Funding and Promotion

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This page concerns, primarily, funding and promotion concerns. It was filled out primarily from a single interview Malcolm had with a seasoned producer of podcasts.


Funding is quite possible. Depending on your organizational goals, you may also be able to get a 501(c)(3) status in the US pretty easily with a sponsorship, so you can then, in turn, do fundraising that's tax deductible.

The first thing to know is that traditional sponsorship models start to be worth it only around 20,000 plays total per episode.

Look for storytelling grants or humanities grants (e.g. California Humanities - California Storytelling grant).

Find an aligned fiscal sponsor for your show, for instance organizations like Food First for food related podcasts. Or Fractured Atlas as an artist.

It's normal for a fiscal sponsor to take 10% off the top of any contribution you raise through their sponsorship mechanism.

Big funders/sponsors like Fractured Atlas may be slow and bureaucratic. Factor that in.

Have a written agreement with your funder/sponsor. If you need to convince them, maybe walk. But at least say that you need one to "clarify roles". E.g.:

  • To maintain editorial rights
  • To specify copyright and licensing (think of Sophie Tucker and Dolly Parton, both of whom owe(d) some of their fame and influence - and wealth - to savvy licensing contracts)

So much content creation work is seen unfairly (by funders, donors, sponsors, etc.) as free work. Be sure to factor in, when estimating your funding need:

  • Time
  • Creativity
  • Networking and relationship building


Consider promoting through as many social networks (real, face-to-face, as well as Internet-based) as you've got and are comfortable using. Social networks can be the most effective way to promote your podcast. You can promote both online and in person.

Don't forget to leverage the social networks your guests have as well. Prepare a packet for promotion and easy URLs for your guests to use to promote their appearance on your show, and your show in general.

To reach an even broader audience, perhaps ask a community or college radio station if they'd broadcast an episode or season. There could be financial considerations here, and legal ones, but you might consider it. The producer we interviewed said they reached out to a number of community radio stations and two said yes.

Also if your funding and/or sponsorship organization is able to, you might ask them to promote your show in their newsletters and other bulletins.

If your guest writes a book, see if they'll put out postcards or flyers from your show at their book events.

Use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule a whole season of social media ahead of time. Issues here:

  • Impact can be lesser
  • It's not as reactive to current events as doing it by hand on a schedule

Life staffing is more reactive and engaging, but there are problems:

  • It's a huge time-suck
  • It may not be effective anyway (especially if you're not generating enough buzz)
  • Depending on how your audience grows, it may still not be worth it (especially if your audience didn't grow on social media, it may not be worth it to engage with them on social media because it may be too much to ask them to join you there)

Possible approach (provided by way of example, and to help provide ideas for your efforts):

  • Ask guests for 3 to 5 images that you can do promotion with
    • Specify:
      • Resolution
      • Format
      • Any background or framing requirements for your design
  • Plan to send out 3 emails - you can schedule these with mailmerge chrome extensions in Gmail:
    • 1 week ahead of time, send a detailed email about the show. Include:
      • A link to a teaser
      • Language for use in Social Media
      • Links to various podcast URLs (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc.)
    • 2 days ahead of time, a short reminder
    • day of, congratulations, your episode is out!
  • Every two weeks, send out a newsletter.
    • Plan out and write a whole season ahead (if possible)
    • Include information about things going on for the guests, too.
  • If you have Interns, let them loose on your social media
    • Interns can, of course, be paid of unpaid.
    • Consider bartering skills or training in lieu of pay (if they want)
    • Consider bartering networking (again, if they want)
    • Whatever you negotiate, be up front and seek consent and willingness ahead of time.
    • Look for:
      • Their skills
      • Their availability
      • Their interests