Happy #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday Digital Sisters!
I believe a woman with a scarf is a woman with a story. That’s why I’m launching the #ShopVIDAwithAL digital storytelling campaign to encourage women to share stories about their favorite scarves and promote my new collection of VIDA Voices scarves that bring ART TO LIFE.
When I partnered with VIDA, a woman-owned e-commerce platform, to create my scarf collection, I thought about the many ways scarves have helped me define my signature style and tell stories about my life, creativity, and travel experiences. I also reflected on my first scarf experience. It happened nearly 30 years ago when I was a first year law student at Howard University School of Law (1986).
My mother gave me a royal blue angora sweater from Lord & Taylor that celebrated our membership in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She suggested I find a scarf to wear with it. My mother was and remains my scarf icon!
With limited funds, I walked to a thrift shop and spent an hour searching for scarves. The owner brought me a brown and royal blue paisley silk scarf to look at. It had just the right amount of casual elegance I needed to flaunt my new angora sweater. Yes, it was scarf love at first sight! Nowadays, my favorite scarves give me that extra “ooh la la” feeling when I travel to the White House for meetings, book meet ups with fans, conferences, events, and London.
Do you have a favorite scarf story? Who taught you to wear scarves? Where have your scarves taken you in the world? I invite you to share your scarf stories along with a photo featuring you and your favorite scarf in the comment section below or on your blog and social media. Use the #ShopVIDAwithAL hashtag.
Click here for more information on how to purchase my scarves ($40 each) with the 20% VIDAVOICES code discount this week.
Happy #CreativityThursday! Guess what my vision board book has? An image and affirmation about being a designer of a product line. They manifested in real time on Saturday afternoon when I accepted an email invitation to become a designer with VIDA, a San Francisco-based socially-responsible e-commerce platform that collaborates with artists around the world to create original and inspiring apparel and accessories. Artists participate in the platform at no cost, then receive a 10% revenue share on products sold.
VIDA CEO Umaimah Mendhro, a native of Pakistan, launched the e-commerce platform in November 2014. As a child, Mendhro wanted to become an artist, but knew it would be difficult to pursue her career dream. While she was attending Harvard Business School, she tapped into her childhood dream and knowledge that textiles are a major contributor to Pakistan’s GNP to build VIDA’s business model that pays its producers a liveable wage and offers a literacy program to factory workers. As a result, factory workers are able to build a better life for themselves and their families. Isn’t that a great business model? It’s one of the reasons I became a VIDA designer!
This week, I searched my collages, graphic designs, and paintings to find several pieces that invite people to welcome art into their lives as a gateway for self-discovery and healing. After I selected the images that decorate the covers of my three books, I worked with VIDA to transform them into my VIDA Voices collection . Drum roll please. Today, I’m proud to introduce my VIDA VOICES collection of scarves that bring ART TO LIFE! My scarf collection helps people do three things:
Create an affordable Signature Style ($40 for each scarf).
Express Social Responsibility (portion of proceeds funds literacy program for factory workers who make scarves in Pakistan).
Tell Storiesthat celebrate the power of creativity, self-discovery, self-love, and women in social media and technology (the designs were created from artwork that decorates the covers of my books which discuss these themes).
It features four designs you can choose from. Each scarf measures 80 inches by 26 inches and is made of 100% MicroModal, a soft, luxurious fabric that will add a bold, modern statement to any wardrobe. See a description of each scarf below. FYI: VIDA will produce and ship my scarf designs within 60 days if there are 3 or more pre-orders. Here’s how you can help me succeed at being a VIDA designer in the next 14 days.
Pre-order a scarf ($40) for yourself and someone special in your life, and use the 20% discount code VIDAVOICES.
Share this blog post with folks in your network via social media and email, and encourage them to buy a scarf and share the news with their network.
Take a photo of yourself wearing the scarf and post it on your blog or social media with the hashtags #ShopVIDA and #ShopVIDAwithAL. Send it in an email to your network. Be sure to send the email to me too: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will post your photos on my blog and social media.
The Digital Sisterhood scarf ($40) celebrates the power of women in social media and technology. It is the perfect multipurpose accessory for women who are attending blogging, social media, and technology conferences because it celebrates their inner geek with style and keeps their warm and cozy during sessions held in chilly rooms. Its bold colors also make it a lovely summer scarf. The design theme of sisterhood gives women permission to rock it all year long! Click here to purchase it. Here’s one more thing you should know.The design is based on a logo featured on my book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (available on Amazon).
The Kreative Grooviness scarf ($40) celebrates the positive energy that awakens individuals when they embrace and express their creativity. Spring is a great time to wear this scarf to spark new creative beginnings. It can also be worn all year as a stylish reminder to honor your creative spirit. Click here to purchase it. Oh yeah, I’ve got one last thing to share about this design. It is based on my Kreative Grooviness painting that decorates the cover of my book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery(available on Amazon).
The Karma scarf ($40) celebrates a woman’s self-discovery process which I believe is a lifelong path and commitment to Fierce Living. It can be worn as a sacred style touchstone that helps one begin to explore, deepen, understand, and honor the beauty that lies within. The striking colors make it a great autumn accessory. This scarf also represents Karma, a woman on a journey of self-discovery and the main character in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One. Click here to purchase it. Guess what? The design is based on my painting, Karma: One of Love’s Troubadours that is featured on the cover of Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon)
The Karma: Aham Prema scarf ($40) celebrates a woman’s self-love journey which I believe is a daily Fierce Living practice and process. That means it can be worn 24/7 every single day of the week, month, year, and decade. Let’s just call it what it is. A lifetime signature style piece! How cool is that? What’s more, its colors evoke a sense of royalty that is perfect to flaunt during the winter months and holiday celebrations. Here’s what also makes it even more special. It represents Karma, a woman on a journey of healing and the main character in my novel, Love’s Troubadaours. Click here to purchase it. The design is based on my painting, Karma: Aham Prema (I am love) that is featured on the cover of Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon).
Today’s blog is all about social media and nonprofit digital storytelling.
What is social media?
Social media is a means of communication that builds and enhances relationships online and offline. Social media relies on content. Content includes ideas and information. Social media tools help communicate ideas and share information. Social media allows you to have a conversation with others about ideas and information. The conversations you have through social media create connections. When you cultivate the connections you have established through social media, you build community. The connections you make and communities you build through social media lay the foundation for your audience in digital storytelling.
Did you know there are seven social media secrets of nonprofit digital storytelling?
I recently gave a workshop presentation for my client, Serve DC that introduced the seven social media secrets of nonprofit digital storytelling to AmeriCorps agencies in Washington, DC. See my presentation below or click here to view it on SlideShare.
Just in case you need more information about the seven social media secrets, I have included my talking points, a how to guide on creating a social media strategy plan that I use with my clients, and several nonprofit resources.
If you would like me to facilitate a workshop or give a talk for your agency, business, community, group, or organization, please contact me on 202.607.3509.
7 Social Media Secrets of Nonprofit Digital Storytelling
Secret #1: Define your social media goals (why does your organization want to use social media to tell stories?)
Secret #2: Know your audience (clients, donors, staff, Board members, funders, interns, volunteers, community and corporate partners, local citizens and organizations with shared interests, businesses, and other local stakeholders).
Secret #3: Know where your audience lives online.
Secret #4: Become your audience’s digital neighbor (maintain an active digital presence on the same social media sties that your audience belongs to).
Secret #5: Know what types of digital stories appeal to your audience.
Secret #6: Develop a plan to tell your digital stories (that includes an editorial calendar, time management tools like HootSuite to help you schedule your social media efforts in advance, any special campaigns/events/advocacy efforts, technology tools needed to create digital stories and use social media, budget and funding for technology tools, identifying staff duties for managing social media and digital storytelling efforts, social media/digital storytelling training for staff, and/or recruitment for interns and volunteers with digital communications and public relations experience).
Secret #7: Evaluate your digital storytelling efforts weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually (document lessons learned and best practices and study what other nonprofit organizations are doing and learn from their efforts).
Creating A Social Media Strategy Plan
When I help an organization create a social media strategy plan, I use a series of questions to guide its development and execution. They are organized into six categories: goals, target audience, content, social media budget and team, social media and technology tools, and evaluating social media efforts. See below.
What are your organization’s quarterly and annual goals?
How will social media support the goals (examples: create/curate/distribute content, engagement, network building, and promotion)?
What calls to action, campaigns, events, program initiatives, and services will be used to accomplish the goals?
What is your timeline for accomplishing the goals with social media support?
Who is your target audience for each call to action, campaign, event, product, program initiative, and/or service?
Where does your target audience reside online?
What type of content (articles, blogs, photos, podcasts, social media messaging, surveys, webinars, and videos) appeals to your target audience?
What are the sources of content?
Who will develop the content?
What are the content requirements for your editorial calendar on a daily, weekly, quarterly, and/or annual basis?
SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGET AND TEAM
What is your social media budget?
Who will manage, execute, and support your social media efforts (primary lead person, team members, interns, online community members, and brand/blogger ambassadors)?
What are your social media team’s skills?
What type of resources and training does your social media team need to stay updated on current and emerging social media best practices, tools, and trends?
How much time does your social media team have to commit on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis to the management and execution of social media efforts?
SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY TOOLS
What are the best social media tools to communicate with your target audience?
What type of technology tools (digital/web cameras, laptops, microphones, printers, smartphones, software, tablets, and time management tools) do you have and/or need to manage and execute your social media efforts?
EVALUATING SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS
Who will review your social media efforts (executive officers, social media staff, communications staff, media/public relations staff, development staff, membership staff, information technology staff, and/or online community members)?
What tools will you use to analyze your social media efforts?
How often will you analyze, modify, and review your social media efforts?
Curated Storytelling: Paper.li (electronic paper – http://paper.li) and Storify (http://storify.org – great for documenting live and online events and campaigns that use photos and videos with hashtags)
Today, I am using my blog to send a Digital Citizenship Valentine to the White House (WH), WH Office of Digital Strategy staff and interns, and my fellow social media leaders who participated in the #WHSocial French Arrival Ceremony for President Francois Hollande on February 11.
The Office of Digital Strategy uses digital media to promote President Barack Obama’s agenda and policies. Through its efforts, the American people have been given an opportunity to do three things:
To see what’s happening at the WH on a daily basis via WhiteHouse.gov and WH social media channels.
To engage President Obama, WH officials, and other policy makers in conversation about the future of our great nation through WhiteHouse.gov Live events, Town Halls, Facebook and Twitter chats, and Google Hangouts.
To express their digital citizenship by making comments and asking questions on WH social media channels, sharing and discussing what they learn with their digital network, and creating their own WH-related content to engage their network.
Four years ago, the Office of Digital Strategy began inviting Americans who serve as social media influencers and leaders in their online networks to participate in face-to-face Tweet Ups and #WHSocial events that support the State of the Union, Town Halls, and other WH events. The social media influencers and leaders have been able to expand the WH’s public outreach efforts. Their efforts reach many more Americans who get their news from social media. They have also worked to breakdown the barriers between the U.S. government and its citizens. Together with the Office of Digital Strategy, they are helping to make the Obama administration the most accessible and transparent administration in U.S. history.
In January, I was invited as 1 of 60 social media leaders (out of a pool of over 6,000 applicants) to participate in the State of the Union Social. Click here to read about my experience.
A few days after the event, I learned about and applied to participate in the #WHSocial French Arrival Ceremony. To my surprise, I was selected to attend the event as 1 of 100 social media leaders (out of a pool of 2,500 applicants). Today, I took time to reflect on my experiences and came up with 4 Reasons to Love #WHSocial Events.
1) I love #WHSocial events because they gave me a chance to meet, network, and build community with a diverse group of Americans from all over the country. That’s exactly what I did on Monday night when I organized and hosted a meet up for my fellow social media leaders at the Old Ebbitt Grill.
The next day, I reconnected with my #WHSocial BFFs and made new ones on the South Lawn of the White House, during the briefing with WH staff, and at an impromptu lunch at Cosi’s.
2) I love #WHSocial events because they energized and convinced me to step up my digital citizenship game. Next week, I will begin using my Internet Geek Tuesday blog series to discuss digital citizenship, launch and celebrate Digital Citizenship Month (yep I am creating it) in July to encourage Americans to use their digital presence to get involved and civically engaged at the local and national level, profile #WHSocial leaders and influencers, and discuss WhiteHouse.gov information and WH online engagement efforts.
3) I love #WHSocial events because they inspired me to use all of my social media platforms to get the word out about President Obama’s activities, policies, and programs. I used Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Storify, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine video app, VoiceBo podcast app, and WordPress to share my #WHSocial adventures this week.
Check out my #WHSocial Pinterest board which contains over 50 pins filled with articles, blog posts, videos, and photos that discuss the French President’s State visit.
I really enjoyed creating Vine videos featuring my fellow social media leaders in action as they prepared for the #WHSocial briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Interviewing my fellow social media leaders with the VoiceBo app was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed using it to give updates about my #WHSocial preparation and reflections.
Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter were probably my most favorite social media tools to use while live tweeting during the #WHSocial events.
4) I love #WHSocial events because they gave me an opportunity to meet and talk with WH staff. During the #WHSocial briefing, I asked Kori Schulman, Director of Online Engagement, how the Office of Digital Strategy was leveraging the support of people who have participated in the #WHSocial events. I suggested creating a #WHSocial Ambassador Program. Yesterday, I received an email indicating that a #WHSocial Alumni Program is in the works! And that’s just one more reason to love #WHSocial events!
Next week, I’ll be sharing more about my #WHSocial adventures. So drop by! Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day Weekend!
January 29: The day after the event, I reached out to my fellow social media leaders on LinkedIn. As a result, I received an invitation to meet up with Jason Nellis, OverAchiever Media founder and a DC social media leader I missed meeting at the White House. We agreed to meet in person the following week to discuss our #SOTUSocial experiences.
I also gave my #SOTUSocial digital sisters a special #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday shout out on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter that featured a collage of several women I met during the event.
January 30: The next day I wrote my first blog recap post about being a digital citizen and my journey to the White House, and recorded a podcast that discussed my definition of a digital citizen. I shared the blog post with my social media network and retweeted, shared, and commented on blogs, photos, and tweets by my fellow social media leaders.
I updated my #SOTUSocial Pinterest board with links to the social media leaders’ articles, blogs, and photos. I also visited WhiteHouse.gov and found blog posts and videos to add to the Pinterest board.
February 3: I met Jason at Tynan Coffee & Tea and we recorded a podcast about our #SOTUSocial experience. Click here to listen (3 minutes).
I explored the WhiteHouse.gov blog to see if there were any ways I could deepen my social engagement this week. Guess what I found? A notice inviting social media leaders to apply to attend the White House French Arrival Ceremony Social (#WHSocial) on February 11. Since I am a Francophile (have been since my first French class in high school) and a digital diplomacy fan, I applied. You can too. The deadline is February 5 at 6:00 p.m. EST. Click here for details.
I also wrote a Tumblr blog post about my passion for France and desire to participate in the February 11th #WHSocial where President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome French President François Hollande to the White House.
What’s Next: This week, I’ll be writing blog posts celebrating the dynamic women I met (for Digital Sisterhood Network’s blog), featuring the #SOTUChat highlights, and lessons I learned from the #SOTUSocial.
Q: In your writing, you tell stories. How did you become a storyteller?
AKML: I grew up around women who loved to tell stories about their lives. My grandmother, great aunt, and mother shared photo albums, scrapbooks, clothing, jewelry, and memorabilia from events they attended to illustrate their stories. Their stories were told so often I memorized them. Eventually, they were embedded into the tapestry of my life. In high school, college, and law school, I proudly wore their vintage clothing and jewelry with my outfits and told stories about the items to my friends. I still wear these items and share stories. Wearing their things reminds me of who I am and where I come from. It connects me to them at all times.
Q: This book is your second memoir. Who are your favorite memoirists?
AKML: Dr. Maya Angelou is the first memoirist I read in junior high school. I love how Dr. Angelou tells her life stories in a series of books. I adore how Alice Walker and Ntozake Shange have used poetry to tell their personal stories. My friend and activist/artist/scholar Tim’m West’s poetical memoir gave me freedom to write my first memoir. I also enjoy reading memoirs written by feminist scholar and cultural critic bell hooks, artist Faith Ringgold, and yoga teacher Cyndi Lee.
Q: What prompted you to write this book?
AKML: In 2009, a publisher (that was on my dream list of publishers) contacted me to explore the possibility of entering into a book contract about how the Internet has impacted women’s creativity. Thrilled and excited, I entered into a round of discussions with the publisher. She introduced me to two writing mentors who helped me flush out my ideas for a book outline. I shared the Sisterhood the Blog book outline with her and launched a blog, Facebook group, and Twitter account to begin writing the book. A few weeks later, the publisher lost interest. I tried several times to follow up, but did not receive a response. Devastated is the best word to describe how I felt.
My writing mentors encouraged me to write and self-publish the book. So I dived deep into my new blog and distributed its content on my social media sites. A few months later, I added a podcast to the mix. Through my blog, podcast, and social media sites, I was able to interview and profile a diverse group of women in social media and technology. When I attended local and national conferences, events, and meet ups, I used my video camera and audio podcast app to record my interviews. These efforts expanded my understanding of the roles women play in the digital space.
My focus for the book changed after I attended the BlogHer annual conference’s closing keynote, “How to Use Your Voice, Your Platform and Your Power,” featuring PBS anchor Alison Stewart, White House Project founder Marie Wilson, author and activist Gloria Feldt, and journalist and environmentalist P. Simran Sethi, in 2010. Listening to these women’s stories convinced me to write a memoir about my online journey and how women have influenced, informed, and inspired my digital experiences.
That same year, I changed the title of the book, blog, podcast, and social media to Digital Sisterhood after I conducted a series of interviews with women bloggers about their relationships with women in social media at the Blogalicious Weekend Conference.
Q: Who did you write this book for?
AKML: I wrote the book for women between the ages of 18 to 76 who spend time in the digital space blogging, building community, chatting, coding, creating webisodes and videos, crowdfunding, developing mobile apps, engaging in commerce, giving back by supporting social good campaigns, hosting online events, liking on Facebook, mentoring, pinning on Pinterest, podcasting, posting photos on Flickr and Instagram, reading blogs, publishing books, running businesses, serving as social media leaders, sharing information, teaching, tweeting 140 characters or less on Twitter, watching videos, and visiting web sites. I also wrote the book for women and girls who need greater access to technology and training.
Q: What do you want readers to gain from this book?
AKML: I want my readers to take what they find useful in the book and use it in a positive way. I hope my women readers are inspired to explore, celebrate, share, and publish their own stories about being online and the Digital Sisterhood connections they have made with other women. I hope they will publish their stories on blogs and in books. I want more women to write and publish books about their online lives, businesses, social good campaigns, and thought leadership.
Q: Did you use any research data to identify your niche audience?
AKML: I used BlogHer’s Social Media Matters Study which reported that 87 million women between the ages of 18 to 76 were online in 2011. The BlogHer study also reported that 69 million women used social media weekly, 80 million women used social media monthly, and 55 million women read blogs monthly. When I read this data, I realized these women have created a powerful digital footprint as communicators, connectors, community builders, tech creators, early adopters, and influencers.
Q: Tell us about your journey in embracing the Internet. How did your digital footprint begin?
AKML: My digital footprint began when I logged onto the LexisNexis research service as a first-year law student at Howard University School of Law in August 1986. It marked the beginning of my Internet geek path. My Internet experiences have been greatly influenced by the social connections women have made online and offline. Through them, I have witnessed the growth and expansion of women’s presence and power on the World Wide Web. Women are making digital herstory with blogs, books, businesses, careers, coding and software development projects, conferences, events, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, live streaming, meet up groups, mobile apps, online communities, online magazines, organizations, Pinterest, podcasts, Twitter, videos, webinars, web sites, and webisodes.
Q: What are your favorite social media tools?
AKML: That’s a hard one. I love so many. Right now, my favorites are all visual: Animoto, Flickr, Google+ Hangout, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
It’s almost October. What are you planning to do next month?
Next month which is really next week — I plan to attend the Blogalicious Weekend Conference. It will be held on October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. I am really excited because this year marks Blogalicious’ fifth anniversary. I have attended all of the conferences since the first one in 2009!
I am also excited because I’m facilitating creativity coaching sessions for Blogalicious attendees throughout the conference and moderating a crowdfunding panel on October 4 that features the Techturized, Inc. co-founders, Chanel Martin (CSO), Candace Mitchell (CEO), and Jessica Watson (CMO). They are responsible for creating MadameYou.com, an online destination for African-American women to share their hair experiences, and give advice to each other regarding how to tackle hair issues.
If you are headed to the Blogalicious Weekend Conference and want to meet the Techturized co-founders, I hope you will stop by the panel discussion on CrowdFunding: The Financial Backing for Your Project Is at Your Fingertips! that will take place on Friday, October 4 from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. During the panel, you will have a chance to hear the Techturized co-founders share their lessons learned from their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask them questions about your own crowdfunding plans.
If you are a crowdfunding newbie, check out my crowdfunding overview and resources, Kickstarter Journey story, and crowdfunding checklist and tips below. This information is based on excerpts from my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (October 2013).
CROWDFUNDING OVERVIEW AND RESOURCES
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a web-based financial model that allows individuals to use social-networking sites to identify and solicit donors who pool their money in community to support creative projects, entrepreneurial endeavors, and social causes.
There are four types of crowdfunding: donation-based, equity-based, lending-based, and reward-based. Donation-based crowdfunding allows you to give a financial contribution to a charitable cause. With reward-based crowdfunding, you invest a certain financial amount and receive a reward which is a tangible item or service in return for your investment. Equity-based crowdfunding offers you a stake in the company when you make a financial investment. Lending-based crowdfunding treats your financial contribution as a loan that will be repaid over a period of time. For purposes of this blog post, the information we are sharing relates primarily to donation and rewards-based crowdfunding.
Three of the most popular rewards-based crowdfunding platforms are GoFundMe, Indiegogo (co-founded by a female entrepreneur Danae Ringelmann), and Kickstarter. PayPal is another web platform people use to collect donations. There are other crowdfunding platforms and online fundraising web sites that support children and youth, ethnic groups, nonprofit organizations, social causes, and women. See the list below.
Children and Youth
Piggybackr.com is a crowdfunding platform that helps children and youth (kindergarten through college-aged kids) to raise money for their specific cause (co-founded by female entrepreneur Andrea Lo).
Aflamnah.com is the first crowdfunding platform dedicated to helping independent filmmakers, artists, geeks, students, innovators, and thinkers in the Arab world raise funds for their projects (co-founded by female entrepreneur Vida Rizq).
BlackStartUp.com is a crowdfunding platform for projects and ideas that will have a positive impact on the African American community.
Crowdismo.com is a Latino crowdfunding platform that Latino entrepreneurs, designers, programmers, marketers, educators, students, community leaders, cause champions, journalists, engineers, inventors, artists, and producers can use to fund their projects.
ShopZAOZAO.com is a crowdfunding platform that allows Asian designers to post projects and receive production funding (founded by female entrepreneurs Ling Cai and Vicky Wu).
Nonprofit Organizations and Social Causes
Crowdrise.com is an online fundraising web site that allows individual fundraisers, nonprofit fundraising, and event fundraising (co-founded by female film producer Shauna Robertson).
Fundly.com is a social fundraising platform that helps individuals and organizations raise money for causes they care about.
GiveForward.com is an online fundraising web site that allows friends and family to donate to patients navigating a medical crisis (co-founded by female entrepreneur Desiree Vargas Wrigley).
Catapalt.org is a crowdfunding site that works for gender justice and equality that only nonprofit and charitable organizations can use (co-founded by female entrepreneur Maz Kessler).
CrowdHelps.com is a crowdfunding platform that helps women. People can help change a woman’s life by donating funds, professional advice, free time, or kind words (co-founded by female entrepreneur Silvia Podubni).
GirlTank.org is a community and crowdfunding platform that helps women and girl changemakers fund and grow their social enterprises (founded by female entrepreneurs Tara Roberts and Sejal Hathis).
Moola-Hoop.com is a crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs, owners, and managers (founded by female entrepreneurs Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes).
NapTimeStartUps.com is a crowdfunding web site for mom and women entrepreneurs that will launch in December 2013 (founded by female entrepreneurs Catherine Snowman and Jenivieve Elly).
If you are raising money for your film or online television program and looking for an alternative to Indiegogo and Kickstarter (two of the most popular platforms for filmmakers and webisode creators), check out the following platforms.
JuntoBoxFilms.com is a film collaboration and mentoring studio that uses its social platform to empower creators, writers, producers, directors, and actors to develop films with budgets starting at $250,000.
Mobcaster.com is a crowdfunding platform focused on finding, funding, and broadcasting independent online television programs.
SeedandSpark.com is a selective film crowdfunding platform that approves each project (founded by female entrepreneur and filmmaker Emily Seed).
Slated.com is an online film marketplace that connects a network of investors, filmmakers, and industry professionals.
My crowdfunding journey began with a challenge from my Ameriprise Financial financial advisor Judy Weathers during our first quarter meeting in 2010. We were reviewing my self-publishing expenses for two books published in 2007 and 2009, and estimating the expenses for a third book. Judy asked me if I could find investors or alternative funding for the book. At first, I thought she was asking me to do the impossible, but a small voice inside convinced mer to be open and pursue alternative funding.
Months passed without me lifting a finger to identify alternative funding. Then, it happened. The light bulb went off during an episode of Digital Sisterhood Radio. I was moderating a panel of creative women in social media when Abiola Abrams, author and founder of AbiolaTV.com, referenced an Essence article that discussed the power of using Kickstarter to fund books and films. After the show, I visited Kickstarter.com and learned about several authors who used it to raise money for their books. Their success inspired me to take the plunge.
Here’s what happened: I created two Kickstarter campaigns for my self-publishing package and photography fees to support my Digital Sisterhoodbook. Using video was a must for me. So I recorded an eight-minute video with my laptop’s web cam that was very simple and shared my reasons for writing the book and using Kickstarter. I included the same information in the description section of my campaign page. I also offered seven pledge options ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $200) with rewards that included:
$1 Pledge: Donors names will be published in the book as supporters.
$5 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and access to the behind-the-scenes video & audio updates that will document the creation of the book.
$10 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and access to a live author chat on UStream.tv during the book writing and publishing process.
$20 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above, a personal thank-you note with book logo and signed by author, and an invitation to participate in the online book release party via UStream.tv.
$50 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above, an invitation to vote on the book cover design, and a Digital Sisterhood mug.
$100 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and an autographed copy of the book.
$200 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and a private one-hour author chat via Skype or telephone with the author.
With the support of my generous donors (backers is the Kickstarter term), my first campaign raised $1,159 in 2010. My second campaign raised $701 in 2011. I also received donations via PayPal and from friends who gave cash and check donations.
My funding goals were very conservative. I wanted to make sure I received every dollar I raised because Kickstarter only offers fixed funding, an all-or-nothing approach. That means if you don’t reach your funding goal, you don’t receive any of the money you raised.
The biggest challenges I faced with my campaigns were writing a book while I was conducting two fundraisers and underestimating the time it would actually take to publish the book. My underestimation caused a three-year delay in my delivery of rewards to my donors (I am in the process of delivering rewards over the next two months). To maintain communication with my donors, I posted regular updates about my writing process in 2011 and part of 2012. I slacked off in 2013. Fortunately, my donors have not complained. They are a great group of people who have a lot of compassion and patience. They taught me that crowdfunding is rooted in generosity. For that, I am truly grateful.
As a result of my experience, I believe crowdfunding is rooted in:
Passion for a cause, project, or venture;
The experience of connection, relationship building, and social capital within a community;
The power of asking;
The act of generosity; and
The practice of gratitude.
CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN CHECKLIST & TIPS
Now that you know more about crowdfunding and my Kickstarter journey, I thought you might like a checklist and tips to help guide you through the process of developing your own crowdfunding campaign.
Campaign Checklist & Tips
1) PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Describe your crowdfunding project in 140 characters or less. Give it a name that sparks interest. You will be able to use this short description as a springboard for writing your full campaign description (narrative or story).
2) FUNDING GOAL: How much money do you want to raise?
3) FUNDING PLEDGES: What types of pledges are you seeking to receive from donors ($1, $5, $10, $20, $30, $40, $50, $75, $100, $200 or more)?
4) CROWDFUNDING MODEL: What type of crowdfunding model works best for your project: fixed funding or flexible funding?
5) CROWDFUNDING PLATFORM: What crowdfunding platforms are best suited for your project (GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Kickstarter or others)?
6) CROWDFUNDING PROJECT BEST PRACTICES: Identify five or more examples of similar crowdfunding projects. Watch the campaign videos. Read the campaign descriptions. Check out the pledge amounts and types of rewards. Review any updates that were sent to donors. Take notes on what you like or dislike.
7) CAMPAIGN LAUNCH DATE: When will you launch the crowdfunding campaign?
-Can your launch date be tied to a major awareness event or during a month when you think your audience will be more interested in supporting you?
-Will you launch the campaign with a special online event (Google+ Hangout video chat or Twitter chat) or offline event (meet up)?
8) DURATION OF CAMPAIGN: How long will you run the campaign (number of days you will use to raise the funding)?
9) CAMPAIGN TEAM: Who will help you manage the campaign (interns, social media enthusiasts, marketing/PR professionals or volunteers, family members, and friends).
10) CAMPAIGN COMMUNITY (AMBASSADORS AND DONORS): Who are the members of your campaign community?
-Make a list (use an Excel spreadsheet) of your blog readers, email list members, e-newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans, friends, and group members, Google+ friends, Instagram followers, LinkedIn members, Pinterest followers, Twitter followers, and YouTube and Vimeo subscribers, and other social networking site friends.
-What organizations and groups do you belong to? Do you have the contact information for the organizers and the group members?
-What conferences or events do you regularly attend? Do you have the contact information for the organizers and the people you have met at the events?
-What groups of people will be interested in your campaign? Do you have the contact information for the groups (web site, email address, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites)?
-Your campaign community members are your donor base. Ask them to donate to your campaign.
-Your campaign community members are also your potential ambassadors for your campaign. Ask them to share your campaign information, social media, and video with people in their online, email, and offline networks.
11) YOUR CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN FULL DESCRIPTION: Why is your campaign project needed? How will your campaign project make the world better? What makes you the person to lead your campaign project? How do you plan to spend the money once you have raised it?
12) CAMPAIGN REWARDS: How will you thank your ambassadors and donors for supporting your campaign? What rewards will you offer your donors?
-Research the rewards offered by other crowdfunding campaigns.
-Develop a list of 10 creative and personal rewards you can offer.
-How much money will it cost you to deliver the rewards (factor in shipping and packaging fees)?
13) CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION AND OUTREACH STRATEGIES: What tools will you use to communicate with your audience? Are you going to create a video or use any photos (I say DO BOTH!)?
-Identify where your audience members spend their time online. Hopefully, you have established an online presence on the sites.
-Use Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest (create a board for your campaign), Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube to promote your campaign, drum up positive media coverage from bloggers/e-zines/magazines/newspapers, and recruit new campaign community members (ambassadors and donors).
-Brainstorm ideas for your videos. How will you make your videos (web cam flip camera, phone camera)? Where will you record the videos? Who will help you make the videos? Will you use any music or photos in the videos?
You may want to do three short videos (one to three minutes) during the campaign. The first video could be used as your pitch video (two to three minutes). Your pitch video tells your story. Watch five to seven pitch videos created for successful campaigns. Make note of why you like them. Try to incorporate some of their best features in your video.
The second video (one to two minutes) could be a status update about the campaign which includes shout outs to campaign ambassadors and donors (one to two minutes).
The third video could be a final thank you to your supporters.
-You may want to prepare a short script for your videos. Keep your script simple and easy to understand. Practice what you will say several times. Record three sample videos and ask several people to critique your presentation.
-When you record your video, make sure you wear clothing (and hairstyle and make up) that compliments you. You want to look relaxed, down-to-earth, and friendly. Have fun!
-Create an editorial calendar and sample posts that you will use throughout the campaign. Include dates for submitting press releases about the campaign (status updates with any successes).
-To make the lives of your campaign ambassadors easier, send them sample posts or tweets that they can share with their networks.
14) ADDITIONAL CAMPAIGN FUNDING SOURCES: Will you use PayPal.com to collect donations from donors who may not want to use your crowdfunding platform? Will you accept cash and personal checks from donors who may not want to use PayPal.com or your crowdfunding platform?
15) CELEBRATING YOUR CAMPAIGN SUCCESS: How will you celebrate your campaign’s success? Will you host an online event (Twitter chat or Google+ Hangout) or a local event (open house, meet up or happy hour) in your city or town? Will you send a video thank you, email thank-you notes, or mail personalized thank you notes?
16) POST CAMPAIGN OUTREACH: How will you keep in touch with your campaign community of ambassadors, donors, and supporters? Will you send them monthly or quarterly updates via email or an e-newsletter? Will you post a series of updates on your campaign update page, blog, or Facebook page?
As a part of my research and writing journey for my upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online, I read MacNeil’s She Takes on the World. It was a quick and energizing read filled with soulful affirmations and mantras, brilliant and bold ideas, wisdom, authentic conversations with women entrepreneurs who shared their lessons learned, and a heavy dose of inspiration that moved me to adopt and use the “I AM ready” affirmation discussed in Chapter Three on a daily basis. Here it is: “I am ready. I am open to guidance and I am ready to achieve greatness. I AM ready.” This affirmation appealed to my new thought spiritual practices and use of similar affirmations. It is helping me move past my fear of finishing my memoir this summer.
The Lessons and Confessions session in each chapter that features insights and wisdom from female entrepreneurs was PRICELESS. When I read their words, I could hear their voices. They spoke directly from their hearts about their challenges and successes. RareFunk.ca founder Tamara Minns’ lessons learned was soul medicine: “Keep your mind focused on your dreams, follow your gut, and keep those who truly believe in you close by for encouraging reminders that one doesn’t need everyone’s approval to move forward.”
Chapter Four offered me a better understanding of my personal brand and how it should reflect who I am from the inside out. My takeaway was about valuing and telling my own story. Here’s what MacNeil had to say: “People buy into a person, a story, an idea – not merely a trinket. A story is better than any mission statement you could craft for your brand. Your story is social currency. What do I mean by that? I mean that people like to talk, and if you give them something entertaining to talk about, they will unconsciously perceive it as valuable. That’s currency. Give your customers that currency, and they will buy from over and over again.” I love the phrase social currency. It reminded me of my feminine currency phrase I use to describe Digital Sisterhood.
Chapter Five’s gold nugget was wrapped in a five-step mantra for achieving goals and tasks: “Today I get five steps closer to reaching my goal.” The practice of focusing only on five goals per day helped me take a deep breath of release and ease into the final stages of writing my book.
Chapter Nine’s branding and marketing advice and resources were invaluable. They helped me develop a plan to strengthen my online presence. That’s exactly what I need as I move forward with my book PR and marketing efforts.
To learn more about MacNeil and her amazing work, click here to watch her video. And if you are a revolutionary woman, join She Takes on the World. Go on and do it. I did!
Happy February! Happy Black History Month! Happy Heart Health Month! Happy Love Day/Month! Happy #YogaMonday!
It’s a lot of happy going on today! Why? I am very excited about sharing reflections and resources that celebrate my yoga passion, practice, and services as a yoga teacher on Mondays. This month, I’m sharing yoga reflections and resources that promote an open and healthy heart on my blog and social media platforms (search #YogaMonday on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter for my yoga goodies).
Do you practice yoga?
What are your favorite poses?
How does yoga make you feel?
What kind of music do you like to listen to while practicing yoga?
One of the things I love to doin my personal yoga practice and in my sessions with clients is chant mantras. Mantras are words or phrases that create energy-based sounds when they are repeated over and over again during meditation and yoga. Devi Premal has a beautiful collection of mantras I use to open my heart. Her Love Is Space DVD is one of my favorites.
I fell in love with her rendition of Om Mani Padme Hum which means “Hail, the jewel in the lotus.” Click here to listen to it. I use the mantra to open my heart to the practice of compassion. I love to chant it before I do several rounds of cat and cow yoga poses (great heart openers). Yoga Journal has some great instructions on how to do the poses: cat pose and cow pose. Many of my clients enjoy using the online resources too.
Here are some of heart-related quotes I am using this month as reminders to keep an open heart and practice compassion as I move through my life.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” Oprah Winfrey
“A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.” Mother Teresa
“Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it.” Braveheart
“Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.” Author Unknown
Click here to read Renita Weems’ post with 21 quotes to open your heart on BeliefNet.
Did you know you could practice yoga with your hands? This kind of yoga is called mudras. They are hand gestures and seals that can help improve flexibility and coordination in your fingers and hands. When you use them with breathing exercises, they can stimulate an opening to your lungs and heart and open your joints and relieve tension in your head, neck, and shoulders. They can also help cultivate a specific state of mind during your yoga and meditation practice. I use them in my yoga practice and sessions with clients. The lotus mudra is one I use to open my heart.
Click here to watch my video on the lotus mudra. For more information, check out Yoga Journal’s article on mudras. Enjoy!
OM #YogaMonday OM!
PS: If you would like to read about my yoga journey, check out my memoir That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle