Viewing entries in
How To

Crowdfunding failures are invaluable

Comment

Crowdfunding failures are invaluable

CROWDFUNDING-HERO

I have been both fortunate and unfortunate in discovering the crowdfuding website Kickstarter quite early on. I have “backed” a.k.a. bought a variety of early stage products on Kickstarter since then and have had hugely varying levels of success and satisfation.

If you’ve ever backed any project on a crowdfunding site, you’ll be inclined to agree; things rarely ever go as planned.

In the end, it isn’t about receiving an shiny new product or feeling like I’m a part of something greater than myself; it is about the journey (lol). There extremely valuable and insightful lessons to be learnt that aren’t immediately obvious.

If you've ever wondered what it takes to bring an idea into the real world read on, trust me, it’s not as lame as it sounds. 

My Experiences

If you’re expecting to browse a crowdfunding site, back a project, and have the product arrive at your door a week later you will be severely disappointed

In reality, you should expect the product to arrive at your door anywhere from 6 months to 2 years later, with the real possibility of it never arriving at all. Meanwhile, you should expect strenuous amounts of back-and-forward communication between the project creators and yourself; filling out surveys, voting on colour and material preferences, inputing postal addresses etc.

Depending on how smooth the project goes you’ll be receiving constant updates on the problems they’ve faced and how it will effect your product and the estimated ship date.

If you are fortunate enough to actually witness and receive a shipped product, there is a highly likely chance that it will not resemble what you had initially ordered. 

I once backed a gym / protein water bottle, simple as it sounds. It arrived an entire year later, didn’t work as intended and the bottle material had been changed to a disgusting smelly rubber material that attracted dust and dirt abroad. Not great for something you’re meant to drink from. 

Let me reiterate that for emphasis; it was essentially a water bottle.

That is not to say that all my experiences with crowdfunding have been dissapointing. A small percentage of products I backed did arrive in a timely fashion and I was quite surprised and pleased with their quality and construction. 

The collection of my experiences in crowdfunding would strongly be categorised as either a hit or a strong miss.

I ain’t even mad.

For me at least, I think there is more to be gained than some quirky bleeding edge “concept” of a product. Heck, backing a crowdfunding project isn’t even about supporting the project and helping it’s creators “realise their dreams”. 

Instead, backing crowdfunding projects serves as a cheap way to access current, real-time, real-world projects that help you gain an insight into what it actually takes to deliver a product / service to market. 

Backing a crowdfunded project takes you on a serious entrepreneurial journey and illuminates what it really means to be a small bootstrapped startup. A large majority of the project creators on crowdfunding sites do not know what they are doing. Like real entrepreneurs, they have to dive headfirst into the water and figure out how to swim whilst drowning.

The Journey

Don’t back a project for it’s material rewards. Back it so you can get front row seats to witness the happenings of a real world product development cycle. From the inception of a seamingly great and straight forward idea, to generating enough marketing buzz for it to be successfully funded. To go from prototyping to machine tooling, to full-scale production runs and packaging all the way to organising global scaled warehousing and logistics.

Along the way you’ll learn of all the problems the project team will run into and how they did or didn’t solve them. You’ll experience first hand the user-experience they provide to their crowdfunders (investors) and how their effective their communication methods are. You’ll see what they initially proposed and what actually arrives at the consumers door step.

Finally, with greater-than-your-average-consumer insight, you’ll witness either the birth of a successful company or the fading of yet another entrant to the unforgiving business world.

MBA / Startup school lessons for as little as $1

So you’re convinced that you should check out and possibly back a project or two. Great. 

I recommend scouting a few projects and keeping up to date with all future projects on Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Draw up a list of the one’s that interest you and use the shotgun approach by pledging the minimum amount (usually $1) to each project. By doing so you’ll be sure to receive the full updates to the projects and be able to track their progress. (For $1 don’t expect to actually receive anything other than a digital Hi 5). 

If you’re game enough, maybe even try pledge a bit more to actually receive a product — but only if you really believe in the idea; and more importantly — the people behind the idea.

Warning: your experiences and lessons learnt may vary depending on how well and often the project creators communicate, organise and run the crowdfunding project. By pledging the minimum amount to a variety of projects, you ensure that you will experience a broader range of issues and lessons.

Expect the process and duration of the crowdfunded projects to run from a medium to long-term time frame as crowdfunding is not an overnight experience.

Keep an open mind as it is sure to widen your perpective on what it actually requires to take an idea and turn it into a real world product. Good luck!

 

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH:

ORIGINAL CONTENT. If you wish to quote, excerpt, or republish this article or any content contained within, please refer to the Terms of Use page for guidelines and gain expressed permission before doing so. You can contact me at: contact@itchban.com or through the contact forms found in the Terms of Use and About Us pages.


Comment

Posted by .

3 Comments

The Best Ways To Use Hashtags on Instagram

BEST-INSTAGRAM-HASHTAGS

The Instagram Hashtag

By now, you should know what hashtags are on Instagram. Basically, they're a quick way to help you share and publicly archive your images to the hash tagged word. (Read more about it on Instagram's blog here). Instagrams blog post even states that hashtags are a way to "find new followers and share your photos with more people

Instagram Hashtags Are Broken And Tricky

The Hashtag system was a great way to share your images on Instagram; that was until Instagram hit it's global popularity status. Instagram recently announced that it has hit the 300 million monthly active user milestone making it the premier photo sharing service of the world. 

The popularity and sheer number of active users has essentially made the hashtag pretty bad at it's job. Under the more popular hashtags (e.g. #vsco, #vscocam), your image will get flooded into oblivion in a matter of microseconds.

Let's be real here, people searching for hashtags won't ever look at more than the first 30-50 images. If you post an image and within 1 minute your photo is immediately pushed beyond the first few pages of results, no one will see your image.

The Trick To Using Hashtags Properly

Ideally, hashtags are meant to connect you with likeminded people and communities and allow you to share your images within those circles. This would be the fastest way to find and connect with new followers.

Which Hashtags to use:

That is why it is best to stay away from the most popular hashtags; especially the one's you find on the "popular hashtag lists" and "popular hashtag apps". Whatever you do, do not Google hashtags to use. They will do you no good.

Instead, find very specific, community based Hashtags. This will ensure that you connect with people who are interested AND looking for pictures like yours - ensuring a high engagement ratio. It should also go without saying that you should keep with the theme of that hashtag and only post images that are relevant. Nothing is worse than an Instagrammer hash tagging all their photos which have absolutely no relation to the theme/topic (see hashtag hijacking below).

The Hashtag engagement needs to be balanced in terms of popularity and active usage. You want your image to stay in a top results position for long enough to be seen by a good amount of users. At the same time, if your image sits in the top results of the hashtag for too long, it usually means that no one is really using & engaging with that hashtag.

 Screen shot taken from blog.instagram.com of their weekly #WHP competitions.

Screen shot taken from blog.instagram.com of their weekly #WHP competitions.

Engage with account specific / competition specific hashtags. The more popular accounts usually have their own account/community specific hashtags that they use - you can find them in their profile description. It is also worthwhile entering some of your relevant images to competitions that Instagrammers and Brands run.

The official @instagram account runs a Weekend Hashtag Pproject (#WHPxxxx) that has a specific weekly theme. They pick a bunch of winners weekly and tag their accounts. If you don't know, @instagram has one of the largest accounts that run competitions so it's great exposure for you. Read more about it at their blog.

Hashtags can often be hijacked. It is because hashtags are public domain, that they can be easily hijacked beyond it's intended purpose. For the more popular hashtags you often find tagged photos that have nothing to do with the original hashtag.

Users who are desperate for likes will usually google the most popular hashtags and just spam them all over their photos. Doing so only destroys the value of the hashtag and makes it useless; hence why you should never Google hashtags to use on your Instagrams.

It is for this reason that Hashtags often have a finite shelf life, so it is necessary to keep up (or create) the latest, most relevant ones.

Managing your Hashtags:

Find good (Relevant) Hashtags and then create a list of the one's that work for you. For obvious reasons, you won't find a list of recommended hashtags in this blog post, because if I did, they would immediately be rendered less useful. Instead, you'll need to find hashtags and communities that are relevant to the themes and styles of your Instagrams and experiment with them. 

You can add / edit / delete Hashtags that are in your Images caption. Now that Instagram has enabled the edit feature for your image's first caption, you can add, edit & delete Hashtags at will. Please note that once you delete a hashtag, it won't remove it from that hashtag's search results. One image can have a maximum of 30 hashtags.

You cannot add hashtags to other users photos, only your own. I often see users commenting hashtags on other Instagrammers images. This does nothing. Only the original user can add hashtags through the caption and comment section.

At the end of the day, the only real way to grow your account is to have great pictures, although using Instagram to it's fullest potential will help you get noticed. 

Overall, I think someone needs to design a more efficient archiving & tagging system (at least for Instagram) as I don't think it is efficient enough to support 300+ million users.

Leave a comment below of your thoughts on this and let me know what works for you :)

Come follow me on Instagram @itchban

 

3 Comments

Posted by .

Comment

Dieter Rams: 10 Principles of Good Design

DIETER-RAMS-BLACK-WHITE-PORTRAIT-HERO

This list has probably been touted more than enough on the Internet and Design circles. I recite Deiter Rams 10 Principles of Good Design on the small, off chance that you haven't already come across them before. Even if you are familiar, it is always necessary to refamiliarise yourself from time to time. 

These are basic, and all encompassing, and can be applied to practically anything that requires meaningful thought and planning. Here we go:

01 GOOD DESIGN IS INNOVATIVE

The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

02 GOOD DESIGN MAKES A PRODUCT USEFUL

A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

03 GOOD DESIGN IS AESTHETIC

The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Pnlu well-executed objects can be beautiful.

04 GOOD DESIGN MAKES A PRODUCT UNDERSTANDABLE

It clarifies the product's structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user's intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

05 GOOD DESIGN IS UNOBTRUSIVE

Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user's self-expression.

06 GOOD DESIGN IS HONEST

It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

07 GOOD DESIGN IS LONG-LASTING

It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years - even in today's throwaway society.

08 GOOD DESIGN IS THOROUGH DOWN TO THE LAST DETAIL

Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

09 GOOD DESIGN IS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the life-cycle of the product.

10 GOOD DESIGN IS AS LITTLE DESIGN AS POSSIBLE

Less, but better - because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

BONUS: Here is a take away poster for you.

 Click to download

Click to download

 

Comment

Posted by .