Before you even get started on Patreon, you need to consider if the platform is actually right for you. Could you offer something similar via your website? There are some great website platforms that make selling online courses very easy, and you might find that one of these is a better fit for you.
Really thinking about whether it’s the right route for you is a very good idea, and may save you a lot of work in the long run.
Patreon is a platform where your followers can support you and enable you to create more videos by pledging an amount each month. The onus here is on followers, as people can’t search for a medium on Patreon, you have to know who you’re looking for first. So, if you’re starting a Patreon channel, ensure you have followers who already know what you’re going to be offering.
If you haven’t already established a following, I’d suggest creating a YouTube channel and uploading regular content to start showing people what you can do. If you don’t have a presence on social media, I’d highly recommend starting Facebook and Instagram pages too. Let your work be seen, and start to establish your identity as an artist online.
It’s always incredibly exciting when you start a new venture, and what I recommend to anyone thinking of launching a channel is not to just hit launch, plan it like you would anything else. Build a campaign, a strategy, awareness and trust over a period of time, that way you launch with 100, 200, 300 subscribers. And, remember, the same amount of work goes into your channel regardless of your number of subscribers, so be as dedicated to those first 100 subscribers as you would be to 1000.
Anyone who has a Patreon channel will know how rewarding it is, but also what incredibly hard work it is. You are better to under promise and over deliver, so, when you’re planning your tiers, offer less to begin with. You can always add to your rewards in the future.
Something that is definitely worth knowing is that Patreon is not a very user-friendly platform. A huge chunk of my time is spent trouble shooting and helping people find things. Patreon was not originally created for what it is now being widely used for, meaning it lacks some functionality and can make life a little difficult for your patrons. Many creators, including me, have created tutorial libraries on our websites to help our patrons, so be prepared for extra work where this is concerned.
Try to be unique with your tier names and offerings. If you offer exactly the same thing as another artist it might not incite someone to join, so always use your own words and your own ideas.
There are thousands of Patreon accounts, all offering different things. Your offering may be something that a few other artists also offer, so try to keep what you’re sharing relatively unique. Keep an eye out (don’t stalk!) on other accounts similar to yours, and try not to offer a similar subject at the same time. I’ve had to change subject ideas a few times as other creators have brought out what I was planning, which can be frustrating, but it makes it a better experience for your patrons as many of them follow multiple accounts.
Of course we want everyone to stay, but they don’t always. That’s human nature. They come and go, and that’s okay. It does hit hard when people leave, but just remember you are a subscription service and that’s the way it works. Try not to take it personally, and remember that you can expect to lose anything from 4% upwards of your subscribers each month.
Patreon now works on active members rather than paying members, so if someone leaves mid month, you don’t see that figure drop until the next month. You can see a dramatic drop of members if your account is in the high hundreds or into the thousands. Again, it’s normal, but not great for your mind set! Understanding that it does this goes a long way to helping you feel okay about it.
Become involved with your patrons and get to know them, and always do what you say you’re going to do. For me, that’s one of the most important things and helps to keep the trust of your patrons. As I said earlier, you’re better to under promise and over deliver.
Find out about how the tax works within Patreon, work out the platform and PayPal/Stripe fees so you aren’t left feeling surprised.