This is a huge topic, and I could write a book about it, but for now I’d like to focus on some Patreon-specific strategies that you can use to begin to get more patrons.
- Create great content (this is, again, obvious but primary!) If you aren’t creating great work, then you shouldn’t waste much time with your Patreon campaign, yet: Create great work first, try to get patrons second!
- Create a consistent schedule of content. For some people this is really difficult, and if you can’t be consistent, so be it. But if you can, it should help you a lot. People are attracted to consistency – if you put out one piece of new content every Friday afternoon, you’ll give your patrons something to look forward to – something that they can count on. This doesn’t have to be finished, polished content, in fact…it could just be a sketch. It could even be something outside of your medium – maybe it’s a video where you discuss something, a blog post, an interview, whatever. If possible, it’s good to have at least one substantial (not extensive, just meaningful) connection with your patrons each week. When you create this consistency, you become more attractive to potential patrons – they see that you are developing a relationship with your patrons, and so you give them a good reason to support your work. I should note that much (probably most?) of these posts/releases should be “free,” (this will depend on what you create, what kind of relationship you have with your patrons, etc.) and as much as possible, you should charge your patrons only when you release polished work.
- Patron-for-patron. This is somewhat controversial, but people are doing it and, at least at the beginning, an argument can be made in its favor.
How does patron-for-patron work? Some creators on Patreon approach other creators about becoming patrons of one another. The problem that some people have is that the idea behind Patreon is that those who support artists should be actual fans.
Those who advocate the practice use the concept of “social proof” in their defense. Social proof is a psychological barrier that can work against people trying to get their first dollar. When you see a busker playing music on the street, or a tip jar at a coffee shop, there is almost always money already there. And it’s likely that some of it was put their by the buskers, baristas, etc. asking for the tip. Why? Because nobody wants to be the first one to put money in. Once there is money in the jar, there is social proof, and it’s easier for future fans to contribute.
- If you decide against using patron-for-patron, you could instead ask some of your truly super fans (relatives and friends) to begin the process. This is something that many successful Patreon artists have done and it has become more or less common practice.
- Create a timeline for completing a goal. This, in a sense, turns one of your goals into something like a Kickstarter campaign. While Patreon does not currently put a time limit on goals, you could challenge your fans to help you attain a goal within a certain amount of time. It would help if you were able to offer a good reason for doing so – perhaps you’re about to record a new album and you need a new microphone/instrument? Perhaps you’re halfway through a video and your camera fell off a tripod? Whatever it is, having a reason helps a lot. As always, being transparent with your fans is important. Also, you’ll probably want to offer some kind of incentive – if you meet your goal by a certain time, you’ll do ______ (release a bunch of previously unreleased material, put on an impromptu concert on top of a building, whatever).
- When you post new public content to your Patreon feed, make sure to let people know using social media! Every new piece is another opportunity to connect with your fans and to make new fans.
- Run a contest, conduct a poll, find some way to engage your fans in a fun way that gives them the opportunity to share your work with other people. The contest/poll/whatever doesn’t have to relate directly to your work, it just needs to be engaging and fun.
- Make your Patreon link ubiquitous. This one is pretty obvious (and I’ve mentioned it elsewhere!), but it bears repeating: Have you put a direct link to your Patreon page on all your social media profiles? On your business card? Email signature? Also, make sure that they go directly to your Patreon page, and not to your website.
- Bring your offline network online. Depending on what you create, you may have many potential patrons that are offline – acquaintances, family friends, local fans, older fans that don’t do much online, etc. Many people like to help artists out, especially when they’re just getting started, but they often don’t know how to help. Try to find ways to tell potential offline patrons about your work and about Patreon, and you may find some new patrons in the process.
This is just an introductory list of things that you could be doing to attract new patrons, and I will add to it as time goes on.
Have you discovered a great technique for attracting new patrons? Please share your experiences below, and add suggestions for other things Patreon creators could be doing to attract new patrons!