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Crowdfunding is the future...

How to Motivate Backers

Posted: Wed, 16 December 2015 by Amanda
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Rewards crowdfunding is a simple process, but success requires preparation, communication and empathy with your audience and potential backers. It can be greatly frustrating when you aren’t seeing results and, one of the main reasons, could be that your message is probably not hitting home with potential backers.

Crowdfunding allows you to reach people all over the world, so how do you appeal to such a wide range of backers? The answer is relatively simple, our experiecne and research has shown that backers respond to projects which are either emotionally or geographically close to them.

So how does this work in practice? Read on for some pointers...

Preparing your project – think about both groups when you’re creating your campaign. Don’t offer too many rewards that are limited to geographic backers, make sure your local area is emphasised but also clearly demonstrate the project impact - who will your project affect and why? Also remember to keep the tone light and friendly. Use the personal touch and include some personal background to add more colour and depth to your project.

Geographically close backers ­– these are your friends and family, and your local community. All the people who know you well enough to support you, or who have a connection to the location and who will be proud to back something innovative, useful or important. Tap into this pool by speaking to your close contacts, attending local events, putting up posters and handing out flyers, and contacting your local media channels.

Emotionally close backers – this is anyone who connects personally with your business, cause or community, the people who believe in what you are trying to do, and want to be a part of making it happen. You reach this crowd by planning regular updates, targeting relevant interest groups, asking to be included in relevant Tweets, newsletters, blogs, videos and participating in podcasts, chats, webinars, events. This group is harder to reach because people may be spread all over the globe, so you need to make sure that you have a consistent message, that your promotion is regular and that you’re using as many channels as possible to spread the word about your project.

Sounds simple, but it can be a lot of work if you don't plan ahead. Start now, before you launch and your project will benefit in the longer term.

(Image courtesy of www.nadinemuller.org.uk)

Grow your own online community

Posted: Fri, 04 July 2014 by

How to grow your own online community

Every project or venture needs a support-team, and all businesses need customers! Whomever your perfect customer is: whether they’re an eco-warrior, a busy single parent, a tartan enthusiast or a jam-jar collector, you can guarantee that they will be online somewhere. Blogs, forums, Facebook and Twitter have always been used to bring like-minded people together, and now you can use these same tools to find the people you need to make your idea a success.

Think what the point of connection will be between your project and the community who will support your venture. Usually, this connection will be the actual product or service your provide, but not always – sometimes you may need to think outside of the box.

Sandra Diamond’s Ecosse Candle Company creates high quality candles, and is based on the Clyde Coast of Scotland. Sandra realised that many people might choose to support her because they believed in maintaining manufacturing in their local area. With her message of “Fuel the flame of manufacturing in Scotland!”, she received generous donations from passionate supporters, and exceeded her £12,000 crowdfunding goal.

Other succesful projects we have supported through BloomVC.com include the creation of a new tartan for cyclists, a genre-crossing supernatural romantic comedy film, and a tribute for a celebrity cat. When you have the entire online audience at your disposal, nothing is too niche!

How to make social media work for you:

So, how do you find the people you need? Search tools on social media make it easier than ever to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Hashtags are a great way to find people on Twitter who could be potential new followers. YouTube channels and Facebook groups also offer good opportunities to get involved with existing online communities, and participate in conversations that are relevant to your project. Don’t forget to search for blogs and forums too!

Whichever platform you use, it is essential that you engage with your audience. It''s not enough on social networks to simply share links, or to announce your product like an advertisement. There are paid for advert options you can use to promote your posts on Facebook and Twitter, but forums and groups are not the place for blatant self-promotion! Nothing is a bigger turn-off than people feeling that their forum has been hijacked for advertising purposes.

You have to participate in existing discussions, as well as starting new ones. Create a buzz around your venture by talking about the latest trends in your sector, revealing behind-the-scenes activities and posing questions to your followers about developing your business or product. This audience are your ideal potential customers, so they should be interested in what you have to say.

Once you’ve got people’s attention, don’t forget to include new contacts by tagging, or using @address and hashtags on Twitter. Hopefully, your message will spread virally, and open up your discussion to an even wider audience.

Give it a go! Put our tips into practice, and let us know how you’ve made social work for you with #TellBloom on Facebook or Twitter. We’re giving away free tickets to an exclusive Entrepreneur Country forum event in London, for the best use of social media this week.

Nation of Entrepreneurs

Posted: Wed, 02 October 2013 by

Amanda Boyle, founder and CEO of Bloomvc.com, believes crowdfunding is the only viable option for creating a nation of entrepreneurs:

Crowdfunding confronts the problems faced by those struggling entrepreneurs up and down the country fizzing with potential and ideas. Energy rates are not a priority for someone juggling jobs whilst trying to raise the money to buy a piece of kit for their company, or the mother unsure whether anyone would want to buy the unique products she painstakingly makes. By placing an idea into the realm of the crowd, it is financial support, business advice and the inspiration of a passionate community that people will receive. And that is exactly what is required to turn someone into an entrepreneur.

As party conference season draws to a close, we’ve heard the usual rhetoric about helping businesses. Headline grabbing policies are thrown around in the run up to elections, then watered down for implementation.

What is abundantly clear is how urgently we need to change the conception of business. Tax cuts, business rates and energy prices are of real benefit to large. 95% of businesses in the UK are SMEs, yet time and time again politicians pander to the dominant 5% in their policies. If the economy has any hope of recovery, we must change this attitude and understand what needs to be done to help the growth of sustainable new business.

Fortunately, crowdfunding is an approach that doesn’t rely on political parties or financial institutions. The beauty of real crowdfunding is that anyone who commits to their business concept will be rewarded depending on nothing more than the strength of their vision.

The tools are here on BloomVC.com for anyone to pitch their business idea online. The journey from conception through to funding is a very real possibility with a strong idea and an understanding of how crowdfunding operates. The majority of people don’t know how to write up a business plan, but they can tell you about their ideas. Crowdfunding encourages people to spend their time turning their idea into a reality rather than remaining daunted by pages of bank documentation. With crowdfunding opening up new avenues to the realisation of successful ventures for all, for the first time it is truly possible to create a nation of entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

Managing Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted: Tue, 17 September 2013 by Cara

by Cara Pleym

We’re previously given advice about preparing for a crowdfunding campaign, however we want to highlight that running a campaign involves a lot of effort, and managing several different tasks at the same time can be difficult. We know that this can sometimes be stressful, and a lot to take on, so we’ve written a short guide to help.  Follow our tips to ensure your campaign runs more smoothly, and that you don’t end up forgetting about things.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Maintaining interest in your campaign will ideally involve regular promotion, both online and offline, social outreach, blogs, video updates, attending networking events and more! So Step 1 is to encourage as much interest as possible before you launch, so that a) you have less to do when you launch and b) you secure backers in the first few days which builds momentum and reassures strangers. Step 2 is planning for how much time you can dedicate to your crowdfunding campaign each day, and working out what you are going to do when. Remember to take into account that interest typically spikes at the start and end of your campaign, as there is a greater sense of urgency and excitement. Plan more promotion during the middle of your campaign to maintain interest!

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

We all tend to focus on our strengths, and ignore our weaknesses, but it’s very important that you identify any potential problems as early as possible. Not sure how to use Twitter or write a good blog or how to hook backers in? Ask for advice, and work on your weaker areas. When you’re planning your time, remember that if you’re not comfortable doing a task, it will probably take you longer. Please don’t shy away from something just because you’re not sure how – we’re here to help and the more variety you have in your promotion, the better your chances of appealing to different backers.

Ask for help

If you know that you’re going to be particularly busy during a certain day or week, try to get a family member or friend to help you out, so that your crowdfunding campaign doesn’t suffer. Take advantage of their skills too - if you know someone who can write a great blog, or is a social media whiz, ask if they’ll teach you! Every little bit helps you to manage your campaign. On a related note, please do ask your networks to promise money, and actively promote your project – it might feel uncomfortable but everyone needs a hand sometimes!

Be smart with your time

The more you do to promote your crowdfunding campaign the better, but it’s pretty pointless if it’s low quality. Quality not quantity, will lead to more backers so make sure you use your time effectively. For example, blogs and videos are great because it doesn’t take too long and you can reuse and reshare them. If you use HootSuite or Tweetdeck, you can spend an hour scheduling posts for the entire day. Also, try to spread your time out, we recommend at least an hour a day, but don’t invest time and effort in bursts, if you can’t follow up with regular promotion and updates.

Doing all of this won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it, and your campaign will run more efficiently. Hopefully, it will also encourage more backers and push you ever close to your target! Remember, if you have any questions, you can #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

Happy Crowdfunding!

(Image courtesy of myporter.com.au)

Crowdfunding: Take 2

Posted: Tue, 27 August 2013 by Cara

by Cara Pleym

One of the great things about crowdfunding is that you can come back more than once, regardless of whether you were successful or not the first time. We know that some people feel as though they can’t crowdfund again, either because they received funding and feel greedy asking for more, or because they were unsuccessful the first time, and aren’t sure that crowdfunding is for them.

Well, we think that you can crowdfund as many times as you like, as long as you have a genuine need and a clear impact each time. We’ve shared some of our top tips for returning crowdfunders, which should help anyone who’s thinking about another campaign.

Don’t be afraid

Whether or not you succeeded the first time, you’ll now have a much better understanding of how crowdfunding works and what types of promotion work best for you. You’ll probably have also developed your social media skills, networking and pitching abilities, plus improved your time and project management. All of this will make your second crowdfund that much easier! For those of you who were unsuccessful the first time, don’t give up – Bloom crowdfunder Hannah Stansfield failed in her first campaign, but she’s learned from the experience and has since successfully crowdfunded three times.

Return of the crowdfunder

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your previous crowdfund and pretending it didn't happen, the crowd will find out! Make it clear that you have crowdfunded before, and explain how you have progressed since. So if you did receive your funding, talk about what you did with the money and how your project has developed as a result. If you didn’t hit target, talk about the lessons that you learned and how you are going to make this crowdfund better. Although we can’t give a specific timeframe, it’s best to take at least a few weeks to allow progress and learning from experience to occur.

Start with your Bloom crowd

Regardless of the result, you should have built at least a small group of people who are interested and/or made a promise to your first campaign. Ask them why they did/didn’t like your project, and how you could make your rewards even better. Those who engaged with you initially will want to know more about where you are now, especially if you were successful and they know that their promise helped you get there! Don’t shy away from asking for help from your initial crowd, as they’re actually more likely to engage and support you again.

Demonstrate the impact

With a second crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to make the project distinct from the first one and clearly explain the impact of the project. How is this goal different? Refer to your original goal, and either discuss how this goal progresses from or how it is separate from your first crowdfund. As with any campaign, remember to provide a cost breakdown and emphasise that your target is the essential minimum spend.

Hopefully we’ve convinced you that you can crowdfund again, and our tips should help you if you do decide on another campaign. If you have any questions about this blog post, or about crowdfunding in general, please email eva@bloomvc.com or #askbloom on Twitter.

(Image courtesy of www.ageesteem.com)

Which project is the one for you?

Posted: Mon, 26 August 2013 by Cara

We have a wide range of projects, from enterprise to publishing to sport, and our projects are constantly changing as each is on a clock and new projects are being launched. So as a potential backer, how do you make the difficult decision of which project to back? Now we won’t talk about the projects themselves, because it’s up to the crowd to decide what they do or don’t like, but what we can do is give some advice on finding that perfect project or reward, and how to get the best value.

Follow these simple tips and find what you’re looking for faster!

Search by category

Do you have a particular interest in music or education? Use our category search to help you find projects that you are most interested in. Can’t find any projects in that category? Why not talk to your friends, and encourage them to start their own project in that area, or even crowdfund your own great idea?

Sign up to the newsletter

You might not have time to browse the site every single day, so we have a weekly newsletter which pulls together all the latest news, including new projects, reminders for projects ending soon, and even a specific section for that week’s top rewards! Sign up at www.bloomvc.com and never miss a project again.

Check out the rewards!

If you like a project, but aren’t sure about making a promise, make sure that you read through all the rewards. The higher your promise value, the more you’ll receive for your money. Tip: our average promise is £40-50 so do check out this reward level, it tends to be great value and many are exclusive/unique to the crowdfunding campaign.

Split up your promise

You might have decided on the amount you want to promise to a certain project, but don’t really fancy the corresponding reward. Well don’t worry! You can split up your promise, and take, for example, two £20 rewards if you’re promising £40. As long as the rewards value is lower than or equal to your promise value, you can choose what you like!

Talk to the project owner

Want to know more about the project? You can ask questions directly from the project page, or check out their social media channels and interact with them there. They’ll be more than happy to chat to you, and answer any questions that you might have.

So there are lots of suggestions to help you decide which project you want to back, but if you’re really stuck, why not promise to more than one? You’ll still receive great rewards, plus you’ll get double the bragging rights. Also remember that your promise will not come out of your bank account straight away, but will be taken if and when the project closes successfully.

Head over to the ‘Projects’ tab to start browsing. Happy funding!

(Image courtesy of www.personal.psu.edu)

Grow your Social Network

Posted: Mon, 19 August 2013 by

How to get yourself heard on social media, by Bloom intern Jamie Moore

Here at Bloom we know that promoting your project on social media is a huge part of your campaign. Trying to get yourself heard amongst the crowd, however, can be a big challenge to those who are just starting to build their social networks. We have amassed some great hints and tips to help you get your voice heard loudly and clearly on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Build your network.

Whether you have just started building a community or already have an established community on your personal Twitter and Facebook, the first thing you need to do is to start building your crowdfunding network. Building your network is one of the most important things to do in a crowdfunding campaign. It is vital that you start this a long time before your campaign has started in order to increase your chances of success. Building your network will work in exactly the same way that you share your project. Start by finding friends and family on your social network, then move on to add their friends and family and add them into your project's social network. The final group you add is those who might have an interest your project and can spread it. These people are called influencers and they are people on social networks who have established networks and a large amount of likes and followers.

2. Find your influencers

Finding influencers is a necessary step in your social media strategy. For example, if you are doing a film project then seek out people who have already crowdfunded a film, indie directors or local actors/producers. Ask these influencers to share your project with their social networks but even more importantly, you can also try to get them involved with you discussing your project.

3. Use your hashtags!

Hashtags allow you to peer into conversations that you may have missed on your regular timeline. Look at the kind of hashtags that are appearing on your timeline and follow them to find new followers and new conversations. When you have identified commonly used or popular hashtags in your social network you should use Tweetdeck or a similar system to keep track of them. 

4. Start a conversation

It's not enough on social networks to simply share links or ask others to share. You have to start conversations, talk about the latest trends in your project category or pose questions to your followers about something new or controversial. Don’t forget if you're talking about someone famous or something that's trending to use the relevant @address and #hashtag which will open up your conversation to even more people. Once you have people talking then you can share your project.

5. Join a conversation

Don’t feel afraid to jump into a conversation that is already ongoing. Social networks are open forums and it is to be expected that people will jump in and out of conversations with their own opinions and viewpoints. If you see people talking about something that relates to your project don’t be afraid to join in! Don’t forget to then share your project and ask them what they think to make your project part of the conversation.

6. Dont be afraid to ask for backers

One of the main problems project owners experience is that they are afraid to ask people to back their project. If people take an interest in your project make sure to ask them to back it; by showing off your rewards and the benefits that your project will bring, people will back you. The worst that can happen is that they say no thank you.



Image Courtesy of Socialmediamagic.com

Overcoming Youth Unemployment

Posted: Mon, 19 August 2013 by Cara

by Cara Pleym

Although there are signs that the economy is slowly but surely recovering, there are still far too many young people who are unemployed. School leavers, skilled workers and graduates alik are all finding it very difficult to find a job; they get stuck in a vicious cycle where they need more experience, but no one gives them the chance to gain that experience.

So how do we resolve this? Well, this is a huge problem which needs addressed from many different angles – but we think crowdfunding can be a big part of it.

First of all, young people are well suited to crowdfunding because they’re tech savvy, know how to work social media and have a large network of friends and family. Plus, they often have great ideas but don’t have the confidence to do anything about them on their own. Support from the crowd can surely help them build that confidence.

So crowdfunding may be more natural for young people, but how will it help them find a job? Well, running a crowdfunding campaign involves time management, communication planning and activities, developing pitching skills, public speaking and much more. Crowdfunding therefore can teach young people various essential skills they can put on their CV and they can use this experience to demonstrate their competence to employers.

Apart from skills development, there are also many benefits to becoming more active online and having a stronger visibility, as crowdfunding requires a high degree of online interaction. Not only will this be a plus in the eyes of employers, but crowdfunding might actually help connect people with potential jobs and opportunities. It’s also something different which will help young people stand out at a time when competition for jobs is fierce.

Let’s move away from traditional employment – crowdfunding can also highlight the potential for becoming self-employed and building new businesses. Pitching an idea online allows the crowd to respond, feedback and even pre-purchase products, which could be the beginning of a customer base.

This idea isn’t new - Anthony Gerrard founded ‘Bad Idea’, a business which helps young people aged 14-18 to realise their entrepreneurial potential, and as part of a competition asked the pilot group to run their own crowdfunding campaigns. Three of the twenty campaigns secured their funding, but the greatest benefits were gained from the process rather than the end result. It was amazing to see the fantastic ideas develop, and watch the young people grow in confidence – we were blown away by the standard of the final pitches!

While crowdfunding is not going to solve youth unemployment, it could certainly help move things in the right direction by allowing young people the opportunity to develop new skills, to pitch their ideas and even gain funding to take their projects forward.

(Image courtesy of savegoodness.com)

Crowdfunding for Social Causes

Posted: Fri, 16 August 2013 by Cara

Some think that you can’t use real crowdfunding (rewards based) for social causes because it’s more difficult to offer tangible rewards. It’s also mistakenly associated with simply being charity, and some people feel uncomfortable asking for money. Well, we’re here to tell you that you CAN crowdfund for social causes, and if you look at the history of crowdfunding projects, social causes actually tend to do very well.

Let’s look at some of the ways that social crowdfunding campaigns can work well.

People like helping

It’s true. We all get that warm fuzzy feeling when we help a friend or do a good deed for a stranger without expecting anything in return. So backers love social projects which will make a real impact in their community or on a social issue. Crowdfunding allows you to let people help by promising money, provide a deeper level of engagement plus offer some great rewards!

Rewards are easy

You don’t have a product - so what? Backers love the personal touches, such as being publicly named with a thank you on social media and on a website, or by receiving a personal thank you letter or video. Best of all, these rewards are normally very low cost, which means that you can keep more of your money for your social cause.

Immediate clear impact

For other campaigns, the pitches have to sell the project well and clearly explain the project impact and it’s sometimes difficult to convince backers. Social projects don’t have that issue. While it is still essential that you have a great pitch outlining the clear and compelling value, most social causes are already widely recognised as important and deserving of support.

Community focus

Chances are, your initial backers will come from the community you are trying to help, which is often more close knit and engaged than others. This strong community focus will help you get backers from day one, and will also appeal to strangers who can see the high level of interest and interaction in your project. (Tip: remember to keep all activity public, to help spread the word!).

Media attention

The media like crowdfunding campaigns because crowdfunding is a hot topic and, coupled with a social cause, you’ve got a golden hook for an article, blog, video – you name it! You can take advantage of this edge and promote your project via offline and traditional media routes, as well as social media channels.

Still not convinced? Well, we’ll give it one last shot. Hannah Stansfield has successfully crowdfunded three times on Bloom for her social causes, relating to animal welfare. We also had a fantastic project which raised £7500 to help build homes for orphans in Rwanda. The evidence speaks for itself…

(Image courtesy of www.travelagentcentral.com)

Achieving Your Stretch Target

Posted: Wed, 07 August 2013 by Cara

By Cara Pleym

Setting a target is a crucial element for any crowdfunding campaign, and we’ve given advice in a previous blog post about the factors to take into account. However, it’s also really important to reach for the stars and work out what your stretch target is.

What do we mean by this? Well, your target should be your absolute minimum essential spend so that a) you’re more likely to hit target and get your money and b) your goal doesn’t seem frivolous or greedy. However, you should also have a secondary goal, your little bit extra that could buy you better equipment, or allow you to produce a better film. We have some top tips for setting, and achieving this stretch target.

Clearly outline your stretch target

In your pitch, clearly explain your minimum essential spend and then go on to explain why you would love a little bit more. Make sure you set a number on this stretch goal and provide a compelling case for backers e.g. I need £1000 for a filling machine for my skincare products to save me time and money, but if I could raise £1300 I could also produce a new line of skincare for men and expand my business.

If you don’t tell people why you deserve extra, you won’t get it!

Spend time creating fantastic rewards

Now we know rewards can sometimes be difficult and you can view our blog post all about getting creative with rewards. There are a few key things you need to make sure of. Our average promise is around £40 so ideally you want a pretty good £30 reward level and then a really cool £50 reward level in order to encourage backers to make that jump. Until your project closes, you also won’t know whether you’ll have lots of backers donating small amounts or a few backers donating large amounts, so you need to make sure that you cater for all budgets! Make sure you have some really special, exclusive, top rewards in order to persuade those with the deepest pockets.

Work at it every day

Yup, every day! The most successful project owners are on social media every day, they are blogging and posting video diaries, attending networking events and getting the word out in their community. It’s hard work, but once you get that momentum building, it’s easier to maintain and push past your target.

Ask for the money

At all points of your campaign it’s important to actually ask for money, not just support. It might feel uncomfortable but remember those amazing rewards you spent so much time on? That’s what backers will receive, so it’s a transaction, not charity. And it's very important if you hit target early to make sure backers are reminded of the fab rewards on offer and how far extra promises will go. Keep it up right until your project closes!

Just a few tips for achieving your stretch target, but if you want to know more about this, or crowdfunding in general, just #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

(Image courtesy of blog.newsystemsthinking.com)

Pimp your crowdfunding project

Posted: Tue, 06 August 2013 by

Pimp your Project! Adding in Video and Pictures!

by Jamie Moore

Here at Bloom we know that adding media such as pictures and video can really make your project stand out. Adding in a picture or video to your project is a great way to highlight your project in a way that words may not be able to do justice. Your project is your passion and filming a short video can be a great way to show that passion off. It can also be used to add in information that may not have been suitable for your written pitch, such as your history with your project or technical information. In order to help you choose what kind of media you should upload we have come up with some dos and don'ts.

DO make it Informative: If your project has some technical aspect to it or some quirk that makes it unique you can use media to accurately show off what it is your project does or will do. For example, if your project is new software you can use video and pictures to show how it works. Uploading media also makes it easy to highlight innovation in your project as you can use it to show how what you are doing is new and fresh .

Do give potential backers a taster: Media allows you to give potential backers a taster of what your project is all about. You can use it to highlight an amazing reward or to give a show of what your project is about. If you’ve got a film project why not put up a trailer or film a production meeting. If your project is to help expand your product show, off your pre-existing product and ask satisfied previous customers to send you pictures of your product or service in action!

Do avoid stock photos and images: Your project is unique and the media you upload should reflect that! Its also important not to steal photos from other websites and try and pass them of as your own! The crowd will find out and they won't be happy!

Do keep it relevant: Make sure that all the media you upload is connected to your project. While it's good to show a picture of yourself make sure it's a nice one! Avoid the temptation to add in filler pictures if you don’t have anything to upload, if you are struggling drop the Bloom team an email or #askbloom on twitter for help!

Don’t put backers off: While not everyone can be an expert photographer or the next Steve Spielberg it is important that you try and present your project in the best light possible. If you're filming a video talking about your project make sure you speak in a clear voice, if somebody walks in mid-shoot then start over again and above all rehearse your pitch! The more confident and knowledgeable you sound the better. When taking pictures ensure there is good light, they are in focus and are relevant to your project.

Don't mislead backers: If you are using media to show off your rewards make sure that you don’t include anything that backers won't be getting. An example of this would be if your project was creating handbags and you put in pictures of handbags that you either didn’t make or that weren’t included in your rewards structure. Doing so would give backers a false impression and lead to disappointment in the long term. Don’t forget that backers are your first customers and first impressions count!

Don’t worry about the right equipment: You don’t need a fancy camera or camcorder to film or shoot your media. A standard digital camera or smart-phone will do! 

 

Image courtsesy of http://ezb.ijs.si/fedora/get/ezmono:okoi/VIEW/

How to Avoid Common Crowdfunding Pitfalls

Posted: Mon, 05 August 2013 by Cara

By Cara Pleym

Crowdfunding is an exciting way to raise funds, but it’s also a little different and there are some common mistakes that are often made. Not to fear, we’ve written this blog so that you can avoid these pitfalls before you’ve even started! Follow our tips below, and you can be confident that you’re off to a good start in your crowdfunding campaign.

Here are some of the most common mistakes;

Not preparing well enough

Now, we’ve given a lot of advice in our previous blogs about pre-launch preparation, but we want to highlight a specific point – get backers before you start! Speak to your friends and family, reach out to key influencers and your local community and start drumming up interest before you start. Too often, project owners try and do this at the same time as launching their project, which is really hard work! Maximise your chances of success by getting people to agree to make promises in the first few days, so that you can hit that magic 20% and go on to smash your target.

Not committing enough time

Crowdfunding is hard work. We’re not going to sugarcoat it – you’ll need to devote at least an hour every day to promote your project and keep up interest. Think of your campaign as a plant that needs regular water (promotion) to stay alive. Without this, your great idea could wither and you could be setting yourself up to fail. Water your plant, and let your idea Bloom! We’d hate to see you close unsuccessfully just because you were too busy.

Ignoring other channels of communication

Social media is crucial to any campaign but it’s not the only way to engage backers! Use the comments section of your campaign to provide updates, contact your local newspaper and radio, go to networking events, run a competition or fundraising night. Offline promotion is just as important as online, so don’t neglect either. In fact, the more channels you use, the bigger your audience and potential crowd i.e. more backers!

Not asking for help

Don’t just ask for support, ask for promises! We know it’s hard to ask for money, but surely people can spare a fiver to support your project? Always remember that it’s not a donation, because backers are receiving cool rewards for their money. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other project owners for advice, ask us for some promotion ideas, and ask backers for feedback! We’ve all had a helping hand, so please do make the most of the support that’s available.

Not keeping backers updated

Throughout your campaign (and after!) we encourage project owners to keep backers updated through social media, blogs, newsletters, video diaries etc, in order to maintain their interest and ask for their help to promote your project. This will not only keep backers engaged, but it will make them feel special and valued, which makes them more likely to talk about you and your project to others. Building strong relationships with your backers is key to ensuring a lasting community who can be valuable in the future as customers, users, partners, or even backers for future crowdfunding campaigns!

So that’s some of the most common mistakes, but they are all easily avoided. However, avoiding these pitfalls will require effort, planning and commitment so be prepared. The more you put into your campaign, the more you’ll get out. Just ask any of our successful crowdfunders!

Got any questions about this blog or just in general? #askbloom on Twitter or email eva@bloomvc.com

(image courtesy of www.empowernetwork.com )

Develop Your Business Skills through Crowdfunding

Posted: Fri, 26 July 2013 by Cara

We’ve previously highlighted the many benefits that crowdfunding can provide for your business, but now we want to focus on how crowdfunding can also develop you and your business skills. Not only will improved skills benefit your business, but it will also promote personal development and give you an edge in your next project! Take a look at some of the key business skills that crowfunding can help develop;

Pitching

We help project owners create a great pitch for their project which hooks backers in and clearly demonstrates the project impact. We also encourage including a short video, which will develop pitching skills. The video length is an important factor - if you can’t pitch your key business benefit in a minute, you don’t understand your business well enough (which is a valuable learning curve in itself). Promotion is also key to developing methods of communicating your message to different audiences, without bombarding people with the same information. Crowdfunding can help you learn how to do this effectively.

Social Media

Chances are you use social media already for your business, but are you using it effectively? We actively encourage our crowdfunders to use a wider range of platforms such as Kiltr and Pinterest, in order to develop a stronger following. With social media guru Michelle Rodger heading up the Bloom team, you’re also in a great position to ask questions and get advice from the experts. Learn how to engage your audience, pick up tips such as the most popular days and times, and above all, increase your brand awareness!

Networking

If you’re a small business owner, you might be nervous about talking to others about your business at such an early stage. Crowdfunding allows you to talk about something tangible, ask for specific advice, and ask for other entrepreneurs to support you. That gives you a much stronger introduction when networking, and you might find some backers, customers or even a business partner. You can also network with the strong Bloom community and take advantage of our contacts.

Project Management

Running a crowdfunding campaign requires a lot of effort and planning. Going through the process of building, launching and running your campaign will teach you a lot about the different skills needed at different points in a project. You can use our successful crowdfunders as examples, or better yet, get in touch with them for some advice. We’ll also guide you and prompt you, so that you a) have the best chance of crowdfunding success and b) you understand the project life cycle. Remember though, your project shouldn’t end when your campaign does – keep in touch with your crowdfunding community. We can help push your updates out so make sure to keep us in the loop too.

 

That’s just a few of the skills you can develop if you work hard on your campaign, and take our suggestions on board. The great thing is, even if you don’t make your target, you’ll have a much better idea of what your skills are, what you need to improve and how to build your business. Sold? Then start your crowdfunding project today.

(Image courtesy of www.kellerink.com)

Reaching the Magic 20%

Posted: Mon, 22 July 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym explains "The Magic 20%"

First of all, what do we mean by the magic 20%? Well, statistics show that if you launch with or hit 20% or more of your crowdfunding target in the first few days, you’re more than 90% more likely to be successfully funded. Pretty amazing, right?

Now this piece of information is pretty useless if you don’t know how to reach this magic number, so we’ve listed the key activities you need to be doing before and during launch in order to achieve this goal.

1. Invest time and effort in social networks

If you don’t at least have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, set one up and spend time building your following. Start by following interesting people, commenting on and sharing material, asking questions and most of all, doing all of this on a regular basis.

If you’re already on Facebook and Twitter, think about other platforms which could be useful – do you use Pinterest, Reddit, Kiltr or LinkedIn? Find related interests groups which you can target for your crowdfunding campaign.

While you’re building your networks, start building up excitement for your crowdfunding campaign by drip feeding details. Why not also ask for advice, for example, you could ask what rewards people would like and how much they would be willing to pay.

2. Get backers prior to launch

Reach out to your family and friends, and ask them to promise even a fiver each in the first day. Try and get as many people as people to put in small amounts, because lots of backers will reassure strangers coming to your project. Plus every pound will push you closer to that all important 20%!

3. Ask for the money

Tell people you need their help to hit 20% by the end of the day, and ask for promises. People are likely to do what you tell them to! Remember to highlight specific rewards, and keep an eye out for any issues or questions people might have. Interact with the Bloom community online, and look for project owners who ran similar themed projects. They could be a great source of information!

4. Monitor engagement

Did that tweet get 5 retweets, when another seemed to be ignored? Try to figure out whether a certain time of day is busier, or if a certain type of message works better. However, don’t simply repeat content or your audience will get bored!

If you’re putting in the effort and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, don’t get downhearted – get creative. Use humour in your messages, contact local media channels, write a blog, film a video diary, dress up and go round your local area handing out flyers! If you’re memorable, there’s a much better chance people will back you.

We hope you now have a better idea of how to hit 20% quickly, but also how much hard work a crowdfunding campaign is. There’s no point sticking a project up if you can’t commit to the promotion, so make sure you allocate enough time. Remember, the Bloom team is always on hand to help so #askbloom any questions on Twitter, or email: eva@bloomvc.com

Crowdfunding for Startups

Posted: Wed, 17 July 2013 by Cara

One of the best things about crowdfunding is that anyone can access funding, but there are also loads of other hidden benefits. If you are looking for money for a startup or for early stage funding for a business, there are many reasons why you should give crowdfunding a go. We’ve listed some of the most important benefits for startups.

Funding

OK, so this one is pretty obvious but it’s also really important because it’s likely that if you have a business idea or a new business, you might struggle to access traditional funding routes. This could be for a number of reasons but in most cases banks and investors will need more evidence - business plans, cash flow forecasts, trading history - before they will give you any money. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means that you can only crowdfund a few hundred pounds. Some of our most successful projects are businesses that raised between £10-20k!

Build a customer base

When you’re just starting out you probably don’t have much proof of what customers actually want and market research can be expensive. Crowdfunding allows you to connect directly with potential customers, prove market demand and test price points. You can even pre-sell your product before you’ve actually started production, which is not only fantastic for your cash flow but is also pretty powerful evidence for future investors.

Positive PR

Crowdfunding is pretty hot right now as it’s revolutionising the way people access funding, so it’s the perfect time for you to use your crowdfunding campaign as a selling point and approach the media with your story. You would be surprised by the response, and if you need any help Bloom can give you some contacts. We will also help advise on press releases. Media attention is a big boost for any business, but especially for a new business which is struggling to get the word out.

In-kind Support

Often our project owners are offered in-kind support, which means they receive services for free, up to a certain value limit. So you might not make your target, but you could still have valuable support from interested parties who can’t physically give you money. This is also a fantastic way of making contacts who could even be potential business partners, customers or suppliers!

Follow Up

The first important follow up is the fact that you will build an engaged community who want to know about your business, which is a rich source of information that you can (and should!) use long after your campaign ends. Few businesses start with such valuable connections. The other follow up is that you could be contacted by someone who has seen your crowdfunding campaign – this could be anything from a journalist wanting to write a news story to a private investor who wants to invest in your business (which has actually happened!).

So in one swoop, you’ve built a customer base, filled your order book, attracted media attention and proved that there is market demand for your product. Oh, and you’ve probably also got an instant cash injection that you don’t need to pay back. All we can say is you’d be crazy not to give crowdfunding a go!

Image courtesy of freetechnologytutorials.co.uk

Our Google+ Hangout

Posted: Tue, 16 July 2013 by

by Bloom intern Jamie Moore

We loved our Google + Hangout with Ingenious Britain and hope you did too! If you couldn’t make it you can catch the whole discussion here on Youtube.

Michelle was answering both questions from Ingenious Britain and from those looking to crowdfund in the future. Below is a just a portion of the Q&A. Check out the video for the full discussion.

Q. What is your definition of crowdfunding?

A. Crowdfunding in a nutshell is simply asking lots of people for small amounts of money in return for a reward or gift. Crowdfunding has been around for centuries but the explosion in social media has allowed it to grow to be where it is today.

Q. What are the benefits of real crowdfunding?

A. The benefits to real crowdfunding are that:

-  Crowdfunders are closer to the community they create than a business is to the bank. You don’t need put a valuation on your business and you're not giving away any equity in your business. Conventional wisdom would say that as a start up, you hang on to that equity for as long as you possibly can while building value into your business.

- You are building a community of ambassadors and future customers. In return for funding, the backers receive a reward be it treats, perks or even experiences.

- You are potentially more investor ready as crowdfunding can help you prove a concept, demonstrate a market appetite and you are able to pre sell your product as a reward. In essence you are filling an order book before you start. You're raising awareness of your brand and building a database of potential customers.

Q. Could real crowdfunding be used to help the more established business that is looking to expand?

A. The answer is yes, of course they can! Whether they are looking at launching a new product or creating a prototype, then creating a discrete project around that initiative is a really easy thing to do - as long as they have compelling rewards to offer in return.

Q. What tips would you give to those looking to crowdfund?

A. It is of vital importance that you be on all the social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkdin, Pinterest and Google +. You should start to engage and build a community before you launch your crowdfunding campaign. There are three support groups you should target when crowdfunding:

- Your primary support group is your friends and family. You should aim to have at least 20% of your target from this group promised as soon as your project goes live. This is important as it shows there is support for and a momentum to your project.

- Your secondary audience is the friends, family and colleagues of that first support group. Ask your primary supporters to share your project with people they know .

- Your tertiary support group is the complete unknowns who will stumble upon your campaign either through the Bloom website or on social media, which is why it is so important to have a strong and engaging presence on these networks.

It is also important that you plan your communication activities with these the groups in mind before your crowdfunding campaign even begins.

Q. Is it important to have a business plan when crowdfunding?

A. It certainly is not, in fact it is more important in real crowdfunding that you tell your story in a passionate way that encourages people to support you and make them want to be part of your journey.

Q. What are the non-financial benefits of crowdfunding?

A. That you can test your price point, if people are buying a reward then they would be willing to pay that price. You can also raise your PR profile by using the crowdfunding campaign. You can pre-sell your product or service (as a reward), prove a concept, demonstrate market appetite and build a healthy database of engaged ambassadors, people that are so keen to buy your product or service they are paying you to start your business.

Q. What factors make a crowdfunding campaign successful?

A. The three critical success factors of real crowdfunding are:

1. Build a community in advance of launching your project and make sure that they understand your ask, that you’ve asked them to give you money and asked them to share your project. Make sure you explain that it's an all or nothing model and it is important they understand that.

2. Have a really good pitch - tell a great story and explain to people the how and why of your project, why it matters and how they can be a part of your journey. At Bloom we work hard with project owners to ensure they tell their story in the best possible way.

3. Rewards - you might have a great product but without great rewards you won't get the backers. Get creative and design a range of rewards that will appeal to the widest possible audience.

We hope you got the answers you were looking for from this blog and video, but please do get in touch if you have any more questions. Contact eva@bloomvc.com

How to use Reddit

Posted: Tue, 09 July 2013 by

Reddit and Crowdfunding

Reddit is a social networking and news site that allows people to gather in communities to share and discuss the things they love. You can use Reddit for your crowdfunding project as it allows you to quickly find an audience that has an interest in what you’re doing. If you were crowdfunding a new type of bicycle for example you could check out the communities for cycling and for bike building and post your project on there.

Sparking conversation is a sure-fire way to get people interested, and Reddit can also be used for discussion and  about your project, getting people to ask questions about it and. Reddit has so many diverse communities that you will be sure to find one with people interested in your project. There are of course communities where you can chat all about the world of crowdfunding:

r/crowdfunding – for general chat about the world of crowdfunding( not for projects!)

r/entrepreneur – for talking about the world of business start-ups

r/assistance- for charitable crowdfunding projects only

r/crowdfundingprojects – post your project here to look for backers!

Don’t forget the geographical specific communities! If your project is based in Edinburgh post it on the Scotland and the Edinburgh page.

 Here is a step by step guide to get you started if you have never used Reddit before!

 Step 1: Create an account

Start off by creating an account! Click here to set up your account

Step 2 : Choose your community

Now we move on to the fun part! Finding your community( commonly known as subreddits)

At the very top page you will see a list of subreddits that you have been automatically subscribed too. Don’t worry we are going to change these to something more suitable for you. In the top left corner you will see a button My Subreddits. Scroll down to the bottom and click the my subscriptions button. 

Then at the top of the page you will see the box that asks the question

 What are you interested in?

Whatever your project is about try out various keywords and see what is suggested. Often one subreddit will have links to similar communities so have an explore!

Step 3 : Post your project

Now its time to get your project up on your chosen community!

On the chosen subreddit you will see one one or two buttons either Submit a new post or Submit a new link. If you want to post straight to the Bloom site click on the Submit a new link button, if you want to start up a conversation choose the Submit a new post button.

Whatever your choice you will be asked to insert a title and for links the URL of your link.

Once that’s done click the submit button and your post/link will be on the subreddit for all to see!

Happy #SMDay! Crowdfunding has Social Media at heart...

Posted: Sun, 30 June 2013 by Natalie

For Social Media Day we looked at how social media has made crowdfunding what it is today and how we can share what we know to help crowdfunders everywhere, so here gos!

 

How does it work? Crowd funding relies on Social Media to bring more people into your network or community how successful you are depends on how you engage and build your community.

Social Media is the most powerful tool each project owner has allowing their reach over land and sea not quite into space yet! We recommend that each project owner builds a following on Facebook and Twitter before they launch a project this is very important for every project and is equally important after your project has ended. If people don’t know about what you are doing, how can you expect them to support you project and #makeapromise? And it’s free to use…. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Social Media is always growing and changing it is sometimes hard to keep up with what to use and how to use it, not to worry we have all been there and we would love to share with your our expert tips to help you!

First things first-

1. Start a conversation – It’s that easy to build a following look other people, groups, businesses and start talking to them, even have a look at what is trending or popular! I sometimes do a quick key word search and often find lots of new people to chat to and something to chat about. If you engage and show interest in what everyone else is doing, and they’re much more likely to do the same!

2. It’s a conversation remember It’s so easy to talk about what you’re doing because it’s what you know but it’s not always very interesting for everyone else, and you’ll probably run out of things to say too! You can still share your experience and view but maybe think of sharing relevant content, engage your community by asking questions and listening to what others have to say.

3.  Keep going – Yes you may have posted something yesterday and had a great conversation with someone you didn’t even know the day before but what about today? Don’t leave your profiles for long period with no updates, as your followers will miss you and may even stop paying attention to you when you next update or worse lose interest completely. Keep up regular updates, and mix up the content, keep it fresh.

4. Let everyone else see – It’s so easy to have that conversation privately but why not let everyone else hear that fantastic conversation, it reflects how engaged you are and also that other people are too! Thank your backers, answer questions and talk about events and successes that you are doing out with your project, publicly so that everyone can see the interaction and interest, it also gives everyone else the chance to comment!

5. Take note of what you are doing – Did that last tweet get 5 replies? Or has that post been liked 10 times? Remember to keep a note of which tweets/posts are gaining you interactions likes/comments/retweets. Also could it be something to do with the time of day? Is the morning more active than the evening? What response are you getting from videos, photos even links? Is it more? You can learn so much by looking at all the information that you have and successfully use this information for future updates!


Well that’s just 5 tips for starters but there is always more we could tell you why not take a look at our previous blogs for more Social Media and crow funding tips and keep an eye out for us on Twitter and Facebook.

We spoke a lot about Twitter and Facebook, but there are soo many other fantastic Social Media platforms out there the principles are all the same, just different buttons and icons. Remember the key is to ENGAGE!

You can always #AskBloom !


(Image courtesy of Mashable.com)

How to Hangout with Bloom

Posted: Tue, 25 June 2013 by

We're going to be hanging out on Google+ quite a lot and we don't want you to miss out, so here's a simple guide on how to get started and join in.

How to set up a google + and use the hangout feature

Google + is a social networking site much like Facebook which allows you to sort your friends and colleagues into social circles. The feature of Google + we at Bloom are most excited about is the Hangout feature. Hangout allows users to video chat with each other to discuss , ask questions and learn from each other. In preparation for our future Hangouts, here is what you need to know to get set up if you haven't used Google + or the Hangout feature before.

 Step1: Set up your profile

If you already have a Gmail account you can sign in using your Gmail name and password. Otherwise click here and enter the information on the page.

Step 2 : Find Bloom on Google +

Once you have your profile set up you can add Bloom to your social circle by searching for Bloom VC in the search bar at the top of the page. Once you’ve found us, click the follow button and choose which circle to add us to.

Step 3 : Let's Hangout!

Once you have downloaded the Hangout client you will be asked to connect your web-cam and microphone so that we can talk! Don't worry if you don’t have a microphone or web-cam, or if you don’t want to use them you can click the off and mute buttons on the top right corner of the hangout screen. We won't be able to see you but you will be able to see us and you can still talk via the text box on the right of the screen.

That’s all there is to it!

Our first Hangout is being hosted by the excellent Ingenious Britain on Wednesday, June 26 2013 at 11am so make sure you add them into your circles. The Hangout can be found by clicking here. If you are having trouble or have any comments, don't forget you can use the #askbloom hashtag on Twitter or message us on Facebook for help.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Finding Your Unique Selling Point (USP)

Posted: Thu, 20 June 2013 by Cara

At Bloom, we give everyone an equal opportunity to access funds and we don’t apply selection criteria. We do have taste and decency standards, but if you can show your project to your kids and your granny, then you should be fine!

Whilst the crowd can be unpredictable and will choose which projects they want to back, your chances of success are much higher if you have a unique opportunity that has a clear and compelling value. Have a look at some of the key questions that your crowdfunding project should answer.

What is my unique selling point (USP)?

Be honest, and think about what makes you different. How are you going to deliver value in a new way? It could be obvious – a new technology, or a project that few people are doing – or it could be a little more elusive e.g. do you have a new method of doing something or will you apply higher standards that will make you stand out? Once you identify this, make it explicit in your pitch. If you don’t have a USP, maybe you need to tweak your idea to maximise the value.

What are other people doing?

Regardless of whether you have a business, community or charity project, it’s good to know what other people are doing. If someone already has similar products, or is doing something similar in your community, then you will have a more difficult job convincing backers to promise money. Plus if you can show in your pitch that you’ve looked at this issue, you will be more credible!

Is the appeal too narrow?

So you have a great USP, but it’s only going to appeal to a specific audience. You need to make sure that you aren’t excluding anyone so keep your pitch simple and easy to understand so that a wide audience can clearly perceive the value. Also make sure you have a good range of rewards that appeal to the masses, rather than just a targeted few so that your project is accessible to a wider crowd.

Have you looked at other crowdfunding projects?

Considering crowdfunding more specifically, you should be doing some research into other similar projects on Bloom and other rewards based crowdfunding sites. Why? Well there are a few reasons - you want to stand out from the crowd and you can find out what works well and what doesn’t.

So that’s a few key questions that your crowdfunding preparation should address to increase chances of success. Now you might be thinking, it’s all very well and good to consider my USP from my own perspective, but how do I know if anyone actually agrees with me? That’s the beauty of crowdfunding! You can test your USP and gain valuable feedback from potential customers/users, which could help you to refine your idea. A win-win situation!

(Image courtesy of www.differentiateyourbusiness.co.uk)

How to Write a Press Release for Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted: Tue, 18 June 2013 by

by Bloom intern Jamie Moore

A press release is simply a written statement to the media. It is used by a range of businesses, organisations and individuals to announce the beginning of a campaign, to highlight an important event or to attract attention. It's particularly important to help you spread the word about your crowdfunding project to the widest possible audience. This blog is going to show you how to write a press release in four easy steps.

 1. Write your headline

Headlines should brief and to the point; think of it as a super compact version of what you want to say. It should be a single sentence that is designed to grab the readers' attention. Ensure your headline is written in a larger font size than the rest of the article and highlighted in bold. The simplest way to create a headline is to extract the key words from your article and construct them into a logical statement. Using key words early makes it simpler for the journalist to figure out what the story is about without having to delve deep into the article. It may be easier for you to tweak your headline after you have finished writing the main body of the release.

2. Write the main body of the release

The aim here is to write as if you were the journalist yourself. Most journalists are very busy and wont have time to do in-depth research into your announcement, so it's important that you provide them with comprehensive, accurate information and links to relevant research.

 The first sentence of the press release should compliment the headline by giving in more detail what the story is about.  For example, the headline “Crowdfunding Hailed as Huge Success” could be followed up with an intro such as: “Crowdfunding campaigns have been found to be a huge success, according to new research by Bloom VC”. This both expands the headline and provides more information for the reader which can then be expanded on. The first paragraph should be 2-4 sentences long and should sum up the entire press release.

 3. Make use of the “6 Ws”

Make sure you answer the following questions when writing the main body of the press release ,in order to make sure that you are telling a complete and compelling story.

 Who is this about?

What is the actual news?

When did this news occur?

Where is this taking place?

Why is this news?

How is this happening?

Once you have established this you can then go on to fill the story out with information on people, products etc. Remember that the more newsworthy you make your press release the greater the chance you have of getting it picked up by a journalist. While your business is newsworthy to you and people you know, you must always ask yourself: “Would this interest the regular person on the street?”. Don’t worry about using large words or being too formal, journalists are writing for the masses so keep it friendly and light.

Your instinct maybe to use this opportunity to sell sell sell, but that’s not what the journalist will be looking for. While writing your press release always keep in mind that it's not a sales pitch but a story.

Don’t forget to include your company, your project and your name, so the journalist knows who they are writing about!

If you have any pictures to illustrate your article include them too, it can help paint a picture in the journalist's mind and may even be included in the paper for even more publicity.

4. Include contact information and attach your press release.

You never know when your press release will inspire a journalist to seek out the whole story. You must include contact details so that if they want to find out more information they can! Add in links to all relevant social media and include both a Tweet and Facebook status update about your news story that the journalist can use.

Make sure you include the text of the press release in the email, and also add the release and all other relevant material as an attachment.

Above all, don't panic and always remember the six dos and don’ts of writing a press release

Do make sure to put the point of your press release at the beginning.

Do ensure that you have proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Do make sure that you're saying something newsworthy.

 

Don't waffle on! Keep it to the point!

Don’t exaggerate or lie, you’ll be caught and you wont get another story published.

Don't make the journalist have to do any work, keep your facts and figures in plain sight.

 

Images courtesy of www.mywants.com and www.salon.com

How to Use Crowdfunding to Prove Your Market

Posted: Mon, 17 June 2013 by Cara

It’s true that the aim of crowdfunding is to connect great ideas with cash, but there are many other hidden benefits. One of the most important benefits for any project, but businesses in particular, is that crowdfunding is a simple way to prove your market exists. After all, you’re showing your idea to the world and asking people to back it, which will give you an invaluable source of feedback and interaction with your idea.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, start-ups are risky and it’s crucial for you to test your market because the truth is, you probably don’t know as much about your potential customers as you think you do! If you run a crowdfunding campaign, you can test the waters and find out what people do and don’t like. We’ve highlighted some of the ways in which crowdfunding can help you prove your market.

Social proof

This is a psychological concept which basically means that if you see lots of people that are interested in something, you think that you should be interested too. With regards to crowdfunding, backers become drawn to your project if they see lots of activity on social media, or hear lots of people (backers, family, friends, even strangers) talking about your idea and sharing your project regularly. Getting this social proof means it will be easier to attract more backers or customers as the word spreads.

Pre-selling

That’s right, because Bloom is a rewards-based crowdfunding model, you can offer your product or service as a reward! This means you can start filling in your order book, gaining customers and selling your product before you’ve even started making it. That’s a powerful tool which gives you the money upfront to start your business or project.

Testing prices

For a Bloom campaign you should offer at least 5-7 rewards, each with a corresponding value. This allows you to test the prices of your products, as you can track how many backers bought a particular reward. It’s a great way of confirming whether the price is too high, too low or just right. You can also ask your backers and community outright why they did or didn’t select a particular reward.

Tangible results

At the end of your crowdfunding campaign you will have tangible results that will hopefully include the funding you need, but could also be in the form of a business partner, feedback from potential customers, or in-kind support. Then, if you are looking to get a bank loan or investment, you can use these results to prove that people are interested in your idea. If you are successful, you can even tell the bank or investor that people liked your idea so much that they were willing to pay you to start-up! Pretty powerful stuff.

Well that’s a quick overview of just some of the benefits that crowdfunding can deliver, in terms of proving your market. The beauty of it is, you can still reap most of these benefits regardless of the outcome of your project! So, why not give crowdfunding a go and start a project today?

Author: Cara Pleym

(Image courtesy of www.kwlouisvilleeast.com)

How to Upload a Project

Posted: Sun, 16 June 2013 by Cara

Thinking about starting your own Bloom project? Fab! It’s a simple and intuitive process, but we’ve written a how to guide with some extra tips.

Step 1: Get Started

Go to www.bloomvc.com and click ‘Start a Project’ tab.

We’ve also highlighted the box which asks for your email address – providing us with this will unlock access to a free ebook which gives lots of useful tips and advice for preparing, launching and running your crowdfunding campaign. We recommend that you download this and read it before you get started on your project.

Step 2: Basic Info

Fill in some basic project information to get your project started. All we ask for at this point is a title, a short description and your PayPal email address. See some useful tips below.

Title: This summarises your dream or goal in 50 characters max. Try not to be descriptive, but create an engaging hook.  

Short description:  This is a brief description of your project, where you tell us what the aim is in 100 characters max. You can write more, but this will not display correctly on your project panel.

PayPal email: Simply type the email address that is linked to your PayPal account. If you are unsure of how to set up a PayPal, or want to know more about why you need to have a PayPal account, please read our PayPal blog. 

 

Step 3: Project Dashboard


Dashboard Section 1

Category – select  1 category that fits your project aim

Duration – choose the length of time your project will be live, from a choice of 10, 30, 45 or 60 days

Full project descriptionthis is your pitch, which should cover;

1. who you are
2. what you want to do
3. how much you want to raise, including a cost  breakdown
4. why your project will make an impact.

TIP: For more advice on writing your long description, please see our blog ‘How to Tell Your Story’. 


Targetenter the amount you wish to raise, and use the drop down menu to select the currency.

TIP: This is not as simple as it appears, please read our blog post with specific tips for choosing your target.

Social media -  tick all the platforms that you use, and enter your details. Please go straight to the social media page and copy and paste the URL to avoid mistakes.

TIP: Read our blog ‘How to use social media for crowdfunding’  for some useful advice.

Website URL if you have a website, simply copy and paste the URL here.

 

Dashboard Section 2

Add relevant images and video using the buttons outlined below.

 

Dashboard Section 3

Enter a range of 5-7 reward levels, starting low at £1-10 and progressing to top rewards which could be £50 or £500 depending on your target and the rewards you can offer.

Value – the reward level i.e. the minimum spend to receive that reward.

Image – (optional) photos of the rewards, or related images.

Title – distinguishes rewards, can be descriptive or more creative.

Description –lists the product(s)/service(s) the backer will receive.

Stock – maximum number available of that reward.

 

Done! It's a lot of work, but the preparation is crucial for a successful campaign, to deliver an exciting and engaging project that people will want to back. Once you've entered as much information as you can, click 'Submit' and you'll be assigned a Bloom team member who will give feedback within 48 hours.

Remember, we're here to help so do get in touch with any questions: eva@bloomvc.com

How to Tell Your Story

Posted: Wed, 12 June 2013 by Cara

The key to crowdfunding is a great pitch that will hook backers, and make them believe both in you and your project. We know that not everyone has a way with words, so we’re here to help! We can help you write your pitch, and to start you off we have some tips for how to tell your story in a way which will maximise your chances of success.

1. Get to the point quickly

Your story should be simple, if it’s too long-winded people won’t bother reading it and they’ll miss the point. Use a snappy short description to sum up your goal, get to the point in the first few sentences and then go on to give more (relevant!) information about your background and your project.

2. Use media effectively

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is even better! Use media to tell your story in a simple yet effective way and illustrate the points you are trying to make. Remember you can also add images and video throughout your crowdfunding campaign to update the content, show progress – maybe even a video diary! The Vine app is perfect for this.

3. Don’t overthink it

Crowdfunding is not like the bank or an investor, we don’t need or want the business jargon or sales forecasts. We want to know about you, what the project means to you and why it will make an impact. If you can make a personal connection, backers are much more likely to engage with your project.

4. Engage on social media

Don’t just promote your project – ask questions, share content and tell people how you are progressing. This doesn’t just mean saying how many backers you had on a particular day, but also talking about what you are doing offline and how people have been responding. Keeping your story going is crucial to retaining interest and hitting your target.

5. Keep in touch

Your story doesn’t end when your project does, so keep in touch with the Bloom community and let us know how you are getting on. Why not send a regular newsletter to your backers or invite them to sign up to your website? Crowdfunding builds an engaged community so make sure you nurture it so that you can reap the rewards later.

That’s just a few tips but hopefully it gives you a better idea of how to tell your crowdfunding story and keep it going beyond your project closing. If you want any more advice or want to ask any questions, please do get in touch at eva@bloomv.com

Keeping in touch with your crowdfunding community

Posted: Tue, 04 June 2013 by Michelle

Encouraging backers to choose a reward and make a promise to your project is step one, without your backers you won't reach target.

But keeping in touch with them and asking them to help you by sharing your project with their friends and family is step two. Building a supportive community outwith your immediate circle is key, it's the best way to ensure you reach your target.

So how do you do that? A simple email newsletter is a great starting point.

On your project dashboard you will see the email addresses of your backers, it doesn't take much time - and doesn't cost anything - to create  MailChimp newsletter (https://login.mailchimp.com) to keep them up to date with your progress and encourage them to help you towards your target - after all, it's in their best interest since they won't receive their rewards unless your crowdfunding campaign is successful.

Take a look at this newsletter, circulated by Steve Johnson whose project The Students of Springfield Street is currently crowdfunding on Bloom.

It breaks down into 3 key sections, the first is simply to say thank you.

The second part is an update on progress towards target, and some news about the crowdfunding campaign.

Followed finally with a concise explanation of how backers can be even more involved. It includes a specific call to action - to share the project - a reminder of the deadline, and link to make a promise.

It's quick and easy to keep your backers enthused about your project and motivated to share it with their family and friends, and it's one of the most important elements of a successful crowdfunding campaign.

How Much Money Should I Ask For?

Posted: Tue, 04 June 2013 by Cara

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of planning your crowdfunding campaign, but it’s one of the most important. Why? Well if you don’t hit your target, you don’t get any money so you need to think carefully. We’ve outlined a few key points to keep in mind.

1. The size of your community

So you have a great idea, and you just know that people will want to back you in return for the cool rewards that you’re going to offer. But how big is your community? How many people do you know? Some project owners make the mistake of thinking traffic will flood to their project automatically. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

You need to relate your target to how many contacts you have and whether they can sustain your target. Also think about how much money your contacts would be likely to put in eg. family and friends might only put in a tenner, but your business contacts might put in a few hundred for a sponsorship reward.

2. What’s the bare minimum?

Now we’ve all heard about the wild successes of some American crowdfunding platforms but let’s be honest, crowdfunding in the UK is still relatively new and people might be a bit more cynical and reserved so you need to convince them that the money you need is essential – not just a frivolous spend. Break it down to the minimum you need, and then also explain why you would love to raise more and what the excess would be used for.

Be honest and backers are more likely to respond – it’s a good idea to include a breakdown of how the funding will be spent if it’s for more than one thing.

3. What costs are involved?

Linking to the point above, your bare minimum should also include any costs involved. Do you need to pay for materials to produce or transport your rewards? That needs to be included or you’ll end up spending precious money that you need!

Remember, Bloom also takes a 5% commission but only if and when you are successful. PayPal also charges a small fee for processing your backer’s promises (which is around 3%) so make sure you work that in too.

4. Dream big but start small

We hope that all our project owners have big dreams for the future, and maybe we can help them achieve those dreams. However, backers are going to be skeptical if you ask for a large amount straight off the bat. Start with step one – what do you need to do first and how much is it going to cost you? Remember you can always come back to crowdfund step two or three, or when you’re a bit futher down the line. If you’re just starting out, set a realistic target and build credibility before you ask for the jackpot.

Our key message is: asking for more money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it. Keep your goals SMART – Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound.

(Image courtesy of dreamchoosers.com)

How to Share a Project

Posted: Sat, 25 May 2013 by Cara

We’re thrilled that you want to get involved in the crowdfunding revolution by sharing some of our fab projects! Sharing a project couldn’t be easier, but to be super helpful, we’ve listed a few ways that you can help spread the word and support someone’s dream.

Use the social share buttons

We have made it really easy for you to share a project directly from the project page. Just use the buttons underneath the project images (see the screenshot below).

 

The great thing is, if you use these social share buttons, it will keep track of how many people have shared the project. This will show potential backers that lots of people like the project, even if they can’t all make a promise.

If you’re a social media whiz, you might want even more social share options – we have it covered! If you share from the project panel (see the screenshot below), you have many more options to choose from.

 

Connect with the project owner

Another good way to help share a project is to interact directly with the project owners themselves – which also gives you the chance to ask questions and give feedback. The social media channels that the project owner uses are shown at the bottom of the project, below the pitch (see the screenshot below).

Just click the buttons to be taken straight to the project owner’s page, and get chatting!

 

Tell your friends and family

This is one of the simplest, and perhaps most effective ways of sharing a project – just telling people about it. People are much more likely to go check out the project if you personally tell them how fab it is, which means more awareness for the project and hopefully more promises!

Leave a comment

Make use of the comments tab on the project (see the screenshot below) to publicly share your thoughts with anyone looking at the project. It’s a great way to engage with the project owner and other backers, without even leaving the page!

 

Make a promise!

The best way to engage with a project and help spread the word is to make a promise! Anyone viewing the project can see your name underneath the backers tab (see the screenshot below), which gives reassurance to other backers.

 

Even better, you can start bragging to your friends about how you’ve helped get a project off the ground and make them jealous by telling them all about your amazing reward! Just a few pounds makes a difference, so please do show your support for projects you like – we make sure there are rewards available for every budget.

So there are loads of ways that you can get involved, and they are all very simple and easy to do! Hopefully our tips will help you get closer to the projects you love, and help support them even if you can’t make a promise.

Understanding the PayPal Process

Posted: Tue, 21 May 2013 by Cara

At Bloom, we use PayPal to process payments, which means that you must have a PayPal account in order to make a promise to a project. We know that some people aren't sure about PayPal, so we've written this blog to explain why we use it and how the process works. 

First off, why do we only use PayPal?

Well it's a great method as it's easy to use and very secure! It's also being used on most websites now for processing payments, so for the majority of Bloom backers, it's easier to continue using PayPal. However, some people don't have a PayPal account, and would prefer to pay by credit or debit card. We would love to be able to offer our backers this service, but unfortunately the banks won't allow us to. Don't worry though, PayPal really is very simple.

Avoiding common problems

When you sign up to PayPal, you will register an email address to your account, which will be set by you. This could be a business or personal email address, whichever you prefer. For example, see the screenshot below which shows how your details will look on your Bloom profile.

 

 

When you enter your details in your Bloom account, make sure there are no extra spaces, numbers, letters or punctuation that is not part of your email address. In the same way as when you send an email, if you don't type the exact email address in, it won't be recognised.

Also, please make sure that you have your credit or debit card linked to your PayPal account. To check this, log in to PayPal and click on 'My account' and then on the 'My money' tab (see the screenshot below).

 

Remember, if you are making a promise, you must have funds available or the promise will fail and you will not receive your reward. Before you make a promise, it's also a good idea to check that the card(s) that are linked are up to date (i.e. it's not details of an expired card or a card you don't use anymore).

PayPal Pre-Authorisation

When you make a promise to a Bloom project, you're doing exactly that - promising you will give £X if and when the project closes. You can break your promise before the project closes (although we hope you don't!) but until the project closes succesfully, the money will remain in your bank account. This process is called pre-authorisation and clever PayPal will never take the money at all if the project fails.

As you might notice when you make a promise, this pre-authorisation process is authorising two payments (see the screenshot below).

Don't freak out! This does not mean PayPal will take the money twice. All it means is that 5% of your promise will come straight to us, as our commission, and the rest will go straight to the project owner. The best thing about this? You know that we only ever receive our commission, and your promise will go directly to the project that you have backed.

Also, as the screenshot above shows, you are authorising Bloom to take 'future payments' - this just means the two payments for your promise. It does not mean we can take money at any point, it just refers to the fact that the money will not come out of your account until the project closes (which is at some point in the future).

Welll hopefully we have cleared up a few things, and that you are all happy with using PayPal. If you still aren't convinced, but want to make a promise to a project, you can always donate offline, and ask the project owner to make the promise on your behalf.

Contact us if you have any questions at: eva@bloomvc.com

How to Make a Promise

Posted: Sat, 04 May 2013 by Cara

We’re thrilled that you’ve made the decision to back a project, and to make sure your promise goes through without any problems, we’ve written a quick and simple guide.

Before you start, you will need a PayPal account and a computer (or a mobile device that connects to the Internet). Remember, making a promise is simply that - a promise. We will only take the money if and when the project is successful and, if not, the money will never leave your account.

Most people use PayPal nowadays because it’s easy and secure, which is why we use it to process payments. You must have a PayPal account to make a promise, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one yet, just follow this link to get set up: http://www.paypal-marketing.co.uk/whypaypal/

There are a few key points about PayPal which we want to highlight;

When you make a promise, you are pre-authorising PayPal to take the amount promised on the date that the project closes successfully. If the project fails, the money is not taken.

This pre-authorisation involves two payments, 5% of your promise will come to Bloom as our commission (which is pre-agreed with the project owner) and the remainder of your promise goes straight into the project owner's bank account. Why is this useful? Well it means that you can be reassured that your money is going exactly where it should be.

Remember that you must have the funds in your account on the date the project closes, or your promise won't be taken and you won't receive your reward.

It's also important to make sure that you have the correct debit/credit card linked to your PayPal account in order for the promise to be taken. If you've received a new card, or you are using a different bank account, please update these details on your PayPal account.

Ready to start? Have your PayPal email address at the ready, and go to www.bloomvc.com/projects

Now follow these quick steps:

1) Click on your chosen project

2) Click 'Make promise' on the right hand side

3) Log in or register with Bloom (it’s quick and easy to register, and you’ll be prompted through the process)

4) Enter the amount you wish to promise at the top

5) Choose your reward by using the arrows to the right of the selected reward (remember you can choose any mixture of rewards, as long as they equal the amount you are promising)

6) Click 'Promise Now' at the bottom of the page

7) Enter your PayPal password, and confirm

8) You will see a message saying your promise has been successful

Done! It’s as simple as that. If you do have any problems at all, tweet us @bloomvc or email one of the Bloom team:

michelle@bloomvc.com

cara@bloomvc.com

natalie@bloomvc.com

Remember to share the project with your family and friends - it's another great way to support a project plus it increases the likelihood that the project will be successful, and you'll receive your reward. A win-win situation!

Essential Pre-Launch Tips for Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted: Thu, 11 April 2013 by

We get asked all the time about how to start a crowdfunding project. Questions such as:

How long does it take to create a campaign?

Do I need to have a video?

How big does my social network have to be in order to be successful?

So we decided to create a special pre-launch checklist of all the things that need to be in place before we can make your project live. We cover how to decide how much money you should raise, as well as telling your story and building your community in advance of launch.

We turned it into an e-book. A FREE e-book.

You can download it here:

bloomvc.com

And don't forget, if you want to talk to us or need our help to get your project up and running you only have to ask - eva@bloomvc.com

It's All About the Rewards

Posted: Wed, 10 April 2013 by Cara

Everyone has had a great idea at some point but for most of us, that’s as far as it goes. Why? We don’t have access to the resources we need, so we dismiss it as impossible. Crowdfunding has opened the door to a universal form of funding, which anyone can access. Some people make the connection and think ‘Aha! I could crowdfund my great idea’ but then get stuck on the rewards and give up.

Why is it so difficult? Most of the time, it’s harder to think of ideas for rewards because you don’t have a product to sell, or it’s too expensive to send your reward to backers further afield. It’s one of the first questions we get asked, so we’ve decided to help answer those questions with this blog. Read on for tips on how to get creative with your rewards, and take inspiration from examples of projects who offered cool and quirky rewards.

Getting Creative

There is nothing we’ve seen so far that can’t be crowdfunded – you just have to get creative with rewards. Even if you do have products that you can offer, you should still offer some unconventional rewards to ensure you have a good range that appeal to different backers. Remember, the reward can seal the deal for a potential backer!

Our top tips;

1. Have a great reward around £40 - £40 is the average promise on Bloom, so you want to make sure that this reward level really stands out. A good idea is to have a £30 and then a £50 reward level, to encourage someone thinking of promising £40 to go that little bit further. This worked well for Ecosse Candle, who had a fab £50 reward with limited edition candles, a discount code and a mention on their website.

2. Use what you know – do you have any special skills such as baking, singing, web design etc that you could offer as a unique reward? Remember that your rewards don’t have to be related to your project – a potential backer may like your project but doesn’t want or need your product/service. Take You Must Love Working Here, a comedy club exhibition that offered to put your face on a cake for £25!

3. Take advantage of your friends – use your contacts to offer an experience or product which is different to the rest of your rewards, offering another option and adding exclusivity. If your project has attracted celebrity attention, or you have a connection to a celebrity, why not offer lunch with them or a VIP invite as a cool reward? Short film project One Year Later attracted media attention by promoting the fact that they had secured Skins star April Pearson to feature in their film!

4. Make it exclusive – rewards work really well when there are a few that are unique and exclusive, that gives the backer a feeling of being ‘special’. For example, offering VIP treatment/tickets, naming them as a founder on your website, or making a one-off product/experience tailored to the backer. Welsh Wallace Art is currently offering a handcrafted sculpture of your initials as the top reward – made especially for top backers.

5. Mix up the lower rewards – a typical reward is to offer a social media shout-out for £5 or £10, but this option isn’t used most of the time. It’s a small amount, so you don’t need to offer a lot, just make it different. Why not record a thank you video, or send a personal email or e-card? It’s slightly more work, but it’ll be worth it if you get more backers. Take Dead Sleekit, who are currently offering updates on their progress and a mention on their website for just £5!

Blog by Bloom intern Cara Pleym.

How do I plan a crowdfunding campaign?

Posted: Thu, 21 February 2013 by Cara

So you’ve heard about this new type of funding, and think it could work for your idea, but you’re not sure how to go about it? Don’t worry! As always, the Bloom team are on hand to help. We’ve launched a wide range of projects, from hundreds to thousands of pounds, from films to animal rescue to football teams. What we’ve learned is that a successful crowdfunding campaign is built on several key areas, and we’ve got some great tips on how to plan your crowdfunding campaign around these.

1. Clear and compelling pitch

You need to write a pitch which engages potential backers, and sells yourself and your idea. This needs to clearly explain what you want to achieve, and why it’s so important – why should a stranger back your project? You need to get to the point quickly, and then go on to provide detail so that if someone only reads the first few lines, they understand the aim of your project.

Keep in mind the global audience you are addressing, and write in simple language that anyone could understand. Try to engage on a personal level, as sometimes backers will promise money simply because they are interested in that particular area, or are impressed by the project owner themselves.

2. Unique and value-added rewards

When planning your rewards, you should aim for 5-7 levels ranging from very low (£1, £5) to high (perhaps 30-40% of your target). The reward should reflect the amount of money being promised, and therefore the higher tier rewards should be more exclusive, and at least one should be unique to your crowdfunding campaign.

You can add value to any reward by offering exclusive discounts, early access, public recognition as a backer etc, which enhance the attractiveness of the rewards, without increasing costs. Please consider costs of making/delivering rewards, and how many of each you can realistically offer.

3. Social media engagement

Prior to, during and after launch, it is vital to keep your community engaged with updates about your project. You should plan for at least an hour a day to be spent on social media alone to effectively promote your project, and build your community.

Try to plan content as well, and think about what else you could do to increase activity e.g. sharing pictures, a regular newsletter, blogs, a press release etc. For more tips on how to use social media, click here.

4. Commitment post-launch

This overlaps with the previous point, but we’ve highlighted it again as it’s perhaps the main one that lets most projects down. When planning a crowdfunding campaign, many people think only of the work involved to launch the project, but the real hard work is post-launch. You need to be pro-active about sharing your project, and commit to working on it both online and offline, until your project closes.

We don’t expect your project to take over your life, but you need to work at it steadily so plan the time and effort you can spend throughout the project lifetime, not just at the start. If you plan your campaign well, you will be much more likely to close successfully and reap other benefits such as an engaged community, proof of market demand, customer feedback and improved skills.

(Image courtesy of developmentcrossroads.com)

Who can get the most out of crowdfunding?

Posted: Tue, 12 February 2013 by Cara

"Aha!" says Bloom intern Cara Pleym. "The answer reveals one of the most brilliant features of crowdfunding – anyone and everyone!"

The reason that everyone can benefit is that everyone can access crowdfunding – there’s no need for business plans or a good financial history. Not only that, but here at Bloom we don’t apply selection criteria as we want to give all ideas the same chance of success. All you need is a great idea and the willingness to work hard at it.

However, we have highlighted a few key groups below that could highly benefit from crowdfunding.

New businesses

Trying to set up a business can be difficult without funds and awareness. Running a crowdfunding campaign can fix both problems, and also establish credibility, showing determination and proving that there is demand for your idea. Not only that but you can even pre-sell your product or service and fill your order book before you start trading!

Growing businesses

As expansion becomes a priority businesses often look to investors, but in the current climate it’s extremely difficult to secure funding. Successful crowdfunding can involve pre-selling products, proving customer demand and increasing publicity – all of which strengthens your position for investment. You could trigger matched funding, or even be approached by an interested private investor (like Mhairia Mackenzine of Bonnie Bling – http://www.bloomvc.com/blog-post/bonnie-bling-crowdfunding-success-story)

Students

Students are often sources of great ideas, which never lead to action due to lack of cash, or fear of failure. With most students already deep in debt, crowdfunding is a simple method of raising finance while allowing students to develop skills and experience in communication, social media, project management and much more. The benefit is two fold, students can fund their ideas and perhaps their own businesses, and also enhance their CV at the same time, increasing the chances of getting a job after graduation.

Social causes

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a business idea, crowdfunding can work just as well for social ventures, community projects and even charities. Giving to a social cause through crowdfunding allows backers to be publicly recognised, and gives you the opportunity to raise awareness of your goals. Projects always perform better when they engage people emotionally, and a social or community project is perfect for attracting backers who want the feel good factor of helping a cause.

All in all, crowdfunding is a fantastic new funding option that allows everyone the same chance to achieve success. Instead of a few bankers deciding the future of your idea, we hand the power over to the crowd, and you never know what they’ll go for! So if you have a dream you want to make a reality, get in touch and we’ll help!

(image courtesy of allthingsd.com)

You've reached your crowdfunding target - now what?

Posted: Fri, 01 February 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym explains "what next? ... "

Congratulations on reaching your target!

This is an exciting moment, when all your hard work and dedication has finally paid off. In fact, you’ve probably been working so hard on reaching your target that you’re unsure of what to do next. You’ve reached an important milestone, but there’s work to be done yet!

First of all, you may have reached your target with time to spare, which means you still have time to get extra funding. Don’t be afraid to ask for more promises, if you’ve reached target you clearly have high interest and a little bit of encouragement could mean more cash for you. Be clear about what the extra funding could achieve, perhaps buying a better quality item or making a bigger batch of products? The sky is the limit, or at least it is until your project closes!

When your project closes successfully, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief and start celebrating – remember to include your backers and thank them all! Best of all, the money is immediately transferred into your PayPal account so you can start funding your goal.

What’s really important now is getting those rewards delivered to your backers and keeping them updated on your progress.

It may take a long time for the rewards to actually be created in order to deliver them, but as long as you are letting everyone know what’s happening, they’ll be supportive!

It’s a good idea to send out a regular newsletter or email to all your backers, especially if it’s going to take a while to organise rewards. Once you’ve sent the rewards, make sure you double check that all your backers have received them and no one has been left out.

Apart from the rewards, you’ll be busy getting started with actually realising your goal but don’t forget about your Bloom community.

You have built personal relationships with your backers and supporters - an invaluable resource which could be utilised for many opportunities further down the road (perhaps even a second crowdfunding campaign). You could find mentors, partners, employees, customers, suppliers amidst your community at some point, who would already be engaged with your business or project. With that in mind, it’s worth your while keeping in touch and letting everyone know how you’re getting on.

How do I start my crowdfunding project?

Posted: Thu, 24 January 2013 by Cara

Bloom intern Cara Pleym gets you started ...

All you need to get started is your great idea for a business, social, or community project, and a computer. You can then register your project on our site using this link: http://www.bloomvc.com/start-a-project

You will need to register an account and fill in basic profile details, including your PayPal email. It’s crucial that you have a PayPal account as we use it to process payments, so make sure you register with PayPal if you haven’t done so already. It’s free, and is quick and simple to setup, just follow this link and click sign up: https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/home

Before you start working on your project, please think about possible factors which could delay launch and remedy them if possible e.g. do you need to buy premises first, or acquire planning permission? We’re more than happy to delay launch until you’re ready, but it’s useful to know the timeline before getting started.

Next, you will be introduced to your project dashboard, which allows you to add information, edit your project, and add videos and images. The key areas of your project which you need to start filling in are;

  • Target – how much money do you need to raise? Remember to think about the 5% Bloom commission, PayPal charges and costs associated with rewards
  • Short description – this should be around 100 characters, and summarise your dream/goal
  • Long description – this is where you pitch yourself and your idea and explain why you need funding
  • Rewards – you need to decide what you can offer as rewards, in return for promises made. Ideally there should be 5-7 levels ranging from very low (£5-10) to high (which could be £100 or £1000 or more depending on your target)
  • Media – you should add pictures and video to illustrate your story and enrich your pitch

 

We recommend you include as much information as possible, then when you’re ready to receive feedback from a Bloom team member, simply click ‘Submit’ at the bottom of your project dashboard.

You will be partnered with a team member who will work closely with you to refine your project and guide you through project launch right up to your project closing. Of course, if you have questions or problems at any stage, get in touch! Use this contact link: http://www.bloomvc.com/contact or if you have already been allocated a Bloom team member, get in touch directly via email, phone or Skype.

We hope you have a good idea of what’s involved in getting started, and encourage you to register your ideas – we haven’t found anything yet which can’t be crowdfunded!

(image courtesty of betterlifewebevents.tv)

How to use social media for crowdfunding

Posted: Thu, 24 January 2013 by Cara

Social Media is crucial for your crowdfunding campaign; here, Bloom intern Cara Pleym shares her top tips.

Crowdfunding success depends on the community you bring with your project and how much you engage with them. That’s why the use of social media, and building a following on Facebook and Twitter before you launch, is incredibly important for your project. In fact, effective use of social media is crucial for any business/community.

The problem is some people don’t know how to use social media, or use it in the wrong way. Don’t panic! The Bloom team is experienced in social media strategy and will help you promote your project. However, this works best if you are also engaging with your community.

We’ve set out some useful tips for how to use social media:-

1. Get chatting – building a following always takes time, but you need to start the process by following other people, groups, businesses and talking to them. Show interest in what everyone else is doing, and they’re much more likely to do the same!

2. It’s not all about you – it’s easy to fall into the trap of only talking about your business/project, but it’s pretty boring for everyone else, and you’ll soon run out of things to say. Share relevant content, and engage your community by asking them questions and listening to what they have to say.

3.  Keep it up – don’t leave your profiles for long period with no updates, as your followers will disconnect and lose interest. Keep up regular updates, and mix up the content.

4. Go public – too often people have conversations privately and no one else can see what’s going on. Thank your backers, answer questions and talk about offline progress publicly so that everyone can see the interaction and interest, which also allows others to jump in.

5. Measure interest – keep an eye on the interaction on your posts/tweets e.g. likes/comments/retweets, and be smart about what and when you update. Is a certain day or time more active? Do pictures or links encourage more interest?

There’s loads more we could tell you about social media - and we will - but for starters if you follow these 5 key tips, you’ll engage more with your following and attract more backers to your project!

(image courtesy of TheDrum.co.uk)

My Project is Live - What Next?

Posted: Tue, 15 January 2013 by Cara

Tips from Bloom intern Cara Pleym on how to maximise your chances of crowdfunding success

So you’ve worked hard with the Bloom team to create a great pitch and your project is live on the site. Now you can just relax, right? I’m afraid not, your project launch marks the beginning of the real hard work – you have to promote your project, engage with your community, get people to promise money and keep interest up over your project lifetime. Don’t panic – we’ve outlined the key things you need to do to make your project a success!

1. Commit enough time to your project

This is absolutely crucial to the success of your project and you need to commit time every day to work on your project – whether that’s spending time on social media, asking your contacts to support you, or getting out there and telling everyone about your project in person. We recommend about 30 minutes a day (more if you can manage it) to keep your community engaged.

2. Tell people what you are doing

Regular updates of your project progress is really important so remember to tell people how hard you’re working, even if it’s not paying off! Did you phone everyone in your contacts to ask for a promise? Did you go to a networking event and promote your project? Well tell us all about it, you could use Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or even a fortnightly newsletter to your backers and interested parties.

3. Ask for the money

It’s all well and good asking for support but at the end of the day you need promises to reach your target and get the cash you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for the money, it shows determination and ambition, and most people will give it to you! Always keep your end goal in mind.

4. Keep motivated

Projects typically have high interest at launch which steadily drops away during the middle of your campaign, don't worry and don’t give up! Remember this is normal and redouble your efforts to get people interested and excited – if they know how much it means to you, they are more likely to make that promise.

5. Keep your eyes on the prize!

All this is hard work, and we’re open about that from the start. You might be surprised by the level of effort and commitment your project will take, which is why you need to focus on what you can achieve by the end of it. Not just the funding you need, but raising awareness, building an engaged community, proving your concept and perhaps even pre-selling your product. Just look at some of our amazing success stories, and how far they have come – that could be you!

 

Rewards are Key to Crowdfunding Success

Posted: Fri, 11 January 2013 by

by Nikki Wallace

Choosing rewards can often be the most difficult part of creating a project. However, they are an essential part as they will ultimately make or break your project! 

Rewards are what backers receive in exchange for their promise.  It is a way to say thank you to the crowd for their kind and generous promises, build support for future projects and can also act as marketing and promotion tool.

When thinking about your rewards it is important to ask yourself ‘What would I want in return for my hard earned cash’?  You would want something exciting, clever and creative; to feel that by backing a project you will gain something unique, something you would never have received if you hadn’t been part of the crowdfunding campaign.

There is a whole host of compelling rewards to offer, for example a simple thank you on Facebook, Twitter or on a personal website, t-shirts, discounts, your name in the credits of a film, pre-sale copies of CDs, unique photos, a special edition of the product or tickets to the event.

Projects can struggle to find support if the rewards aren’t considered carefully so here are some top tips to help make your project successful:

  1. Having a variety of rewards is key, ranging from £1, £5, £10 upwards. Remember every little helps!
  2. Make sure the rewards link to the project, backers are interested in your project not in random products.
  3. Make sure the reward fits the value; this should consider more than just the price. Backers want to feel special, that they are getting a limited edition, priority or discounted product.
  4. Adding a humorous or personal touch can go a long way, it will help you connect with backers.
  5. Spending time building your network both online and off before your project goes live. This may be searching for interest groups, locals in your community, friends and family or even a celebrity /expert endorsement.

 The opportunities are endless. Remember rewards can be low cost and even built into your target so put your creative cap on and capture the crowd!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowdfunding as a PR Tool

Posted: Thu, 13 December 2012 by Michelle

So, you’ve probably heard a bit about crowdfunding, how it’s disrupting traditional financial models and revolutionising the funding landscape?

Well that’s not all. We can let you into a secret – it’s about a lot more than just the money.

You see there are a number of hitherto hidden benefits, known only to the crowdfunders themselves, those who have enjoyed the added extras that come with running a crowdfunding campaign.

Top of the list?  Yup, you guessed it. It is PR.

To run a successful crowdfunding campaign you need a mini communications plan; it’s all about reaching out to the widest possible audience, including the media – online and offline, broadcast and print – and using social networking channels to share and connect. Essentially, doing all the PR activities you do for your clients on a daily basis.

I’m going to share an example with you. There’s an amazing jewellery designer, award winning and loved by pop stars and celebs alike. She’s manufacturing in Scotland and making both regional (STV Local) and national (BBC Breakfast) headlines.

But it wasn’t always like that for Mhairi Mackenzie, who originally outsourced her manufacturing to a supplier in England and made her contemporary and often whacky pieces in the spare time she had when she wasn’t doing the day job that paid the bills.

Mhairi’s custom pieces of jewellery, designed using Scots slang words, were seen on X Factor contestants and MTV presenters. But she was ambitious, and decided that for Bonnie Bling to grow she had to take control of her own manufacturing and to do that she needed to buy her own laser cutting machine. But that would cost £7.5k she didn’t have and that the banks wouldn’t lend her.

 

The solution? Crowdfunding. Mhairi ran a 60 day crowdfunding campaign; she worked tirelessly, reaching out to her own network of fans, potential fans online, the famous people who wore her jewellery, the media and the crowdfunding community.

The result? £8k in the bag and a raft of media coverage like she’d never experienced before. The media coverage brought her more customers, more celebs wearing her pieces and a private investor who loved her work.

The opportunity? Is there for startups, existing businesses, charities, social enterprises, community groups, and individuals who have a dream they’d like to make a reality.

But it's also there for savvy PR experts who can tap into the phenomenon that is crowdfunding and use it to boost coverage – and the greater value that comes from that coverage – for their clients.

It’s hard to get quality coverage for businesses, especially when those businesses are struggling to join the social networking dots and make the most of the online experience to reach out to customers, both existing and potential, and the news-hungry media looking for a new and different angle.

Crowdfunding is another piece of ammunition to bolster your arsenal of communications weaponry.  Check it out!

 

This post originally appeared as a guest blog on the CIPR blog http://ciprscotland.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/can-product-pr-benefit-through-crowdfunding/

Beware the Crowdfunding Trap

Posted: Mon, 03 December 2012 by Michelle

You might think your crowdfunding project is jaw-droppingly exciting, a sure fire success, and the answer to all your dreams – it’s your project, of course you love it.

But you need to remember that old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. In this case, you’re beholding, and the beauty will most probably be biased.

So try to take a look at it through the eyes of a backer and consider this; how well do you tell your story of what it is you’re doing? Will people “get” why it matters? How well do you describe the journey you want your backers to join you on? Will they understand what you’re asking of them? Are your rewards exciting? Are they unique?

And then ask yourself; so what? If it weren’t your idea or your cause, would you back it? Would you tell your friends? Would you shout from the rooftops that everyone should be making a promise to this amazing project?

Be honest. Be harshly critical. And be prepared to scratch what you’ve got and start again.

Here’s a checklist against which to benchmark your project:

Your goal – is it clear and obtainable within a proper timeframe?

Your project tagline – is your tagline 120 characters or fewer and URL/SEO friendly?

Your description – does the short description grab attention and compel viewers to click through to your project? Does the long description tell a fascinating story and keep interest right to the end?

Your rewards – are they desirable? Are they varied enough, both in value and content? And is there a unique aspect, something only backers of your project can have?

Your target – how much do you need? Have you explained what you will spend it on and how you will spend any money over and above your target?

Your team – can you deliver? Are you happy that you/your team (obviously featured in your long description) can meet your goals, deliver the rewards you have promised, and go on to deliver on your business objectives?

Your call to action – do you have one? Have you made sure it’s clear, simple and provided all the necessary links to make it easy for backers?

And finally, an incredibly important question …

Does it make you proud?

Is it compelling, will it make a difference, will your backers want to join you on your journey?

If your answer is a resounding YES to ALL of these criteria, then we think you’re good to go. Otherwise, give us a shout – we’re here to help.

(images courtesy of http://www.responsys.com and http://extension.entm.purdue.edu)

Crowdfunding campaign stalled? 10 Tips to get it to target!

Posted: Fri, 30 November 2012 by

 

So you’re mid-way through your campaign and it’s stalled. Donations have dried up, backers aren’t sharing your project link any more, you’re getting a bit impatient and worried that you’re not going to reach your target.

Don’t be disheartened! This is no time to give up, in fact, it’s the time to dig in and push towards your target. You’re halfway there and there are backers waiting patiently for you to succeed so they can receive their rewards.

There are a number of things you can do to refresh a plateaued project.

Here are a few of our suggestions;

New video – could you record a fresh, exciting new video (on a smartphone is fine) to update your backers and encourage them to share your project so you reach your target and they get the rewards they so desperately want?

Social networks - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Kiltr / LinkedIn – have you lapsed your activity? There are opportunities every single day to engage and re-engage with your followers, fans and backers, to reach out to journos and bloggers. What about running a wee competition on your FB page or a poll on LinkedIn? 

Research – do some more research. Try and find new/alternative influencers in your field, join conversations and start new ones. Ask questions, build the engagement, then ask them to check out your project.

Web site – have you embedded your project onto your home page? It’s simple to do (just use the embed code at the bottom of your project) and will drive traffic from your site directly to your project where they’re just a click or two away from backing you. Do you have any supporters/sponsors/great friends who’d be happy to embed your project onto their website or blog as well?  Remember to ask.

Comments – are you using the comments section on your project to update your backers and viewers of your project? If you have any influential/famous backers then ask them to post a comment here saying why they’re backing you and encouraging others to do the same (and obviously make sure you share the content across all your other networks too).

Email – you have the functionality to contact all your backers from your project dashboard, why not send them a message, updating on your progress and asking them to do what they can to help.

Market comparison – what else is out there? There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms, why not search for similar projects and see what can you learn from them. Even if it’s “what not to do” then it’s still helpful.

Media – do you have a new news story to share? Maybe you have a celebrity backer, or raised a significant amount in a very short time frame, or have a quirky and unique reward that needs a bit of profile.

Are you remembering to ask for ££s – it’s easy to forget and simply ask for “support”. An RT on Twitter or a share on Facebook is great, and it all counts, but it’s not adding those all-important pounds to your project.

And finally ...

Remember to ask us – you’re not doing this on your own. We’re working just as hard to share your project, engage with our community and encourage support. We’re here to help - just ask!

(image courtesy of Nesta.org.uk)

Crowdfunding for Charities

Posted: Thu, 01 November 2012 by Michelle

Fundraising is tough at the best of times, but it’s increasingly difficult to raise money during a recession.

Which is why crowdfunding is shifting the paradigm, away from the usual sources of finance.

We all know it’s no longer enough to shake a tin and count on the patrons that have supported us in the past. We need to move away from this traditional route to fundraising to a more innovative, creative, wider reaching and longer-term approach to raising money.

Crowdfunding enables you to get creative to stand out from the crowd, extend your reach, encourage a new conversation with your supporters.

So, what is crowdfunding?

 Crowdfunding is simply a new way of using technology to help people with an idea raise money to bring it to life, whether that’s a business idea, a startup, a community project, a charity or a social enterprise.

 Did any of you do a sponsored event when you were at school – take the form home and ask your parents who asked their friends? You collected the money and took it back to school.

That was crowdfunding.

 Do you remember your history studies? The Darien scheme back in the late 1690s, when a quarter of the money circulating in Scotland was pooled in what became an unsuccessful attempt to make Scotland a world trading nation by establishing a colony called New Caledonia in Panama.

That was crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a global phenomenon that provides an alternative route to donations – from an extended audience – it’s all about community and that truly lends itself to charities.

It’s the explosion in the use of social networking sites that has brought crowdfunding to the fore; as users of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn grow, so do the opportunities to reach out for support.

Crowdfunding is simply an extension of what people have been doing for centuries – patronage, supporting family and friends and the local community.

Millions of pounds, dollars and euros are donated every day to support exciting, innovative and life-changing ventures around the world. The impact on businesses, individuals, communities – and the economy – is significant.

But it’s not just about business and entrepreneurs, crowdfunding works for communities, social enterprises, charities, youth groups, schools and more.

Charitable crowdfunding – it’s not just about the money

 Money is obviously important, but it needn’t be the only driving factor behind a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding delivers more than just money.

Donor fatigue is a real issue, local communities will have regular supporters of charitable activities in the area, but it’s important to widen the donor pool.

Crowdfunding enables you to reach out to the diaspora, people who have moved away from the area but who maybe still have family there, or memories that keep them tied and supportive.

It means you can engage with young people more easily – Gen Y are not only engaged in social, they live it, breath it, dream it.

And then there’s the Corporate Social Responsibility opportunity for you to engage with large corporates to help them with their CSR – if you can come up with ideas or projects that could be crowdfunded, you could get their employees involved in the campaign, then ultimately ask the corporate to match the money raised. You get double the impact and a terrific community legacy.

Crowdfunding can often trigger matched funding, so it’s important to explore these options.

And even if your crowdfunding campaign is unsuccessful, you will have an up to date database of new backers to reach out to, and a significantly raised profile beyond your immediate location.

The legacy is a much more engaged community of supporters, and for those who haven’t engaged with social media effectively in the past, this is a great starting point.

So how does it work?

Bring your community and build interest in advance of your campaign. Do your research, find out where your target market is consuming their data, spending their time, and go there, start to engage before you launch your project.

Create your project – it’s simply an online pitch, so tell your story, engage people, choose the amount of money you want to raise and a time limit – 30, 45 or 60 days. Upload images and video to illustrate your story.

Create rewards – a series of compelling, unique, exciting rewards will make it a much quicker and easier decision for strangers to your project to back you. So be creative, ask your patrons and backers to donate things, use any celebrity connections you have. They’re bound to be on social media and will happily publicise anything they’re involved in. You’re reaching their followers each time they tweet, ultimately extending your own reach.

Then the hard work starts, reaching out to your community and asking them to support you. It takes time and it takes effort. Create a mini campaign plan and work hard. It’s not a one-off activity, this is all part of building your supporting community for the future.

At the end of the day you get out what you put in, there’s potential to raise much more than you initially ask for, and you can post as many different projects as you like.

(images courtesy of siteorigin.com and harrods.com)

Crowdfunding Lessons from Successful Crowdfunders

Posted: Sun, 30 September 2012 by Michelle

We get asked all the time "what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign?", so what better way to answer the question than to show you a video and let you hear from someone who has actually been through the process.

Originally livestreamed during Social  Media Week Glasgow, Michelle Rodger from Bloom and founder of Bonnie Bling, Mhairi Mackenzie, took to the stage to explain the key elements of a crowdfunding campaign and to share both what to do, and what not to do, to stand a chance of being successful.

The presentation was recorded and we've linked the video of the event for you here - https://new.livestream.com/accounts/1460155/events/1579078

In the first half of the presentation Michelle talks about how to plan, launch and run a campaign and the second half features Mhairi sharing her own experiences of crowdfunding before both reveal  top tips in the Q&A session at the end.

An Olympic Lesson for Crowdfunding

Posted: Tue, 11 September 2012 by

Weren’t the Olympics Games Makers amazing? Volunteering for weeks, smiling all day every day, directing the crowds, posing for photos, sharing the fun and generally making sure everyone was happy.

There’s a lesson to be learned here!

We think crowdfunders all need their own Games Makers to help spread the word about their project - Project Makers.

Crowdfunding is hard work and running a campaign needs more than one person. Just as the Olympics looked to the crowd to help them deliver the Games, crowdfunders need to look to their own crowd to back them in the early stages.

You will need help to build your community of backers, to create a buzz around your project, to carry out all the tweeting and Facebooking, emailing and Linking-In. You need to share the project links with your own friends and family and social connections, engage their support and get them behind you.

So before you launch your project and go live on Bloom, have a think about who your “Project Makers” could be and ask them to help you. Give them a reason to support you and encourage them to step up and help out.

The power of the crowd – whether as Games Makers at the Olympics or Project Makers for your crowdfunding campaign – is what will make the difference between success and failure.

All About Crowdfunding - an interview with Bloom

Posted: Tue, 28 August 2012 by

If you're thinking about crowdfunding but aren't sure where to start, or you're ready to launch a project but looking for some last minute tips before you go live, then this video is for you.

Interviewed by Nathan Hague of AustraliaWow, we explain the whys and hows of crowdfunding and how it can work for startups, businesses, community projects, charities, social enterprises and, of course, Nathan's clients (fitness instructors from across the globe).

3 Top Tips for Crowdfunding Successfully

Posted: Tue, 14 August 2012 by

Tip 1

Build your community in advance of your campaign launch
 
Crowdfunding is not a Kevin Costner "Field of Dreams" scenario. Just because you build a crowdfunding campaign does not mean that people will flood to back you. You need to work hard building your social networks online; start to engage on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, reach out to influencers and start to build a relationship in advance of tweeting them and asking them to give you a tenner. Identify likeminded groups and individuals that share your interests and are likely to support your activity and begin a conversation.

And don't forget offline either. Make sure your friends and family are primed to back you as soon as your project goes live - seeing a groundswell of support from people that know you will give strangers some comfort and make the decision to back you a bit easier. And remember, there are still many people who either aren't using social networks regularly or haven't even joined them, so make sure you target offline publications as well as online publications, remember the humble email database, and consider attending events or exhibitions where you can share your story.  It's hard work, and you need to continue the engagement right through your crowdfunding campaign.

But it's not a one-off exercise, the community you build during your campaign will remain with you as you launch and grow your business. Remember, these people are so keen to see you launch your business that they are prepared to pay you to do it - don't forget them once your campaign reaches target and your business is live. They are now your customers and brand ambassadors - love them!
 
Tip 2

Be compelling
 
Everyone has a story to tell, a dream ambition, but what will boost your chances of a successful crowdfunding campaign is how you tell that story. You need to be compelling, you need to share what it is you want to do, why it matters so much, and how people can be a part of that journey with you.

Be honest, be passionate and enthusiastic, use emotions and experiences to make your pitch the standout pitch, the one people are so keen to be a part of that they not only give you money but tell all their friends and family about you.

Use quality images and video to help illustrate your dream. It doesn't have to be a professionally shot and edited video, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, something shot on your smartphone will be ideal as long as it is short, to the point, engaging, humorous, empathetic, passionate and enthusiastic.
 
Tip 3

Offer unique rewards
 
Fabulous rewards are key. Getting the rewards right is make or break for your project; you might have the best pitch, the most compelling video, the most exciting product to launch, but if you don't get the rewards right people won't back you. 

Get creative with your rewards, get inside the head of your backer - your customer - what would they want. and what would they pay for it? You need to offer a range of rewards that appeal to the widest possible audience, and you need to offer at least one unique reward, something that people couldn't ever have unless they backed your campaign. You need to create "must-have" rewards, so that people will share your project and encourage everyone they know to choose a reward also.

How much time should I spend on my project?

Posted: Fri, 17 February 2012 by Michelle

How long is a piece of string?

It's difficult to give specific time guidelines, but we'd say as much as you possibly can; we recommend at least an hour a day before, during and after you launch your project.

Before you make your project live it is important to spend time creating the very best pitch you can; create a video people will want to watch and share (it doesn't have to be professional, just engaging) and craft your story so people reading will not only understand what this is and why it is so important to you, but how they can support you on your journey and share your success. You also need to be building up your networks, both online and offline, reaching out to people on Twitter and Facebook, working your LinkedIn connections, and raising awareness about what's "coming soon".

Once your project is live, you need to be working on your project every day, thanking your backers, reaching out to others, updating your project regularly, emailing your database, posting on your project wall, tweeting links to your project, sending out press releases and offering to write guest blogs on relevant sites. It's also important not to forget there are other people crowdfunding on Bloom too, so it's great to support them where you can.

Once you've reached your target, you can't just forget the backers who made it happen for you. You've built a vibrant community, these are your future customers, your brand ambassadors, the foundation upon which you're going to build a successful, sustainable, scaleable business, so make sure you engage with them regularly. Thank them immediately, ensure they get their rewwards as soon as you can physically achieve that, and then keep in touch. Even if you didn't reached your target, your backers believed in you and will hopefully stay around to support your future plans.

It sounds a lot. It is a lot. But remember, the more you put in the more you get out. It's worth every second.

The 3Cs of Crowdfunding

Posted: Mon, 16 January 2012 by Michelle

Create: You’ve got an idea. It might be for a startup, a student business, a new product, a community or social venture, but you have an idea. You created that idea. To turn it into reality you need to create a compelling campaign, to tell your story in such an engaging way the people not only want to help you, but they will ask their friends and family to help you too. 

Be creative with your project, create a must-see video (it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money), something that people will watch and share, and create a series of must-have rewards, from a spectacular public thank you to an all-singing all-dancing first off the line product that they helped fund.

Look at every aspect of your crowdfunding campaign and ask yourself if it’s the most creative, most exciting, most rewarding, most inspirational, most desirable, most memorable you can possibly make it. If the answer’s no, then try again.

Connect: Crowdfunding is all about linking people with ideas to people with money and expertise to help them make it happen. It’s about using social networks with global reach to deliver local impact. Use your networks, work them carefully, it’s what networking and connecting is all about.

Increase your network before you start crowdfunding and start to talk to them about what you’re doing, why, and how they can help. Search social networking sites for the most relevant groups and discussions and join in. Then, when your project goes live they are already up to speed with what you’re doing and what you need them to do for you.

Keep connecting during your project campaign, you need to post regularly to all the sites you’re linked to, you need to be publicly thanking your supporters on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn and you need to be keeping everyone up to date with your progress.

Make good connections during your crowdfunding campaign and you can be sure that you’ll finish the campaign with an engaged audience that wants to continue to support you, a customer-base that wants you succeed, and proof of the market appetite for your idea.

Collaborate: You can use your crowdfunding campaign to seek advice and support – as well as money – harnessing the wisdom of the crowd. All those people you need to help you are out there, ready and willing to help. You just need to know how to find them, how to engage with them, how to reward them, and how to thank them.

Start to look at your own network and see who could be helpful, look at their network and see if they know anyone that would be useful to you and your project, and start to build relationships. Post questions on Twitter, into LinkedIn groups, on FB pages of individuals and organisations with a sjmilar interest. People love to help, but they won’t know you need it unless you ask. Find out which companies, organisations, academic or charitable institutions are expert in your field, and talk to them.

Ask for advice, ask about their experiences, and then, when you’ve successfully completed your project make sure you jump back into the crowdfunding world and offer your advice and experience to others.

(Image courtesy of  luigi diamanti: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=879)

3 Steps to Crowdfunding

Posted: Mon, 16 January 2012 by Michelle

Crowdfunding on Bloom is as easy as 1,2 3.

We've laid out the 3 all-important steps but remember, each step takes time and effort. You need to spend time planning your project before you post it, reaching out to your networks before you launch, and then repeat steps 2 and 3, keeping in touch with everyone with regular updates, throughout the duration of your campaign.

Good luck!.

Insights and Tips

Posted: Tue, 13 December 2011 by Michelle

Did you know that campaign success rates double with the first contribution, quadruple once the 10% mark has been reached and are more than five times as likely to succeed when 25% of the target amount has been reached?

Crowdfunding might be new to the social space, but those who've been in the game for a couple of years now are starting to share some of their insights into what makes a successful campaign, based on their early experiences. Indiegogo shared the above stat, and they have also revealed the following insights:

  • 70% of campaigns that meet their funding goal have between three and eight rewards.
  • Project updates every 1-5 days double the contribution rate.
  • More contributions have been made to $25 rewards than any other, and the largest amount of money has been raised through $100 rewards.

So how do you make the most out of these insights? Here are our top tips:

1. Reach out to your friends and family as soon as you launch your project. They are most likely to support you and help you reach the early milestones towards success. Others are more likely to follow suit if they are confident that your nearest and dearest are supportive of what you are doing.

2. Choose your rewards - and their values - very carefully. Bear in mind the crucial numbers highlighted above and make sure you have created rewards that are not only compelling, but are pitched at the right value for your target audience.

3. And remember to update your project regularly, refresh your images, swap your featured videos, post updates on your project and talk to the people who are commenting and supporting you. Share all these updates via your social networks, and by regular email updates to those who are active online.

So now what?

Posted: Tue, 06 December 2011 by Michelle

You've created your project, it's now live on the Bloom platform and you're waiting for lots of lovely donors to choose their rewards and promise you some money. How do you get the word out that you're here, that you're ready for business and you're looking for help?

Here are some tips that will help you on your way:

1. Facebook - update your FB status with the link to Bloom so all of your friends can see your link in their News Feeds. Post your link on their walls and ask them to support you by donating and also by sharing the link amongst their friends. Ask them to post an update all about how they have supported you, why your project is important, and with a request to others to do the same. Remember to publicly thank those that help.

2. Video- consider making a funny video, something that will make people laugh and want to share the link - and obviously you need to use it as the feature video on your project and you can also upload to YouTube and ask people there to share it. Make sure the video ends with a "call to action", ask them to look at your project, choose a reward, share the link to the project with their contacts.

3. Twitter - you could tweet out details of individual rewards, share your goals and ambitions, publicly thank those who donate, and tell people why they should support you. Ask your followers to RT your link. And remember to keep your tweet to less than 120 characters so others can RT and add their comments.

4.Blog - if you have a blog, then start writing about what you are doing, why you need support, the difference it will make to you and to the people your project will benefit. Share photos and videos on the blog too. And link it to your project and your Facebook page.

5. Work colleagues and offline networks - Not everybody is online or active in a social network, so make sure you communicate with your other networks as well. Send out an email with a link to the project and ask for support, ask them to send the email to anyone they know that would like to help also. When talking to people make sure you tell them about your project and tell them to visit the Bloom site to support your project. And remember to include your project in all the usual offline PR and media activities you carry out.

6. Press releases - crowdfunding is still relatively new and so your local newspapers may well be interested in what you're doing. If you send them a short press release, give them a quick phone call, tell them what you're doing, why and what makes it newsworthy, they may well write a story and include the link to what you're doing.

7. Internet - make sure you search online for anyone talking about crowdfunding, or about something relevant to your project. Think about the people you would normally sell to or talk to, visit their sites, look for their blogs, seek them out on Facebook and Twitter and find a way to engage with them.

8. On the Bloom site - you can refresh and add new videos and images or you can rotate the collateral you have by selecting a new featured video or image every couple of days. Use the comments and updates sections to talk to people who are donating.

9. And don't forget to ask your friends and family.

Good luck. And remember, we're here to help.

How big does your social network need to be to hit your target?

Posted: Sun, 30 October 2011 by

Want to know how how big your social network has to be to reach your funding target?

Musician Alan Bern needed to raise $10,000 to fly his 14-strong band to Copenhagen - it took him 43 days, and these are his statistic:

Alan did 3 postings, with audio and video, spaced in approx. 3 weeks. He reached out to his first circle of friends and fans via e-mail (450), facebook (1075) the band’s fanpage on Facebook (531) and another music fanpage (500). Each posting caused a wave of backers totaling in 138 backers accounting for 10,971 dollars.

More than three quarters of his backers invested 50 dollars or less for which they received rewards like signed CDs and DVDs. These smaller backers, Alan explained, were very keen on this reward scheme. The bigger backers didn’t care about the rewards. They just cared about supporting the initiative. In total Alan reached out to around 2500 contacts.

According to blogger Pim Betist, who shared Alan Bern's story, there must be some overlap between the different media he used (e-mail, facebook, etc) but it gives us a ball park figure to work with. 138 people actually went ahead and backed the project. This represents just 5% of Alan’s network and the actual figure is less than that, because not all backers came from Alan’s network. The first wave of backers did, but the second and third were friends of friends.

You can read Pim's blog before which gives more details, but you can see the value of building and engaging with your social network if you want to be successfu.

http://www.pimbetist.com/#479/wordpress