Archive for November, 2011

Dislike – 16 +17 December in Project Arts

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Colm O’Regan is doing his standup show Dislike in Project Arts on December 16th and 17th. Colm did a mini-version at the Web Awards this year and it got a great reaction from the web savvy crowd. It’s worth a look if you’re a Facebook addict, someone that loves the web and/or someone that finds the bailout and financial crisis to be sad but also darkly funny. Or you will after. Tickets are the same as a packet of cigarettes after the next budget. (€12/€10)

Colm O'Regan Dislike

2500 people have subscribed to my website instead of coming back each day. You can subscribe to the site using a feedreader or email. I'm also on Twitter. My online marketing blog might also be worth a visit. Thanks for visiting - Damien.

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 3)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

This is the third interview with people who have run Fund It campaigns. Fiona Kearney ran the Mixtapes Fund It. Previous interviews: Philly McMahon, Ebby Brett.

Mixtapes Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Mixtapes, why use the Fund It route?

1. Curiosity about trying a new way of fundraising (was aware of Kickstarter in US)
2. opportunity to reach new audiences
3. Create ownership of project among a large set of investors

What would Fund It allow you to do that you couldn’t do previously?

Good to be part of bigger cultural fundraising framework. Enabled migration of investors across artforms Greater impact possible as part of wider online and print media conversation

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive?

Treated it as part of our social media conversation so kept it informal and hopefully informative. Didn’t overload the updates as I got a bit frustrated with overly keen fundraisers constantly in my inbox.

Had fantastic advice from FundIt administrators on how to pitch campaign – they helped us to make it more punchy and appealing to general audience.

Had investors lined up from family and friends at start of campaign to ensure initial investment. Sought support from board throughout. That was pretty much the plan.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

Our project was a genuine make or break. No funding, no book. Not sure if that is case for all the FundIt projects – some seem to seek funding for things that would happen anyway. I think the new creative projects are more compelling.

Any other thoughts on Fund It you’d like to share?

I’ve been really pleased to see projects I’ve funded succeed and particularly appreciate those that follow up with rewards well. I think it is a great way to give people a taste of the delights of philanthropic giving and the possibility of creating an impact with quite modest sums.

I think I could see myself giving people gifts from Fund It – that’s perhaps something that could be developed by the admins of the site

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 2)

Monday, November 21st, 2011

This is the second interview with people who have run Fund It campaigns. Ebby Brett is working on his Wires project right now. Previous interview: Philly McMahon.

Ebby Brett Wires - Fund It

You’ve used Fund It for Wires, why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to using Fund It?

Previously, I’d been involved in the recording of an independently released EP, and a lot of home studio recording, but when it came to starting to decide to record my own record I knew I would need to use a studio. Honestly, I’m pretty crap at recording myself, and I wanted to be sure that if I was going to sell something that it was going to be a decent quality recording. Any of the home recording I had done just wasn’t giving me something I was happy with. Over the years I’ve spent a fair bit of money putting together a decent home studio set up, and in the end I just had to admit that the problem wasn’t the gear, but rather that I just didn’t have that talent for recording myself. I can’t split my brain in two and think like an engineer as I’m trying to also be a musician recording a track.

The costs of recording a full record in the studio are pretty high for a self employed music teacher, so I’d already been looking at sites such as Kickstarter, who were facilitating some very successful crowdfunding campaigns. I knew that roughly half the projects on that site manage to cross their target, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one.

My plan from the outset was to try and cover half the costs myself, and half the costs some other way. I’d already been investigating various crowdfunding options when I heard Fund:it was being launched, which grabbed my interest immediately as it is aimed at projects based in Ireland. I had a few days of studio time behind me and a good sense of how quickly I worked, so I was able to work out a pretty accurate budget.

The appeal of a crowdfunding project to me, was the fact that you weren’t simply just pre-selling the album for a set fee, or going into debt hoping sales will pull you back out, but more that you were giving people a way to feel that they were involved in the creation of the album in some way, as opposed to just being customers or fans. I’ll have to look up the link, but one soundbite that stuck in my head from someone at Kickstarter was about how people were getting more out of feeling involved in the creation of the project than just the outcome itself.

I waited a while before submitting a proposal to Fund:it, and I took the time to look at other projects from all sections of the site. I played things rather cautiously, and reworked my proposal a few times, and ran it by other people before submitting.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

Setting up is ok, that’s true, and in many ways, that is the easy part. But you also can’t change the wording of anything after it is submitted, so you really need to be sure that what you’re submitting will read well, look well, and represent your project well. I had some great feedback from some friends, and then after submitting the project, it was sent back to me twice with further suggestions and helpfully pointing out some things I had overlooked. That was brilliant feedback to get. It was straight to the point, completely focused, and spot on.

But, you are right, after then, there is the constant promotion of the project, and trying to get people to hear about it. The folk at Fund:it were very keen to make note when the project was submitted and going to finally be live on the site, that you really had to work to get it across the line. You couldn’t just throw a project up there and expect it to succeed. I had another level of that myself already, as I knew I was an unknown newbie Irish singer-songwriter trying to get money to record an album. It’s not an easy sell.

I had a very rough plan of action for how to promote it: daily status updates on Twitter & Facebook at different times. Blog posts in more depth, cross-posted to LiveJournal. Forums and other online communities I’m already a member of. However, I was constantly looking at how I could be promoting it better, how I could word things better, how to reach specific groups of people and so on. In short, I was trying to make sure everyone I interacted with online over the last decade and a half had an opportunity to find out about the project.

I was posting a link at least once a day on my twitter, personal facebook account, and music page on facebook. I was also keen to vary up what I was posting in these links, alternating linking to the project directly with a link to the list of people who had already pledged to the campaign. I varied what times of day I was posting the links, as everyone has different online reading habits. As it happens, my funders stretch from Alaska to Sydney. I didn’t want to just post a link at lunchtime Irish time every day, for example, and just piss off the same people who check their twitter at lunchtime every day. It was the driving influence in how I updated those sites, and when – I took stock of what annoyed me the most as a reader, and avoided it.

I made missteps early on, and changed my mind about a few things – for example, I took inspiration from thisispopbaby who endeavoured to thank as many funders either on twitter or facebook as possible, which I thought was a wonderful personal touch. But I just didn’t handle it as well as they did, and ended up tagging people in thank you status updates on facebook which felt a bit spammy to me. But I just reworked what I was doing, and turned every update into a thank you of some kind instead. I was keen to not go down the “give me your money” route, or come across as begging in any way. So instead, I made the conscious choice to use any updates to thank people who had already become involved in the project, give an update on the positive amount pledged so far, and stay away from saying things from a negative or needy point of view as much as possible.

On top of those social networking updates, I was also running a few small facebook ad campaigns for the facebook music page, targeting specific groups of people based on music artists similar to my own style of music. I ran a few that were Ireland specific, and a few that were targeting other countries. I kept the budget really low, and was surprised by the reach of some of the campaigns. These were a bigger success than I imagined, and I saw a significant impact over the fortnight that I had them run. It also translated into pledges more than expected. Some facebook friends hadn’t known of my music page, and it was a way for them to find out about it, and that I was trying to record an album. Others were complete strangers who discovered my music, and saw the link to the fund:it campaign and ended up pledging almost right away.

What I think was key at that point was that I’d already done 5 days in the studio, I’d tracked the piano and vocals for about three quarters of the record, and I was able to edit together two lots of clips giving 30secs or so of the work on each track to date. People could hear the music, and hear how it was sounding in the studio, read that I needed funding to help finish off what they were listening to, and make the decision based on something more tangible than a project description or a short video.

From watching some of the other fund:it projects, and even afterwards again now, you can see that people are more likely to back a winning horse, as such. If they see a lot of people getting involved, or that a project is getting close to its target, they’re much more likely to throw a bit of cash at it too.

I also had my website, which cross-posts to my old livejournal account, and to my facebook page too, so I was trying to post updates on the fund:it campaign as well as other posts about the days in the studio prior to the campaign kicking off. (I should probably point out that I wasn’t in studio at all for the duration of the fund:it project, as I couldn’t allow myself to take full days off from promoting it.) I knew I had still a small audience of readers on livejournal, and people I’d interacted with back in the heyday of my posting on that site did get involved with the campaign and did pledge, much to my delight, to be honest. My aim with the blog posts was to give more of an insight into the work in the studio, and a more detailed update on the fund:it campaign.

The final places that I was targeting were forums that I was a member of. I didn’t use Boards.ie that much, as I’ve never really used those forums much, and I figured if I read posts from a member with under 30 posts in 5 years, who was looking for people to go give them money, I’d probably ignore it too. So, I just posted a thread in the musicians promo forum about my music, linking to the site and social links. But, I’ve been a member of a vibrant forum community for over a decade. There’s a thread there devoted to the musicians and musicmakers on the site, so I was updating that with what was going on with me, as well as simply linking in my sig to the fundit campaign. And the support from members on that forum was far more than I had anticipated, with members of that forum actively sharing the fund:it link on their facebook and twitter accounts, multiple times a week. That kind of support is unreal, as I’d see one of them would have already posted the link on facebook by the time I’d logged in to go and post it myself, for example, and that was really heartening.

On top of all that, I contacted a few people aiming to run a competition to randomly reward pledgers to the campaign at certain points. I was thrilled when the Galway Film Fleadh got back in touch and offered me tickets to give away, and wishing me luck with the campaign. That was wonderful – I had to sets of tickets to give away, and I was keen to reward the people who’d gotten involved early in the campaign, so gave away one set after two weeks, and the other set a week later – a whole week before the project was due to finish. I figured that way, even if I didn’t reach my target and the project failed, I was able to say thank you in a small way to some of the people who were pledging money in the very early stages.

I did also email music bloggers, and all of that stuff, but I knew I was an unknown running a similar project to a few much bigger names, and the chances of getting any coverage were going to be slim. I also sent messages directly to some friends who I knew were quite influential in their friend circles, to ask them in person if they wouldn’t mind helping me out with spreading the project around.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

You will always be surprised by where support comes from.

Reassess everything you’re doing to promote it. Every few days I was looking at what I was already doing, and what else I could do. Getting advice from friends, looking at what other projects were doing, reading up about musicians who were successfully promoting themselves online, and following their twitter feeds to see how they worked, and adapting that for my own personality.

Don’t just expect your fans, friends, family, or followers to just give you money because the fund:it project is running. One of my favourite twitter followers, who I’ve met IRL a few times, and interacted with a lot, didn’t even know about my fund:it campaign until the last few days. You can be promoting the hell out of something, but it can slip some people by, or get lost in the surge of updates on twitter or not be included in the “top news” feed on facebook. Just because you’ve posted it doesn’t mean anyone has read it. I emailed a friend about the project, but he was heading away on holidays, and even after he came back it took him two weeks to get through his email inbox and discover the project a day too late.

Have some other ideas to fall back on if your project doesn’t reach the target. Try to have something that gives a good idea of what the project is. I noticed a bigger interest after I had sample clips available that gave an idea of what the album was going to sound like.

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 1)

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

When Fund It was announced ages back along with other grant announcements like 180k on a hologram about Irish Coffee, I was slightly cynical. Sure it was just a clone of Kickstarter. And it was and is.

Fund It though is localised and with it, it has a vibrant community of people in the arts, trying to build creative or crazy projects with the help of the general public. I’ve been impressed with the way people are taking to it both as those soliciting funds and those contributing 5 euros, 10 euros or 500 euros. I’ve asked three people who have used Fund It for projects to share their thoughts on using Fund It. To note: I started writing this post in August and have finally had time to put it all together now.

I interviewed Philly McMahon from ThisIsPopBaby about Year of Magical Wanking, Eamonn Brett for his Wires project and Fiona Kearney from Lewis Glucksman Gallery about Mixtapes. I got very detailed answers back from everyone so I’m splitting this into three parts. First up is Philly, tomorrow will be Ebby and the next day will be Fiona.

Year of Magical Wanking and Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Year of Magical Wanking, anything else?

I lead the Year Of Magical Wanking campaign, and have advised the Late Fragments as well as some smaller advice to Paper Dolls.

Why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to this?

For theatre, some other options are:

  • Apply to the Arts Council for a grant.
  • Don’t do the show.
  • Do the show with everyone working for free as well as beg borrowing and stealing equipment, props etc.

Fund It allows a project to reward people who wish to pledge money to their campaign. If the rewards are good enough, then it becomes less about charity and more of an exchange. For emerging companies or for projects that are unlikely to be eligible for public funding, Fund It offers an opportunity to raise all or part of the money needed to get a project off the ground. I guess it’s the modern equivalent of a Pub Quiz fundraiser – only now you don’t have to go to a boring quiz, and you might actually ‘win’ something you want.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

There is a lot of work involved in creating your project. It’s good to make a video specific to your campaign – writing clear copy for your homepage and working on rewards that are worth pledging cash for but are also achievable (while not burning a giant hole in the total you’ve raised – there’s no point in raising 3k and spending half of it issuing rewards). Once the campaign is created, I would advise making a plan of how to roll out your campaign – how to keep it fresh and afloat for the time period you’ve chosen. We had a full plan of how, who and when we were updating social media sites, direct mails, mailshots etc etc. You have to constantly drive the campaign.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

I’m not entirely sure about lessons learned. there’s very little that I wouldn’t do again. my main advice is to choose a realistic target – ask yourself who is going to pledge money to your campaign and why. I’d advise people to have a really good campaign video – really clear copy (be economic with words – no waffle). Identify who is rolling out your project – there may be ten people involved but only four might be web savvy, so who is gonna drive the thing? I would advise people to question their social media networks – do they have enough friends, fans and followers to warrant sufficient interest in the project? And also to use Fund It as a way of giving friends and family an outlet to support their work. After that – my advice is to sit on the project until the very last day. it can be hard work – but no-one gets thousands of euros easily. Thank people, acknowledge people and be grateful. People are parting with hard earned cash – it’s incredible.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?

I think Fund It has some other plusses. For theatre, I believe it’s a way of cultivating an audience. Before a show opens you already have X amount of ambassadors who will not only buy a ticket, but they’ll bring friends. They’ll tell people about this project they’ve invested in and they’ll talk about it. I also think it’s interesting to invite people to take a closer look at the artistic process – let them know how much things cost and how things are made. It can make the art form seem far less elite, and certainly for me that’s important.

Fluffy Links – Saturday November 19th 2011

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The annual IrissCon security conference and HackEire, the ethical hacking event are on this year on November 23rd. Taking place in D4 Berkeley Court, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4,

Laughing Lion Tees has been born. All the t-shirts are illustrated by Jennifer Farley. Might make nice Christmas gifts.

Sarah blogged her experiences of Hard Working Class Heroes. Nice coverage.

Want landscape advice or it done for you? Gorgeous Gardens is around for that. They’re currently doing a “Recession Special” Christmas Voucher.

Steve’s Job. Stephen Cleary is looking for a job.

Startup advice in 13 sentences.

Welcome to the future. A full dual-core computer in a USB stick. Very James Bond.

Sports Stars and Social Media is going to be huge soon enough, even in Ireland.

BBC documentary on perfume. Part 1 of episode 1:

Service – Lessons from Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

I was lucky enough to have lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud a few weeks back. €48 a pop for a three course lunch with the usual teas and coffees and Petits Fours included too. Speaking of which:

Patrick Guilbaud Petits fours

The food was stunning, as it would be from a two star Michelin restaurant. What really marks it out for me is the service. The service in restaurants that know they’re special is non-intrusive, warm and not at all pretentious. I’ve been to restaurants where the staff think they and their workplace are special and have a snotty attitude towards everyone. Normally this gives them validation to have sloppy service, serving up variations of chicken currys. They’re the “it” place for a blip in time and love the attention of the fickle public. Guilbaud’s, Chapter One, Thornton’s, Cliffhouse Hotel and other Michelin-like restaurants almost seem timeless inside their doors. They’ll keep doing what they do to an amazing standard no matter the weather or economic climate outside their doors.

All the staff in Guilbaud’s appear to be French and it seems obvious they are drilled as if they were in the military. With their black tux like uniforms you sometimes see the room flowing with black and white as they go about their work. Dishes are served with panache, on silver trays, covered with silver covers that are removed at the exact same time for everyone. Nice flair. No clapping allowed! Well, we didn’t. In between courses someone with a silver crumber in the shape of a razor fish comes along to wipe the crumbs off the table. If you leave the table, someone is over to reposition your chair and refold your napkin. Tempting to do a Homer Simpson “lights go on, lights go off” type situation with getting up every few minutes.

I think any business that works in the service industry (and I think anyone that works with the public is such a company) would learn a lot about providing good customer care from dining at this restaurant. Everything seems to flow easily but you know tradition, training and thought have gone into everything. Every detail has been considered and whether you think this makes everything artificial or not, it still makes you appreciative. I was reminded of the Steve Jobs biography and how obsessive he was about everything. Not that I have read it but every second paragraph from it appears to have been quoted online already.

So yes, food, here’s a surprise starter and the main course of veal. Surprise starter, starter, main course, desert, petitis fours and espresso came to €48 which for the food alone was worth it but the service we received will stay with me and inspire me to try and be that good with my own business. From communications, to product, to presentation of the product to (the hardest bit) making all of this seamless. Thanks Guildbaud’s.

Guilbaud Surprise starter

Guilbaud Veal

On that, the Restaurant Patrick Guildbaud has a book celebrating the first 30 years and it retails at €50. Profits will go to The Irish Hospice Foundation. Available at Avoca stores, Brown Thomas, Dubray Books, Fallon & Byrne, House of Frasier, The Irish Hospice Foundation and the restaurant itself at 21 Upper Merrion Street. The book is quite beautiful.

What didn’t happen at the Web Awards

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Being a Mulley type awards gig, we try and make it as informal and fun as we can. Or childish. Sometimes this is the same thing.

I had an idea for the Web Awards that we could start handing goodies in the form of sweets out to people in the audience. Then when I fleshed this out I thought a fun way to do this is to package the sweets in airline trays and hand them out row by row. And to make it more fun again I envisaged drag queens (it is my objective to have drag queens be involved in some way in a Mulley gig in the next while just to intimidate and amuse some straightlaced hetero males) dressed up as trolley dollys handing out the trays to rows of people. A combination of the High Life and Willy Wonka.

AirlineTray

Sourcing the trays was the issue though. Drag queens are a plenty. I think I would have had to buy at least 100,000 units in order to get the trays. Did my best to find local sources but nobody seemed to get access to a supplier. Ah well, another time.

Still, we did have Pushcakes from Curious Cupcakes. Cupcakes done like pushpop lollipops.
Pushcakes

Photo by The Sociable.