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How You Can Keep the Tough Girl Tribe Growing

Looking back on 2016, it’s been a busy year. I’ve had over fifty inspirational women on the Tough Girl podcast, the Tough Girl Tribe has grown to more than 700 members and we’ve even had our first Tough Girl meet-up!

If you’re a regular listener of the podcast you’ll have heard me talk about Patreon, but you may not be a hundred percent sure what it actually is. So today, I wanted to share some more detail about what goes into creating the Tough Girl podcasts, what I’ve got planned for this year and how you can help me grow and develop the Tough Girl Tribe through Patreon.

How do you define ‘value’?

Firstly, let me ask you a question. Would you take a free watered-down instant coffee over a rich, hand-made latte that costs you $2? A free ‘waterproof’ jacket that’s full of holes over one that’ll actually keep you dry? I’m guessing the answer is probably no. How we value things influences what we’re willing to pay for them.

Nowadays, ‘free’ content is rife, and with it comes the growing expectation that things should be free. It’s easy to forget that all this content has a cost. It costs time – and in many cases hard cash – to produce. And the higher the quality of content, the higher the cost to produce it.

When I set up the Tough Girl podcast I wanted to create a valuable resource that would inspire and motivate women to achieve their own challenges. And I hope I’ve achieved that goal!

It’s absolutely part of my mission that every woman is able to be inspired by the Tough Girl podcast, whatever their level of income. That’s why the podcast is – and always will be – free to listen to. But to reach and inspire more women, I need to be able to keep creating new episodes. And that takes time and money.

“With all the things going on in the world I feel it's important to really support, nurture and help initiatives that bring positivity and healthy change to people. You, the podcast and the community of tough girls have been an inspiration to me over a tough year.”

Alexa, Tough Girl patron

How I set up the Tough Girl podcast

When I left my job in the city to set up Tough Girl Challenges, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy ride. It’s tough not having a regular monthly income. Reducing your outgoings to the extent that you worry about every non-essential pound you spend. Moving back in with your parents more than a decade after you thought you’d left home for good.

I don’t for a single second regret leaving my job. If the Tough Girl podcast inspires just one woman to follow their dreams, then it has all be worth it. And I know from your emails, Tweets and Facebook messages that the amazing women I’ve had the privilege to interview have inspired hundreds if not thousands of you to take up your own challenges.

The truth is, it’s been the best two years of my life. But I can’t carry on in this situation indefinitely. Like everyone, I have expenses to cover and bills to pay.

That’s why I’m writing this post. Because I want to share with you exactly what goes into creating the Tough Girl Podcast. So you can decide for yourself what value you place on it, and if you’d like to help it continue.

“There are a bazillion sports shows hosted by men, for men, about men. Your podcast is the only woman-hosted, women-focused sports show I know of! As role-modeling is a fundamental learning mode, your promotion of female athlete stories is a powerful tool for both social change and improving individual lives. Thank you!”

Ann, Tough Girl patron

What goes into creating the Tough Girl podcast?

Like everything in life, creating a podcast takes more time than you think!

First I need to find inspiring women and persuade them to come onto the podcast (if you’ve got any suggestions, let me know!). I then spend some time researching their background and achievements and setting up a rough interview script so my guest knows what to expect.

Then there’s the interview itself. I typically spend an hour on the phone with the person I’m interviewing. Once I’ve got the raw audio file I go through and edit out any pauses or breaks in conversation and get rid of all the bits you don’t want to hear. (Like when I say ‘awesome’ a lot!) This takes at least three hours per episode and sometimes much longer.

Finally, I write up the show notes and upload the final podcast. All in all, I reckon a single episode takes up to twelve hours to produce.

I also spend a lot of time promoting the podcasts on social media, supporting the Tough Girl Tribe and creating additional content, such as the Tough Girl Extra episodes.

But it’s not just my time. To create a top-quality podcast you need decent audio and recording equipment and software as well as website and podcast hosting fees. Up until recently, I’ve been covering all these costs out of my own pocket. However, with the help of my fabulous Patreon supporters, I’m now in a position where I can cover most of these monthly expenses. I couldn’t keep doing this without you!

What is Patreon?

Hundreds of years ago, patronage of the arts was commonplace. Artists of the day relied on wealthy benefactors to enable them to create art without starving to death. Without patrons, Shakespeare wouldn’t have written Hamlet, Mozart wouldn’t have composed The Abduction from the Seraglio and Michelangelo wouldn’t have sculpted David.

Fast forward to today and things have changed. Whilst there are still a few wealthy philanthropists, most creative professionals have to sell their work at a profit to pay their bills.

That’s where Patreon comes in. Patreon has brought the system of patronage flying into the twenty-first century. It’s a platform that allows anyone, whatever their income, to be a patron of the arts. If you get value out of someone’s creative output – output which they provide for free – you can support them on Patreon.

For example, by pledging to support me on Patreon, you’ll help to fund my equipment and hosting costs, as well as my time spent creating the podcast. It takes about five minutes to set up and you can support me from just $2 a month.

“I decided to support you after hearing your Reflections on 2016 episode. I realized that this podcast cannot continue without the listeners supporting you and becoming a more active part of the movement you have created.”

Rebecca, Tough Girl patron

What’s next for the Tough Girl podcast?

In May this year, the 100th episode of the podcast will go out and in August, it’ll be the second anniversary of Tough Girl Challenges (Happy Birthday to us!). My goal for 2017 is 500,000 downloads of the podcast, but who knows? With your help, maybe we’ll reach the magic million!

New for 2017 is the 7 Women, 7 Challenges series, where I follow seven members of the Tough Girl Tribe as they aim to complete the seven challenges they’ve set for themselves in 2017. You can meet our seven Tough Girls and listen to the mammoth 3.5 hour long podcast episode here (good for a long training session!).

But I’m already thinking ahead to 2018 and 2019 (and the 200th episode of the podcast). There’s a whole host of things I want to do to make Tough Girl Challenges bigger and better. More Tough Girl Extra episodes. Worksheets for young girls and adults, to help them take the tips and lessons they hear about on the podcasts and apply them to their own lives. And I’d love to consolidate all the things I’ve learned from the women I’ve interviewed into an inspirational and practical book to help other women succeed in their own challenges.

It’s also really important to me to continue building up the Tough Girl Tribe. To foster a community that supports and encourages its members. And to take the Tribe out into the real world with events and meet-ups until we TAKE OVER THE WORLD. (Just kidding.)

“I think it’s important to support women in their endeavours, especially the ones that may seem a bit out of the ordinary to some people, and to celebrate their achievements. With the Tough Girl Podcast and support group, that’s exactly what you’re doing.”

Laurens, Touch Girl patron

How you can help

To be able to grow the Tough Girl Tribe, I need your help. I need modern-day patrons as much as Mozart and Shakespeare did.

For $2 or £1.63 a month you can help the Tough Girl Tribe grow and develop. It may sound a tiny amount, but cumulatively it makes a massive difference. If every member of the Tough Girl Tribe gave just $2 a month sponsorship (obviously you can give more if you like!), it would cover my costs and provide me with a living wage. It would give me the freedom to dedicate my time to creating more inspirational content.

What does your $2 get you? Well to start, there’s the four new full-length Tough Girl podcasts a month and access to over 100 hours of inspiration in the backlist. Plus the bonus Tough Girl Extra podcasts and access to the exclusive Tough Girl Tribe Facebook Group. I think you’ll agree that’s a lot of value for your two bucks.

But there’s more. I value each and every one of my patrons, and I’d like to give something back to everyone who supports me on Patreon. From a shout out on the podcast and listing on my website, to a handwritten note or Tough Girl t-shirt, I want to give something back to you.

Keen to help? If you value the Tough Girl podcast, I’d really appreciate any level of support you can provide – visit my Patreon page to find out more.

We are a tribe. I am proud and honoured to have helped create that tribe. And I need you to help it continue.

“I'm just so happy that there is a resource like Tough Girl Challenges that inspires, empowers and motivates women to have an active, adventurous and fulfilling life by providing positive role models to look up to. I want to make sure that resources like this are around for the next generation of young women who are making their way into the big bad world!”

Steph, Tough Girl patron

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