I’m a writer with a day job, and my work experience covers digital marketing for small businesses/non-profits and database management for non-profit organizations. That’s just a fancy way of saying that I help maintain an accurate constituent database and update their Facebook pages.
In fall 2015 I created a Patreon page out of curiosity. As a fundraising platform it was still a new-fangled thing, and I was curious. My creator page did not actually go live with a proper “hard” campaign until January 2017, as several personal things affected my launch. After a soft and hard launch my pledges have stabilized, which allows me to pursue more creative projects I haven’t been able to do before!
Every time I post new content I earn approximately $50. Some aspiring Patreon creators may think: “that’s not enough to make a living!”
It certainly is not. But instead of approaching Patreon as a tool to make a full-time living (Though that it the ultimate goal) I treat my Patreon page as a non-profit. I am all at once the Executive Director of my non-profit, and the goal is to cover my costs so I can continue creating and to assemble a Board of Directors (my patrons). $50 is still more than $0, and much more than most hobby writers make before their manuscripts are accepted.
What is Patreon?
Patreon is a fundraising platform for creators. It differs from Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which are fundraising platforms for big projects. Unlike Kickstarter, which had an all-or-nothing funding model, Patreon is designed for ongoing and sustainable income for all types of creators.
How Does it work?
Setting a Patreon Creator page is free! All you do is create an account, upload your information. You set your reward tiers and goals, announce the page to your fans, and explain to them how it works. Your fans will need to create a Patreon account to give you money.
Essentially, Patreon acts as (what we call in the non-profit business) your gift administrator. Patreon organizes your Patron information, charges credit card information, and notifies you of pledge changes.
Why Should I use It?
If you’re looking to generate income for your writing that you are already posting or giving away for free, or at least help cover costs for indie publications, and to engage with your fanbase.
Before anything else I do recommend spending some time building a little fanbase. Patreon will not help you promote your page or projects, and it is up to you to invite your fans to give their support.
I had an unconventional path towards my Patreon page, and was reluctant to start one because of how I started writing fiction online. For the past seven years I’ve been writing fanfiction as a hobby, and never wanted to see a dime out of it. I just enjoyed the writing exercises fanfiction provided for me and wanted to share those ideas with other passionate people online.
Eventually, though, as that fanfiction started to rake in over a thousand comments and reviews I realized that, just maybe, someone may be interested in my original work. I contacted reviewers who followed me from project-to-project and pitched them ideas for original fiction, and asked if they would like the opportunity to beta read my original work for free. One year I allowed people to read my NaNoWriMo novel as I wrote it in lieu of writing no fanfiction.
Some of those beta readers are now Patrons, and others joined because they would like to see me succeed. So while I DO NOT recommend using Patreon to post things like fanfiction I do recommend that you experiment with different social media and platforms to expand your fanbase. Remember that the $50 per project I earn is a result of seven years’ worth of free content and networking with people I identified as my top fans.
What do You need?
My hope is to explain some possible strategies to help new writers utilize their Patreon Creator page to the best of their ability, and to help them understand that small pledges can make a huge impact in creative endeavors. In the next few blog posts I’ll go over the following items:
- Building your fanbase
- How to organize your personal database using an Excel spreadsheet
- Building your Patreon Page
- Working with Artists: How to Make Your Budget Work for You
- Ongoing campaigns: The Ask Event Model
- Collaboration and Launch!
I’ll see you soon for the next topic: building a fanbase.