Patreon for Writers: Collaborate and Publish

You Did It!

Congratulations, you’ve officially launched your Patreon page! By preparing your launch you’ve set yourself up better than the majority of creators.  You launched your page, but so what? Launching your page alone won’t get you donations. According to Kickstarter, the first 24 hours of a campaign are the most important. With your lists in place, your emails scheduled, your social media shoutouts posted, you will have an initial surge of donations before they taper off. Here are three ongoing tasks that will always be a part of your fundraising efforts:

Keep the Content Flowing

Maintaining your page is the hardest part, so stick to your content plan and adjust if you can’t keep up. This is why building up a body of work may be more important than building a Patreon page. No quality content means no money for you.  

Most of us (especially novelists) can’t create quality content on a monthly, or even yearly basis, which directly affects our fundraising efforts. I also struggle with keeping projects updated—life just gets in the way. C’est la vie, right? Without the strength of a publishing house behind your back, you are responsible for everything. While the freedom is awesome, shouldering the responsibility of administrative tasks related to fundraising and your business takes away time from your creative writing.

Your Patrons believe in you and your vision, so keep on doing what you do best!

Administrative Tasks are a Time-Suck

As anyone who’s worked in the office may know, administrative tasks that aren’t automated are a time-suck and a brain drain on issues requiring creative problem-solving. It is highly likely you will underestimate how much time it will take to fulfill physical and digital rewards, which is compounded if you have a monthly tier set up.

Patreon now has a rewards manager that makes it much easier to track tier rewards and fulfillment but fulfilling those rewards will take time. Adjust your rewards tiers if you’re unable to manage fulfillment, especially if you have rewards requiring copy, creative design, and shipping. It’s common for big Kickstarter projects to take up to a year or more to fulfill rewards (Der-Shing Helmer’s Mare Internum Kickstarter, Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings 10th Anniversary Kickstarter) because they require collaboration, design, special paper, and maintaining a clean database of mailing addresses to ship rewards to.

Trust me on this one—I’ve mailed many strange things in bulk, including a memorable box of rocks for a music festival. Automate anything that can be automated and minimize difficult rewards if you are an army of one. You may need a cycle or two to understand your limits. It is your responsibility to communicate to the donor if you are having issues and to manage your time and energy.

Maintain and Build Relationships

Remember when I talked about how some people can be one-time donors or recurring donors? Yeah, you’re going to have a mix. After your initial surge, you may see a dropoff of patrons—heck, that may even be your mom who cancels her pledge after one or two months! Don’t get discouraged because this is just the nature of fundraising.

There are two simple reports non-profits pull when analyzing their donor base: “Sybunt” and “Lybunt.” Simply speaking, “Sybunts” are donors who gave at any point in time but not your current fiscal year. “Lybunt” donors gave last year but not this year. Professional fundraising is constant dialogue with these categories, so do the same. Analyze your donation patterns as you would your sales data—both should be managed.

One rookie mistake is setting up a page and thinking that alone will generate income. Humans are social creatures. Writers, maybe not so much.  Fundraising rewards extroverts who thrive on wine-and-dine strategies. Successful fundraisers don’t wait for money to come to them. Successful fundraisers are active creators who are engaged with their donor-base. This includes outreach to lapsed donors to begin a conversation. The more you know about why they lapsed (money situations, content, other reasons) the better you can update your fundraising strategies.

Conclusion

Becoming an Indie writer is a constant hustle, and more so if you include Patreon or a similar fundraising platform to fund your writing.  Successfully launching a Patreon page and creating relationships with your fans is hard but rewarding work that will allow you to create an income from your writing. Do you have a Patreon page for your original writing? Link to your page in the comments and tell me what your writing is about!

Key Takeaways

  • WRITE: Keep on doing what you do best! Patrons pay for your content, so provide consistent quality content your readers will love.
  • ADMIN: Manage high-maintenance rewards in a timely manner and cut back on your rewards tier if needed.
  • CONNECT: Successful fundraising is ongoing dialogue with your fans. Don’t stop managing your page after month 1.

Other Tools

  1. Building your fanbase
  2. Build your Database
  3. Building your Patreon Page
  4. Working with Artists
  5. Ongoing Campaigns
  6. You, Me and Gift Management
  7. Collaboration and Launch!

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