Secret Diary of a Sports Publisher #5 Crowdfunding

In the fifth in the series, Martin BackPage breaks down the company’s approach to crowdfunding and wards against a cynical, pass-round-the-hat approach.


We launched a Crowdfunding campaign – via Kickstarter – in 2015. By the end of day one I was burnt out. I must have refreshed that ‘total’ screen every two minutes in those first 24 hours. I restricted myself to two peeks a day after that and quickly restored my mental health.

The campaign was a fascinating experience. It taught us valuable lessons about audience engagement. We hit our target of £30,000 fairly promptly and ended up at £41,679. This was a success, but it was only part of the story.

The campaign itself was to raise money for the continued production of The Big Interview with Graham Hunter podcast. We had launched it in April of that year and its unexpected success – and high costs of production – led us to launch the Kickstarter. But for a product that was fairly new, it was something of a risk.

Why crowdfund? The obvious answer is to raise money. But content creators should not approach it with pound signs in their eyes. Rather, it is about mobilising your core audience and delivering value in a way that makes them feel a part of your product or project.

Yes, ultimately, you are asking them to put their hands in their pockets, but a cynical, pass-round-the-hat approach will lead to failure. As with so many things, it is about telling your story properly and offering value.

What does all that mean practically? Be honest– draw back the curtain on your project, show your audience the inner workings of what goes into making the thing you are crowdfunding – transparency is key; deliver value on the rewards – make them decent! Record a good video; get your message out through all forms of media –newspapers, radio, TV, blogs, social media influencers (don’t spend all of your time on Twitter – it’s bit of an echo chamber). And don’t check your total every two minutes!

As with so much these days, the information is out there, if you can be bothered looking for it. Tim Ferriss’ blog post on hacking Kickstarter was invaluable. Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking was a revelation.