starting a project
We are currently halfway through our first online project Scratch That. It has been a huge learning curve so far: from gaining more script applications than we initially had followers to trying to figure out technology. At the half way mark, a few things have cropped up… common sense things, we know, but things that we are going to keep in mind for the next project that we create. Below is a list of two things that we want to implement for next time and two things that helped us from the off. If you want to start your own project I encourage you to check in with these points at the start, as obvious as they may be I hope this little reminder will put you in good stead:
Give yourself time.
When we first started this project we assumed that everything would be on a small scale, but like most things it ballooned. We had far more applications than we thought possible. This meant the decision making process had to be stretched out and it also put a lot of pressure on those involved to make decisions right away. There was no time to get something wrong or to sleep on it. We have learnt to make time for changes and to think bigger. In our next project, if we think something will take a day, we will leave two. We will know the best and the worst case scenarios and have room for any outcome.
Anything where you are relying on multiple people to get back to you about a decision will take more time than you think. In the future, when we cast, we will set aside time specifically for people to say yes or no to the project. The more time people have to figure out their schedules the smoother the project will go.
Try to be as black and white as you can.
This will make everything easier in the long run, albeit a frustration at the start. At the start of this project we had a rough idea of when everything was going to be, but looking back I wish we had spent more time solidifying dates (even for the little things) and solidly requesting that these deadlines were met. Instead we tried to be too flexible with the aim to please. For next time, we have learnt to lay down a full timetable, even the small dates (leaving space for things to go wrong).
The language I use in emails can also be grey - I hate asking people to do things. Again even though this feels polite and like you can please everyone, in the long run, this greyness will set you back as you follow up with more reminders and requests. Just say it as it is! Asking for a reasonable thing is not rude or annoying and helps give people clarity.
As well as prepping a timetable, prep a social media plan.
Social media is a big part of any project, as it is the best way to engage viewers, and as much as I would like it to go away it is a great tool. So! Do not leave it till the last minute.
This is something that I found helpful on the last project I did: I created a calendar with key dates and times in and I wrote in rough ideas of media posts. Simple. Yes the project shifts and changes, so no doubt your content will need to shift too but laying everything out will make sure you can get your message out there as clearly as you can. It helped me figure out what content we had already and what we needed to create. I managed to spread the content out and everything felt manageable.
A tool that we have also utilised this time around is infographics. It is really difficult to get pictures for every post (especially in a pandemic) so don’t be afraid to get creative and design backgrounds with text over. There are so many easy sites and apps to use that can help create all this content for free.
My last tip… schedule tweets! I need to heed my own words on this. After looking at our social media statistics I know the top times people visit us, so I want to post just before then. With life getting in the way and my perfectionist brain I can end up rushing to get it out. Pre-plan them and schedule, no fuss, it will change everything!
Know your goals for the project, your dream scenarios and ideals.
This is an important first step as it makes every decision going forward a lot easier as you have the foundations in place. From the way you interact with people in emails to how you advertise, have your goals in mind and everything will be clearer. For example our biggest reason for hosting a scratch night was to share more female and non binary voices. So every time we advertised and spoke about the piece this informed how we did it and the language we used, and it made decision making quicker. Other goals included communication and making sure that everyone was kept in the loop throughout the application process and making sure that whatever we created, the team of people we made it with came first over the finished product.