Repeat after me: your writing is a business.
Your writing is a business.
Feel the need to wash your mouth to get that bitter taste out of your mouth? Good.
Whether or not you like it your writing is a business. Why else are you creating a Patreon page? Now that we have that unpleasant business out of the way I’d like to share some facts from my non-profit experience.
First and foremost you need to build an audience. And just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. One thing you need to understand is that, although you may have hundreds of followers, only a small percentage of those followers will actually become donors.
Not everyone has the financial freedom to become a Patron to all of their favorite followers, but over time they may be able to. Think long-term.
Organize Your Database
Patreon has a lot of work to do to develop its CRM system, though that doesn’t mean you can’t start building your professional database now. As a database manager and administrator for a few non-profits I have a general idea of what information you need to build your campaign.
My number one recommendation is to build your database on a spreadsheet. Who do you think will support you? Do you have their contact information? Write it all down using this simple Patreon Database.
Be smart about your relationship management and asks. Will you really ask an art student to make a pledge? Or your retired aunt who only wants to be a patron of the arts? Supporters are everywhere! Studying your data will give you a general idea of who your fans are. Sort them into the following categories:
- Potential Donors
Potential Donors are fans you’ve identified as most likely to give. And yes, this probably means your mom, or anyone who has both the monetary capacity to give and passion for your creative work.
- One Time Donors
In the non-profit world a one time donor could be someone who attends a special event, donates, but doesn’t volunteer or make a pledge for a recurring donation. For a writer you could consider a one time donor someone who will buy your book. Maybe they will purchase a book once, and they like it enough, but may not buy again.
- Not Donors
It’s ok if you realize that you have more “not donors” than potential donors! Most of your fanbase will fall into this category, but they are still very important for your campaign. New (and often young) writers want to jumpstart their career and start making money right away, but many are also fans and friends of other creatives also looking to start a career. These people, though they cannot donate, can be mobilized as volunteers to spread the word about your great work! These are people who will forward emails and share your work on social media. Treat them well!
Prepare Your Campaign
By categorizing your fans you can write specific letters for campaigns. For potential donors you will want to write a letter encouraging them to use Patreon to support your projects. Your general fans you’ll want to mention it but not ask too heavily for support, so on and so forth…
But before any of that you need to set up your Patreon page and campaign…