Starting a project? Feeling less than sure? Read this.

These past couple of days I was kindly invited to BoostHBG, an organisation doing great things for the cross- and transmedia practicioners (and VR producers and short film producers etc and so on) in the south of Sweden. My mission was to help some projects a little bit further along the way to fruition.

The projects were many and varied, ranging from the very much we’re-just-starting-this-idea-up-right-now to the ones that have been in the works for years and have many things already solidly in place. Thus, they all had different needs and different challenges and issues to tackle. Some things, though, came to the fore as in a sense very basic things, but in another sense things that are not easy to get right and remember, especially when working on a project close to ones heart:

Always keep the end user in mind, no matter what part of the project you’re working on. This includes the sales pitches, as they – especially if your project has been under development for a long period of time – often can turn inwards, serving more to reaffirm the concept for you, the creator, than telling and selling it to someone else. Honing your elevator pitch is extremely good for anything you’re working on, forcing you to refine and redefine and boil it all down to its essence. Crucial stuff.

As you keep the end user in mind, you really really need to think about who your target group is. ”The world” is not a target group that will help you in any way while developing or drawing up strategies. ”People over 18 years old” is slightly better, but not by much. If you can find what niche audience your content will appeal to, you can much better find out what their wants and needs and habits are, and create something that resonates beautifully with them. And then you can work with them as your beacons and ambassadors to reach a greater audience…

What is the essence of the story you’re trying to tell? Is it a story of love? Or of fulfillment? Or of loss, or of something else? What is the world your story lives in – and what are the rules and other possible characters does the world consist of? What stories can these rules and these characters give rise to, and where can you create them, publish them, perhaps collaborate with the audience on them?

Finally, a big looming question was the one of financial sustainability. In an ideal world, we all want to create great content that people who want to experience it pay handsomely for. In the real world, there is an enormous amount of work; nose-to-the-grind-kinda stuff to get this traction and this revenue rolling. An upside is that there are now many creative ways to look at financing and monetizing – from YouTube ads to merchandize, from crowdfunding to the diversification of content – from the same story or storyworld – for different clients and purposes.

One last piece of advice – get advice and feedback on your particular project from other people. Ideally from people more competent than you, especially in areas crucial to your project. Trust people with your story, and you’ll soon see if it will have legs or not.

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