I started the Black Web Fest x Web Monetization program to educate underrepresented creators about web monetization. In addition, we would create resources to help creators promote their work and gain visibility. Across this project, my initial plan would change.
The original idea was to award four filmmakers $5000 and provide marketing and digital pr courses to help grantees market their work. Early in the project, we realized we needed lawyers who specialized in sweepstakes and were registered to serve in New York. This delayed our start, and we had to shift funds from the marketing budget to pay for our legal services. This cut into our promotions which then impacted our info session attendance. I planned on hosting one general info session, but after seeing the low initial turnout, I decided to schedule two additional sessions.
Another part of the plan that shifted was how filmmakers monetize their work. Initially, we planned to work with a web-monetized video platform. As a partner, they would promote the filmmakers and their work. For an exclusive period of time, the filmmakers would solely feature their work on the platform. The idea behind this was to provide a clear metric for them to better understand web monetization opportunities. As the Founder of Black Web Fest, it's crucial that our community of creators has safe spaces to grow. Early on, the partner was not living up to their commitments. After some consideration, the platform no longer felt like the best option. So it was back to the drawing board with how our grantees would monetize their work.
Funding + Visibility
Although the program didn't start as expected, we still met our primary goal. We awarded 12 filmmakers grants ranging from $500 - $5000. We were able to fund additional filmmakers because we cut the animation category. In September, we announced our grantees in a nationally distributed press release via Cision PRNewswire. The release was also picked up by several publications, including the Associated Press: https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/technology-9f9065d77b50820c04818b66e3808b7d
After our first grant report, I followed up with Chris and Ayesha to reallocate the budget explaining our problems. I wanted to offer filmmakers the opportunity to monetize their work on their websites. (I later learned many of these independent filmmakers have a Squarespace site). They suggested the possibility of using YouTube as an alternative. They also connected me with Erica Hargreave. Erica was a wealth of knowledge and suggested we host a tipping party.
With their help in October, we hosted a tipping party on Hopin. The virtual platform allowed the ILF Community to watch the films from the comfort of their home and connect directly with the filmmakers on chat. Thirty-two people registered for our Tipping Party.
Half of the filmmakers awarded chose to set up one-on-ones with me to work through web monetization options. Only four enabled a payment pointer on their site or YouTube channel. We also gave filmmakers the option to forego their tips and instead give them to Black Web Fest.
YOU can still support these filmmakers by visiting their sites or channels. Here is a list of filmmakers who participated in the program and opted-in:
Last month, we released the digital publicity course. We got the video transcribed to ensure it was more accessible. You can watch our intro to the digital publicity course here: https://youtu.be/OsWNbxdOxYg
Near the end of our program, we asked our grantees to share their feedback with a brief survey. This insight clarified what we could do better next time and the program's impact on our grantees and community. Here's a quote from one of our grantees:
"The most significant benefit I gained was from the contacts I have made, but most importantly, the benefit of understanding how I can monetize my existing projects as well as future projects I plan to produce."
– Yolanda T. Ross
Separately, we saw the impact through our grantees' social media posts. Conrad Khalil posted the image below on Instagram. This was a pivotal point in his career, the first funding he ever received for his work.
I am still educating filmmakers about web monetization and planning one-on-one meetings for the weeks ahead. Our marketing video and web monetization videos are still in production. I will share them as soon as they are available.
Thank you to the Interledger team for your continued patience and support. Special thanks to Ayesha Ware and Erica Hargreave. Erica has gone above and beyond to support Black Web Fest. Ayesha has provided advice and filled in the gap when needed. You all have made a profound impact on the work we do and exemplify the true meaning of community.