Oftentimes, as an established passion project or business, we don’t realize our potential in how great of an impact we can make on our community.
As a child of refugee immigrant parents, I grew up often feeling like I had to rebuild a wheel on my own whenever I entered a new milestone in life. This especially applies to my entrepreneurial and creative pursuits, including my podcast called Project Voice.
I know that I’m not the only person who feels this way. When I was working on Project Voice, many of my younger creative peers came to me seeking advice and resources. Some of them, already having graduated and were already feeling lost and unfulfilled by their new postgrad routine, would reach out to schedule a call with me. “How did you do it?” they’d asked. What they meant was, how was I able to juggle between my 9-to-5 day job at that time while indulging myself in podcasting, what was supposed to be a hobby but ended up being a digital storytelling network of its own.
As second-generation Asians growing up in North America, many of us weren’t encouraged to pursue our creative passions. Some of us were even discouraged to invest any time in hobbies that drew our inner artists out to play in the daytime. So, we let them out at night instead.
When I first started working on Project Voice, I reached out to a friend of a friend, Fei Wu of feisworld podcast, who also happened to be an experienced podcaster and independent freelancer. Prior to our meeting, I had no previous professional experience in podcasting, but I was curious and passionate about starting a podcast.
To my surprise, she shared with me everything she knew about launching a podcast with no hesitation. The steps in her How to Launch a Podcast ebook were clear and helpful. Looking back to that moment, I am grateful because I wouldn’t have gained the knowledge and confidence to start my passion project as easily if it wasn’t for her willingness to support me.
Giving forward doesn’t always mean financially supporting a community. Sharing one’s knowledge of opportunities and resources is also just as valuable if not more impactful in moving our community forward.
I attended a few retreats led by organizations like ASPIRE and The Cosmos, where I got to meet people from all walks of the world who belong in my community (later on, I would host my own retreat as well with Tiffany Huang of Spill Stories) — artists, bankers, coaches, entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists, writers, and the list goes on. Each and every one of these individuals with years of professional experience under their belt would spend time with me to impart some knowledge about the issues that they care about and how we could tackle them like the superheroes we all were.
Being in these types of spaces reminded me of how crucial it was to have them and not even money could sway me away from taking part in these events. What meant a lot to me was how open and transparent everyone was about sharing what they knew, despite the fact that it seemed like everyone around me was working in a competitive field of industry.
My final takeaway: if we want to elevate ourselves, we need to learn to elevate others as well, because don’t we all want to be a part of a collective movement aimed at uplifting the voices of our community?
As Project Voice continues to grow as a media platform, the more costly maintaining it gets. When I first started pitching to Asian womxn and non-binary business owners to see if anyone would be interested in sponsoring us, I was not sure whether or not we would even have one potential sponsor. However, after making about 40 pitches, we landed two sponsorships within a month, one from Found Coffee and the other from Bharat Babies (now Mango and Marigold Press). Our sponsors’ monthly Patreon pledges made a huge difference on our operations as most of the costs of keeping the podcast going were covered. Additionally, this year, Project Voice has partnered with 8 Asian-led businesses who graciously made generous donations to our crowdfunding campaign, a financial feat we were not expecting.
With Asian American buying power expected to grow within the next decade, I want to emphasize how financial capital plays such a huge role in raising visibility and bringing in new opportunities for our community members. With more Asians in North America taking home higher-earning salaries than their parents and grandparents, they now can open up more doors to those who come after them as donors and sponsors of important causes.
Established institutions such as Asian American and Asian Canadian non-profit organizations and scholarship programs now exist to ensure that marginalized groups and young folks, respectively, receive the same opportunities as everyone else does. As of this year, the Asian American Journalists Association has provided more than one million dollars worth of educational assistance for Asian American student journalists.
As much as some of us would like to think to ourselves that we don’t need much money to kickstart our passion projects, funding still might end up becoming a roadblock to greater successes later on down the road if we eventually decide to grow them into more serious ventures. For that reason, having access to financial backing from our community can be the one life-changing factor that can set an Asian North American apart from thriving to surviving.
As a leading platform in the podcasting world, I work with a team in order to avoid the danger of burnout. Most of my team members are currently university students who reached out to me because they wanted to get involved with a cause that they care about while gaining professional experience and connections at the same time. As someone who’s been in their shoes before, I understand the difficulty of finding opportunities that provide both personal and professional value to me. Fun fact: some of our team members credit their experience at Project Voice to be the reason why they got their next internship or job.
As an established media platform, I want to be the one to give forward because now I can with the support of our fiscal sponsor, The Slants Foundation. I realized that by providing work opportunities and project collaborations, I am not only supporting a platform that’s already serving our community as a whole, I am also making a difference on an individual basis.
In the past, I’ve interviewed numerous changemakers in our community on Project Voice, including Asian American feminist and activist Jenn Fang of Reappropriate, the board members of Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), and executive director of NAPAWF, Sung Yeon Choimorrow.
Listeners have approached me to share how simply tuning into the Project Voice podcast has challenged them to see themselves through a different lens as they navigate life at work and home. Podcasts, like any other form of media, are a platform for Asian communities to tap into to share their stories and opinions on topics ranging from mental health, sexuality, workplace politics, and entertainment (the first generation of Asian podcasters I was exposed to were part of the Potluck Podcast Collective).
To listeners, seeing their voices being represented in the media has a lot of importance. One Project Voice listener said, “Now after discovering Asian American content creators and seeing more representation in media (with celebrities like Constance Wu and Mindy Kaling), I started feeling the sense of pride that I should have felt when I was younger.” This is why giving forward is crucial to raising the next generation of voices because they need to be heard just as much as we did when we were their age.
The crowdfunding campaign for Project Voice, under Jessica Nguyen LLC, is now live! They are raising funds for their Project Voice 2020 Podcast Scholarship Program, which will provide a $1,000 scholarship to womxn and non-binary individuals to join the team as a podcaster mentee and help raise the next generation of new voices.
Making Asian American media
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