Defining Projects

Defining what your project is about is the first step for every creator. What are you raising funds to do? Having a focused and well-defined project with a clear beginning and end is vital. For example: creating a one act play as opposed to starting a campus acting troupe. The project finishes when the play is done, but this would not be the case for a group. There is no end, just an ongoing effort. With a precisely defined goal, expectations are transparent for doth donors and beneficiaries alike. Donors can judge how realistic the project’s goals are, as well as the student’s ability to complete them. For students, the practice of defining a project’s goal establishes the scope of the endeavor, often an important step in the creative process.

MAKE SURE YOUR PROJECT HAS CLEAR EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS!

Blue Start is open only to finite projects conducted by a student, and if a student wishes to create a reoccurring event, then he/she should approach LUCC. LUCC can then determine if the student should create a new campus group or join an existing campus group that can add the event idea to its itinerary.

Setting Goals

Researching your budget:

How much money do you need? Are you raising the full budget or a portion of it? Avoid later headaches by doing your research, and be as transparent as you can. Donors will appreciate it.

Considering your networks:

Blue Start is not a magical source of money. Funding comes from a variety of sources—your audience, your friends and family, your broader social networks, and, if your project does well, alumni from around the web. It’s up to you to build that momentum for your project.

Choosing your goal:

Once you’ve researched your budget and considered your reach, you’re ready to set your funding goal. Figure out how much money you need to complete the project as promised (while considering how much funding you think you can generate), and select an amount close to that.

Making Videos

Usually the first thing a person does when visiting a page on the internet is click play. One of the best ways to get a feel for the emotions, motivations, and character of a project is through a video. It’s a demonstration of effort and a good predictor of success. Projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without.

Making a video can be intimidating and not many of us like being in front of a camera, but making a video is a challenge that is worth taking on. It says your care enough about what you’re doing to put yourself out there. It’s a small risk with a big reward.

If you have computer access and a ready supply of enthusiasm, you’ve got all you need. Some videos are “big montages” and others are “epic long takes”, but most videos are just someone telling their story straight into the camera. You can spends days shooting and editing, or you can just knock it out with a couple of friends on a Saturday. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be you.

No matter how creative or bare-bones your video, you’ll want to:

     • Tell us who you are.
     • Tell us the story behind your project: Where'd you get the idea? What stage is it at now? How are you feeling about it?
     • Come out and ask for people's support, explaining why you need it and what you'll do with their money.
     • Explain what you won’t accomplish if you don’t reach your goal.
     • Thank everyone!

Don’t be afraid to put your face in front of the camera and let people see who they’re giving money to! You’d be surprised what a difference this makes. Another thing to remember: don’t put any copyrighted music in your video without permission. Expensive lawsuits are never fun. Here are some music resources you can use when the time comes: SoundCloud, Vimeo, Music Store, Free Music Archive, and ccMixter.

Building Projects

As you create your project outline, take your time! The average successfully funded student spends nearly two weeks tweaking ideas for their project before launching. A thoughtful and methodical approach can pay off.

Titling your project:

Your project title should be simple, specific, and memorable, and it should include the title of the creative project you're raising funds for. Imagine your title as a distinct identity that will set it apart ("Make my new album” isn’t as helpful or searchable as “The K-Stars record their debut EP, All Or Nothing"). Avoid words like "help," "support," or "fund." They imply that you're asking someone to do you a favor rather than offering an experience they’re going to love.

Picking your project image:

Your project image is how you will be represented on Blue Start and the rest of the web. Pick something that accurately reflects your project and that looks nice, too!

Writing your short description:

Your short description appears in your project’s page, and it’s the best place to quickly communicate to your audience what your project is about. Stay focused and be clear on what your project hopes to accomplish. If you had to describe your project in fifty words, how would you do it?

Writing your motivations:

Your motivation section is a great opportunity to share more about you. Why are you the one to take on this project? What prior work can you share via links? This is key to earning your backers’ trust.

Promoting Projects

An exceptional project can lead to outpourings of support from all corners of the web, but for most projects, support comes from within their own networks and their networks’ networks. If you want people to donate to your project you have to tell them about it, more than once!

Smart outreach:

A nice, personal message is the most effective way to let someone know about your project. Send an email to your close friends and family so they can be first to pledge, and then use your personal blog, your Facebook page, and your Twitter account to tune in everyone who’s paying attention. Don’t overwhelm with e-blasts and group messages, but be sure to remind your networks about your projects a few times throughout the course of its duration. Take the time to contact people individually. It makes a big difference.

Meeting up:

Don’t be afraid to take your project out into the real world. Nothing connects people to an idea like seeing the twinkle in your eye when you talk about it.

Keeping it real:

Whatever channel you use to tell your project’s story, don’t spam. This includes posting your link on other project pages, @messaging people to beg for money on Twitter, link-bombing on Facebook, and generally nagging people you don’t already know. Over-posting can alienate your friends and fans, and it makes every other project look bad too. Don’t do it!

Project Updates

Project updates serve as your project’s blog. They’re a great way to share your progress, post media, and thank your donors.

Building momentum:

While your project is live and the clock ticking, keep your donors informed and inspired to help you spread the word. Instead of posting only a link to your project and asking for pledges every day, treat your project like a story that is unfolding and update everyone on its progress. “Pics from last night’s show!” or “We found a printer for our book!” with a link to your project is engaging and fun for everybody to follow along with.

Sharing the process:

Once your project’s funding period is over, don’t forget about all the people that helped make it possible. Let donors and spectators watch your project come to life by sharing the decisions you make with them, explaining how it feels as your goal becomes a reality, and even asking them for feedback. Keeping donors informed and engaged is an essential part of Blue Start.

Celebrating success:

Sharing reviews, press, and photos from your project out in the world — whether it’s the opening night of your play or your book on someone’s bookshelf — is great for everyone involved. The story of your project doesn’t end after it gets shipped out. You still have a captivated audience that’s cheering for you. Communicating with them can be one of the most rewarding parts of the process.

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