4 podcast crowdfunding tips to get your show off the ground

One of the most popular methods to raise money for a podcast is through a crowdfunding campaign. Here are 4 crowdfunding tips on how to design, build, and market a successful crowdfunding campaign that your audience can’t help but support. 
July 4, 2023
Tal Minear
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Podcasting costs money — often a lot more than you realize at first. To foot the bill, some creators pay out of pocket, others apply for grants, many sell merch, and yet more offer subscriptions. 

One of the most popular methods to raise money for a podcast is through a crowdfunding campaign. 2023 has seen over 50 different crowdfunds for podcasts, across crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Seed & Spark, and others. Unfortunately, only about 25 percent of these crowdfunding campaigns hit their goal. 

With the right steps, though, you can beat these odds. Here are my best crowdfunding tips on how to design, build, and market a successful crowdfunding campaign that your audience can’t help but support. 

1. Do your research

Before starting your campaign, you should take a look at other podcast crowdfunds — and not just successful ones, but also those that didn’t hit their goal. What about these campaigns would have made you interested in supporting them? Is there anything more you wish you knew about the podcasts? Check out what these podcasters did to market their fundraising campaigns, and see if anything speaks to you. 

Meteor City raised more than $7,000 on Indiegogo for their Season 2 launch.

It’s also important to know the audience of your podcast so that your crowdfunding campaign appeals to them. As tempting as it may be to say that your podcast is for “everyone,” it’s not — nothing is. Niching down will make things easier on you in the long run, anyway. 

Where does your audience get their news? How do they find new shows? Which social media platforms do they favor? What catches their interest? Have answers to these questions! It’s essential to know your audience and appeal directly to them when you crowdfund. If you don’t do your research, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

2. Craft a solid pitch

Crowdfunding isn’t very different from pitching your podcast to investors, except in this case, the potential investors are anyone who comes across your crowdfunding page. Nobody is obliged to support your show. You need to win them over. 

Spare no detail

On the crowdfunding page, you should have basic information about your podcast, including the fact that it is a podcast. (You’d be surprised how many campaigns forget to say that.) You can’t assume that everyone who comes across your crowdfunding campaign is familiar with your work. What is the show about, and who would like it? Have a tagline near the top to get people hooked. 

Explain how many episodes you’ll make if you hit your goal, and where the money is going. Having a budget breakdown on your page is crucial. You’re asking people for money, so make sure you’re telling them how it’s going to be spent. 

Afflicted’s Season 2 campaign included a pie chart breakdown of where every cent of the money they raised would be going. 

Make it look professional

Have a cohesive brand identity, including visuals. Good art will draw people’s eyes and help your campaign succeed. Pick a set of fonts and colors for your podcast, and use them in your campaign. Ideally, people should be able to guess that a graphic is for your podcast before reading it. Having a brand identity is important because the more put together and professional your production seems, the more people will be willing to support it. Potential backers want to feel confident their money is going towards a podcast that will not simply be made, but be made well. If your podcast pitch boils down to “trust me,” chances are it’s not going far. 

Shelterwood: A Suburban Gothic included custom images of every member of the cast and crew on their crowdfunding page.

Have a proof of concept

Podcasts crowdfunding a second or later season tend to do better than first season shows. Why? Not only do they have an established audience, the audience knows what the podcast sounds like. If you’re funding a new podcast, have something that people can listen to that matches the tone and production level of the project. The best way to do this is with a crowdfunding video, because you can include interesting visuals that tie into the audio of the podcast. Keep it short though! Most people will tune out after a minute.

Your pitch shouldn’t just get your audience familiar with the podcast — it should get them excited about it. 

3. Get creative with your perks

You need something beyond access to an already free podcast to encourage support. Think of crowdfunding perks as a sort of bribe to get backers. You’re giving them something extra for helping you fund the show. These perks don’t have to be big or shiny, but they’re essential to crowdfunding. 

Digital perks are a great way to save yourself the burden of packing and shipping physical rewards. They can be as simple as thanking backers in the show credits or as complicated as producing a companion novella. You don’t have to match the theme of your podcast, but it’s going to be more fun and exciting for supporters if you do. For physical goods, make sure product cost and shipping is accounted for in your total goal. 

A lot of podcasters overlook the value of a low tier in their crowdfunding campaign. If your first tier is at $20, you’re going to miss out on a lot of support. Lots of people are willing to support new podcasts, but don’t necessarily have $20 to give. Even if you get just 10 people supporting a $5 tier, that’s $50 you didn’t have to begin with. It adds up!

A healthy spread of tiers might look like this:

  • $5 or $10
  • $15 or $20
  • $30 or $45
  • $50 or $75
  • $100 or $150
  • $250 or $300
  • $500 or $1000 

You should be aiming for a decent gap between each tier, with something new and exciting being offered for each one. Avoid having too many options, as people tend to get overwhelmed beyond 7 tiers. Having as few as 3 can still work perfectly, as long as you maintain a fair spread of costs and variety of perks. 

In the Season 3 campaign for Where the Stars Fell, the $5 tier got you sheet music for two soundtrack pieces from the podcast.

4. Promote the campaign everywhere

The most common mistake I see in podcast crowdfunding campaigns is a lack of promotion. Just making the page isn’t enough, because crowdfunding is a numbers game. More people visiting your page means more people supporting it. 

So tell everyone. The bulk of the work for a crowdfunding campaign lies in the promotion of it. Make it as fun as possible. Try as many of these tactics as you can:

  • Post on social media
  • Message friends and family
  • Email podcast newsletters
  • Cross promote with other podcasts
  • Reach out to local media
  • Hold a livestream event
  • Do a giveaway
  • Hold a contest
  • Make some memes
  • Create milestones and publicly celebrate reaching them

Remember the visual identity we talked about earlier? It’s important here too. Make graphics to market your crowdfunding campaign. They do a better job of communicating what your podcast is about than paragraphs of text that make eyes glaze over. 

Putting it all together

Even before your crowdfunding campaign starts, engaging your audience and marketing your podcast as it is will set you up for success. More people following your work means more people following your crowdfund. Especially for a new podcast, building hype and a following pre-campaign is important. 

The goal you set should match the cost of production. If the cost of production is too high, it’s often better to scale back on the complexity and length of the podcast than to pay people less — yourself included! Use crowdfunding to make your podcast sustainable. It’s not free money, but it can absolutely be financially worthwhile. 

A lot goes into crowdfunding, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it can be a rewarding experience to see people literally investing in your work. The more prepared you are for it, the better it will go.

Tal Minear
Tal Minear (they/them) is a voice actor, sound designer, and fiction podcast producer who loves swords, cats, and storytelling.
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4 podcast crowdfunding tips to get your show off the ground

Podcast microphone surrounded by $100 bills

Podcasting costs money — often a lot more than you realize at first. To foot the bill, some creators pay out of pocket, others apply for grants, many sell merch, and yet more offer subscriptions. 

One of the most popular methods to raise money for a podcast is through a crowdfunding campaign. 2023 has seen over 50 different crowdfunds for podcasts, across crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Seed & Spark, and others. Unfortunately, only about 25 percent of these crowdfunding campaigns hit their goal. 

With the right steps, though, you can beat these odds. Here are my best crowdfunding tips on how to design, build, and market a successful crowdfunding campaign that your audience can’t help but support. 

Transcribe. Edit. As easy as tapping your backspace key.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

1. Do your research

Before starting your campaign, you should take a look at other podcast crowdfunds — and not just successful ones, but also those that didn’t hit their goal. What about these campaigns would have made you interested in supporting them? Is there anything more you wish you knew about the podcasts? Check out what these podcasters did to market their fundraising campaigns, and see if anything speaks to you. 

Meteor City raised more than $7,000 on Indiegogo for their Season 2 launch.

It’s also important to know the audience of your podcast so that your crowdfunding campaign appeals to them. As tempting as it may be to say that your podcast is for “everyone,” it’s not — nothing is. Niching down will make things easier on you in the long run, anyway. 

Where does your audience get their news? How do they find new shows? Which social media platforms do they favor? What catches their interest? Have answers to these questions! It’s essential to know your audience and appeal directly to them when you crowdfund. If you don’t do your research, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

2. Craft a solid pitch

Crowdfunding isn’t very different from pitching your podcast to investors, except in this case, the potential investors are anyone who comes across your crowdfunding page. Nobody is obliged to support your show. You need to win them over. 

Spare no detail

On the crowdfunding page, you should have basic information about your podcast, including the fact that it is a podcast. (You’d be surprised how many campaigns forget to say that.) You can’t assume that everyone who comes across your crowdfunding campaign is familiar with your work. What is the show about, and who would like it? Have a tagline near the top to get people hooked. 

Explain how many episodes you’ll make if you hit your goal, and where the money is going. Having a budget breakdown on your page is crucial. You’re asking people for money, so make sure you’re telling them how it’s going to be spent. 

Afflicted’s Season 2 campaign included a pie chart breakdown of where every cent of the money they raised would be going. 

Make it look professional

Have a cohesive brand identity, including visuals. Good art will draw people’s eyes and help your campaign succeed. Pick a set of fonts and colors for your podcast, and use them in your campaign. Ideally, people should be able to guess that a graphic is for your podcast before reading it. Having a brand identity is important because the more put together and professional your production seems, the more people will be willing to support it. Potential backers want to feel confident their money is going towards a podcast that will not simply be made, but be made well. If your podcast pitch boils down to “trust me,” chances are it’s not going far. 

Shelterwood: A Suburban Gothic included custom images of every member of the cast and crew on their crowdfunding page.

Have a proof of concept

Podcasts crowdfunding a second or later season tend to do better than first season shows. Why? Not only do they have an established audience, the audience knows what the podcast sounds like. If you’re funding a new podcast, have something that people can listen to that matches the tone and production level of the project. The best way to do this is with a crowdfunding video, because you can include interesting visuals that tie into the audio of the podcast. Keep it short though! Most people will tune out after a minute.

Your pitch shouldn’t just get your audience familiar with the podcast — it should get them excited about it. 

3. Get creative with your perks

You need something beyond access to an already free podcast to encourage support. Think of crowdfunding perks as a sort of bribe to get backers. You’re giving them something extra for helping you fund the show. These perks don’t have to be big or shiny, but they’re essential to crowdfunding. 

Digital perks are a great way to save yourself the burden of packing and shipping physical rewards. They can be as simple as thanking backers in the show credits or as complicated as producing a companion novella. You don’t have to match the theme of your podcast, but it’s going to be more fun and exciting for supporters if you do. For physical goods, make sure product cost and shipping is accounted for in your total goal. 

A lot of podcasters overlook the value of a low tier in their crowdfunding campaign. If your first tier is at $20, you’re going to miss out on a lot of support. Lots of people are willing to support new podcasts, but don’t necessarily have $20 to give. Even if you get just 10 people supporting a $5 tier, that’s $50 you didn’t have to begin with. It adds up!

A healthy spread of tiers might look like this:

  • $5 or $10
  • $15 or $20
  • $30 or $45
  • $50 or $75
  • $100 or $150
  • $250 or $300
  • $500 or $1000 

You should be aiming for a decent gap between each tier, with something new and exciting being offered for each one. Avoid having too many options, as people tend to get overwhelmed beyond 7 tiers. Having as few as 3 can still work perfectly, as long as you maintain a fair spread of costs and variety of perks. 

In the Season 3 campaign for Where the Stars Fell, the $5 tier got you sheet music for two soundtrack pieces from the podcast.

4. Promote the campaign everywhere

The most common mistake I see in podcast crowdfunding campaigns is a lack of promotion. Just making the page isn’t enough, because crowdfunding is a numbers game. More people visiting your page means more people supporting it. 

So tell everyone. The bulk of the work for a crowdfunding campaign lies in the promotion of it. Make it as fun as possible. Try as many of these tactics as you can:

  • Post on social media
  • Message friends and family
  • Email podcast newsletters
  • Cross promote with other podcasts
  • Reach out to local media
  • Hold a livestream event
  • Do a giveaway
  • Hold a contest
  • Make some memes
  • Create milestones and publicly celebrate reaching them

Remember the visual identity we talked about earlier? It’s important here too. Make graphics to market your crowdfunding campaign. They do a better job of communicating what your podcast is about than paragraphs of text that make eyes glaze over. 

Putting it all together

Even before your crowdfunding campaign starts, engaging your audience and marketing your podcast as it is will set you up for success. More people following your work means more people following your crowdfund. Especially for a new podcast, building hype and a following pre-campaign is important. 

The goal you set should match the cost of production. If the cost of production is too high, it’s often better to scale back on the complexity and length of the podcast than to pay people less — yourself included! Use crowdfunding to make your podcast sustainable. It’s not free money, but it can absolutely be financially worthwhile. 

A lot goes into crowdfunding, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it can be a rewarding experience to see people literally investing in your work. The more prepared you are for it, the better it will go.

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