You don’t need a gigantic network to create, experiment and succeed

I was excited today to make a small donation to The Bucket Brigade, a project that might actually end up a book; presuming Bud Caddell’s attempt at crowdfunding its publication raises enough money.

According to Bud’s Kickstarter pledge page, if he manages to solicit $5000 from his social media friends and followers, he’ll have enough cash to take time off to write and pay an editor to help him complete what he promises will be directions for how to profit in the “attention economy.”

It’s my guess that Bud will raise his money in no time. And I hope this post helps in some small way. Bud’s experiment – in his words he’s “trying to prove that there’s more value in our networks than we can even fathom” – is the epitome of what new social media platforms like Kickstarter and Kachingle or old ones like Twitter and Facebook allow us to do.

We live in an age when anyone can publish, broadcast, design a product or start a movement. The only thing stopping us is fear, inertia or lack of a network. If Bud raises his $5000.00 – in $25 and $100 increments – it will be one more reminder of how much power has shifted to the individual.

Bud has 5000 followers on Twitter. That’s a pretty good number, though a far cry from a Chris Brogan. He has a blog that gets between 4,000 and 12,000 visits a month. That’s influence, but it’s not Seth Godin. I point that out as a reminder that you don’t have to be Brogan, or Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk to make things happen.

Sheena Matheiken’s The Uniform Project raised over $100,000 to send kids in India to school. Its Facebook fan page has 7,400 “likes,” while it’s Twitter followers number just over 5,900.

Erik Proulx, with his blog and his supporters on Twitter, was able to produce Lemonade the movie and get started on Lemonade Detroit. Erik has a similar number of followers and blog readers to Bud.

When you get started in social media – one person among millions, with nothing more than a Twitter account and no clear set of instructions – it seems unlikely that you can actually accomplish all that much. But you can. If you follow the examples of Bud, Sheena and Erik – engage, give, share, create, experiment – you’ll be surprised at what you can do.

Got other really good examples of what individuals have done by gathering a community, building a network and trying something ambitious?  Please share here. And as always,thanks for reading.

Chris Cloud
Chris Cloud

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30 Days of Creativity was a social initiative encouraging people to create stuff, anything, every day for 30 days during the month of June and share it on twitter using the #30daysofcreativity #ashtag.

Perfect example of gathering a community, building a network and trying something ambitious.

Bud Caddell
Bud Caddell

Edward, thanks again for this post and for supporting the project.

@John, it's a fair question about the $5,000 goal. I gave that a lot of thought before I started the Kickstarter project. Beyond my time, which I'm not really accounting for, there are costs associated with writing the book.

- I have a considerable list of people I want to interview, and I may want to visit at least a few of them (especially if many are all in the same place or research at the same university), so there's airfare costs and hotel (unless I can successfully couch surf)

- The cost of transcription services if I want to ever complete the book

- The cost of someone else's time to edit for me if I want the book to be readable

- The cost for a private collaboration space (some are free, some are not) for the editorial board members

- And money for design, production, and distribution unless I don't actually want the book published

The more that I think about it, and the more I talk with people in publishing, I probably far undershot what this will actually cost, even if I use the cheapest solutions. But, there are 22 days left in funding so we'll see where it ends up. Ultimately, I made a promise that I will do it, so I'm going to do it to the greatest extent of my abilities, and the people that so far make up the Editorial Board are amazing and will help me make sure this is a damn valuable book. My goal is to create something you can put into immediate practice.

Consider joining us or spreading the word, I'd really appreciate both or either.


Here's a naïve question, and I'm embarrassed to show my twitter-iveté. Let's say your young adult novel gets a starred review from the School Library Journal. What do you do with that on twitter when you only have 179 followers?

And let's say on the side you've created a small, grassroots movement called One Million Butterflies (@ButterflyEvent) where folks create as many handmade butterflies as they can by 2012 to go on a mural to celebrate global education for girls? But the problem is it's not going anywhere because you're plum spent of strength due to an auto-immune disorder. Thoughts?

John Bardos - IdeaEconomy
John Bardos - IdeaEconomy

You don't need a gigantic network but I think you need a somewhat unique idea. Being one of the first in your niche manages to get exposure that copycat ideas don't.

I think The Bucket Brigade will succeed because not many have tried a public appeal for funding. (Also, it is an interesting project.)

An even more important point is that barriers to entry are really low. Anyone with some talent and time are able to get an audience if they are creative enough and deliver quality.

What surprises me is that Bud Caddell 'needs' $5000 to complete the project in the first place. He appears to be a successful professional and $5000 isn't a lot of money. Also, does he need to take time off from work? Can't he just complete the project in his free time?

I like the fact that he is involving investors in the process of completing the book. It is likely that the community may be worth far more than the $5000.


Thanks for this post and great observation.

I fully agree that people and brand can do a lot with "not-gigantic network". Actually, the nature of the network, the level of engagement is as important as its size.

It is better to have 100 very engaged people in your FB page than to get 1000 with no engagement at all.

That I think is a call to action for targeting and segmentation for people building communities. More is not always better.