Crowdfunding journalism can pay off if you build a fan base.
Half a year ago I embarked on a new writing project. It’s called Someone I met. Each month I write about ordinary or extraordinary encounters with people. It is always someone I met in real life and was inspired by.
Over the last fourteen years as a journalist, many interviews and conversations have opened my eyes to new places, situations, cultures, beliefs and ways to live a life. I started this series because I believe that -more than facts and statistics- it is the people who bring a story to life.
I fund the series through crowdfunding on the Guardian Media Group’s online Contributoria platform. The beauty of it is that the ‘crowd’ (ie. my family, friends, regular readers and others who somehow have found and enjoyed the series to the point that they want to support it) don’t have to fully fund it.
The project has external funders and sponsors to top up the commissioning budget. All my ‘backers’ have to do is to create a free or cheap account (£1.99 per month) and donate their monthly allocation of points to the next episode. If I hit my target, I get my requested fee and I get paid.
I have experimented a lot with crowdfunding journalism over the past two years, and raised amounts from $3.50 to €39.510. I used anything from ready-made tools like Kickstarter to DYI WordPress applications, as well as various independent journalism platforms. So far I have found that the bottom line is simple: whatever the model, make sure you invest time and effort in creating a fan base. They don’t have to be in their thousands and they don’t have to all pay. Most important is that they like what you offer and benefit from it in some way. These individuals will become not just your fans, but your ambassadors too.
A strong, solid following of people who like what you do can help you bring your stories to them, and then onwards to the rest of the world. The future of journalism may well be in the hands of the crowd.
Freelance Booster Session
If you want to get started with crowdfunding your own freelance journalism, you can now book an online one-to-one support session with me. Together, we analyse your strengths and identify opportunities. I will share tips, ideas and advice tailored to your specific needs, to help you maximise your freelance income and work on the stories you care about. A Freelance Booster Session is 30 minutes and takes place via Skype.