Financing and Sponsorship - How are you approaching the financing behind your web series?

(Erica) #1

Hello All,

In the Autumn, we released Season 1 of our first web series, Naturally Ours: and now I am looking into different avenues for financing more Seasons of Naturally Ours and some other series that our team has been developing.

I am curious to discover how different people are approaching the financing of their series. What is your approach with your series?

So far, I have drawn up a Case Study on Season 1 of Naturally Ours, and sent it to a few potential partners for the series. We are getting some positive feedback and have had some very real conversations. But this is just a start, I need to explore more avenues, and I am toying with putting together a Partnership / Sponsorship Package, but I thought I’d pause for a moment and see what other people are doing. How are you approaching the financing of your web series?

Thanks. Looking forward to your insights.


(Bri Castellini) #2

@Alex_LeMay @SecretLivesPS @tastewithkevin @solostinlost @OSTSG @ghettonerdgirl

(Erica) #3

Thanks Bri!

(Melissa Malone) #4

Hi Erica!

The case study is brilliant and very well done! :slight_smile: I think a Sponsorship Package in a similar vein would be a great idea. I also have a few other ideas here Or So the Web Series Go(es): Fundraising. I think financing is the #1 struggle with almost all of us and have my fingers crossed for you!!

(Erica) #5

Thanks Melissa. Just skimmed your Fundraising post and need to sit down and give it a proper read and some thought, as there are definitely a bunch of ideas and approaches to financing there that I had not considered yet. I really appreciate this. Thank you.

I am glad I am not alone in finding the financing piece to be the main struggle, and hope over time, as web series become more popular, that that piece becomes easier. There is something about the puzzle and seeing the different approaches to solving it, that I very much enjoy though.

(Amen J.) #6

Great job on the Case Study! My advice at first glance would be to make it shorter and less textual, with emphasis on your numbers, what the audience is saying, awards and accolades, etc. Also if you have social influencers involved with the series, with a high number of followers, include that in there…include a page (if you haven’t already, as I reviewed quickly) on what’s in it for the sponsors and what they’re getting out of it.

I’m currently trying to track down sponsors for a cruise web series and it’s certainly not easy. I’ve created a one page sales sheet with advertising/sponsorship rates, to see if we can get fees per episode in exchange for shout outs and included viewership numbers, quotes from viewers, FB/YouTube engagement, etc. I think it’s always a good idea to keep open in-kind sponsorship as an option. That seems to help with the response rate.

For my own series I went the crowdfunding and self-financing route, but because of how exhausting and risky that is for the future I am sticking with grants, hooking up with existing production companies or finding sponsors.

(Kevin Longa) #7

Congrats on taking the sponsorship route! Although it might not be easy - especially as an independent creator - I think that web series will end up going the way of podcasts in that sponsorship will be where the real financing comes from.

For my international food documentary series, TASTE, (which reveals the true stories of culinary creators, artisans and entrepreneurs around the world) I treat my sponsorship seeking process like a sales process:

  1. I ask: who is my target audience? A: people who love food, travel and entrepreneurship
  2. I ask: what types of companies and verticals also try to target my type of audience? A: airline, car, startup, food, kitchen appliance companies, etc.
  3. I then made a google spreadsheet of my target companies I’d like to have potentially sponsor TASTE
  4. I use web tools such as LinkedIn, LinkedIn Sales Navigator (formerly “Rapportive”), How to find anybody’s email, MailTester and other email finding techniques to find the company email addresses of the people in the PR and marketing teams of the companies I’d like to sponsor TASTE
  5. I cold email the company team member with a short email saying how I would like to help them expand their brand and how I can do it - making sure that the majority of the email is about helping them and not all about me, me, me. And the end of the email should always include a call to action - normally I ask for a short 15 minute phone call to discuss what partnering with TASTE would look like. Keeping things short makes the process easier for the prospect to say yes and gets the momentum going.
  6. If I don’t hear back from the contact in a week or so, I’ll follow up with another email offering another way in which TASTE can be of value to the company and/or a short video link sample of TASTE, like a trailer, teaser or sneak preview episode. Note that in sales, it can often take 3-5 follow-up cold emails before somebody replies. Obviously, if you have a mutual connection to the person you’re trying to contact, then always go for the warm intro.
  7. If I do hear back, then I set up a time to chat for 15 minutes.
  8. We chat for 15+ minutes where I try to ask the majority of the questions - asking the person “how can I customize my sponsorship opportunity to the company?” Normally the chats last longer than 15 minutes since the people are intrigued to learn about sponsoring a web series. Remember: we’re in uncharted territory and not many people are creating web series yet; so we’re still an interesting and rare commodity to potential sponsors.
  9. Once the call is over, I begin creating a customize sponsorship proposal tailored to the company based upon what I learned from our initial phone call.
  10. I present the sponsorship proposal by emailing it (a 20-paged PDF) to them a few minutes before our next call where I take them, step-by-step through the proposal - especially highlighting the parts where I’ve customized the sponsorship to cater to the company’s needs.

So far I’ve contacted over 500+ people at various companies. A few have expressed interest and we’re now past step 10 in the process I outline above. It’s definitely a numbers game, but, in the end, I think it might be one of the most promising sources of funding for web series in the future. Good luck and @everyone feel free to reach out to me directly if you are also pursuing sponsorships for your web series and would like to swap strategies, tips, etc.

(Amen J.) #8

Wow, this is impressive! Keep us posted on how everything goes, fingers crossed for you.

(Ray Robinson) #9

I’m taking a different approach than most by self-financing. A couple of different reasons, with being beholden to none but myself as the big one for me.

However, since it’s stories about pizza delivery financed completely from my pizza salary and tips, it’s also a marketing hook.

(Gordon McAlpin) #10

zThe only significant expenses I keep kicking myself for are the distribution related ones.

— Was releasing it through Vimeo On Demand worth it? (Financially, no. Promotion…ally, maybe?)
— Was submitting to X and Y and Z film festivals worth the cost? (With about a 25% acceptance rate and the ones I’ve been accepted to mostly being small online festivals with no real promotional value to speak of other than getting a laurel to slap on the poster, mostly no. BUT I think one of the fests we got into has been awesome. GeekFest rules.)
— Was all the money spent on ads for the crowdfunding campaigns and the release worth it? (Probably not.)

I dunno. I get discouraged sometimes, because I can’t seem to grow my audience, but I keep getting these intermittent blips of validation and support that keep me from just quitting it all. sigh wahhhhhh :smiley:

(Kevin Longa) #11

@gmcalpin I feel ya on all of those fronts about distribution expenses, brotha.

@SecretLivesPS Thank you so much. Your moral support means more than you know. :relaxed:

(Jonathan Kaplan) #12

Killing it! has always been self funded. We have always kept the show small for this reason. But we’re working on a second season that expands the world and introduces new characters, so we anticipate it being more than we can afford alone. We are not sure how to tackle it.