26 June 2013


Using people power to generate start-up funding
Are you a start-up company looking for seed capital?  Rather than turning to venture capitalists, many start-ups are now turning to crowdfunding platforms.  Artists, filmmakers, would be writers and musicians  all apply for crowdfunding in order to roll out that first commercial project.  Crowdfunding is an ideal way to fund a creative project.  Creators do keep 100% ownership of their work but naturally there is a fee taken of the money raised, typically 5%.

Kickstarter was the first of the crowdfunding platforms and appeared about 3 years ago.  Since then it has funded over 95,000 projects.  The most famous of these was the Pebble watch project which raised over $10 million when in fact they were only looking for $100,000.
Today there are scores of crowdfunding platforms each covering a different crowdfunding niche.
Here's a link to the alternative platforms.

How Does It Work?
The trick is to set a funding level that you realistically wish to achieve.  If you don't get enough interest to reach 100% of your funding you receive no funding at all. 
So how do you put forward your case?  You do this via a video of the proposed project, through graphics, informative text and FAQs.  The trick is to set up a stepped reward system for your backers.  Ideally the higher the investment in you, the more the backer receives in return.  You can see that it makes an ideal platform through which to generate advance orders.
Typically the fundraising takes place over a 30 day period.  The number of days remaining is displayed on the project page along with the number of backers to date and the amount of money pledged to the goal amount.

Things I have Noticed
  • Filling out your Kickstarter project page reminds me a lot of LinkedIn, that the correct content is vital to tell your story and promote your project. 
  • Remember its all about your "orientation" to the donor. 
  • The donors need to be able to identify themselves in the project that you are promoting.
  • Sell the benefits not the features.
  • People donate for emotional reasons.  Typically this will be the reason why or how your project came about.  This makes for a good opening paragraph
  • You need to promote this like hell using social media.  I noticed that the project videos received a lot of Facebook shares but very few tweets.  Personally I would rather see this the other way around.
  • I would suggest having a well built up social network before the clock starts ticking on your crowdfunding project.
  • Bring your offline contacts online and your online community offline.  Create a live event based around the project to raise awareness.  I would highly recommend a group photo of all of the participants, who can then be tagged on Facebook, so that your project Facebook page will get into the newsfeeds of all of their friends.

Cody Rauh, a colleague has launched a crowdfunding project to produce a series of children's therapy puzzles.  The purpose of these puzzles is to aid in the development of children with autism, patients with head injury, stroke victims and the recovery of war veterans.
Please give your support at  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/codyrauh/zoobits

PS I just came across someone crowd funding for a new kidney.

3 June 2013

4 SEO Tips For Bloggers

SEO for bloggers
Below are 4 main aspects of SEO for bloggers to keep an eye on.  I only recently learnt of the importance of  semantic keywords and hope you find the LSI keyword tool interesting.

I have always known about search engine optimisation (SEO) however I have always written for people, not search engines.  As a blogger, you do your level best to deliver value to your reader by giving the best possible content on the subject matter.  You cannot do this if you keyword stuff your articles for the apparent benefit of search engines, all in the vain hope of gaining more organic search. At this stage we are all aware of the Google Panda and Penguin updates that constantly change the SEO playing field.  All the more reason to write for people. 

  • Start with the Google Keyword Tool.  This gives the number of searches for your keyword phrase and how competitive that keyword is.  The Google Keyword Tool is a must use on blog titles.  Ideally you want a title with a high monthly global search of 30,000, if you can get it.  Along with this you want a medium keyword competition.  Its a good idea to use this for titles to boost traffic to your blog.  But just remember Wordpress alone has 63 million blogs.
  • Another important element to a blog post's SEO is the use of your post's keywords in the "tags" section. My blog contains a "tag cloud" which shows more frequently used tags in larger text and also gives access to posts with these tags.
  •  Don't forget the use of a good search description to support the blog title.  Make sure this is different to the blog title.  Here you can use more keywords to describe what the article is about.
  • One thing that I recently stumbled upon to increase my blog posts' SEO was the LSI keyword tool.  This is a free tool that checks the latent semantic index (LSI for short) of your keywords.  What this simply means is that it lists keywords that are related to each other.  The reason for this is that Google expects to see certain keywords about the subject matter in an article of authority.  The LSI keyword tool lists words, two word and three word phrases that Google expects around a keyword that you have entered.  Make a note of the top 5 keyword phrases from each column and use these to structure your post.
These are the basics of SEO for bloggers.  I will add to this with another article shortly.