You’ve worked hard on your module prototype and are ready to put it up to vote. As for any project in life, it’s not just about making the project itself but also about sharing it with the world. People need to discover and understand your module prototype in order to vote and support you.
This article is here to help you create a great campaign page for your bitLab module, and give you the best chances to get to receive 1000 votes.
How to Create a Great bitLab Submission
Your campaign page is your own page on the bitLab to communicate your module prototype. With this page, your goal is that the community:
- understands what your module does
- wants to support you by upvoting your module idea
Naming your module
The best module names are short and self-explanatory. Recent bitLab module proposals were for example: “Joystick”, “Humidity Sensor”, “Scratch” or “Oscilloscope”. They are simple words, easy to understand and to-the-point.
If your module is an adaptation of one of your own products, it can be a good idea to put the name of your company or a reference to you in the name. The advice makes even more sense if you already have a community (no matter the size) that knows and follows your brand.
For example, BackyardBrains is an open hardware company that develops experimentation products for neuroscience students and others passionate about the humain brain. Their most popular product is the SpikerBox, a bioamplifier that lets you hear and see spikes in insects like cockroaches. They also develop EMG SpikerBox, to read activity from human muscles.
EMG SpikerBit is a littleBit module derived from the original EMG SpikerBox. It was natural for the team to keep the same name, making it easy for both the BackyardBrains and littleBits communities to understand what it does.
Describe your module
After naming your module, you’ll want to explain what it does.
Make sure to describe the different features, modes of operation and how it can be used by the littleBits community.
Most descriptions are between 100 and 300 words.
Create small paragraphs and keep your sentences short. It makes it easier to read on a screen.
Answer the following question: what does your module do? How does it work? What inspired it?
Example with Oscilloscope, a module created by Gabotronics and now in Production:
The first 20 words are specifically important. They are the words that will appear on the bitLab homepage.
Bleep labs, one of the successful bitLab campaigns, chose its first 20 words very carefully to ensure readers understand the Bleep Drum and trigger interest for them to know more.
Make a video
Just like in other crowdfunding sites, a submission page that has a compelling, crisp video has a much greater chance of getting the necessary votes. They are also great at helping your submission go viral.
Your bitLab video doesn’t have to be long and complicated. It can last a few seconds or a few minutes. But what matters is to actually show your module prototype and what it does.
BackyardBrains came up with a pretty neat and elaborated video for their module EMG SpikerBit (that is now in production!):
As you can see, this video is seriously well edited. A full team worked on it both in front of and behind the camera. If you don’t have the resources and community to do something like this (yet), you can still make a great video pretty easily.
Let’s see how.
Content of your Video
The goal of your video is to tell the story behind your module. Answer the following questions:
- What does your module do?
- How can it be used with other littleBits modules?
- What kind of projects can we do with it?
- How did you come up with the idea?
- How did you create the prototype?
Before to answer these questions, don’t forget to state the name of your module and why you decided to submit it. A few words that introduce everything will help readers outside of the immediate littleBits community understand the full scope of your work: For example, you could say something like:
Hi littleBits community! I’m [say your name]
I’m doing this video today to present you my bitLab module prototype: [say the name of your module].
Good videos are mostly about clearly organized story-telling. Each part of your video needs to be well defined. If you follow the questions above, the storyboard should end up looking like this:
- presentation of your module
- presentation of your module in its ecosystem: littleBits family, case studies
- back story of the module development
Write down what you want to show and tell and follow the script. It’s usually better to have things outlined, unless you’re a seasoned video creator.
Another important point is the set up. If you are working on a low budget and want to reduce the amount of time spent editing your video, stick to one filming location. You’ll want to find a bright room with a plain background.
The hero of your bitLab video is your module prototype. As it’s a small item, you’ll need a very steady and close-up frame to be able to show the details of it.
– Most recent smartphones make good videos. Look for 4K-capable smartphones such as the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Sony Xperia Z3 (full list here).
– You’ll need a tripod like this
A good timing for a bitLab presentation video is between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, depending upon how much you have to say and how many different modes and examples you have to share.
While you don’t need professional pictures of your module to get your submission the needed number of votes, it definitely won’t hurt. Taking picture of electronics can be a challenge as boards are often full of tiny details and shadow areas.
Johngineer created an excellent tutorial shared on Adafruit to learn how to take good picture of electronics. He talks about setting up a mini studio, controlling the light to show your product and choosing the right configuration for your camera. The whole tutorial is worth reading if you’re serious about showing the best of your project.
Minig’s submission is currently open for voting on the bitLab for the Wii Bit module. Pictures are excellent:
How to get to 1000 votes and spread the word
When you create your submission and it’s live on the bitLab site, you instantly get the attention of the entire littleBits community. But you should not stop here. In order to reach 1000 votes – the amount needed to go the next phase – you’ll need to spread the word about your module.
Here is how:
Identify your Community
Think about who would be interested by your module, and anyone who could help you with a vote. Family and friends? Teachers? Hackerspace members? A specific community related to your module (gardeners? mums? political activists?).
Once you identify groups of people who might want to upvote your module, think about how to reach them.
Contact your community
Your close circle
Family and friends: use your favorite social network and don’t forget to talk about your project in real life
Your extended circle
If you’re a student:
Maybe there is an information board in your school? Print a little sign and pin it on the wall. Something that says, for example: “Vote for my module on bitLab. 1000 votes will get my invention to production. Go to bitlab.com/mymodule. My eternal love for doing so!
Maybe your school has a newsletter or mailing-list? Send a message to the list describing your module and where to vote. Don’t sound needy but instead focus on what your module does. Something like:
“In my spare time, I developed a module to make [insert description]. If you like the idea, your vote will help me go to production. Go to bitlab.com/mymodule and vote for me (it’s free and takes a few seconds).”
Your engineering or design teacher might want to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask for a quick shout-out to your module at the beginning of the class. Throw the URL up on the board so all can see.
Some schools websites have a blog or a news section on the homepage, ask the person in charge of web communication in your school if they would be interested to feature a student project on the website.
if you’re part of a maker space (hackerspace, fab lab, techshop, computer club…): send a message to the mailing-list, do a show and tell in a weekly meetup, mention your project to other members. Don’t be spammy, just passionate. Again, always make sure to give the voting url, make it as easy as possible for interested people to vote.
Makers with an aura
Having the support of people with more connections than you can be a great help. Talk to your maker friends who have a lot of connections. If they will love your module prototype and share it around, you may get your 1000 votes pretty quickly!
Use social media
Create a facebook page for the project, or a facebook event. Invite your friends to like the page or event so that people know about your module. Share your module multiple times on Twitter, and remember to use hashtags to make it easy to find you.
If you have a blog, it’s a good opportunity to detail your creative process and share your project in longer details. Who knows, you might get picked up by Make Magazine, BoingBoing or Popular Science? If you know anyone who knows anyone working there, it’s a good idea to tell them about your project and ask for a meeting.
List 200 friends who could help you spread the word by sending them a little message describing the module and where to vote. If you don’t have that much time (and friends), 20 or 5 friends is better than 0.
It’s good to communicate to your audience at the beginning of the voting period, during the first few days of launch, in order to gain momentum. During the voting period, you might see a variation in the number of votes that come in on a given day which is to be expected! Remember to keep emailing and sharing, reach out to your audience as much as you think will help.
As the voting period comes to a close, it’s very important to engage with your audience. Many people might wait for the last minute in order to cast their vote, much like many do in elections! Use these last days to send a reminder to your audience and perhaps reach out to those people you might have been on the fence about contacting.
More resources about the bitLab on MakingSociety:
- Podcast Episode 09: Interview with Andrew Avrin, bitLab expert at littleBits
- How to Succeed on littleBits bitLab – Part 1: all about the bitLab, how to find a module idea and start prototyping.
Share your experience and your campaign in the comments below. Good luck!