Looky, looky, the email I just got ... it says AND I QUOTE ...
First off, I want to say that I think your story is amazing. It truly is an innovative idea that be copied (or at least attempted) for years to come. Way to blaze the trail for fellow nerd/marketing hybrid robots. Thank you.
My name is XXXXXXX.
Like your story's beginning, I am approaching my 25th birthday (Monday), also known as my quarter-life crisis. I have been working from my laptop here in San Diego for almost every day over the last 15 months. The work is great, the flexibility is awesome, but going to different coffee shops as getting my scene change fix just hasn't been cutting it. I am desperately seeking an adventure.
A fellow friend going through a life stalemate (will soon be turning 30 and just got laid off), is planning to do hike the Appalachian trail this spring/summer.
I'm not sure how familiar you are with the trail, but basically it's a 5 month hike from Georgia to Maine. I've decided to join him.
As someone who's been camping a total of two times in my 25 years, the experience should certainly be that adventure that I'm seeking. I tell all my friends I'm doing it because I want to grow a beard. The sad part is I'm only half joking.
To the point:
Funding is a problem. Apparently escaping society is way more expensive than one would think. I was under the assumption we could just survive off of berries and honeycomb on the trail. Imagine my heartbreak when I was informed it doesn't work that way. Tents are way too expensive. Apparently REI is the outdoorsman Gucci.
I come to you, because your story has made it apparent that you are the pre-eminent guru in social media based sponsorship.
Do you have any suggestions on places to start to ask for funding?
What sort of commitment do the companies require in exchange for product/service? (Being in the woods may make Twittering difficult at times)
Do you have any creative ideas to garner a businesses interest in this particular regard?
Do you like e-mails that drag on entirely way too long?
Thanks for your time Jen. It really means a lot.
Wow, first off - thank you. I really really really appreciate the email, these things keep me going. Second of all, you have to understand when I started, I had no idea where it was going to go. I didn't intend initially for it to go this far; I just wanted to be happy and continually do things I enjoyed doing. Giving up everything I owned was easy for me, as back in 2007 - I had lost everything that I had owned in a massive cockroach infestation. YAYYYY urban living!! That was just my first step - give it all up again for a fresh start and to be able to adopt a fresh perspective on things so I could figure out what I needed. Necessity is a funny thing, we all think we need a lot - but that is just the human brain wanting to tell us to horde horde horde. What you require most for an adventure like the one you are describing is a shift in consciousness. I did a LOT of soul searching, and questioned a LOT about what life really is, versus dealing with the people that are just trying to sell us stuff. I'd suggest your first step is to just start there, before approaching your funding. What you think you need versus what you ACTUALLY need are two VERY different things.
Then, I'd suggest not writing a business plan or anything for sponsorship - those are a total joke now a days, just rally your friends together to support your blog. Create a site (tumblr is great! or blogspot - and both are free. Just secure $10 for the domain, way easier to direct the traffic), with an About Us page outlining exactly what you are going to do, and document your search for funding in real time. People are inspired by action, and it also freaks people out when you do it so publicly ... the ones that are going to bite, bite faster once they think someone else can snatch you up. The majority of things sponsors will look at are Facebook likes, and Twitter followers. I almost never even get asked for analytics anymore - the followers and likes are WAY more important to these people now a days. When you infultrate someone's social media stream, you're catching them in a more passive, but incredibly effective way as it is a constant contact approach. They have to actively click unfollow or unlike to make you go away versus just not clicking on your page which oh yeah! they have to be reminded to visit anyway.
Once you get some of your friends on board, just start blogging - updating people on your status etc. For your twitter page, I'd suggest building the brand around your own personal twitter as its just easier to keep updates. For TNTML, I just kept @JenFriel as the main twitter contact. I couldn't bother updating a main "brand page" in addition to my personal, its such a total waste of energy. Just keep it real.
Kickstarter.com is also AMMMAAZINNGG!! A lot of my friends have had luck on there to raise funding. Maybe you could run a campaign on there and streamline it as well on the website. Whatever you wanna do! Up to you!
Remember, "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
We look for stories like this in social media. We all WANT to help. The more honest and humble you are with your story, the more people will just fall from the sky offering to help. It is amazing.
Furthermore, I find that the more you are willing to take risks in even offering for people to help, the faster the project in general grows as those that have helped take ownership of your story as well. Greatest time to be alive evvveerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! Hands down.
As far as what companies ask for in return for sponsorship, that's up to you. I don't accept any terms. I'm kinda a nazi on it as I am for nothing but unapologetic awesomeness. I don't accept money, so I won't accept bullshit. If I like your product, I'll talk about it - if I don't I won't. I'm not a corporate puppet, I'm just someone who wants to live life and document it as fully as possible. So that's totes mcgotes up to you amigo! Just be careful, as some of those companies will eat you alive. I'd just tell them that you'll integrate the product into your life as much as possible. Period. End of Sentence. These people are usually so excited to have ANNYYY involvement in social media that you'll at least have some wiggle room to try some stuff out.
All my love, and all my heart dear friend on your adventure. I can't WAIITTTTT to hear how it goes! And lemme know when you get all your pages established, I'll totally like 'em and suggest 'em to my friends.