Travel Inspired - Now Funding!


Travel Inspired goes live!

After a testing few months, I am pleased to announce my crowdfunding campaign is now live! It has been a huge effort getting to this point as I gather materials and structure the content for the campaign to maximize my chances of success, but finally, we are here! To check out the campaign on Indiegogo click here.

There has been so much to consider in the preparation for the final launch, and the deeper I got into it, the more I realized how naïve I had been in my earlier attempts at crowdfunding. It was early last year I believe when I embarked on raising funds to create a book with my photos from Berlin, something I felt inspired to do and was entirely confident about, but this was definitely more of an ego trip than anything else.

I rushed into that campaign with no real goal in mind, only that I wanted to make a book. I had only a little idea how I would get it printed, but was clueless when it came to publishing it and as to how I would actually go about selling the product once it was completed. Further to my feeble attempts to properly convey how I would achieve the project, the book was purely a vanity project that would not have a real audience. You will not be surprised to learn that the campaign received zero backings.

Yes, my ego was bruised for a while, but I learned a serious lesson from the process and channeled this education into the preparation of this new campaign - Travel Inspired. The process can be broken down into various stages, each bringing unique challenges that had to be overcome. This is how I built my campaign:

Starting with the end in mind

Unlike my first attempt, I wanted to start with my goal in mind. The whole reason for doing the campaign in the first place was to purchase stock for my online stores after an honest review of my previous attempts at selling my work. This was going to be one print initially, and then build it from there, but this always bothered me as I thought that putting out just one image really lacks exposure. So I decided to extend the range to 6 different images.

I spent weeks going through my portfolio trying to narrow down the selection for the project which I did through rating the images based on a number of factors and then taking feedback from friends as to their opinion on the chosen images. After all, was said and done, I was left with 7 images as I just couldn't bring myself to let one go.

Being objective about one's own works is immensely difficult, and I really couldn't do it without the support of others. Trying to decide between the shots is how I imagine parents would feel if they had to save only one child from a burning building. Ultimately, I wanted to put forward my best work, but at the same time ensure it appears to as wider audience as possible so as to maximize my chances of sales, so some images which really appeal to me, might not necessarily appeal to others and had to be put back on the shelf for another day.

Initially, the limited editions were going to be printed based on ISO A4, I'm not sure why, but I felt it was a tidy size and would be more appealing. It was only when I was discussing the project with my dad that this changed, as he suggested that surely someone would be looking for something more substantial and make more of a statement. This prompted me to revise my sizes and instead look at ISO A3, which I eventually settled on as the size for the prints.

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Selecting the images to be printed was only half the battle. As part of this project, I not only wanted to issue the limited edition prints but also to improve the packaging and overall purchasing experience. So, as well as the costs of the printing itself, I had to gather costs for the packing materials, a label printer and international (worst case scenario) postage costs. With all my costs collated, now it was time to think about what I wanted to charge.

I did extensive research against other projects and products of a similar style and collated these costs as a guide as to how I should price my own work. Again, thinking with the end in mind, I needed to price to sell after the campaign, but at the same time provide costs for different rewards that would provide a discounted cost against the final sale price to encourage their support. With all my costs punched into a spreadsheet, I played with different sale figures until I felt my costs would be adequately covered and the project would be fully funded.

I wanted to ensure the rewards could appeal to as many people as possible, so included some lower-tier options for people who might not be able to afford the higher price options, but still wanted to contribute to the overall campaign. The same was applicable to the higher end, where I introduced rewards that had a more personal touch such as one to one skype calls, and a days shooting with me in London. I have no idea if these would be of interest to anyone, but ultimately they cost me nothing but my time, so I didn't think it would hurt to include them.

So far so good; I know what I am going to sell, and for how much. Time to start building the campaign, but on which platform?

Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

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This is a much-searched question on Google, and if I am honest, I still am not entirely sure which one is better. The platform fees are almost identical, with Indiegogo being ever so slightly higher so it wasn't too easy to draw a distinction initially.

I was all set to use Kickstarter, as I know the platform and that felt comfortable, but the big draw to Indiegogo was their flexible funding feature that Kickstarter does not provide. What this means is, that through flexible funding, should I not meet my full funding goal I will still receive the amount pledged, whereas an 'all or nothing' campaign such as what Kickstarter offers means that if I only get 99% of my goal funded, I would not receive a penny and all the investment would be returned to the supporters. This means the investors are left empty-handed, and I am back to square one, not exactly the desired outcome.

Further to the flexible funding option, Indiegogo offers an 'in demand' option, which effectively continues to act as an online store where people can continue to purchase rewards after the campaign has ended, provided it is fully funded. As the intention is to sell the images after the campaign has ended, this seems like a great opportunity to extend my expose and potential increase my future sales.

My mind was made up then, it was time to leave the comfort of the known behind, and step into the unknown and try something different.

Time to roll up the sleeves...

Before I started to build my own campaign, I spent some time just browsing other campaigns to see what works, and what doesn't. It easy to forget whilst sat on the comfort of my own sofa that there is a big world out there, especially online, and people will back the most random things. I cam across projects that to my mind were pretty flimsy, but they were highly supported and either on target to meet their funding goal, or had already smashed through it!

A common theme amongst successful campaigns was authenticity, and the quality of the content included. I found that campaigns that were brief in their introductions and descriptions and lacking in interesting video's or images were not as successful as ones with carefully constructed stories and good visual content.

I have no idea if my story is compelling or not, but it is genuine, so I took to my laptop and began drafting my story, trying to keep it brief, but at the same time cover as much ground as possible. People buy into people, so I wanted to ensure people knew exactly who I was, and what has led me to this point. I spent a good few weeks just going back over and over the main project text until I was absolutely satisfied with it. To maintain interest and structure, I used the following sequence:

1) A brief introduction to the project

2) My personal journey

3) My reason for the campaign

4) A detailed description of the campaign

5) A summary of how far I am with the project, and how I will use the funds

6) Details of the rewards being offered

7) The next steps and details of how the work will be produced on completion

My hope is that by being as transparent as possible, readers would trust that they are backing a well-considered project and have faith in my delivery.

With the wordy stuff all complete, I then required several images that would be included in the campaign to provide context to my story. This, on the whole, wasn't too difficult, after all, I am a photographer and have plenty of images. What I am not though, is a graphic designer.

Every project has a cover image which is seen on the main page, plus a banner image at the top of the project page. Ideally, you would show details of your product and entice people in with flashy images, but my product isn't made yet, and I felt it would be confusing to try and feature too much in these images. So I settled on the one image from the collection and built a design around that. After several hours of fiddling with font sizes and colours I eventually settled on a design that wasn't exactly going to win awards for graphic design but was certainly better than a secondary school word art banner.

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Once the main banner was complete, I could manipulate the file to suit other uses such as the thumbnail for the main page and for the rewards. By sticking entirely with the same concept I have maintained continuity from the first thumbnail of the project, through to selecting a reward.

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Just when I thought the hard work was done, then came the biggest challenge of all; the promo video.

...and, Action!

I am not a videographer. I have not recorded anything more than the odd clip of something that piqued my interest with no other intention other than to remind myself of that event. Apparently, projects that have a promotional video included raise 2000% more than those without, so if I were to ensure my best chances of a successful campaign, it was obvious that I was going to need one.

I opted to keep it simple, and set myself up in an almost interview-style configuration and interlace the footage with pictures that support my story, and the campaign. I have two camera's, so opted for 2 different angles to mix up the footage and make it less static.

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I have a terrible memory, and despite the project being all mine and from the heart, I knew if I didn't have a script I would end up babbling and moving off-topic and forgetting to include important details. So I spent several more days working on a script which covered essentially the same information as in the content for the page, but that would sound natural when spoken in front of the camera.

I had the cameras set up on tripods in my living room for a week whilst I kept recording footage and perfecting the script, but I was not satisfied. It was tricky trying to read the script, get the camera angles right and the lighting was a constant battle. After a week, I put the cameras away and settled for what I had and began editing the video, but I was most unhappy with the result.

With the launch date of the campaign fast approaching, I decided to give it one last shot, and so set all the gear up again, this time with a finely tuned script. I spent an entire afternoon doing one take after another until I was left with a take that was not perfect, but that I could work with.

Then came the editing. Getting the sequencing right wasn't too much of a problem, but for some reason, I just could not get the first sequence to synchronize the audio with the video. 15 versions later, and after having spent a considerable amount of time in the filming and editing, I was left with something that wasn't perfect, but was the best that I could manage with my very limited skills.

The video is probably a little on the long side, but I really wanted to cover as much ground as possible, because ultimately some people may not get beyond the video and so this would potentially be my only opportunity to win them over.

Now to bring it all together...

With all the materials gathered, it was time to put the campaign together in draft and prepare for the big day. As I was going through the motions I did a trial run at launching it, just to make sure that everything would go off without any problems, and it's a good job I did. When I started the draft campaign I told Indiegogo I was a business, because I kind of am. This turned out to be a massive flaw because the campaign would not launch until I told the platform my US business number.

There are two problems here, firstly, I do not have a business number, I am a guy creating something out of my living room and below all thresholds of tax, and secondly, I am not a US citizen! Frustratingly, you are not able to switch from a business to an individual once the campaign is created, so instead, I had to start a new campaign, from scratch!

Some 3-4 hours later, I was back up and ready again and had learned another valuable lesson. In all, the time I dedicated to this project is ridiculous; a rough estimation would be around 90 hours of work to get to this point. If this was a business, I would say that it would be a fairly poor return on investment for the time put in, but the lessons I have learned and the skills I have developed from the process have been invaluable.

With all this behind me, it's now a case of waiting to see how the funding goes. The campaign is live for 30 days from the day of writing, with an option to extend if required. Here's hoping all that hard work does actually pay off!

If you like what I do and want to support my project, and it is still September 2019, why not head over to my campaign page now and make a pledge and give me a little push towards my goal. Any assistance is greatly received, and much appreciated!

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