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How we crowdfunded for Homo Distractus

I’ve written a book. It took me a year and a half, countless tea cups, and a couple of pair of trousers that worn off because of long sitting, but is was finally there. Now the question was: how do I let people know about it? The tricky part was that Homo Distractus (this is what the book was called) was about unplugging. It explained how we have all unnecessarily became obsessed with checking our gadgets and advocated for keeping our devices under control. I also had a zero marketing budget. I am a former digital marketer and I know a lot about selling products online. But wouldn’t it be weird to launch my book crowdfunding campaign on unplugging by posting about it on Facebook? In Homo Distractus, I oppose the pressure that creative people have to be ‘always on’ and maintain a constant presence on social media. But I could I do differently with my own book? I wanted to prove that ‘online’ is not the only way to attract attention. So I had to look for alternative ways.

Do what you can do best The first, most obvious one, was doing more live talks on the topic. I love public speaking and am reasonably good at it (I did a TEDx talk). So I scheduled as many talks as I could fit in 5 weeks of the campaign. It was the first time I decided to charge for them, explaining all funds will go to support my book. Surprisingly, all my talks sold out, and quite a few people attending the talks ordered the book. What I learned: 1. Focus on what you do best, and rely on your partners to do the rest (in this case, online promotion). 2. There’s already lots of free stuff out there. Start charging, it creates value in the eyes of attendees. A website that forces you to unplug The second way to promote the book offline came out of a pure chance. I came across an article about a guy who created a website that would only show its content if you disable internet. I wrote him on Twitter, asking whether he’d be interested in collaborating. I didn’t expect any answer, but really liked the concept. To my surprise, Chris Bolin (this was his name) was fast to reply, and he liked the idea… and so in a few days we’ve put up, the first website that forces you to unplug. We wanted to re-create the experience of being focused and attentive even when you are connected. So the website is designed the way that it only shows you content if you disable your wifi. It explains, how ‘always on’ makes us distracted and stupid. When you reconnect again, it redirects you to the crowdfunding page. We’ve had quite a few backers coming from this website. What I’ve learned: 1. Always take a chance, even if you think it’s minimal. 2. Rather than avoiding something, think how you can build on top of it (in my case, how to improve online experience, not get rid of it). Making a fool out of myself Towards the end of the campaign, donations started slowing down (which usually happens), so I needed to find a way to boost them. I ordered stickers that said ‘Your time is limited’ and ‘This device is just a tool’ that you could put on your devices to remind yourself to browse mindfully. They also included links to Then I and my friend borrowed colour pens and paper from her 5-year old daughter (thank you, Anna and Cecilia!) and spent the whole morning drawing a poster. One side of it said ‘1/3 of us would rather give up sex than a smartphone’ (quote from a BCG study), and the other ‘Do you manage your device, or does it manage you?’ Using girl’s umbrella as a holder, I went with this amateur into the ‘digital heart’ of London and spend my lunch wandering around Old Street and giving out ‘mindful’ stickers. While I’ve attracted a few sceptical looks, overall people have been really friendly and we got a few backers. However, the biggest effect was on my existing social media following: probably people were so impressed by how I made a fool out of myself that it became our biggest donation day throughout the campaign. What I’ve learned: It’s about a balance. Online blends nicely with offline. People like to have offline experiences, but getting them to talk about this online amplifies your reach. As of writing this blog post, we’re 94% financed, and still have 3 days to go. To get your copy of Homo Distractus or digital detox cards, please, check our Indiegogo campaign.

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