postcard, was never in a position to support the project financially, but, believed strongly in it. She was a ‘champion’ and what a payoff for everyone, now and in the future.
Crowdfunding has offered a wonderful and effective way to fund projects in a time when public programs supporting the Arts are going the way of the Dodo. Take time to set yourself up for a successful campaign and a rewarding experience. If you have stories, thoughts, tips or ideas about crowd funding, that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Let’s start a conversation and help each other prosper, grow and become fulfilled in 2014
The Noise Beneath the Apple is on sale now! Buy it here at Amazon.
Written by Heather Jacks and accompanied by an eleven-track vinyl record featuring the original music of a select number of participants, this 200-page art-style coffee table book measures 12’’ x 12’’ and weighs in at a whopping 8lbs. Putting the spotlight on the age-old profession of busking, Jacks also seeks to stem the tide of regulation intended to suffocate creative expression and take performers off the streets. A limited-edition coffee table book, ‘The Noise Beneath the Apple®’, is a unique and vibrant study of the culture of street performance, its legitimacy in modern times and above all, an intimate look at thirty-five buskers throughout New York City. Released with an eleven-track vinyl record that was mastered by Grammy and Academy Award winning mastering engineer Reuben Cohen, this book is a singular achievement and a one-of-a-kind tribute to the chaotic, beautiful and spirited world of busking.