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October 2011

How to be Successful on Kickstarter

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I recently contributed to a Kickstarter project for the first time. The project in question is ZOMBIES, RUN!, a game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android that encourages you to work out. As you run (in real life), your character advances in the story, so you actually have to get off your butt and get some exercise to win.

For those of you with no experience on Kickstarter, this site allows you to ask for small donations to fund specific projects (like the development of an app). You set your goal amount and the date by which this goal needs to be reached. If you get there, supporters’ credit cards are charged and you get on your merry way working on the project. If you don’t, no one pays anything.

To entice people to donate, you set pledge levels with specific prizes. It’s kind of like making your product available for pre-order. For example, if your project is making a movie, anyone who donates $25 or more might get a free DVD of the completed movie, anyone who donates $50 or more gets the DVD plus a producer credit, anyone who donates $75 or more gets both of those things plus a t-shirt and poster, etc.

The team that posted the ZOMBIES, RUN! ap project made their goal $12,500. Currently, they’ve not only funded the project completely (and they did so well before their deadline of October 10), but they’ve raised $72,627. Woah mama.

Other projects have also been wildly successful. For example, the Womanthology project (an anthology of female comics) has, as of this writing, raised $109,301 – the original goal was $25,000. Or, the “Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer” music mini-tour project raised $133,341 – the original goal was $20,000.

But then, of course, there are projects that aren’t so successful. Every day, Kickstarter projects expired unfunded, with disappointed would-be millionaires wondering what went wrong.

I’ve done some browsing on Kickstarter, checking out what is successful and what is not. Here are some common characteristics of Kickstarter projects that are successful:

  • Create a project that is interesting and excites your audience.

Before you upload information about your project, ask yourself – is this something people will want you to do? Or is it something that you want you to do? People don’t want to fund projects that are just like everything else out there. They want something cool, unusual, and fun.

  • Give away cool stuff in exchange for pledges, even small ones.

If your finished product creates something worth $35, anyone who pledges that among should get it for free. But what about the people who pledge just $5? If all you’re giving away at this price point is a “thank you,” people are going to move on to the next project. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but those $5 donations add up! So give them something (though give away better stuff at higher levels to encourage giving).

  • Create some limited packages.

At higher levels, you want to create some packages that include really cool stuff. If your project is a novel, maybe you’ll name a character after each donor, for example. You want to make these packages extremely limited to create scarcity. If people don’t buy RIGHT NOW, they might miss out.

  • Give people a reason to keep donating after the project is funded.

So your project will cost $10,000. What happens to the extra money if you raise even more? Along with cool prizes, give people extras that make your project even cooler if it is over-funded. For example, the ZOMBIES, RUN! project will include guest stars doing voices in the game for every $10,000 more they raise – and the donors got to have a say! They send up a survey asking who we’d like to see in the game and that’s how they’ll determine who they’ll contact.

  • Make it a no-brainer to spend more.

Whatever level is your “main” donation (usually around $25), make the next level up just a little bit more with an extra bonus. For example, let’s say you’re trying to fund a music project and anyone who donates $25 will get the finished album for free. Maybe for $30, you throw in a personalized autographed copy. It’s just $5 more, so why not upgrade? For very little extra time (and no extra money unless you count having to purchase a pen to sign copies), you’re making more money with every donation.

  • Write kick-butt copy for your project.

If your project is explained in a confusing or boring way, people will click on to the next project. Be very clear in explaining what you’re doing, but more importantly, explain why it is so darn cool for potential backers. Include pictures and don’t be afraid to inject a little personality! Make people laugh, make people cry, make people want to help you.

  • Send emails.

Once someone pledges, you can contact them with project updates (they can opt-out of emails, but I’m guessing that most don’t since they want to know what’s going on with their money). Don’t be annoying, but send updates asking supporters to spread the word. You can also add additional bonus, so it encourages people to come back and donate even more money.

  • Get some of your friends on board right away.

People will hesitate to donate when no one else has stepped up to the plate. It looks like the project might not be worthy and they wonder if they’re doing something unwise with their money. So, immediate after you upload your project, pledge to it yourself and get some of your close friends and family members to do the same, even if they only pledge at the $1 or $5 level.

  • Social media it up!

I should go without saying that you should promote your project on Twitter, Facebook, and all of your other social networks. Even better, link to these profiles on your Kickstarter page so people can spread the word.

  • Don’t apologize.

I see a lot of Kickstarter projects where people seem almost apologetic that they’re asking for money. Some even flat-out say that they’re sorry or give reasons as to why they’re asking for money on Kickstarter rather than paying for the project out-of-pocket. It makes me think that you project isn’t worth my money and you’re just looking for a free hand-out. Start-up companies look for investors every single day. You aren’t doing anything wrong, so don’t apologize. Just do something awesome.

  • Include a video.

People like to support people they know, and a video helps potential backers feel like they’re getting to know you. Your video doesn’t have to be long. In fact, shorter is better in many cases. Just say hello, talk about your project a little, and thank everyone for donating.

I haven’t actually tried Kickstarter myself for anything, so I hope that if you have, you’ll chime in with some of your own tips. What made your project successful? Or, why do you think your project went unfunded? Leave a comment!

Is Your Blog Like Chinese Food?

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Pork fried rice. Sweet and sour chicken. Wonton soup. Mmmm. Chinese food is delicious, and believe it or not, it can teach you a few things about blogging. Is your blog like Chinese food? Here’s why you might want to consider this cuisine as you’re adding content:

  • Something for Everyone

One of the reasons I love ordering Chinese food with friends is that there’s something for everyone. When you order pizza or subs, you have fewer options and there’s always someone not happy. With Chinese food, you have a huge variety of treats from which to choose, and everyone can order something that they enjoy. Most Chinese restaurants even have healthier options for those who are dieting. Does you blog have something for everyone? Of course, you won’t connect with every person in the world (that would be a crazy blog), but within your specific target market, there are going to be a lot of different tastes. If you rely on just one type of post (like just list posts or just rants), you’re not going to appeal to as many people. Make sure your target is focused, but don’t make it so focused that your audience is too small.

  • Keep Them Coming Back

One of the complaints that lots of people have about Chinese food is that you’re hungry again an hour later. Is that true? Maybe…but for bloggers, this is a good thing! You want great content, but you also want to always leave them always wanting more. Include related links at the end and links within the body to keep readers on your site. Encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list or subscribe to your RSS feed. Clearly link to your social media profiles on your sidebar and make sure you promote you content on these platforms. Most importantly, make sure every single post you write is awesome. It only takes one “meh” post to make a reader decide they don’t need to come back to your site.

  • Easy to Find

No matter where you live, you can find Chinese food. Heck, even at my mom’s house, which is located in a super rural area with less than 100 people in the entire town, you can get to a Chinese restaurant pretty quickly. Make your content similarly easy to find. You want to create a presence for yourself so that others are mentioning you and your name just pops up in conversations related to your niche. Attend offline conferences (like BlogWorld LA of course). Do guest posts on other sites in your niche. Write content that can easily be linked by other bloggers. Get people excited about what you’re doing so that your name just starts to just appear everywhere. You want people to be like, “Oh, I’ve heard of him/her…” even if they can’t rattle off your bio (yet).

So those are my three tips for the day. How is your blog like Chinese food?

Official BWELA Party List

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After a long, full day at the LACC, you’ve got to unwind, right? Networking with others, meeting new people, having a drink in person with “online friends”, it’s all part of what makes BWELA a great time! Below is the official list of Blog World & New Media Expo Parties and Mixers! Don’t forget your attendance badge and your dancin’ shoes!

Thursday - Networking Mixer @ ICON Ultra Lounge

Thursday, Nov. 3 – Networking Party & Mixer at ICON Ultra Lounge
1248 Figueroa Street (across from convention center)
Starts: 7pm | Ends: 10pm

This is a great way to connect and network with fellow attendees and speakers while you’re at BWELA. A nice, open space, great views of LA with two open patios and time to hang out and get acquainted.

Sponsored by: Heineken, Social Media Club, Verisign/.tv, U4RIK Vodka, and INTENTclick


Friday - Opening Night Party @ J Lounge

Friday, Nov. 4 – Opening Night Party at J Lounge
1119 South Olive Street
Starts: 7pm | Ends: 9pm

The opening night party is also a networking event, you can meet up, talk about your day and your favorite sessions, let your hair down and have some fun!

Sponsored by: Heineken, The Safe Cig, Digital LA, NewTek, textPlus, and U4RIK Vodka

 


Saturday - Closing Night Party @ The Belasco

Saturday, Nov 5 – Closing Night Party at The Belasco
1050 S. Hill Street
Starts: 730pm | Ends: 930pm

Aww, yeah! The night before it’s time to go home, we’re kickin’ it at The Belasco with our Closing Night Party! This is where you’ll make those final connections, say your “see ya next time’s” and unwind after a fabulous few days at BWELA!

Sponsored by: Heineken, Stickam, Dun & Bradstreet, and U4RIK Vodka


And don’t forget our Daily Networking Breakfasts in the Concourse Lobby at the Convention Center, which is a great way to start your days at BWELA, and our Exhibit Hall Networking Reception, on the Expo Floor too! Be sure to check out the grid regularly, as we’re always adding more information!

BlogWorld and YouCast Partner to Offer Airport Shuttle Service to Attendees

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Worried about the cost of transportation during BlogWorld Los Angeles? Well worry no more! We have complimentary shuttles to bring our attendees from their hotels to the Los Angeles Convention Center, as well as shuttles to take attendees to and from the airport.

Airport Schedule:

Pick up from LAX:
Wed 11/2: 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, 7:30 (PM)
Thurs 11/3: 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, (AM) 12:30 (PM)

Shuttle will stop at convention center and all 4 partner hotels.

Return Service to LAX:
Sun 11/6: 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 (AM), 12:30 (PM)

Shuttle will stop at each hotel (skip convention center) and go to LAX.

Sign Up for your complimentary shuttle service here.

Convention Center Schedule:

Shuttles will run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between the convention center and the four BlogWorld partner hotels (Millenium Biltmore Hotel, Omni Los Angeles, Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown, and the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites).

Thurs 11/3: Between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM
Fri 11/4: Between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM
Sat 11/5: Between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM

More details and routes available here.

Marketers Need to Have a Social Media Plan

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Because social media is new, hip, and fun, it’s easy for marketers to get excited about it. However, when it comes to measuring social media results, the excitement isn’t so apparent. Why is it that measuring social media activities has such a bad taste associated to it?

According to Dave Fleet, the Vice President of Digital at Edelman in Toronto, marketers often make it harder than it is. In a recent interview with WebProNews, he explained that marketers need to have a social media plan in place that includes business objectives before they start a social media campaign. From this point, they should find tactics that are measureable against the objectives.

“If you set business objectives properly and the way that a lot of marketers have become accustomed to over the years, [then] it’s not that difficult to tie social media activity back to the business objective,” said Fleet.

“That’s the piece that’s really missing from a lot of the campaigns nowadays,” he added.

Dave Fleet will be speaking about this and other related topics at BlogWorld LA November 3-5. Don’t miss it!

BlogWorld and New Media Expo is partnering with WebProNews, a news publication covering search, social media, and ebusiness, in an effort to broadcast how new media can grow your business, brand, and audience. WebProNews has covered BWE since its first show in 2007. Check out reports from previous shows here and stay tuned for much more coverage from BWE LA.

 

Three Books Written For Bloggers by Bloggers

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I’ve really been into reading books about blogging lately and have snatched up some good ones I think you should know about. Two are geared specifically for mom bloggers and one is for anyone who blogs.

As bloggers, I truly believe we should continually be educating ourselves about this ever-changing industry. Allison gives us some fantastic blogging tips here and there are several blogs I follow on a weekly basis that give me ideas and insight into the blogging industry.

There are also some great books out there that I believe are a must-read. Here’s my list of three books written by bloggers for bloggers:

1. ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

I devoured Darren and Chris‘s first Problogger book when it came out in 2008. I had only been blogging for about 3 years and knew I had so much more to learn. I still remember fixing myself a cup of coffee, turning off the TV and computer and snuggling up on the couch for a good read. I am so glad I invested the money and the time in this book.

And now they have the updated version of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income that came out in April of 2010. Yes, I bought that one as well.

If you’re fairly new to blogging, I would recommend picking up a copy of this book. It lays a good foundation for you and walks you through the steps of turning your blogging hobby, into a full-time career. Which is exactly what the authors of the book have done.

2. Mom Blogging for Dummies by Wendy Piersall, Foreward by Heather Armstrong

Obviously the title gives it away that this is for mom bloggers. Mom Blogging for Dummies was written by Wendy Piersall, who is a brilliant blogger and has turned it into a career. The book came out in July of this year, so it’s very up-to-date (although blogging seems to change everyday doesn’t it?).

Whether you are ready to start your very first mom blog or you need some help taking your existing one to the next level, this book is for you. I’ve been blogging since 2005 and gained so much by reading Wendy’s book.

My favorite part was definitely the 10 examples of successful mom bloggers that she gave. It was interesting to read about their stories and how they got to where they are today. Some make money from their blogs and some make money as a direct result of their blog. It goes to show blogging isn’t a cookie cutter industry.

Wendy takes you through topics such as choosing a business model, writing a blog post people will want to read, how to be brand friendly and how to think like an entrepreneur.

3. The Digital Mom Handbook: How to Blog, Vlog, Tweet, and Facebook Your Way to a Dream Career at Home by Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla

The Digital Mom Handbook to me was very inspirational. It also was recently released in July of this year. Audrey and Colleen told their stories of how they got to where they are now – both top mom bloggers and making a fantastic living at it. They also talk about juggling the role as mom and business woman, something a lot of moms struggle with on a daily basis.

Here are their seven basic steps to success given in the book:

1. Find your passion.
2. Hang a digital “shingle” and start typing.
3. Find your tribe.
4. Make opportunity knock and learn how to answer that door.
5. Manage the Benjamins.
6. Don’t forget the children!
7. Live happily ever after by living your values.

A great read for any mom who has found herself, by accident or on purpose, in the world of blogging and trying to turn it into a living.

All of these books do have one common theme – find your passion and write about it. Don’t do what Deal Debbie is doing just because it seems to be working for her. Find a topic you love and go for it!

Are there any books on blogging you have read and would recommend?

The Story: Building and Growing Online Communities

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Session: Successful Solutions for Building and Growing an Online Community
Speaker: Debba Haupert

Question: How do you build an online community?

The short answer: two girlfriends were dealing with cancer and I felt helpless. I wanted to know how best to be there for them. I also found myself with a strange, overwhelming need to be close to my girlfriends – those two and others.

That was the genesis of my online community – Girlfriendology.com. Definitely not with the intent, initially, to build an online community, but to address a personal need to express my girlfriend gratitude and a desire to inspire women to be better friends to each other.

I suspect that a driving emotion is most often the beginning of many successful online communities – a need to express our beliefs and passions, a desire to educate or inspire, and a longing to connect with like-minded people.

Whatever the origin or mission of a community, it will eventually weave a unique story. The story threads its way through the community manager, in and out through the communication and content, connecting the members of the community and, in the end, the story creates a ‘fabric’ much stronger because of all those elements.

And, just like any really good story, there are several, distinct, key elements to an online community that build into the story as the community grows. We’ll cover these in my BWELA session on Successful Solutions for Building and Growing a Successful Online Community (Thursday, Nov 3, 2:45 pm):

1. Community Goals and Objectives – From branding to managing expectations, for new communities or those who might need to re-examine their goals and objectives to get back on track.

2. Knowing and Growing our Communities – Who are the citizens in our unique community, and what connects us? We need to take stock of your community as it grows, and continue to provide substance and content that meets our objectives and is valuable for member participation.

3. Using Social Media to Grow our Community – I’ll share a variety of ways in how others have grown their communities using Social Media, as well as defining specific social media tools for managing community connections efficiently and effectively.

4. Managing our Community – Most of us wear multiple hats, from CEO to content creation, from ongoing social media updates to managing a budget. But the one hat that we may struggle with wearing most is that of managing a group of people who have their own goals, objectives and viewpoints. So we’ll share some lessons I’ve learned about managing communities – the good, the bad and the downright painful!

We’ll cover several case studies of a variety of communities, the advice they have to offer and the lessons they learned the hard way. Join us to as we share in the conversation of how to be successful at managing and growing our online communities!

Note: I’d love to hear your community manager/community story! Please fill out this survey and share your community insights. You may be selected as one of our seminar’s case studies. And we’ll note all the communities to thank in our presentation and upcoming eBook on Community Building for Bloggers.

p.s. And wear your best SHOES to the session. (:

Hear what else Debba has to say:

Watch more videos and see why other speakers are attending BlogWorld LA. See all Speakers here.

Learn more about BlogWorld LA and register Here!

With over 20 years of corporate marketing, DEBBA HAUPERT now focuses her marketing efforts on social media to help companies reach/build their ‘communities.’ She built the online community of women: GIRLFRIENDOLOGY . Debba has over 24,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 female Facebook Fans – and, keeping with the brand, she deletes (most) guys! She has worked with Biz, Kroger, The UPS Store, Frito-Lay, Healthy Choice, Crystal Light, International Delight and other brands. She teaches/speaks on social media marketing. She/Girlfriendology can also be found at @Girlfriendology and Facebook.com/Girlfriendology .

How to get the most out of a live event you can’t attend, PART 2

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In my last post, I left you hanging on a question: How can the online version of a live event — in this case, BlogWorld’s Virtual Ticket — convey as much of the experience of being there in-person as possible?

Well, we came up with a few ideas to help bridge that gap, and we incorporated them into the Virtual Ticket. Here they are:

1. Provide live, on-the-spot footage at the event
We’ll record behind-the-scenes footage all over the conference center and at select conference events and will either stream it live (if on-site internet cooperates) or put it online for you fast. Grab yourself a cup of stale coffee and slap on a nametag while you watch and you can almost pretend you’re there with us.

2. Create exclusivity by providing extras that even live attendees won’t have access to
We know we can’t replicate all of what you’ll get live at BlogWorld, so we’re doing the next best thing — countering the in-person advantage that live attendees have by giving you something that they won’t get. First on the menu? Exclusive interviews with the bigwigs. Not many people are going to be hanging out with keynote speakers in person, but you can, through the magic of exclusive video.

3. Provide a host
You know how if you were there live and if you’re lucky or popular, you might hang out with someone as you made your way around? As you sit there in your PJ’s at home, I’ll be your surrogate buddy. One way to give you the VT material would have been to slap all the videos in an archive, but we thought that giving you a cohesive, semi-guided experience would be way more fun.

Sign up for the Virtual Ticket and you’ll get all of that, plus 100+ hours of BlogWorld session recordings (which you’ll have on-demand access to for a full year).

The one thing we always hear from non-attendees during BlogWorld & New Media Expo is “I wish I were there.”

Well, this is your chance! Instead of getting on Twitter and telling us that you wish you were there, you can be kind of there, even while you’re at home. Sure, you’ll need to wait just a bit before we have all of the session recordings ready for you, but the rest of your experience will either be live or as close to live as we can make it, letting you “be there” as much as possible.

Now here’s the important part: The BlogWorld Virtual Ticket is on sale through 11:59pm tonight, Friday, October 21st. Until that time, it’s only $247, which is a full $100 off.

Even after the price goes up, it’s a great deal… but wouldn’t you rather save the money? Yeah. We thought you might.

Click here to register for the Virtual Ticket. Be sure to act now, before the price goes up tonight!

——
Johnny B. Truant is the host and M.C. of the newly-redesigned BlogWorld Virtual Ticket. You can connect with him on Twitter as @JohnnyBTruant.

A New Study Shows Brands the Importance of Twitter Followers

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Do you follow brands on Twitter? If so, how many – two, five or maybe ten?

Most likely, according to a recent study, if you follow a brand on Twitter, you are more likely to purchase from them.

Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey did a study on how consumers are interacting with brands on Twitter. They collected data from 1,491 consumers, ages 18 and up in January of 2011.

The study gave details on why a Twitter user follows a brand, how many brands they usually follow and how likely they are to purchase from the brand.

Here are a few of the quick facts you should know about consumer behavior on Twitter:

  • Most Twitter users are selective about the brands they follow
  • 1/3 of those following brands are interacting with brands on Twitter more this year than last year
  • 75% of followers have never “un-followed” a brand
  • People follow brands to receive exclusivity, promotions and be “in the know”

Here are the top 5 reasons for following a brand on Twitter:

  • 64% say “I am a customer of the company”
  • 61% say “To be the first to know information about the brand”
  • 48% say “To receive discounts and promotions”
  • 36% say “Gain access to exclusive content”
  • 28% say “receive content/information to retweet and share with others”

It’s an interesting study indeed and one for brands to take note of. One thing that came out of the study which caught my attention, is the fact Twitter followers don’t often tweet about the brand, but rather just read the brand’s tweets. It’s definitely more of a one-sided conversation.

Here’s the study in its entirety.

Why do you follow brands on Twitter?

Federated Media Publishing More Focused on Quality of Blog Than Numbers

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A couple of weeks after acquiring Lijit Network, Federated Media Publishing is opening their ad network to more bloggers. FM and Automattic reached an agreement to provide advertising representation rights to the WordPress.com community, which consists of 24 million blogs.

WordPress.com bloggers will now have the option to opt-in to the Federated Media advertising program. This partnership is huge for both FM and the brands trying to target the right audience. This gives brands direct access “on the largest, most powerful independent online platform in existence today, effectively letting them reach the most passionate communities on the Independent Web”.

These content driven campaigns will include marketing solutions such as:

  • Content-Curation
  • Sponsored Posts
  • Conversation Targeting

In an email a FM spokesperson said, “Anyone creating high quality, brand-safe content will be considered for the program. The focus initially is on the long tail, so we are more focused on quality of blog, not number of users or page views.”

Quality of the blog. That’s music to a blogger’s ears.

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