If there’s anyone still reading my sadly neglected blog, then hello to you! I’ve been a bad blogger who’s been busy with a zillion things who hasn’t made time for this site. Lame, I know. But I’ve got a good post for you now, I think.
As longtime readers will know, I’ve been working on a printed tourist-style map of Kigali, Rwanda, where I’ve lived for the past four years. I’ve been working on it for over three years, off and on. I’ve alternated between extreme motivation and extreme discouragement and how much work I had ahead of me. But I’ve been going strong on the project for the past six months and I’ll be ready to send it off to the printers in about a month.
But this is sort of a risky project. I have no idea how many to print, how much to sell it for, or anything, really. Plus, word on the street is that some other folks are making another (way less sexy) map as we speak. So that sort of sucks. But I believe in the product I’m making and I think it’ll sell itself because of how incredibly useful it’ll be with the added bonus of it looking great, too. A practical souvenir! But getting this thing printed will cost a lot up front and it would be great to mitigate the risk a bit. So that’s where crowd funding comes in! The idea is to get enough together to be able to print and ship the first run with maybe a bit extra to make an app too.
I launched my Indiegogo campaign yesterday morning and it’s off to a pretty amazing start, I have to say! I thought it might be interesting to write about my experiences so far, what I expect, why I’ve made some of the decisions I have, and then keep you updated as the campaign progresses. So, here goes…
My Hopes for the Campaign
I’ve hoping to raise a minimum of £3,000 but, in reality, I need to raise closer to £5,000 to print this thing without too many worries. But besides hoping to raise a substantial amount of start up money, I thought a crowd funding campaign would also act as a great way to gauge interest in the project. I’d like the campaign to act as a way to pre-order The Map, so if I can’t manage to ‘sell’ any during my Indiegogo campaign then I’ll probably re-think my demand estimates and print fewer. Likewise, if things take off and I pre-sell loads of maps, I’d be encouraged to print more. So I’m hoping for cash money to get started and also for an indication of the popularity of the project.
I decided on a very long 60 day campaign because of the pre-order aspect of this project. There are always a lot of new arrivals in January and, with the program running until January 10th and expected delivery a week or so later, I’m hoping to get some last-minute funding through orders from these folks.
Why I Think This Will Succeed
Running a crowd funding campaign is hard work! Before starting I did a bunch of research and got a whole bunch of lists of what to do and what not to do. A common piece of advice was to treat the campaign like a full time job. I’m lucky because I’m in a position to do just that! So that’s one positive thing right from the start.
The most important reason is that I have an existing and engaged community through my Living in Kigali site who have been anticipating this product for a while. I’ve been talking about it for years, occasionally posting updates of the design work I’ve done, and anytime a friend or new acquaintance asks me what I’m working on, the answer is always ‘The Map’. I was talking last night to a guy who runs Impact Hub in Westminster who gave a good piece of advice for success: ‘You need to bring your existing community to your crowd funding campaign.’ This makes perfect sense to me and, while I think campaigns can be successful without this, having a Facebook page of 25,000+ people and a popular website aimed squarely at my campaign’s target market is what, I hope, will make this process enjoyable rather than like pulling teeth.
Why Indiegogo and not Kickstarter?
This was an interesting question for me! One that I had to give a lot of thought to. Kickstarter was my first choice, mainly because of that site’s popularity and I like that it’s only for creative projects. They’ve also got a good system set up for adding shipping costs and it would have made a better choice since their shipping section allows for a bit more flexibility that would have come in handy since I’ll have lots of people collecting the map. Plus they’ve got an all or nothing model and, believe it or not, that’s what I would have preferred to use.
Indiegogo’s shipping section is quite limiting and the site’s audience is much smaller than Kickstarter’s, but I chose to go with them for one very important reason: ease of paying. Kickstarter asks users to login to an Amazon account to be able to pay. It seems like pretty much everyone has an Amazon account these days… except for my target audience. My campaign is aimed at people living in Rwanda… not a place so well-served by Amazon. Sure, many people will have had accounts before they moved to Rwanda but the threat of forgotten passwords was enough of a deterrent for me to choose to avoid this hassle.
Indiegogo is a bit more straightforward – you can pay with credit cards and Paypal, and this is the key, for me. I’ve always done things with myself in mind as the target market and this is no different. I know how many times I’ve been about to donate to a campaign like mine but didn’t have a credit card handy. I was frustrated that Paypal wasn’t an option and abandoned the idea altogether. Seeing that Indiegogo offered Paypal as a payment method sold me on the immediately. Plus I like their interface a bit better and, possibly because the projects at Indiegogo aren’t of as high a quality (or possibly because my project it truly super and amazingly wonderful) it seems to be trending in the design category after less than 24 hours. I have no idea how useful that is, but it cant be bad!
Plans to Get the Word Out
I launched the campaign yesterday and within 24 hours had already reach 25% of my funding goal. About 5% of that was me putting my own money in to get the ball rolling, however. And with my actual goal being closer to £5,000, I’m still a long way off but it’s a pretty great start and I’m feeling very encouraged!
Pre-Launch - I’ve been posting updates about my map periodically over the years with more of a focus on the actual design and content work I’ve been doing. I only recently decided on crowd funding, so that wasn’t mentioned at all until recently. A couple of weeks before the launch I posted about my upcoming campaign on Facebook, telling my readers there to expect it as a way to both pre-order The Map and also to support me. I also warned them about it… that I’d likely be posting a lot in the coming weeks and to be prepared. I have a very positive relationship with my readers so it was well received. I did this again a few days before launching. I also went through old emails to my Living in Kigali website and compiled three lists. One of friends that I have in Kigali (who are also mostly connected n Facebook), one of businesses that I have a relationship with or who I’ve promoted or helped in some way over the years, and one giant list of anyone who has ever contacted about anything to do with Kigali who might owe me one, so to speak. I haven’t done anything yet with these lists but expect to soon.
- Day 1 - The first day was nerve wracking! I put a lot of work into the campaign and there’s a lot of stress that the whole thing will fall flat on its face. So I was nervous! Day 1 saw me send a post to my Facebook friends (about 600 people, maybe 150 to 200 of those who are in Kigali or have lived here) with the video and a link to the campaign. Shortly after that I posted a similar thing to my Living in Kigali Facebook page with just over 25,000 readers. I then paid £13 to boost that post for a week and within 24 hours it’s reached nearly 20,000 people. Or so the Facebook stats say. I raised 25% of my goal doing just these few things.
- Day 2 - I want to keep the momentum going and I’m hoping to raise half of my funds at least within the first week. I’ve just sat down to work so first things first, this post on Nerdy Nomad. After, I’ll add an image to the top of the sidebar on Living in Kigali that links to the campaign and I’ll also publish a post about the map, its progress, the Indiegogo campaign, and lots of images. At the moment there’s no way to go from the site to the Indiegogo page so I think these two additions should bring in a good number of steady sales. There are a lot of people who find the site purely through Google and have no idea about the Facebook page until later, so this is a good way to reach them.
- Day 3 - I’ll likely send emails out to those lists I compiled before the campaign started. I have great relationships with a lot of people and businesses in the city and I’m going to make an effort to do as many personal emails as possible for those people who I think I’ve been especially good to over the years. I’ll also approach people who are part of large networks or groups and ask them to pass the link along to their people.
- Day 4 - I have a newsletter with around 1,200 people subscribed so I’ll craft something and send it out to them. Many of these people will have already left the city, I think, so it could be a good way to reach people who might want a nice souvenir of their time here. Or it might just be sending a message to people I’ve already reached. I’m not sure! I also might ad a referrals contest of some sort to the Indiegogo campaign and publicise it on Facebook.
- Day 5 - I’ll probably do another naggy post on Facebook to see if I can rope a few more friends and family into donating. This was never a part of my overall plan but I’ve got a few perks that might be of interest to people who don’t care about maps of obscure African cities, so it might get a few more contributions and every little bit helps!
- Day 6 - I’ve written an article for Living in Kigali which is similar in style to one that went mini-viral on my Kampala site. I’ll post this and boost in on Facebook (doing pretty much the same as with the Kampala article) and add some Indiegogo info at the top of the article so that, if lots of people see it as I hope, many might be tempted to check out the Indiegogo campaign page, too.
- Day 7 - I’ll probably work at reaching out to a few bloggers, map making websites, and forums. I don’t think I’ll spend too much time on this but it could be a way to reach new people, especially in the maps crowd.
- Onwards - I guess those are most of my plans… after the first week’s push I’ll likely just keep reminding people about the campaign through Facebook. I’ll be working on the map still for the next month so there will be reasons to update people on Facebook that will have information that isn’t just me nagging and reminding. I might also approach some business owner friends to see if they might want to stick up a poster or something with a link to the website. Kind of a ‘get your map here’ sort of a thing.
Surprises So Far
First up, I’m surprised at how quickly things have gone in the first 24 hours! It’s far more than I expected! But I also know that these campaigns tend to do very well early on and then towards the end. So with a 60 day campaign, especially one spanning Xmas, there could be a lot of slow days in between so getting out of the gates quickly is essential for me. So far, so good!
Setting up the perks can be tricky and I’m surprised at how popular the ‘Be on The Map’ perk has been. I have another friend committed to a spot which means only one left after one day. It’s a fun perk and I’m happy that people are into the idea but I wasn’t expecting to sell all of those to be honest. The idea for the cartoon print came a few days before I launched the campaign and ‘The Map and The Print’ perk at £18 has been a popular choice so far. So I’m glad I added it in there! Once I finalise the cartoon print I think it’ll be really cool and I’ll start to promote that a bit more on my Facebook page and I think that will be quite well-received.
It’s far too early to say whether I’ll exceed my £3,000 goal and sneak my way up tot he £5,000 I need but I think things are off to a wonderful start and I’m hopeful! I think putting in a few weeks of research time before launching a campaign is good advice and I’m happy I familiarised myself with things before starting the process.
I also realise how good of a position I’m in to run one of these crowd funding campaigns. It helps immensely to already have a loyal and engaged ‘crowd’ who are anticipating the product. It’s the sort of things that sells itself, especially since nothing of its kind already exists, and I know how good I have it. I would think seriously about going down this funding road if I didn’t already have these pieces in place. It would be a lot more difficult although not impossible, I don’t think. When you have a good product that people want, it’s just a matter of getting the word out. I’m lucky to already have the means to do that easily and I think that that’s what will be the difference between stressing and struggling the whole way and having an enjoyable experience.
And yes, I know I’ve been crap lately (something that will change!) but I’m going to give you guys the same line I gave to my Kigali site readers: If you’ve been helped or entertained by Nerdy Nomad over the years, I hope you’ll consider either making a contribution (for some cool perks!) or sharing the campaign around. Things are off to a great start but I’ll need a lot of help to accomplish my goals.
I’m really proud of the map that I’ll be putting out there into the world and I hope you’ll help me reach my goals so I can make it a viable reality!
Here’s the campaign link again: http://igg.me/at/mapofkigali