Your Greatest Resource: Your Audience

Independent media outlets pioneer, time and time again, in audience supported funding mechanisms. Whether it be I Can Has Cheezburger or Talking Points Memo, audience participation and generosity play a crucial role. Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films are yet another shining example of this:

The pitch? Gilliam wrote: “To start shooting, we need money. Overall, the film will cost $750,000. We can expect about $450,000 to be offset by DVD sales, selling foreign rights, and an advance from our retail store distributor, but we still need $300,000. A generous donor just stepped up and will contribute $100,000 if we can match it with $200,000 from someone else. That someone else is you! 4000 people giving $50 each. We’ll put everyone’s name in the credits.”

They got $267,892 in 10 days.

The Washington Post article hi lights that left-leaning non-profits were reluctant to fund Greenwald and Brave New Films, but the audience base was dedicated enough that they were able to provide the film company with all the funding they needed. Indeed, they were passionate enough about the content that they were willing to fund journalism they wanted to see. In fact, The Technium goes so far as to assert that all that is needed for fiscal success is 1,000 dedicated fans.


A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living…Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day’s wages per year in support of what you do. That “one-day-wage” is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that.  Let’s peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.

The idea that the fan base can propel your independent media outlet offers a lot of inspiration to me especially as a soon-to-be journalist. If the audience is your means of funding, then your responsibility is always to your audience and your accountability is based solely on your merit. It’s an exciting idea to know I could take my professional skills and career into my own hands and perhaps, it could be a financial feasible way of leading my life without compromising my morals. Only time will tell. 


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