Patreon provides tools to help creators connect with their fans. It’s a creator-based community that is for both creators and fans (patrons). In fact, while Patreon started out more focused on creators and their needs, they know that it is in the interests of creators for Patreon to focus on keeping patrons happy, too. To that end, Patreon is moving away from being creator-focused to being more project/art/piece-focused. Patreon’s CEO Jack Conte has mentioned that he would like it to be a place where fans come to discover new things. What this means is that rather than promoting particular creators, the site will focus on promoting particular created pieces.
Who Uses Patreon?
Patreon currently has 14 categories of creators:
- Video & Film
- Crafts & DIY
- Drawing & Painting
- Dance & Theater
These categories are not hard-and-fast, in fact many (most?) Patreon creators could fit into two or more of these categories (a podcast on photography! An education show on animation!) Suffice to say, Patreon offers a breadth of interests to provide most creators with a category in which to be found. Patreon is still in the process of figuring things out and has made a number of tweaks already in this area (they no longer allow creators to choose more than one category, for example). Things are fluid, and I’m quite sure that their categories will change to reflect the needs of the community.
Patreon was originally conceived of as a funding platform for independent creatives, and it originally attracted largely emerging artists. As it has grown in popularity, however, it has begun to attract larger independent artists to its ranks. Amanda Palmer is one of the more recent additions to the Patreon family, for example (she currently earns over $35,000 per “thing” she creates).
What Makes for a Successful Patreon Page?
Many of the most successful Patreon pages have a number of things in common:
- The creators were already successful on other platforms (see below, “Are You Ready?”)
- The creators have already provided fans with a great deal of value (largely through the release of free things. Again, Patreon is, in a sense, a sophisticated digital tip jar.)
- The creators have good rapport with their fans, which is usually developed through honesty and transparency
- Many of the creators make it clear that they will continue to offer much of their content for free (and that patrons will receive VIP rewards)
- Remember that Patreon is a place to “support and engage with the creators you love.” What does this mean? It means that Patreon is at least as much about who you are as it is about what you do. The most successful Patreon pages are generally the most transparent, open, and engaging ones.
Why Not Kickstarter?
As mentioned before, Patreon has been described as an ongoing Kickstarter, and this is true. While Kickstarter is focused on raising money for a certain project, Patreon is focused on raising recurring funds from super fans. Another reason many creators are attracted to Patreon rather than Kickstarter is that they find it less stressful. You can work at a pace that is comfortable without the stress of having to complete a project that has already been funded (patrons only get charged on delivery). You can also back out at any time (if it’s taking too much of your time, if it’s too stressful, if you have to deal with other things in your life) without feeling as though you have let anyone down.
Are You Ready?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to set up your Patreon page, I want to point out something worth considering – as mentioned above, success on Patreon is, generally, something that is preceded by success on other platforms (or by a certain amount of notoriety in a narrow professional field).* While Patreon is developing its own social aspect, the most successful Patreon pages are nearly all connected to other platforms.
This could be important because if you are not ready to make a splash on Patreon, you may end up missing out on one of the two current opportunities for free exposure – the Featured section, and the “Welcome to Some of Our Newest Creators” section (found on Patreon’s homepage).
Is Patreon for you? Only you can say. That said, even if you get a slow start, you can get your feet wet and be better prepared to make a splash once you have more of a fan base.
Ready to create your Patreon page? Check out the next section of the guide:
* That said, even if you don’t think you’re ready, you’ll likely want to open your Patreon account (you can develop your page without actually publishing) so as to secure the unique Patreon URL that you would like (this will be particularly important if you’re worried that another creator will be going after the same URL!) I’m definitely not advising domain squatting, but if you’re sure that you will eventually publish a Patreon page, it’s something worth considering. If you end up deciding against publishing your page, you’ll want to delete your account so as to make the URL available to someone else.
Questions? Thoughts? Please comment below!