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Using Crowd-Funding To Make Your Next Project An Enormous Success

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Many times the main struggle for creative people such as writers, indie artist and social activists is to find the tools and resources to get their project properly created, packaged and promoted–whether its a book, an album or a charity event. Beyond that, it becomes even more difficult for a creative person to come up with enough money for proper promotion of their idea or project. Being able to afford a good promoter, marketing rep, publisher or manager depends on your cash flow.

There are many creative people with out-of-the-box ideas who need the funding for a project that they can’t afford within their current budget. Many creatives need an assistant to come along and help them to the next level. Crowd-funding can be that assistant for some. Some of you need to find someone who is going to be the wind beneath you wings to get your idea going.

If you haven’t broken into a stream of easy money yet then you are probably working paycheck to paycheck trying to gather enough money to get a decent video, a publisher for your book, an editor, raise awareness for your social cause, or craft some method to become the next social media star of the moment. Trying to figure out how to create a buzz can be time consuming.

We all know by now that by using blogs, Twitter and Facebook you can create a generally decent buzz for your content or project through friends, family and connections. However, to go beyond the group of people you know or who know about you, tools are necessary to create more ways to access your end goal. Taking your project from creation of the content, to syndication through other channels of promotion, bringing it back to creating revenue can be a costly endeavor.

Get a kick start with crowd-funding. It is a new and unique way to raise money and awareness for your crafty idea, band or project. Crowd-sourcing offers a way to build a buzz and offer perks to fans. Sites like KickStarter, CauseVox, CrowdSpring, IndieGoGo, ChipIn, FanNextDoor, MicroVentures, PeerBackers, RocketHub, ProFounder, of course there is CrowdSource, and a host of others give you opportunities to offer unique perks to fans that support your campaign based upon your project and needs.

This is a unique new way that you can turn casual fans and followers into partners of your enterprise. Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon today. If you don’t have enough out-of-pocket money for a big tour, copy editor, social justice fundraiser or gigantic promotional campaign this is the way you can start raising money and awareness for your project, band or tour.

Crowd-funding takes you beyond just social media networking and enables people to get directly involved in the brand, project or artist they want to see perform, create or release a project. This involvement is showing a lot of potential. Some indie artists, writers and social activists have been able to raise thousands of dollars in weeks and months.

There are a few good sites that provide crowd-funding. Many creative people have begun signing up to start gathering a crowd to fund their projects. This method really brings things back to a grassroots-bottom up level. In this internet age, at times it seems digital media is making the world seem closer and smaller. We are gaining new avenues of accessing and being involved in the creation of content we enjoy and brands we want to see more of.

Here are some projects creative individuals have started using crowd-funding for:

  • Media Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Web and Print Campaigns
  • Promoting
  • Manufacturing
  • Promotional Tours
  • Web-Design
  • Artwork
  • Merchandising
  • Article distribution

If you are looking to build a media campaign, start a social justice project or have your project promoted on a higher level than you can do with your own funds–then crowd-funding is for you.

Editor’s note: To learn more about crowdsourcing, be sure to check out Jeramiah’s session at NMX entitled, Three Very Unique Ways to Build a Massive Community.

Your Secret Blog Decision-Making Weapon

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When you own your own blog, lots of decisions have to be made. What color should you make the background? Is the font too small? How often is too often when you’re posting content? Which logo looks best? And on and on and on…even after you launch the blog, there are decisions to be made. It doesn’t ever end.

Hopefully, you have enough vision for your blog that you can make most choices rather easily. Well, perhaps easily isn’t the word, but hopefully you can make a choice and feel confident that it’s the right one.

But what about the times when you can’t? What if you feel like there are two or more choices that could be equally “right”? What if the decision you are making isn’t something that can easily be changed if you choose incorrectly? Decisions like that can keep you up at night. They certainly have caused a number of sleepless nights for me, and when it comes to business decisions, I’m usually pretty confident.

I’ve found the perfect way to make decisions, though. Over the years of blogging that I’ve done, there’s one weapon, one secret weapon, that I return to again and again and again…and it’s a weapon that every blogger had in their arsenal. In fact, even if you don’t yet have a blog, even if you only have a Twitter account or Facebook page, this secret weapon is something you possess.

What exactly is the weapon I’m talking about? Your audience.

I’m not suggesting that you should crowd-source every decision you make, but when you truly don’t know the right way to turn, your audience – the people who are your readers or who will become your readers – can help point you in the perfect direction. What they reveal could be extremely helpful – often their answers are skewed one way or another, not split 50-50 like the choices might be in your own mind.

The easiest way to ask your audience what they think, in my opinion, is to set up a poll. You can do so for free at Survey Monkey*, which is my personal favorite poll tool, though there are other options as well, some of which you can even embed in a blog post or on your sidebar (Survey Monkey allows this, but it can also be hosted on their site). Once you have your poll set up, blast it to everyone – your email list, your social profiles, even your friends and family if you think their input will help. If you don’t have a huge fanbase yet, you might not get much of a response – but even ten people weighing in can give you some insight, especially if all ten people feel strongly one way or the other.

Seeing responses might also give you a reflection of your own opinions. If you see everyone voting one way and find yourself feeling upset that they’re not picking the other choice, it’s a good indication that you didn’t feel 50-50 about the choices anyway. Remember, you don’t always have to listen to your readers. One of the things I like about Survey Monkey rather than on-site poll options is that they’re blind – people make their choices, but they can’t view the results. This discourages bandwagoning, as well as gives you more freedom to choose what you want, not the popular vote, when the poll closes.

As a mini case-study, let me show you what I’m doing right now. My next blogging project, which is zombie-themed, doesn’t yet have a URL, and after thinking about it, I just couldn’t decide on my own. So I came up with my top picks, based on what was available, an created a poll, which you can see here. A few things to note:

  • It’s super simple, with only one question.
  • There’s an optional comment box where users who are so inclined can explain their answer. This really helps me out, but it doesn’t pressure people to leave a comment if their choice was just a gut reaction.
  • I gave people a way to sign up for my mailing list at the end. Most of the people responding are already on my mailing list, but I’ve put out a net to catch people who aren’t, but who want to be.

I hope that some of you will head over there and vote – and for the reason I’m not going to tell you my results so far, but I will say this: there are two strong front runners. I didn’t really expect that, but now that I’m thinking about it, it makes sense – they really are the two best URLs on the list. Chances are that you’ll vote for one of them if you do vote.

Asking my audience has time and time again helped me make decisions about my blog. As an added bonus, making my readers part of a decision helps build buzz about my projects and makes the community strong – people like to be a part of your choices when they feel connected to your site. Even if you ultimately don’t go with the popular vote, polling your readers can really help you make blog decisions. Have you tried it before? What have your experiences been?

*FYI, the link to Survey Monkey is not an affiliate link or anything. My post sounds a little gushy about them, so I wanted to make that clear. I don’t know if there’s even an affiliate program associated with Survey Monkey. I legitimately just love their service!

Crowdsourcing to Find Interviewees for Your Blog

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Crowdsourcing is a term I’m seeing creep up more and more among bloggers. Basically, it means going to your community to solve a problem or complete a task of some sort, making your job easier. It also allows you to do a better job, in many cases, since you’re drawing from the experiences and opinions of an entire group, rather than yourself.

One of the best ways you can crowdsource is to find people to interview for your blog.

Most people love to be interviewed. It’s human nature to want to give your opinion, and by agreeing to be interviewed, you’re getting free promotion for your own blog or projects. Win-win.

But, as a busy blogger, it can be time-consuming to find people to interview. The most popular bloggers in your niche are often too busy to respond to interview requests and although new bloggers typically readily respond to interview requests, you also want to make sure that the person is actually doing something that is interesting to your readers.

This is where crowdsourcing comes into play. The inspiration for this post was something my friend Andy told me was going on at the Matador Network – a call for nominations for their new series, Breaking Free. It’s an awesome opportunity for people who have quit their 9-to-5 jobs to move overseas and do something new and interesting, and there are certainly tons of people in this world who qualify. But rather than spending hundreds or even thousands of hours looking for these people, Matador turned to there community. Not only are they going to get some awesome nominations, but they’re probably going to find people they would otherwise have never found. (Including you? Go apply!)

The point is that by crowdsourcing, you can find tons of interesting people that you would have never found otherwise – and at least one member of your community is already raising his/her hand and saying “I want to see an interview with this person. I would read it and likely promote the post via social media.” As an added bonus, you spent next to no time finding these interesting people for your blog.

Another great example of crowdsourcing? Recently, right here at the BlogWorld blog, our own Deb Ng wrote a post asking for your BlogWorld 2011 speak recommendations. As of right now, there are over 60 comments on that post, most with 5+ recommendations, and I expect we’ll see even more recommendations in the coming weeks. Of course, BlogWorld goes out there to find people who would make great speakers that may have been missed in the comments session, but just look at all those awesome people! There were people not on BlogWorld’s radar, and it also confirms what the community wants for the people who were.

The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to ask your community for recommendations. Interviews are an awesome addition not matter what your niche, and crowdsourcing is definitely one of the best ways to find new contacts.

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