Top 5 Ways to Finance Your Online Content

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Photo Source: Nick Bertozzi

Q. You’ve talked a lot about marketing online, but what about raising money to fund my YouTube channel or Web series? It’s expensive!

A. Let’s face it: Raising money sucks. That said, it’s still part of the game. Without financing, there are a number of projects I never would’ve been able to make over the years—and calling in favors only gets you so far. Thus, here are my top five ways to finance your online content.

1. Self-financing Save up income. Hold a bake sale. I don’t know, what did your parents do back in the day? If you really want to see your baby get made, no lack of passion or favors will prevent you from doing so. Typically, you will need to use this strategy for your first endeavor just to prove yourself.

2. Crowdsourcing Online crowdsourcing sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have changed the course of the independent artist. Put up a profile and video pitch, incentivize people to donate to your project with different tiers of rewards, and then share the heck out of that fundraising link! You want to make sure your project appeals to a particular demo (gamers? pet lovers? comedy aficionados?), but be clear what you intend to make, how you intend to make it, and how you will allocate your budget. Indiegogo is my favorite, as it allows artists to keep the money raised even if they don’t meet their goal and takes a smaller percentage on transactions.

3. Website distribution Show a sizzle of your project to sites such as Break, Yahoo!, or any of the YouTube-funded channels to see if they would be interested in distributing the series. If they want an exclusive, they’ll need to pay for it. In return, they’ll have a say in production and, most likely, writing and casting.

4. Producer financing These opportunities are becoming more rare, but some production companies finance production of new media projects. Just be wary of a company that gives you a very small amount of money and has no distribution strategy; the last thing you want to do is shoot your project, give up ownership, and have it never get seen.

5. Grant financing Depending on the nature of your project, a number of grants can help. Women in Film, IFP, and TFI New Media Fund are just a few resources to get you started. When in doubt, Google it.

These are the basics, though there are other avenues. Have any of you come up with other creative ways to finance your Web projects? If so, tweet me @TarynSouthern. I’d love to hear from you.