Patreon is an effective and straight-forward way for creators from all walks of life to build a regular income, perhaps even make a living, from their work. But how to go about setting up a successful page and running a campaign that converts fans into patrons? As a writer and Patreon creator I know how overwhelming it can all seem at the very beginning and how many obstacles can stand between you and the successful launch of your Patreon campaign. Which is why I put together these five steps for you to follow and ensure that you know what you’re doing before, during and after the launch of your Patreon page.
1. Build a backlog… A Patreon page is like a houseplant; you need to tend it, you need to water it – otherwise it will die. That is especially true in the first year. So you want to make sure that you can feed this new page of yours with content regularly. The best way to do that is by building up a backlog of work, at least six months’ worth of content. Everyone knows life can get in the way of your creative work sometimes. This way you will not have to put out low-quality content, just to keep the lights on. The same thing goes for rewards by the way, especially if you chose something you have to prepare in advance. A well-prepared creator makes for happy patrons and low stress levels during the first few months of your campaign.
2. Build a platform… This is the number one way to ensure your Patreon page will be a success right out of the gate. Patreon does not take care of this for you, by the way. The site features a search function but it is not one of their strong points. Unless you are a top grossing creator your page will most likely go unnoticed by anyone browsing the website. So be aware that your largest source of traffic to your Patreon page will be your website or social media presence. This is the reason why you want to get started on building that audience now. Start a blog or vlog, release some free content. This may sound counter-intuitive to someone looking to make a living wage but it’s a great way of introducing people to your art and getting them hooked. So once your Patreon page goes online, your fans will be eager to put their money toward your campaign and create an income for you.
3. Determine your Why… Before you build your page, tell your platform where to find it and start publishing content, you should take a minute to think about the why of it all. What do you want to achieve with your page? Do you strive for a regular income, a group of devoted beta-readers for your novel or just a safe space to share your work with like-minded people who can tip you a buck, if they feel like it. These distinctions are important because they determine how you set up your page, what content you publish there and how you market it once it is online. Go on, grab a pen and get brainstorming!
4. Build your page… You’re in luck, Patreon has made this step of the process really easy for you – even if you don’t know how to code or have no idea how to go about setting up a website. I will explain the nuts and bolts of setting up a Patreon page in a later post – so watch this space! But for now I will tell you what you need to have at the ready to start a page that converts fans into patrons. You will need a couple of photos of yourself and your work, one for your profile picture and one for your page header, a video of you talking about the who, why and what of your Patreon campaign and a Q&A style essay for your About-section that answers roughly the same questions as your video. It is essential to have both a video and a written introduction to reach the maximum conversion rate of fans into patrons. And everything else is pretty much self-explanatory.
5. Set a schedule (& stick to it!)… If you want your Patreon page to be successful and attract lots of patrons, you need to consistently put out content. Especially in the beginning you need to prove yourself by showing up for your patrons and delivering content and rewards on time. This way you show that you are a reliable creator as well as a trust-worthy human being and not just a con-artist who will take their patrons’ money and disappear into the night. Beloved creators may be able to get away with an occasional month of down-time and missed rewards. But you are only at the very beginning of your Patreon journey, so try to stick to a publishing schedule as much as possible. Nobody is perfect and life happens, meaning you might end up having to miss or post-pone a content post or a reward delivery. In this case it is important that you keep the lines of communication open. Your patrons will show understanding for a struggling artist, but not for a flake.
I hope this post has managed to shine some light on the sometimes confusing process of starting a Patreon page. Put these five steps into action, take your time to complete each one and you will be fine. Don’t try to do it all at once, starting a Patreon page without a platform is a lonely road and trying to catch up with demand for content and rewards, while keeping a day-job and maintaining a social life, is a surefire way to suck all the fun out of sharing your art. Be prepared, ask for help when you need it and don’t forget to give yourself a break every once in a while. Remember, your Patreon page is supposed to be a rewarding, if not life-changing experience. Stick to these five steps and you will be well on your way to running a successful Patreon campaign.
If you found this post helpful, please leave a tip in my virtual Tip Jar. Just click on the image below. It will take you to my Patreon page, where you can sign up for a $1/month contribution. So that I can keep making these posts and help you on your journey as an independent creative. Thank you!