Crowdfunding ideas for online influencers

crowdfunding Mar 05, 2024

I love creating online content.  I love serving my audience with the content I create.  Serving my readers, listeners, and viewers is part of my schedule literally every day of the week, and it’s been this way since 2015.

If you’re new to the online space, or if you’ve been creating and sharing online content for a while, you’ve probably discovered that while it’s certainly rewarding to bless others with the content you’re creating, it can also feel expensive at times to make that content available.  It’s expensive in at least two ways.

First of all, you’re paying for various online platforms to host your content.  There are fees to host websites, podcasts, and digital courses.  Then you have fees for domain registration, managing an email list, and more.  That can add up pretty quickly, and when you’re first starting out, you may not have a lot of extra money to pay for it all.

Secondly, the time you dedicate to creating content and serving an online audience is time you can’t dedicate to working in a traditional job.  In a very real sense, that may mean a loss of income in certain contexts.

For this reason, many message-based online entrepreneurs and influencers rely on crowdfunding, not only during the early seasons of establishing their online platforms, but as an ongoing source of revenue and support.

When I first started creating online content, crowdfunding was a huge help to me.  As my initial startup, equipment, and hosting expenses were mounting, I was always so grateful for people who went out of their way to express their appreciation with a small gift.  Some gave a dollar.  Some gave a little more.  On more than one occasion, I was blessed to receive crowdfunding gifts that were over $1,000.  I never expected to see something like that when I first got things going.

The primary sources of crowdfunding I utilized in the early days are still some of my go-tos.  I used PayPal, Buy Me a Coffee, and Patreon.  All three options are worth looking into if you’re thinking about setting up a crowdfunding campaign, but I have to admit that Buy Me a Coffee is my favorite because it allows you to easily message your supporters. 

But let’s say you have those options set up and you’re looking for some new ideas to help you ramp up your crowdfunding efforts.  If that’s the case, I have some good suggestions for you.  Maybe one or more of these ideas will resonate with the audience you serve.

Let me make one note before I share these ideas.  One of the most unique and valuable gifts you can offer those who support the work you’re doing is the gift of your time.  The gift of time is often shared with your audience through giving them direct access to you.  You’ll see that reflected in a few of the ideas I suggest.  

1. Offer some form of exclusive content:  Some of your readers, listeners, and viewers would very likely appreciate the ability to gain access to exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes footage, tutorials, or personalized shout-outs.  I often see musicians utilize this approach, but it works well for other content creators as well.

2. Create limited edition merchandise:  Have you ever considered creating a crowdfunding campaign to launch limited edition merchandise like apparel, accessories, or digital products featuring your brand or catchphrases?  I listen to several podcasts that do this, and it must be working because they’ve been offering it for years.

3. Host an in-person event or meetup:  There are people who enjoy your content who would love this.  An experience like this would allow your audience to meet you, participate in workshops or question and answer sessions, and get to know you in a much more personal way.  If some of my favorite influencers offered something like this, I would definitely consider participating.

4. Fund educational content before you create it:  Did you ever think about the value of crowdfunding the creation of online courses, e-books, webinars, or workshops on topics related to your niche?  In some cases, this could save you time by preventing you from creating content no one was planning to use anyway. 

5. Offer sponsorship opportunities:  This is particularly useful if you host a podcast, but it could be utilized in other forms of media as well.  Give your sponsors some sort of shout out.  I used to offer this for birthdays and anniversaries in particular.  At the start of my podcast, I would begin by acknowledging the special days for listeners who sponsored that episode (or people who sponsored it on their behalf).

6.  Fan appreciation ideas: I know of one influencers whose primary source of crowdfunding is postcards.  Everyone who supports his YouTube channel with a gift of at least $3.00/month receives a personalized postcard in the mail each month.  It’s a great idea that has funded many of his expenses and his need to travel when filming new content.  Is there something like this your audience might appreciate receiving from you?

7.  Schedule an online meetup via Zoom:  If you have regular supporters who have committed to participating in your crowdfunding on a monthly basis, what would you think about hosting an online meeting where you can update them on where your platform is going next and engage in conversations with them to hear more about what’s going on in their lives?  You could also open the conversation up for a time of questions and answers.  This, by the way, is something I’m going to be doing very soon for those who have recently participated in my crowdfunding campaigns on Buy Me a Coffee. 

I hope one or more of these ideas are helpful to you.  I have used several, and I’ve been pleased with the results I’m seeing.  Please keep in mind that crowdfunding tends to work best for those who are consistently connecting with their audience.  If it’s been a while since you recorded a podcast or sent a message to your newsletter list, I’d start with reigniting your consistency then follow that up with a crowdfunding approach (not the other way around).

© John Stange, 2024

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