How to sustainably fund independent journalism — key learnings from our webinar with Kickstarter

When it comes to funding independent media, there is only one logical step forward for media makers and creatives: asking for support from their communities. New tools and emotionally involved audiences make it easy to create sustainable funding for big and small publishing projects. Recently, Sebastian Esser, co-founder of Steady and Krautreporter, and Oriana Leckert, Senior Journalism Outreach Lead at Kickstarter, gave an informative and detailed live-webinar on how to sustainably fund independent media via memberships and crowdfunding. In this article you will find an overview of what to expect from the now publicly available video and where to look for specific content.

PART 1: Oriana Leckert (Kickstarter) on crowdfunded journalism

Introduction to Kickstarter and our host Oriana (3:50-6:30)

Kickstarter has become a household name in the crowdfunding business. Oriana gives an overview of the idea behind Kickstarter and their vision, what the company has achieved so far and what makes Kickstarter campaigns different from other funding options.

Community Supported Journalism: Kickstarter & Publishers (6:30-14:30)

These are hard times for online media, but our host Oriana explains why she sees a silver lining. Moreover she gives examples of various media projects with different formats and topics that have run successful Kickstarter campaigns in the past and present.

What makes a good Kickstarter project? (14:30-29:30)

What is needed to make a Kickstarter campaign successful? Oriana goes into detail on what to remember and how to approach specific aspects of the campaign such as the campaign video, the campaign page, the right reward, backer updates and your campaign promotion. Furthermore, she answers an audience question and explains what podcasters can offer their supporters.

Oriana Q&A (29:30-32:00)

Do you have to be an established publishing house before starting a Kickstarter campaign?

PART 2: Sebastian Esser (Steady) on memberships for independent media

Situating the media landscape along the parameters passion & privileges (32:00-42:02)

What differentiates publishing houses offering varying degrees of privileges to their readers and whose audience comes with different levels of passion? Sebastian elaborates on which media tend to use ads, donations, subscriptions or memberships to fund their operation and gives examples of media that have recently moved into the membership space.

Setting up a membership program with Steady in three steps (42:02-48:30)

Sebastian explains what Steady does for publishers and what the story is behind the three steps: contact, communicate and convert. 

Steady features for independent media makers (48:30-55:05)

Find out why free trial and guest memberships, funding goals, different monthly and annual plans, the Steady paywall or exclusive RSS feeds for podcasters could be a great fit for your publication. Moreover, Sebastian elaborates on what the differences are between memberships and crowdfunding. 

PART 3: Questions and Answers (55:05-end)

Can publishers from any country launch a kickstarter campaign? 

Are there publishers using crowdfunding and memberships in tandem? 

Is Steady for professional publishers or journalists only? 

Is creating an ad-free area for members possible? 

Are there cases for publications with very specific/professional audiences? 

How could you create a community of your members?

Are there examples of successful Kickstarter or Steady media projects in Africa?

Still have questions? Ask Johannes

Johannes Heim
Membership Strategy Consultant
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