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Cover image for Sustainable Funding Series — Final Grant Report

Sustainable Funding Series — Final Grant Report

Erica Hargreave
Loving living and working in my imagination! Yes it's a rather odd place, but it certainly keeps me entertained.
・12 min read

Despite this being our Final Grant Report this just feels like a beginning for us, as when my team and I start to build around an idea, concept, and something we believe in, we are invested for the long haul. Part of my taking so long to get to this final grant report in is that there is so much more that we are planning to build. Finally, however, in looking at everything, I decided like with my Masters Directed Studies Project a few months ago, I was better to submit the paperwork and then continue with our building the way that we would do regardless.

Beginnings
Image courtesy of Jan Tinneberg

Project Update

My team and I have really loved this journey with Grant for the Web and with the Web Monetization Community, and as I said, this is just a beginning for us. We are not going anywhere and have much, much more that we are in the process of building.

I think the big win for us in this whole process was discovering and becoming a part of a community that was trying to solve the same problems that Lori Yearwood and I had been seeing for years around broken funding pathways for creatives that were fraught with inequities. We were trying to find different pathways around this problem for our own projects, our media students, and the broader media and storytelling community that we've been building.

It has been wonderful to be able to explore and address those problems and solutions that we've been finding with actual funding that has allowed us to invest more time in this and build the base to some resources that we hope will help others in funding their projects. As we tend to build projects with heart, that promote cultural understanding, and provoke thought, it gets a little disheartening after awhile when we were approaching the usual broadcast pathways in Canada to hear that our ideas were too smart, that rather than building hope we needed to be sharing train wrecks, and that I as a host either needed to show more skin, was too vanilla (yes, a jury member actually wrote this in the notes of our CMF application for our nature series), or after I hit the ripe old age of 35 was too old as a woman to be a host. This community and seeing some of the things that others here have been building has breathed new hope in us that we can and will find those pathways to building projects of hope, social good, and cultural understanding, and that we will be able to help others to find their pathways to do the same.

So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Progress on Objectives & Key Activities

This video reflection that I created in June, as I wrapped up my directed studies project for my Masters shares much of this journey.

As we immersed ourselves in this Web Monetization Journey, while our objectives did not change, our approach to meeting those objectives has. This has been particularly true around our Web Monetization Experiments, the Resources we are building, and on the Need to Educate in Niche Communities. I go into greater detail on this below.

Web Monetization Experiments

At first we planned to do our experimentation into Web Monetization across our media outlets with a focus on Roamancing, as our digital magazine with the largest viewership. We changed that approach however, for two reasons:

  • During the pandemic, numbers were dropping to travel media entities, and some social media platforms were actually burying such content in their algorithms.

  • We found that rather than spreading our focus between media entities, we were better to do a more focused build to our media entity whose audience is focused on the questions that we are addressing in this work, which is StoryToGo.

Having said that, we have Web Monetized the following sites:

In addition, we have been building on the following Web Monetized Platforms:

As travel opens up again and we shift some more of our attention once again to Roamancing, we will be building the open educational, web monetized subdomain for Naturally Ours (our nature series) with lesson plans and parks guides. There is an opportunity right now with this series, so it's a good time to build this, as outdoor adventures and nature destinations are hot right now with tourism. The series was picked up by both Seeka.TV and Tom Skerritt's new network EVRGRN during the pandemic, and as we are now in negotiations on it with two other networks. We are also planning a launch for it to Cinnamon, which we will likely time to correspond with the launch of the new subdomain for Naturally Ours.

The eye opener with our broadcast relationships is that we are earning MUCH more in Web Monetized earnings than through broadcast royalties.

Our findings from these experiments so far have resulted in the following earnings from January 25th - August 29th, 2021:

  • Web Monetized Earnings: 40.8689741 XRP + 2.46 CA + 0.08 US = 48.89 US
  • Cinnamon Boosts: 609.774563 XRP + 124.02 CA + 147 US = 944.34 US
  • XUMM Tips: 1,262 MGS + 220.5 XRP = 229 XRP = 262.55 US

We've seen a substantial increase in our Web Monetization earnings with all the Web Monetization resources that we've been building on StoryToGo.

Sustainable Funding Series

In researching the different pathways that creators use to begin to build Sustainable Funding Models behind their projects, we have begun a Sustainable Funding Series of Vlogcast / Podcasts and accompanying Case Studies.

These are quite time consuming to edit and put together. As a result, we so far have 3 published vlogcasts and case studies:

Nicole Kang on Elementari

  • Focus on Freemium Models, EdTech, and Interactive Storytelling for Youth.

Maria Grazia Suriano on the Animals in the Great War eBook

  • Focus on Crowdfunding, Match Fund Grants, and Open Education.

Adam on gFam

  • Focus on Web Monetization and Photo Networking.

In addition, we have 6 video shorts from the interviews, in addition to vlogcast teaser videos.

We also have interviews recorded with:

We will be continuing to release these interviews and case studies in the coming months, and once those are published will line up more interviews to make this an on-going series. Truth be told, we are already fantasying about those interviews every time we learn about new-to-us projects in this community.

One question we will be asking with future interviews though, is do we transfer the Sustainable Funding Series to being a podcast recorded on Fireside, as Fireside is making our other podcasts much easier to edit, as well as adding more interactivity into our shows and producing live transcripts. Plus as I was one of the early creators in the space, I am growing our audience there quickly with minimal effort on my part.

Education via Talks, Conferences and Podcasts

Education has taken up a fair bit of our focus with the realization that in order for Web Monetization to grow and thrive, more people need to understand what it is. In this endeavour, I have been submitting talks on Web Monetization to conferences, talking about it on different podcasts on Fireside, bringing it up in other people's sessions where appropriate at conferences, and taking meetings with people to share my insights on submitting proposals to Grant for the Web. So far these talks and discussion have been mainly with open educational, creative media, gaming, and podcasting communities.

Web Monetization Talk at OERxDomains 2021 Conference

In terms of the formal talks on Web Monetization that I have given or been involved in, they include:

  • Business models on the web are broken! Let's fix them. Round Table at MozFest
  • Creating Sustainable Funding Solution for Innovations in Education, Technology and Storytelling at CNIE 2021
  • Exploring the Web Monetization Standard as a Solution for Sustainability in the Creation of Open Educational Resources at OERxDomains 2021
  • Sustainable Funding Series Demo at the Web Monetization Workshop
  • Sustainable Funding Models Course for Creatives and Educators at OE Global 2021
  • Sustainable Funding Solutions in Open Education with the Web Monetization Standard at OE Global 2021
  • Web Monetization Course at OE Global 2021

I will continue speaking on and sharing Web Monetization in the various niche communities that I am a part from open education, to media arts, to technology, to travel, to disability, and others.

Finally, I have also started to incorporate teachings on Web Monetization into two of the post-secondary courses that I teach at BCIT - BCST 1193 : Social Media Storytelling and BCST 3073 : Building Your Digital Media Presence.

Open Educational Resources

Initially our plan had been to create an open educational course in Web Monetization, as we began to explore and grow in the community, however, we decided that what needed to be built first was a way of navigating the ecosystem, as well as resources to troubleshoot problems we encountered within the ecosystem.

This initially started with a post troubleshooting an early issue with the Coil WordPress Plugin thats now been fixed, and then expanded to building both a Web Monetization Resource Library and a Web Monetized Content Library.

Web Monetization Resource Library

The intent with both of these Libraries is to make them dynamic and add to them as the community grows. To do that, we will need the community's help. Please let us know of things we should add to these libraries over time. Our thanks to those of you that have already begun to help with this. It should also be noted here that there are a number of shelves in the Web Monetized Content Library that we are still getting up.

I am glad that we paused and decided to build the Web Monetization Resource Library and a Web Monetized Content Library first, before starting work on the Web Monetization Course, as this has given us a better idea of what everyone else has been building and creating. This allows us to bring in the work and examples of others in the community as we build the Web Monetization Course. I think this is important as it sets a tone on the importance of community and the richness of our community as other people begin to explore Web Monetization, and rather than building in another silo, it builds upon the work of others by building upon and weaving in the rich works they have already crafted.

The Web Monetization Course, like the Library will be dynamic in nature - a living beast that grows, evolves and adapts, as the Web Monetization Community grows, evolves and adapts.

Web Monetization Course

Unit 1 of the Course on Web Monetization is now live! This Unit includes the following lessons:

Future Units that we are planning include: Web Monetizing a Website, Web Monetizing Digital Videos, Web Monetizing Digital Games, Web Monetizing an Event, Web Monetizing Your Podcast, Web Monetized Social Networking Platforms, and NFTs.

We are also building a broader open educational Sustainable Funding Course that Web Monetization will be a part of, and that will be ready for the OE Global Conference at the end of September.

Communications and Marketing

Aside from giving talks on Web Monetization and Sustainable Funding at conferences, we have been sharing our various vlogcasts, case studies, and open educational resources on Twitter and LinkedIn with the #WebMonetization and #CreatorsEconomy hashtags, to Ahimsa Media and StoryToGo on Facebook, to YouTube and Cinnamon, to mg.social and gFam, here, and to the Web Monetization and Coil subreddits. In addition, we've been sharing with our students, the MozFest Ambassadors, the travel media community, and the Fireside podcasting community.

Over time, we plan to do more niche community sharing of this content in appropriate Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, forums, and subreddits. In addition, we are going to do some more experimenting with sharing this content utilizing short video teases to TikTok and Instagram.

What’s Next?

As we've noted above, we still have so much more that we wish to build and share around both the Sustainable Funding Series and our course materials. Rather than this being an ending, this is a beginning.

In the next month, as we prep for the OE Global Conference, we will add additional Units to the Web Monetization Course and launch the first few Units of the Sustainable Funding Course.

Following that we shall getting up the remaining book shelves in the Web Monetized Content Library, and continue to edit and share vlogcasts and case studies from the Sustainable Funding Series. In this endeavour, we will start with the interviews we've already recorded and then begin conducting new interviews.

Interviews and Case Studies

Concurrently to the continued release of the Sustainable Funding Series, we shall build a Web Monetized subdomain for Naturally Ours with parks guides and open access lesson plans built around each Season of the Series and each Episode.

What Community Support Would Benefit Your Project?

More than anything we could use your help in keeping the Web Monetization Resource Library, Web Monetized Content Library, and Web Monetized Content Library current and up-to-date, by letting us know when we are missing something or should be adding something. Thank you!

Web Monetized Content Library

We'd also appreciate any sharing of our content and resources with communities that you think would enjoy it or could benefit from it. Thank you!

Additional Comments

Thank you!

Thank you all for making this such a wonderfully supportive and inspiring community to be a part of. And thank you Grant for the Web (and Coil, Mozilla, and Creative Commons) for believing in us and supporting us - this means you, @ayeshaware , @erikad , and @chrislarry ! I've really enjoyed getting to know the three of you through this process, and appreciate all your kindness and support.

Relevant Links / Resources

Discussion (6)

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Michael Neuvirth

This was an amazing read. So didactic and entertaining. The videos on web monetization were short -- yet extremely educational.
Thank you @ericahargreave for providing all of this valuable content. You obviously spent a huge amount of time creating it and packaging it so nicely for us.
Thank you so much. You have inspired and motivated me to pay it forward.

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Erica Hargreave Author

Thanks for your kind comments, Michael. I am glad you found this useful. This is a community that I believe in and wish to see flourish.

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Michael Neuvirth

Thank you for introducing me to Grant For Web. I also believe in what they are doing and want them to grow and grow.

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Erica Hargreave Author

My pleasure.

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gFam

The amount of information here and the further linked information is just incredible! What an amazing repository of resources.

Absolutely can not wait to see what comes next from the StoryToGo team plus alllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the other bits and pieces.

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Erica Hargreave Author

Awe! Thanks Adam. And thank you for being a part of this journey with us.