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“Crowdsourcing For Dummies” Released

29 May

Image © 2013 Daily Crowdsource

The title says it all. With the release of “Crowdsourcing For Dummies”, crowdsourcing now has its own entry in the popular “for dummies” series. Add this to the fact that crowdfunding is now enough of “a thing” to be parodied, and I’d say that crowdsourcing has officially and finally landed in the public eye. About time!

Daily Crowdsource is on the scene with details about the instructional book:

Over the past year, Daily Crowdsource writer, Crowd Leader, author, Professor, Crowdopolis speaker, & IEEE Computer Society President, David Alan Grier, has been compiling his knowledge in his latest publication, Crowdsourcing For Dummies. It’s a plain-English guide to help you understand crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, & open innovation.

I’m excited about this release because I’ve been communicating with Grier throughout the writing cycle & know he’s put a lot of time into it. Here’s what his latest book will teach you:

  • Plan and launch your crowdsourcing project
  • Find the right platform for your needs
  • Promote your project and attract the right audience
  • Manage and motivate your crowd to get the best results

David Allen Grier is a leader in the field and highly influential when it comes to the topic of crowdsourcing, so the fact that he’s the driving force behind this book makes me very confident about the accuracy of the information contained within. I’m undoubtedly going to pick up a copy as soon as I get my next paycheck. If you’re a fan of this blog, consider the same.

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Crowdfunding Crash Course: How To Make Your Campaign A Successful One

6 Feb

Marguerite Caruana Galizia - CrowdfundingI used to have a sort of embargo against articles about crowdfunding. It wasn’t that I didn’t see a place for it, or thought it was an illegitimate way to make money; I just thought that there wasn’t really any depth to the topic worth talking about.

But, times change, and a few articles later, I find that crowdfunding has really come into its own as a subject worth introducing to my readers. To that end, I was thrilled when I discovered that a dancing blog, of all places, had written up an excellent guide on how someone with no knowledge of crowdfunding could set up a project and get their dreams funded. Below, you will find my summary of the guide’s sticking points, originally compiled by Marguerite Galizia and presented on her personal blog.

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a way to get your projects, personal campaigns, and product ideas funded without going to a wealthy backer or company with deep pockets, and anyone with a dream and a video camera can do it.

Through sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe, users can create “project pages” where they show their idea to the world. These pages typically consist of a video, showing off the idea and its creator, and a written statement that goes into a little more detail. They specify their goal, or how much money they need to fully find their project, and a time frame for completion. The public views these entries, and donates money to those that they wish to see carried through. They are rewarded for donating certain amounts with a gift from the project creator, usually some sort of token of esteem or similar “thank you”. Depending on the site this project is posted on, the creator may get to keep all the money they’ve been given, or may only get paid if their project reaches its goal amount.

Step 1: Choosing Your Platform

When starting your campaign, the first thing to decide is where to host it. There are a multitude of crowdfunding sites available, and more keep popping up every day, so this is not a decision to be taken lightly. When choosing a site, one should consider factors such as the fees involved, the site’s level of professionalism, the countries the platform caters to, and which types of projects the site has made successful in the past.

Galizia’s article goes into more detail on things like the fee structures of these sites, if you’re curious, but the important thing to remember is to find a site that looks like a good fit for whatever type of project you’re doing. If you’re trying to start an art school, sites that fund scientific discoveries probably won’t do you much good. Similarly, if the site you’re using isn’t doesn’t provide service to your country, you’ll likely find it impossible to get any funding at all.

Step 2: Make Your Pitch

Arguably the most important step! Your pitch will introduce your idea to the world, and more importantly, it will introduce you to your potential donors. The strength of your pitch can make or break a campaign, so it’s important to make sure there are a few things you absolutely don’t miss. First among those is to have a clearly defined goal; your aim should be a finished, tangible thing that other people can use or consume. This can be a finished product, a book or movie, or even an entire company, but few people will fork over their money for the promise of things to come. Have something to show for your campaign when it’s over.

Also important to include in your pitch is some personal background on your project and yourself. Nothing opens wallets faster than when someone feels personally involved in your project, so start by making them personally involved in you! Explain your passion in a way that is simple and genuine, and emphasize that your donors are investing not only in the finished project, but in your own future. If they fund this project, who knows what else they’ll see from you someday!

Finally, choose your rewards carefully. For some donors, the rewards provide a large portion of their incentive to help, so make it worth their while. This doesn’t mean pull out all the stops, of course; your budget is obviously limited if you’re crowdfunding in the first place! But it does mean to cater your rewards to your audience. Galizia emphasizes that you should offer “bragging rights” rewards over “involvement” rewards. What this means is that people want to show off that they helped the project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be a direct part of it. Put their name in the credits, or send them a prop from your movie, or a signed picture from the people involved, but don’t ask them to, for example, put their lives on hold to appear in a cameo role.

Step 3: Promote, Promote, Promote!

If you’ve got your pitch all set up, your final step is to get that page in front of as many eyes as humanly possible before your campaign ends. For someone who doesn’t have extensive experience in promotion, where to begin could be a bit of a mystery, but rule of thumb says to start with people you know. Friends and family are already invested in your future, and early donations from them will appear on your page and help your project gain traction.

Standard print materials can also be a good bet. Having a physical flyer or card to hand to your personal contacts could encourage them to tell someone else about it, with the added bonus that they don’t have to memorize the project’s details. Posters could also be a good bet, especially if they are displayed in areas where people likely to support your project gather. And there’s always real-world newspapers, which may be interested in running a story or advertisement calling attention to your campaign. Besides, senior citizens read newspapers, and they’ve got that retirement money.

Naturally, there is also the Internet and social media, which are as always fantastic channels for spreading the word. Facebook and Twitter blasts will make sure your followers are aware of what you’re doing, and that they can in turn tell their friends about it. You can also locate online communities, forums, and blogs that may be interested in your project, and make posts on their sites promoting your idea. You could even start your own blog about the project, which has the dual benefit of providing publicity and keeping your donors abreast of current project developments.

Go Forth and Get Funded!

If ideas are the only currency you trade in (out of necessity), crowdfunding is a great way to get your name out there, promote your dreams, and have a ready-made fanbase when your project comes to fruition. I’d like to thank Marguerite Galizia for putting together a great guide on the subject, which again, you should view in its original form if you’d like more information on any part of this guide.

Until next time, may the crowd be ever in your favor!

 

5 Oct

My first article for Ziptask’s blog, Work 3.0! I won’t make a habit of posting my Ziptask stuff here, but this is an exception.

Work 3.0

Don’t get ahead of me.

Freelancers, for many industries, are a fact of life. Media outlets hire them constantly to get fresh perspectives on newsworthy events. Programming development firms often include a revolving door of freelance or third-party programming and QA teams. And many artists subside entirely on freelancing, taking different jobs every few weeks or even every few days. According to this survey from CareerBuilder.com, one in three companies will turn to staffing/recruitment firms and freelancers this year.

But the process of employing freelancers? Sucks. No denying.

At your basest level is the initial act of simply finding a worker you want on your team. You spend money on job ads and spend time posting and responding to offers on Craigslist or LinkedIn or Freelancer or oDesk, hoping against hope to find the one useful name in a pile of thousands. And we haven’t even gotten to the interview…

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Update: Gambitious Goes Live, Crowdfunds Video Game Ventures

26 Sep

Via Chris Marlowe at DigitalMediaWire:

Gambitious, the previously announced [on TW too! – ed.] crowdfunding platform dedicated to games, has gone live in the U.S. with seven projects already up and seeking financial support.

As is typical with crowdfunding, Gambitious invites game producers and designers to set their own goals and present their projects to their best advantage. Where Gambitious differs, however, is that it enables projects to offer equity as well as any other investor and donor premiums they want to.

Gambitious CEO Paul Hanraets said this hybrid business model gives game creators more control over their projects and businesses. It also gives the company a foothold in the U.S., where offering equity through crowdfunding is not yet legal.

Hanraets said the passage of the JOBS Act will lead to American investors being able to join their European counterparts in 2013, but until then those in the U.S. can donate in exchange for a copy of the finished game or other considerations.

The Gambitious platform also includes a qualification process that requires a business and marketing plan for every project seeking funding, but guarantees that the creators retain all of their intellectual property.

Gambitious, which is launching in the U.S. later than it originally planned, is a subsidiary of crowdfunding company Symbid.

“It is time to move from the wild, wild, west of crowdfunding to a more professional model,” said Gambitious co-founder Mike Wilson. “Crowdfunding is the best thing to happen to indies since shareware in the 90′s and Gambitious is a transformational way of funding the video game market – legitimizing, protecting, and maximizing the opportunity for all that want a stake in the game.”

Games currently participating in Gambitious include:

    • Candy Kids by Abstraction Games, The Netherlands
    • Cosmic DJ by Gl33k, USA
    • Mushroom Men by Red Fly Studio, USA
    • Piratoons by Fishing Cactus, Belgium
    • Super Micro Heroes by Mutant Games, Spain
    • Tink by Mimimi Productions, Germany
    • Train Fever by Urban Games, Switzerland

Upcoming projects include the beleaguered Earth No More by 3D Realms, as well as:

    • Pantzer Pets by Gamundo, The Netherlands
    • Stronghold Crusaders 2 by Firefly Studios, United Kingdom

It’s worth noting that 3D Realms is the company that produced the first three Duke Nukem games, before floundering on Duke Nukem Forever for fifteen years and handing the project off to Gearbox (Borderlands and Brothers in Arms series). Hopefully their new project won’t take that long.

Duolingo’s Luis Von Ahn Talks Crowdsourcing With NBC Learn

30 Aug

Luis Von Ahn NBC Learn

NBC Learn posted a nice 5-minute video yesterday in which they discussed Duolingo and ReCAPTCHA with their creator, CMU Professor Luis von Ahn. I’ve written about Duolingo in the past, so it’s really nice to see so much attention being given towards it.

One point of contention, though: the video claims that there are almost 7 billion people worldwide who use the internet regularly. Not even close. The entire population of Earth would have to be online. The true figure, at least for 2011, is closer to 2.3 billionSmall difference.

The Final Frontier: Crowdsourced Romance?

7 Aug

Write My RomanceI’d be lying if I said it never occurred to me that romantic encounters could be crowdsourced. My problem lied in the process of transferring this insanely complicated series of human interactions  into a simple platform that would achieve results.

I have not found such a platform, but I have found someone who’s willing to give the thing a shot. Sola Puella (“Single Girl” in Latin) has just started a blog called “Write My Romance“,  where she intends to crowdsource her so-far-unsuccessful dating life. Through a series of posts detailing her past relationships, recounting date experiences, and stating what she looks for in a soulmate, she hopes to solicit advice from her readers and perfect her own dating process.

She’s started off well. I have to give her big props for including her extensive back-history. No two people are the same, and things that happened in the past can have big ramifications on the future. It’s good, then, that her readers can see what’s worked (and hasn’t worked) in Sola’s past, and change their recommendations accordingly.

Photo courtesy of Stefan Gustafsson

© 2010 Stefan Gustafsson

In terms of the crowdsourcing aspects, so far it looks like Sola is just after unbiased, objective advice. This in itself is a fine pursuit for any sort of romantic; we’re often blind to simple solutions for our personal problems, and the friends and family Sola already has may share a similar blindness or be inclined to give less than truthful advice to spare Sola’s feelings. The Internet will offer no such buffers.

If Sola wishes to integrate more crowdsourcing aspects into her dating journey, there are options available to her. Dating sites like OkCupid and PlentyOfFish are as close to crowdsourcing as a romantic service can come. I recently reported on WeGoLook, which could scope out potential dates before she wastes her time on an obvious dud. And once she finds someone promising, she could use sites like Schemer to find the perfect date idea.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on Sola Puella’s progress, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to talk to her personally and find out a little more about the drive behind this endeavor. Should she find this process fruitful, I have no doubts that single men and women will be banging down her door to learn her secrets.

Peter LaMotte Clears The Air About GeniusRocket at TEDxWDC

10 Jul

Many of you may remember my less-than-kind critique of GeniusRocket a little while back. Peter LaMotte, the president of the company, was so kind as to comment on the article (amicably!) and invite me to their DC office to discuss the matters further.

Our meeting was an eye-opening experience, and I am much more at ease with how their model works now. If you’re still wondering how this story shook out, this speech, given by Mr. Lamotte at TEDxWDC, may shine some light on the GR process. The company is nowhere near as bad as I originally thought; they’re just geared towards a different type of audience than I expected.

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