‘Crowdfunding isn’t about collecting money’

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The staff of Charlie Magazine. Image courtesy of charliemag.be.

Can you get behind phrases like “100% Bull shit free,” “Smart is the new sexy” and “Photoshop? No thanks, I’m fine.”? Then you’d probably like Charlie Magazinea new Belgian online magazine.

So exactly what kind of bull shit can you expect to avoid when reading Charlie?

The magazine isn’t meant to represent a ‘perfect’ world, said editor and founder Jozefien Daelemans, just a “normal world with regular people.”

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Image courtesy of charliemag.be.

“We don’t like nonsense like ‘Lose weight in one week!’ or ‘Get thin while sleeping!’ or ‘10 tips to get the best orgasm!,’- the stuff you will find in the mainstream magazines. [Charlie has] no unrealistic beauty standards but real role models, good reads and above all quality texts and layout,” Daelemans told Through The Cracks via email.

Charlie is run by a group of volunteer editors, writers and photographers ranging from 16 to 47 who feel that there are too many stories about women that aren’t told. Late last month the group finished an Ulule crowdfunding campaign for the longform news startup that successfully raised €31,725.

Daelmanes described the Charlie campaign like a full-time job that required a lot of planning.

Before launching their campaign in Antwerp, Jozefien said, she took four classes on crowdfunding. The classes to learn about strategy and how to plan and run a campaign were paid for by the Belgian Chamber of Commerce and given by Douw & Koren, an Amsterdam-based crowdfunding consultant company.

“You have to be alert 24-7. I tried to thank all those who funded us on Twitter personally, but in the end it wasn’t possible anymore. We kept communicating the whole time. We made photos of the editorial team and we had four movie clips in which we tried to explain our plans,” she said.

Every Saturday Charlies, the volunteers of Charlie Magazine, would gather in Coffee Bar by Maurice in downtown Antwerp where anyone interested in the magazine could pop in and get acquainted with the Charlies, join the campaign and buy a T-shirt.

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Image courtesy of charliemag.be.

“Crowdfunding isn’t about collecting money. It’s about making something happen with a crowd of people who believe in something. Normal people, not rich people with a lot of power, just people like you and me. And because there are so many of them, we can make change happen,” Jozefien told Through the Cracks via email.

And before the campaign started, Charlie Magazine’s campaign received coverage on radio, TV and newspapers.

“People started asking questions: Is this a kind of new journalism? How can it be that a magazine without any funding can reach hundreds of thousands readers a month? I am super proud to realize it is the power of the people speaking. They are raising their voice and telling the world they want something different. And by pulling together, they can actually make this happen.”

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Charlie Magazine editor and founding mother Jozefien Daelemans. Credit: charliemag.be.

Another important thing that Daelmans said she learned through the campaign is what the readers want and the importance to connect with the readers.

“We’re an online magazine and we have been gathering our readers for almost a year. So our community already existed. The campaign was a test for us to see how enthusiastic they are about our magazine. We installed different types of rewards: online subscriptions, print subscriptions and a combination. So now we have a clear view of what subscription is the most popular,” Daelemans said.

Charliemag.be used the first European crowdfunding platform ulule.com. Jozefien said she had received a lot of help and tips from platform administrators as well. Since its launch in October 2010, 7,937 creative, innovative or community-minded projects on ulule.com have been financed from 140 countries.

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Ekaterina Basilaia
Ekaterina Basilaia is currently based in Antwerp. She has worked in various print and online media. She believes in the power of Internet and information that keep the people forward.

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