Monday, 30 December 2013

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles

My children are from a mixed faith marriage. As such I think it's particularly important they grow up with a sense of what each religion is about, not so they can chose one over the other but because many of the people I know with one Jewish parent who were brought up entirely secularly feel that something is missing. 

Ironically, this determination to ensure they know both of our cultures means that over Christmas I have not just been peddling Santa lies but have also been telling the nativity story many times, and answering all the questions that brings up. 

- "Where's Mary now?" 
- "Er, she lives on in hearts and minds."

- "Why did they have a donkey?"
- "Because cars hadn't been invented."

- "What's an angel?"
- "It's what people had before pregnancy tests."

And so it is that miracle babies are on my mind quite a lot, especially as my own littlest baby is about to turn one. 

My daughter took what seemed like a long time to conceive. I am aware it takes some people many more years than it took us (she took two and bit years) but at the time every month felt like a year. My son on the other hand happened immediately we began trying for a second child. 

Conversely, a friend of mine conceived her first child immediately but took two and a bit years to conceive number two. 

Based on our first experiences she thought she was super fertile and I thought we were sub fertile. Turns out we were both wrong - taking a mean average means we both fall pretty much in the normal camp. 

We don't know of course what would have happened had we both tried to conceive a month (or a minute) before we did. Did my friend just catch the right moment out of thousands to have sex when she conceived first time round? Had we tried a month earlier might we have thought we were super fertile too? It is so tempting to think of the baby who takes ages to come as the miracle baby. But of course the fact is they are all miracle babies, the barely believable product of that single moment in the history of people and time. 

- What's a miracle mummy?
- You are darling. 

The season, the fairy lights, the stars, the nativity story, the Jewishness, the heady mix of emotions a first birthday brings - it's only bloody gone to my head. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

How to run a successful Kickstarter project

So I ran a Kickstarter project, to crowdfund a project for my new publishing company, Fisherton Press. You can read all about it here. And see the official Kickstarter project page here

Given I read a lot of blogs on how to run a Kickstarter campaign first, and have been asked that question lots of times since my campaign ended, I thought I would blog some reflections I can point people to. I hope it helps. Feel free to add yours in the comments. 

1) I feel you probably only have one chance to run a small scale friend reliant project. One of my funders, an American musician, shared some advice with me from her own experience running a Kickstarter project and said not to be afraid to cancel the project and set it up again with new tactics and asking everyone to donate again (effectively for the first time as the first donation wouldn't have been cashed), preferably all at the same time so it made the 'popular' slot on the Kickstarter homepage. I don't feel this would have worked for my project as I suspect friends of mine wouldn't necessarily know their donation hadn't been taken, just that they had offered it, and consequently I would have had my slice of their generosity already. But perhaps this does work for some people. 

2) I am based in the UK and concentrated a lot on trying to crack America where crowdfunding is a bigger thing. I tried to get retweets from American celebrities, politicians and journalists thinking if the word spread donations would pour in. This didn't happen. Nearly all of my donations come from people in the UK. 

3) However I think lots of people I know on Twitter saw me sending out loads of tweets to the above people and this reminded them to donate. In that sense it wasn't wasted. 

4) Lots of people told me that they wanted to donate but then didn't. Were they just being nice? Should I have reminded them? Perhaps I would have if near the deadline I hadn't made my target, but I had. Directly asking for money is, it turns out, rather awkward. I preferred the British thing of talking around the project, asking for retweets, and hoping people would thing 'hmmm, a retweet, I can do better than that, have a thousand pounds.'

5) Before I reached my target of £2000 ($3260 US at today's conversion rate) I wondered if perhaps I was being greedy and asking for too much. Then I made the target and wished I had asked for more. I think that means I probably got it about right. What I think you should do is ask for the amount you actually need to make the project happen, which is what I did. Any more is greedy. 

6) I am a journalist. Here is what I should have done. I should have had a media strategy, a press release written and some pitches for articles by me sent before launching the project. I should have had an angle ready for my local paper, for the Jewish press, for the London wide paper, for political magazines, for parenting publications and for publishing titles. And I should have briefed friendly journalists I know and pulled in favours for mentions in their columns in national newspapers. I didn't do any of this until the project launched? And even then a bit half heartedly. In my defence I was on maternity leave. Still, silly me - it was an error not to. Despite all the blogposts I read in advance telling me to prepare, prepare, prepare, I didn't really. You should. It doesn't matter how great your project is, if no one knows about it no one will fund it. 

7) Actually I thought Kickstarter would be so bowled over by my genius idea it would immediately become a staff pick. It didn't. Don't rely on this happening. 

8) I am not a natural fundraiser. One friend sent a particularly generous donation. I immediately emailed him to query whether he had added an extra 0 by mistake and offering to reimburse him. He said he had given what he would have given anyone in sponsorship for running the marathon and that he meant it. I have promised him I will never run a marathon. He has sworn to give up marathons and start publishing books. I am telling the truth. I am not sure he is. 

9) I personally know about 60% of my funders. Truth is, most of your money will come from people you know. Still, that's nearly 50 strangers who are taking a punt on me. Wow!

10) I think I got lucky. Since launching my campaign in October I have read a dozen articles about crowdfunding in newspapers or magazines and had a few approaches from other people I know about their projects or projects run by their friends. I think I got in just on time, probably being the first person to ask many people I know to donate to such a project. As such I suspect people will soon get crowdfunding fatigue. 

Thank you again to everyone who contributed financially, or by tweeting, emailing or Facebooking about the project.