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8 Tips Game Developers Can Teach Startups About Crowdfunding

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You are about to learn the power of game developers and the principles they live by which can cause any startup to thrive if followed correctly. Never have I met two guys who are more passionate about what they do than Trent Kusters and Blake Mizzi who are two of four directors from game development collective League Of Geeks (LoG for short). To date, LoG have spent about $800k AUD on creating their game Armello and have crowdfunded nearly half of that through Kickstarter.

In Trent and Blake’s mind LoG is a collective of artists trying to create experiences, build amazing games and wow their users, but what I don’t think they realise is that their business plan, techniques and execution is probably better than most Fortune 500 companies. They have taken gaming concepts and applied them to their business with overwhelming success. When you couple that with a supportive government in Victoria (Australia) who understand how important the gaming industry is to the local economy, you have a Master Chef recipe for success. (GET EXCITED!!!)

 

***The Secret Sauce of Armello***

League Of Geeks is a game development collective that is structured so that they can work and collaborate with developers all around the world. They have created a world first model that works by gamifying the development of their game.

One of the directors had worked for a large game studio before joining League Of Geeks, and after he had left a company that he helped create into a world-class brand, he was left with nothing. This studio had tried their own version of a profit-share model, but it left the hourly rate of developers at something that was less than the industry average. After a failed attempt at starting a studio with a profit share model and the experience of leaving a big studio with nothing, the guys thought there had to be a better way to remunerate their team members.

Instead of using a numerical share the guys pivoted their new studio to have a gamified points based system. The points are earned based on a successfully, completed and approved task within their project. As all the tasks are being completed, they are accumulating into a pool of finished points. The total profits of the game are then sliced up between the company (League Of Geeks) and all the contributors.

The more tasks you do, the more points you earn and the more your percentage is of the games profits. The most important part when coming up with this point system is to understand how many hours your project will take, how many points will be needed and what the projected profits are of the project.

When you know this you can mathematically work out if the hourly rate is fair for the work your contributors need to do. It is unfair if someone spends fifty hours doing work for you and gets $5. The system must be honest, and a contributor should be able to earn more money from points than being paid hourly by the company.

To manage all of this the guys use the Pivotal Tracker software that helps them to see the velocity of their project and at what date certain milestones of the game will be completed – they can even see real time distractions like this interview affect their output. How can you implement the world-class technology that League Of Geeks has come up within your startup?

 

Below are Trent and Blake’s top eight tips to creating a textbook crowdfunding campaign for your startup.

 

1. Talk with other highly successful crowdfunding campaigns

Before the Armello guys did their campaign, they spoke with the top Video Game success stories from Kickstarter to see what they did to be successful at raising lots of money. It’s a great idea to hit them with questions and find out from them what worked, what didn’t work and what they would do again. You could even take it one level above that and send them a copy of your draft crowdfunding campaign and ask them for feedback.

The guys spent months researching Kickstarter and they describe it as a bit of a dark art where you hear legends that something might work if you say it in a certain tone or if the moon hits a certain position then a different strategy could work. Even though you can talk with other successful campaign founders, and their campaign could do everything right, just remember that their success is for that point in time – another point in time might yield completely different results even if you mirror the campaign with your own story. Some of the techniques though are timeless and can work at any point in time.

One lesson that the guys learnt from speaking with these other video game developers was that they had backers that had paid for the $10k tier, but in the end they just couldn’t afford it. If you can’t make your goal without having big tiers, then you’re in trouble anyway. Not all, your pledges will come through, and you have to expect a 15% drop off when you come to collect your pledges. The most common pledges that fall off are the larger ones. You can also get some users doing crazy pledge amounts just to troll your project.

Armello Gameplay

Armello Gameplay

Other backers from successful campaigns received a reward to come and spend a day at the game developers studio and the whole experience was an awkward interaction where it didn’t feel like there was a fair exchange of value. In these situations, you can feel like your time is not worth $10k and that that person could have just called up, and you would have let them come down and check out the studio for free. The Armello guys learnt from this advice, and from a responsibility point of view, they decided not to have monster high pledge tiers.

Kickstarter has 200-300 categories, and there is no precedence for this type of economic model ever before crowdfunding arose. Every single one of those categories has different purchaser and backer behaviours, so it’s worth studying your campaign’s niche thoroughly.

 

2. Communicate your why correctly

Kickstarter provides what’s known as good money, which means that there is no real legal obligation and no interest on the money to be paid. A lot of the campaign owners and backers work on a trust system and are trying to fill a need, so it’s very important to communicate your why correctly. You have to have a good product and not just one that anybody can get anywhere. It’s always good to come to Kickstarter when you really need the money because this will come through in your pledge, and it did for the Armello game.

Putting up a campaign where you say, “we have made the product already but we thought we would raise money anyway,” won’t work. In this scenario, there is no reason for someone to jump on board. A crowd of people will usually jump onboard your campaign because of compassion for your cause or early access to your product. Early access is appealing when you make the person feel like they are guiding the development and helping the developer finish the final product not just early access to something.

“People want to feel like they are the savior and that your boat is filling with water and they have jumped on with buckets to stop you sinking”

 

3. Create a rally and cry

When your startup is told by the industry that there isn’t a market for what you’re doing, your campaign can help create a call to arms that there is a need and for people to show their interest. Campaigns that demonstrate that the only way for something to be done is via crowdfunding, seem to work best. A great example is a game called Star Citizen where the gaming publishers of the world thought PC Games were dead and these guys proved through their campaign that they’re not.

Your campaign needs to be something that can only be achieved through crowdfunding and is the last hope to get the project off the ground.

Sell the dream of crowdfunding that people can come on board and make the game or project better. Give the users a sense that they will get one hundred times the value in return for their $15 pledge. When creating this rally make sure the page flows in the best possible way it can. For example, if you have beautiful music that accompanies your project you could tell the user to click play on the music as they are reading your story. Once your final story is up on the site consider cutting out sections that you don’t need and editing each section down to half of its length – only keep the critical content.

 

4. Implement a multi-stage campaign that is well timed

You shouldn’t bring your product to crowdfunding until you have a demo, and in the case of a game, something that can be played in some way, otherwise you are raising money too early. Part of LoG’s success with crowdfunding was to implement a three-stage campaign. They, first of all, ran their 30-day Kickstarter campaign that made them $305k. They then followed this up with a two and a half month Slacker Backer campaign that allowed them to keep collecting pledges on their website after the campaign was over.

The final step was to follow all of this up with an automated Backer Kit service one month after the Slacker Backer campaign. Backer Kit has been specifically designed to import all your data from other campaigns and merge it with your Kickstarter campaign.

On a platform like Kickstarter, you don’t have access to your backers contact details or their location. Backer Kit brings in a lot more details about your backers although the users must volunteer that information to you. This databasing of your backers allows you to generate CSV files and reports in case you want to email them or find out the geography of the backers (great for working out your tax bill).

Once Backer Kit has all your data in one place, it then sends out a customer service / survey email to your backers to manage the after campaign experience. The primary function it does though is to allow backers to increase their pledge tier from the one they originally selected, say $35, up a level to something like the $55 tier. Backers can also add add-ons, update their shipping address and details, which allows you to not have to deal with the customer service end of your campaign and tie everything in together.

 

5. Video – lights, camera, action

A high number of people that go to your page will watch the video, so this is crucial. Only a small number of projects that don’t have a video actually get funded. For the video to resonate it’s a good idea to have you or one of the other founders talking to the backers and to get your team on camera as well. A good closing line to your video could be “we want to bring this product to life, and we need you to make this happen!”

Your video should sell the dream, have a call to arms, be short and succinct, no longer than 3 minutes and ideally have some juicy animation if you can. Videos that are longer than 5 minutes typically have a rough drop off rate of 90% so make sure you follow the 3-5 minute format.

 

Watch Trent show you how a good video should be presented

 

6. Try some of these promotion techniques

The first four days of your campaign are the most important and you shouldn’t intend on sleeping at all, only promoting your campaign like crazy in every possible way you can. 40% of your funds will be raised during this time so if you only get 10% of your total pledge, then your campaign is usually over. What you raise in the first four days of your campaign is what you will do in the last four days. Thirty-five days is the best length for a campaign so try and set this as the length if you want to be successful.

A technique that can work well on Kickstarter is to cross-promote other campaigns in your updates. This cross-pollination is well received and will see some mutually beneficial promotion occur early on – campaigns speak to each other. Outside of the Kickstarter platform the next biggest attributer to funds for Armello was Twitter and then Facebook. The Armello guys saw that as soon as they put out a tweet or a post, they would see an injection of cash into their Kickstarter campaign – you have to be there stroking those oars on the rowboat.

Thirty Days of Despair

A crowdfunding campaign typically has a spike of funds in the beginning, a spike at the end and a trench in the middle where no matter what you do you can’t seem to raise a lot of funds.

To prove that crowdfunding is a bit of a dark art, Blake and Trent said that during one part of the Armello campaign the guys got IGN (one of the largest gaming sites in the world) to tweet a gameplay reveal to millions of people on their Youtube and Twitter accounts, and they didn’t see a single bump to pledges at all. Three days later a smaller site called Kotaku posted another gameplay video, and this then caught the tail end of their campaign that helped them raise $150k. You never know which marketing campaign is going to deliver.

The engagement with your campaign is really important as to whether your marketing will work, and people will pledge. The projects that typically get funded have a high amount of comments, so it’s important for you to stimulate the conversation on your crowdfunding page and get people talking. The more comments you have, the better your curation will be within Kickstarter’s platform.

During Armello’s 30-day Kickstarter campaign, the guys were on shifts managing their page 24/7 and replying to people’s questions. If a user reaches out and then you reply back straight away and then someone else sees you answering questions then they will ask a question. To create this natural viral loop, you must be 100% committed during the whole campaign to be there no matter what. The Armello page even had some of the users calling themselves the champion of the game so Trent and Blake would answer their questions and address them as the champion to make them feel inclusive of a community.

Most of your pledges will be International – UK and USA are typically the highest. This means that you shouldn’t concentrate your marketing in one country and try and target a few of the places where you see pledges coming from. Three days after the start of the Armello Kickstarter campaign, Trent jumped on a plane to the USA to start promoting what they were doing at a convention – don’t be afraid to do the media circuit in person in conjunction with your online marketing.

The Bitly secret weapon

When you’re posting links to your crowdfunding campaign on social media you should always try and use something like a custom Bitly links so that you don’t have some giant URL that won’t fit in a tweet. These links are typically more memorable, easier for people to share and will give you greater analytics as to who’s clicking the link.

 

7. Structure your rewards strategy

You must have clear, well-defined goals that are easy to read and understand aren’t convoluted, and that offer people real value every time they step up. To achieve this, you will need to have a focused strategy with your rewards. For the Armello game, the main goal was to funnel everyone into the $55 tier and then if they got a chance, they would encourage backers to go to a higher rewards tier from there.

One of the secrets is not to necessarily have lots of backers, but to have a high amount of money raised at the end. Due to the strategy with Armello’s rewards, the game raised more than $300k with a very low number of backers, because the average pledge was $49, which is quite high for a crowdfunding campaign.

The Armello guys were able to get people up to the next tier because as soon as a backer purchased the game at the base tier, immediately they created something new that came out which communicated that it was better value to go up another tier. Then a backer moves up again because something new has been added into another one of the higher tiers, etc.

Against each tier, you should profile a buyer type. For example, on one tier the Armello guys based the tier around someone who would love the audio, on another it was a buyer that might like the story books, or someone that wants to be the collector, or someone that wants to be the hardcore gamer to get in early. Different buyer types could then correspond to different pledge amounts, which you need to estimate to work out how much someone might pay. People that like the physicality of collector items might be willing to pay more than someone that just likes the audio of the game.

When offering physical rewards like figurines, books or t-shirts it can be very easy to get a quote from a manufacturer, set the pledge amount and then find that when you come to fulfil that order the price to manufacture and ship can be a lot more expensive. The way to overcome this is to build in a large buffer in case the cost of your rewards are more than expected.

 

8. Community is everything with crowdfunding

Kickstarter allows you to build a community, and the core community are coming onboard for the ride. The platform allows you to make your biggest fans even bigger fans, and you’re making them champions to go out and promote your product.

You’re also making your product better because this community is then getting early access to try it out and help shape the direction of the product build better. The community helps to make you more accountable because when you hear the bad feedback you instantly want to fix the issues they are facing.

The majority of your funding from Kickstarter will come from people browsing Kickstarter. These people that browse Kickstarter are almost like nomadic tribes that go from project to project. When a backer puts in $15, they get to go on a roller coaster ride, and it can be quite addictive because of this.

 

Trent and Blake’s favourite books are:

1. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy – Richard Rumelt

2. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart – Gordon Livingston

League Of Geeks Directors: Tyshan Carey, Blake Mizzi, Trent Kusters and Jacek Tuschewski

League Of Geeks Directors: Tyshan Carey, Blake Mizzi, Trent Kusters and Jacek Tuschewski

If you would like to play the League Of Geeks very popular Armello game, it is now available on STEAM early access here.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Armello games success wouldn’t have been possible without the support from The Arcade Melbourne (game developer co-working space), The Game Developers Association of Australia, Film Victoria, Screen Australia and Creative Victoria.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sebastian Klassman

    Sep 1, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Great overview Tim and very useful information for anyone looking to start crowdfunding. Structuring rewards in the right way, is also quite important. I think people need to be enticed, sometimes there are creative ways to do this within a campaign. You campaign will rely on it heavily. Thank you, wonderful read.

  2. Academic Papers

    Jun 8, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Wonderful articles in this post it’s very beneficial for me. Thanks to share this post.

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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Successful entrepreneurs have long been known to embody specific traits that can be very useful in many aspects of life. Some of these traits include hard work, devotion and continuous solid effort. The different skills that entrepreneurs naturally gain through years and years of professional experience, have equipped them to effectively manage and continuously expand their business.

Nonetheless, if we backtrack to the beginning of most entrepreneurs journeys, we see that the majority of them almost always faced professional or personal challenges when first starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs usually endure professional trials better than anyone else because they were prepared during the early stages of their careers. Yet, the power of perseverance, devotion and quality performance is truly tested when faced with powerful hardships at a personal level.

To provide some context in regards to these hardships, let me ask this question. Would you effectively run your newly established business if within the first three months, you were faced with the fact that a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after 20 years of marriage, and you were left by the woman you had decided to spend the rest of your life with?

New entrepreneurs can ensure their way to success when involuntarily having overcome personal challenges life has thrown at them. After all, the true measure of an entrepreneur’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure.

Below are 4 tips to overcome life hardships when starting a business:

1. Focus on your business

Hard work is an important technique that can help you forget. Focus on your business and daily tasks and you will find yourself momentarily forgetting about the personal issues that may be troubling you.

In other words, all kinds of activities including office work, home chores or small errands will help your mind break the loop you may find yourself in. Not only you will be doing something productive, but you will also get the opportunity to improve your business during this unexpected situation.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” – Walt Disney

2. Welcome the support of your friends and family

Being dealt with a bad hand doesn’t mean that there are no people willing to help and support you. Your family and friends are still here and willing to provide you with the emotional comfort and empowerment you need to go through this.

Make sure to contact them on a daily basis and let them know of your thoughts and issues, by becoming a part of their lives and engage in activities together. Participating in social events is a great way to keep your mind busy, meet new people and experience new things.

3. Practice acceptance and let it go

We sometimes find ourselves creating the perfect fantasy where all aspects of our lives are perfect, thus, it may be so difficult to let go of or accept a sudden turn of events. Focus on accepting the situation as is by reflecting on it.

Try meditating, take deep breaths and appreciate the people and things you still have in your life. One day you may find your own explanation as to why these events may have happened.

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

4. Read on a daily basis

Reading can provide an abundance of mental health benefits including stress relief, anxiety reduction, knowledge increase, and improved focus and concentration. Similarly to focusing on your business, reading can help you to briefly forget about personal issues while learning something new.

With reading, you will be able to develop different perspectives which can help you better evaluate life, self-reflect and even perceive everything from a different viewpoint.

Regardless of the techniques you choose to follow when life throws personal hardships at you, it’s important to remember that this is not an overnight achievement. Nevertheless, you can focus all your efforts on getting on with your life and continuously improving yourself.

How have you overcome hardships in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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Being an entrepreneur is a hugely popular day dream. Well over 50% of people want to be their own bosses, according to a survey from Forbes. However, only 4% of those surveyed are actually entrepreneurs! Why is entrepreneurship such a popular dream that many cannot achieve?

The problem is, many people approach running a startup without a solid plan. They hear about the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, develop your dreams, and ignore the realities of setting up a small business.

As Richard Branson says, “To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” Success will only come if you are well prepared for the daily challenges of entrepreneurship. You need to be organized, focused, and connected to achieve your goals.

Your startup will feel like a booming business with a these 3 tweaks in your daily routine:

1. Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to running your own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for meeting all deadlines and getting your product and content out on time. You need to become a hardcore planner.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a to-do list and a routine to stay productive. Traditional work environments have routine built into the system, but it’s something you’re going to have to purposefully cultivate in your team. The best way to do this is to make sure your intentions are clear.

A solid to-do list is a good place to start. By ensuring a plan from when you wake up to when you end up in bed, you can make sure no moment is wasted. Use technology to achieve this goal as there are options on calendar and to-do-list applications on the market that can help you better plan and organize your day.

Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are all solid options since they can act as your personal assistant, making your day run seamlessly. Utilizing them helps you track events, plan and organize your schedule in a few simple clicks.

The core functions of the calendar apps are to show upcoming schedules and alert on important deadlines. To better understand the power of these apps, you have to actually get down to it and test them out. The one you choose depends on whether you are an Android, Windows or iOS person.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci

2. Stay Focused

When running a small business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re focusing on small tasks, your energy will be depleted when it comes to the bigger picture of your business. In a study at the University of California, Irvine, found that interruptions that cause you to lose focus will result in stress and pressure. According to the report it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after a distraction.

Tasks like scheduling and answering calls eat up time that could be better spent developing your team and product. This is where outsourcing comes in. By seeking out professionals, you can ensure your clients are cared for 24/7, while you get to the real work. By figuring out what tasks need to be performed by you and which do not, you’ll free up your time. Get a big business result with small business costs!

3. Stay Connected

Another way to help cultivate success in your startup is to make sure you are connecting with customers. It’s important that this feels authentic because people know when businesses aren’t being genuine and they will respond accordingly.

This authenticity is a benefit that startups have over big businesses. People will naturally assume that small businesses are more genuine than corporations. Prove it to them by being consistent and trust worthy.

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent communication and interaction with clients is necessary for your startup. You’ll want to build up a solid base of loyal customers, and the fastest way to do this is to provide exemplary customer experiences in every interaction. To help you better handle this part of small business and help monitor how you connect with your customers, consider investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Through a CRM you can find and woo customers, because you are able to track how customers interact with your company. For example, a CRM program will let you know if you are getting leads from your social media campaigns, and how many people remember your marketing materials.

Big businesses use CRMs to get clients, by tracking where they connect, how frequently they buy from them, and where the connection stops. If you use a CRM in your small business, you’ll be able to compete, while still remaining genuine.

Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but there are certain traits you can develop within yourself to make it happen. By staying organized, focused, and connected, your startup will be able to compete with bigger businesses.

Do you have a business venture? If so, what is it and how do you plan on succeeding in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Rules I Learned From Watching My First Business Go Up in Flames

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95% of all businesses fail within their first 5 years. Take that in for a moment. If you have recently started a business, you are almost guaranteed to fail! Why in the world would so many people start businesses, me amongst them, if they are basically writing themselves a death sentence?

Before I started my media company, I had spent 3.5 years working for another business. In December 2014, I came to the realization that I would not be working at that job forever. I approached my boss to discuss building a side project of my own within his business. My idea was a monthly greeting card business. The bonus was that I already had the images and the best verses to use, and an audience to target because of my job. In my mind, there was no way I could fail! As I began sending out contracts with the photographers, I was basically counting how much money I would be making in the first month.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! I had created the first three products and gotten a dozen or so photographers on board. However, when I announced the product to what I thought would be an eager audience, it totally flopped. Out of the over 150,000 people I had, only two signed up. When I went to production with the cards, the printing company totally failed on me. Everything that could have gone wrong did. The entire budget for the year had already been spent and we had essentially zero interest. I had to come back to my boss and tell him that the launch was a failure.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

A few months later, when I came to him with the idea for what is Ratz Pack Media today, he laughed me out of the room. After the failed attempt, why in the world would he let me shift my focus from work AGAIN, just to fail?! Fast forward three years, and I am now running Ratz Pack Media full time, generating six figures. I have helped several clients reach their first $1 million. The things I learned from the very short lived greeting card company have helped me build my business, and now I hope they will help you as well.

Rule #1: Get used to failing

While it is true that almost all businesses fail within the first five years, that does not mean that the entrepreneurs who run them will never succeed. Just because your first idea fails, and it probably will, does not mean you should quit trying. When starting a business, you need to be prepared to fail. Everything that can go wrong will, and you‘d better expect them to. If you don’t, your business will join the graveyard. Even if the business fails, pull yourself back up and try again.

Rule #2: People will think you are crazy, and you probably are

Remember how 95% of all businesses fail? Yeah, you do have to be a bit crazy to want to try this thing. Yeah, it is easier to just keep your 9 to 5 job and your pension plan. Yeah, it is easier to let someone else build the future. But, where’s the fun in that? Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, and most people will assume you’ve gone off your rocker. They will likely say it until the moment you are successful. One of my favorite memes is,Work so hard that your haters ask if you’re hiring.” The reason I love it so much is because it is so true!

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Rule #3: There are a ton of great ideas, but almost no great execution

When you take the leap to start a business you are likely starting out with an idea that you are sure will take you to the top of the mountain. When I started my business, I thought it would be a one-stop shop for online marketing. Now, we only focus on Facebook and Instagram management for clients. If I had kept going with the original idea, I would likely have failed already. At the beginning of a business, it is crucial to have a mission and a plan to execute, but you had better be willing to tweak and optimize it over time.

Rule #4: Test before you invest

When I started my greeting cards company, I put a lot of time into the creation of the products and the deals with the photographers. Before we had sold any products, we had already invested in the business. If I were to do it all over again, I would start by testing the waters, such as seeing what people thought about the cards, how much they would be willing to pay, how much interest there was in the idea, before putting so much into it. I apply this rule these days, especially in my clients’ ad campaigns. Whenever we start a new product launch, we begin by targeting their most engaged audience. We wait to see what these people think of the new product, and only then do we begin running ads to colder audiences.

When building a business, things may not always be in your favor. It is most important to remember that even if things go south, it is not too late. You will always have another chance, you will always get to try again, and you will always have another great idea.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I would love to hear about the biggest lesson you learned from your previous failures down in the comments!

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Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Life

How You Can Effectively Achieve Your Goals by Using the Puzzle Analogy

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how to achieve your goals
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

I was building a 500 piece puzzle the other day with many tiny little pieces. When I opened the box, I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many pieces and many of them were very similar in color. I took a breath and thought “just do one piece at a time”. I knew that I had to come up with a plan and organize the pieces into groups before I got started. This helped me to focus and take away some of the overwhelming feelings that were coming up. I came up with a plan and executed that plan. (more…)

Meghan Olsgard is the creator and writer of www.infinitesoulblueprint.com where she writes articles about self-empowerment and creating a fulfilling life. She shares her personal experiences and the obstacles she has overcame to help and inspire others to do the same. You can get more information at her website or follow her on Facebook.

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2 Comments

  1. Sebastian Klassman

    Sep 1, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Great overview Tim and very useful information for anyone looking to start crowdfunding. Structuring rewards in the right way, is also quite important. I think people need to be enticed, sometimes there are creative ways to do this within a campaign. You campaign will rely on it heavily. Thank you, wonderful read.

  2. Academic Papers

    Jun 8, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Wonderful articles in this post it’s very beneficial for me. Thanks to share this post.

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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Successful entrepreneurs have long been known to embody specific traits that can be very useful in many aspects of life. Some of these traits include hard work, devotion and continuous solid effort. The different skills that entrepreneurs naturally gain through years and years of professional experience, have equipped them to effectively manage and continuously expand their business.

Nonetheless, if we backtrack to the beginning of most entrepreneurs journeys, we see that the majority of them almost always faced professional or personal challenges when first starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs usually endure professional trials better than anyone else because they were prepared during the early stages of their careers. Yet, the power of perseverance, devotion and quality performance is truly tested when faced with powerful hardships at a personal level.

To provide some context in regards to these hardships, let me ask this question. Would you effectively run your newly established business if within the first three months, you were faced with the fact that a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after 20 years of marriage, and you were left by the woman you had decided to spend the rest of your life with?

New entrepreneurs can ensure their way to success when involuntarily having overcome personal challenges life has thrown at them. After all, the true measure of an entrepreneur’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure.

Below are 4 tips to overcome life hardships when starting a business:

1. Focus on your business

Hard work is an important technique that can help you forget. Focus on your business and daily tasks and you will find yourself momentarily forgetting about the personal issues that may be troubling you.

In other words, all kinds of activities including office work, home chores or small errands will help your mind break the loop you may find yourself in. Not only you will be doing something productive, but you will also get the opportunity to improve your business during this unexpected situation.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” – Walt Disney

2. Welcome the support of your friends and family

Being dealt with a bad hand doesn’t mean that there are no people willing to help and support you. Your family and friends are still here and willing to provide you with the emotional comfort and empowerment you need to go through this.

Make sure to contact them on a daily basis and let them know of your thoughts and issues, by becoming a part of their lives and engage in activities together. Participating in social events is a great way to keep your mind busy, meet new people and experience new things.

3. Practice acceptance and let it go

We sometimes find ourselves creating the perfect fantasy where all aspects of our lives are perfect, thus, it may be so difficult to let go of or accept a sudden turn of events. Focus on accepting the situation as is by reflecting on it.

Try meditating, take deep breaths and appreciate the people and things you still have in your life. One day you may find your own explanation as to why these events may have happened.

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

4. Read on a daily basis

Reading can provide an abundance of mental health benefits including stress relief, anxiety reduction, knowledge increase, and improved focus and concentration. Similarly to focusing on your business, reading can help you to briefly forget about personal issues while learning something new.

With reading, you will be able to develop different perspectives which can help you better evaluate life, self-reflect and even perceive everything from a different viewpoint.

Regardless of the techniques you choose to follow when life throws personal hardships at you, it’s important to remember that this is not an overnight achievement. Nevertheless, you can focus all your efforts on getting on with your life and continuously improving yourself.

How have you overcome hardships in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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startup success
Image Credit: Unsplash

Being an entrepreneur is a hugely popular day dream. Well over 50% of people want to be their own bosses, according to a survey from Forbes. However, only 4% of those surveyed are actually entrepreneurs! Why is entrepreneurship such a popular dream that many cannot achieve?

The problem is, many people approach running a startup without a solid plan. They hear about the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, develop your dreams, and ignore the realities of setting up a small business.

As Richard Branson says, “To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” Success will only come if you are well prepared for the daily challenges of entrepreneurship. You need to be organized, focused, and connected to achieve your goals.

Your startup will feel like a booming business with a these 3 tweaks in your daily routine:

1. Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to running your own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for meeting all deadlines and getting your product and content out on time. You need to become a hardcore planner.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a to-do list and a routine to stay productive. Traditional work environments have routine built into the system, but it’s something you’re going to have to purposefully cultivate in your team. The best way to do this is to make sure your intentions are clear.

A solid to-do list is a good place to start. By ensuring a plan from when you wake up to when you end up in bed, you can make sure no moment is wasted. Use technology to achieve this goal as there are options on calendar and to-do-list applications on the market that can help you better plan and organize your day.

Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are all solid options since they can act as your personal assistant, making your day run seamlessly. Utilizing them helps you track events, plan and organize your schedule in a few simple clicks.

The core functions of the calendar apps are to show upcoming schedules and alert on important deadlines. To better understand the power of these apps, you have to actually get down to it and test them out. The one you choose depends on whether you are an Android, Windows or iOS person.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci

2. Stay Focused

When running a small business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re focusing on small tasks, your energy will be depleted when it comes to the bigger picture of your business. In a study at the University of California, Irvine, found that interruptions that cause you to lose focus will result in stress and pressure. According to the report it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after a distraction.

Tasks like scheduling and answering calls eat up time that could be better spent developing your team and product. This is where outsourcing comes in. By seeking out professionals, you can ensure your clients are cared for 24/7, while you get to the real work. By figuring out what tasks need to be performed by you and which do not, you’ll free up your time. Get a big business result with small business costs!

3. Stay Connected

Another way to help cultivate success in your startup is to make sure you are connecting with customers. It’s important that this feels authentic because people know when businesses aren’t being genuine and they will respond accordingly.

This authenticity is a benefit that startups have over big businesses. People will naturally assume that small businesses are more genuine than corporations. Prove it to them by being consistent and trust worthy.

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent communication and interaction with clients is necessary for your startup. You’ll want to build up a solid base of loyal customers, and the fastest way to do this is to provide exemplary customer experiences in every interaction. To help you better handle this part of small business and help monitor how you connect with your customers, consider investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Through a CRM you can find and woo customers, because you are able to track how customers interact with your company. For example, a CRM program will let you know if you are getting leads from your social media campaigns, and how many people remember your marketing materials.

Big businesses use CRMs to get clients, by tracking where they connect, how frequently they buy from them, and where the connection stops. If you use a CRM in your small business, you’ll be able to compete, while still remaining genuine.

Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but there are certain traits you can develop within yourself to make it happen. By staying organized, focused, and connected, your startup will be able to compete with bigger businesses.

Do you have a business venture? If so, what is it and how do you plan on succeeding in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Rules I Learned From Watching My First Business Go Up in Flames

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95% of all businesses fail within their first 5 years. Take that in for a moment. If you have recently started a business, you are almost guaranteed to fail! Why in the world would so many people start businesses, me amongst them, if they are basically writing themselves a death sentence?

Before I started my media company, I had spent 3.5 years working for another business. In December 2014, I came to the realization that I would not be working at that job forever. I approached my boss to discuss building a side project of my own within his business. My idea was a monthly greeting card business. The bonus was that I already had the images and the best verses to use, and an audience to target because of my job. In my mind, there was no way I could fail! As I began sending out contracts with the photographers, I was basically counting how much money I would be making in the first month.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! I had created the first three products and gotten a dozen or so photographers on board. However, when I announced the product to what I thought would be an eager audience, it totally flopped. Out of the over 150,000 people I had, only two signed up. When I went to production with the cards, the printing company totally failed on me. Everything that could have gone wrong did. The entire budget for the year had already been spent and we had essentially zero interest. I had to come back to my boss and tell him that the launch was a failure.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

A few months later, when I came to him with the idea for what is Ratz Pack Media today, he laughed me out of the room. After the failed attempt, why in the world would he let me shift my focus from work AGAIN, just to fail?! Fast forward three years, and I am now running Ratz Pack Media full time, generating six figures. I have helped several clients reach their first $1 million. The things I learned from the very short lived greeting card company have helped me build my business, and now I hope they will help you as well.

Rule #1: Get used to failing

While it is true that almost all businesses fail within the first five years, that does not mean that the entrepreneurs who run them will never succeed. Just because your first idea fails, and it probably will, does not mean you should quit trying. When starting a business, you need to be prepared to fail. Everything that can go wrong will, and you‘d better expect them to. If you don’t, your business will join the graveyard. Even if the business fails, pull yourself back up and try again.

Rule #2: People will think you are crazy, and you probably are

Remember how 95% of all businesses fail? Yeah, you do have to be a bit crazy to want to try this thing. Yeah, it is easier to just keep your 9 to 5 job and your pension plan. Yeah, it is easier to let someone else build the future. But, where’s the fun in that? Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, and most people will assume you’ve gone off your rocker. They will likely say it until the moment you are successful. One of my favorite memes is,Work so hard that your haters ask if you’re hiring.” The reason I love it so much is because it is so true!

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Rule #3: There are a ton of great ideas, but almost no great execution

When you take the leap to start a business you are likely starting out with an idea that you are sure will take you to the top of the mountain. When I started my business, I thought it would be a one-stop shop for online marketing. Now, we only focus on Facebook and Instagram management for clients. If I had kept going with the original idea, I would likely have failed already. At the beginning of a business, it is crucial to have a mission and a plan to execute, but you had better be willing to tweak and optimize it over time.

Rule #4: Test before you invest

When I started my greeting cards company, I put a lot of time into the creation of the products and the deals with the photographers. Before we had sold any products, we had already invested in the business. If I were to do it all over again, I would start by testing the waters, such as seeing what people thought about the cards, how much they would be willing to pay, how much interest there was in the idea, before putting so much into it. I apply this rule these days, especially in my clients’ ad campaigns. Whenever we start a new product launch, we begin by targeting their most engaged audience. We wait to see what these people think of the new product, and only then do we begin running ads to colder audiences.

When building a business, things may not always be in your favor. It is most important to remember that even if things go south, it is not too late. You will always have another chance, you will always get to try again, and you will always have another great idea.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I would love to hear about the biggest lesson you learned from your previous failures down in the comments!

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Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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pinterest for business

Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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