If you’re a digital creator, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Patreon – an ongoing crowdfunding platform for creators everywhere! We love what Patreon does for artists in various industries and really wanted to share how the platform can benefit you as a vlogger or YouTuber.
Recently, we got to speak with Heather Wilder from the awesome team at Patreon. She was kind enough to share tons of great information about the platform, and how it can benefit creators interested in crowdfunding:
What is Patreon?
Patreon is ongoing crowdfunding for artists and creators. Patrons pledge a set amount per release, and every time a creator publishes a new piece of content (a book–or even a single chapter, a short story, a webcomic, a video, a blog post, anything!), funds are transferred from patrons to the creator.
We want to empower the creative class and help creators make money creating the things they love! Currently, there are over 20,000 creators and over 300,000 active patrons! We’ve even seen a few creators like The Professor of Tolarian Community College be able to quit their jobs and focus full time on their art after setting up a page! Which is so incredibly exciting!
Patreon was founded in May 2013. Today, there are thousands of artists (including YouTubers and vloggers) using the platform with great success! What do you attribute the platform’s growth to?
I think it is also solving a problem that a lot of creators were having. Ads and sponsorships often weren’t enough to support creators making high quality content for niche audiences. Patreon was giving these creators, like Craig Benzine and Dotto Tech, and their fans a solution to allow these types of creations to happen more often and maintain the high quality that they both loved.
It was solving this pain and creators were excited to tell their friends and fans about it! When you add in the enthusiastic support from patrons into the mix, you have a recipe for one incredible community.
Thanks to Patreon, many creators in various industries get to do what they enjoy, on a full time basis. Why do you believe the platform has been really effective for users?
Patreon is built around the concept of value for value. It’s a place where dedicated fans can come and support the creators they love, and that patronage allows creators the freedom to work even harder to create the work their fans love!
Being a patron isn’t an obligation, and creators don’t have to demand the support from their fans in order to be able to continue to produce and create. Patreon is a place where patrons can come support creators because they want them to succeed long term, and to have the ability to create continuously!
By using Patreon, creators can provide exclusive content to fans for their support:
Exclusive content is a really cool way to say “thank you!” to your patrons. Creators have made customized comics voted by patrons, exclusive cover songs and special shoutouts at the end of videos or episodes, and it’s just another neat way to build your Patreon community.
What makes Patreon so special is that it isn’t a paywall. Creators aren’t forcing patrons to now suddenly pay to view their content. It’s simply providing an opportunity for the fans that want to support their favorite creators an easy way to do so!
All kinds of creators on YouTube can benefit from funding, especially those consistently creating quality projects. What tips would you give to creators in order to get off to a great start on Patreon?
Have a strong launch strategy and a great intro video for your page. Make an intro video that explains to your fans why you’ve created a Patreon page and how their support will help you. Share what you want to accomplish in the next year or two with their help.
Be present! Interact with your new patrons – let them know and experience what kind of community and level of engagement they’ll have once a patron.
Also, your video doesn’t have to be crazy complicated or very lengthy, but a solid one to two minute video explaining who you are and what you’re creating is an excellent bridge between yourself and your potential patrons!
I think that Brotherhood Workshop, Kristina Horner, and Zach Weinersmith have dynamite introduction videos. They all clearly outline why they’re using Patreon and what they hope to do with the funds earned. Plus the videos are quick and fun to watch!
The intro video is definitely an essential component to a user’s Patreon profile page. It’s the first thing fans will see. What information should creators include in their Patreon video to best optimize it for effectiveness?
Being honest, transparent and positive are some of the best ways to optimize your introduction video!
Start with the basics! Who are you? What are you making/doing/creating? Let us know!
It’s also key to outline why you are choosing to use Patreon, and what you’d love to do with the funds raised. Tell us about some future goals that you have up your sleeve that your patrons will help you achieve, and also talk about some of the tantalizing rewards that come with being your patron!
What do you consider to be common characteristics of the top creators on Patreon?
Our most successful creators are the ones who are constantly creating and engaging with their fans. They have created sustainable and repeatable rewards that allow them to focus less time on reward fulfillment and more time on creating! They also spent a lot of time establishing their fan bases before joining Patreon, and they continue to build on those relationships each and every day. Our top creators put in a lot of work, and it shows in every single thing they create.
The Kinda Funny crew, Sakimichan, and Ted Urban and Andrew Finn of Wait But Why are continuously creating amazing, high quality content and engaging with their patrons both on Patreon and in other social media channels!
Two really important features of Patreon are campaign goals/milestones and rewards. How can creators best use them?
Set realistic goals that will actually help you as a creator and set up rewards that are digital, scalable and repeatable. Those are the three magic words!
If you are a photographer, you might need a new camera to help take your work to the next level. That can be a goal! If you are a musician or singer/songwriter, maybe you need some new music software to help you edit what you are creating! That’s a great goal, too! You want to keep your goal relatable and in line with what you are creating and what you need in order to keep creating things! Paying rent, student loans, being able to quit your day job in order to make your art – those are all viable milestones, too.
Rewards are so much fun to incorporate into your campaign, and they really come down to those three magic words! Do your best to keep your rewards digital, scalable, and repeatable! Coming up with rewards that are meaningful to your patrons but don’t take up all of your time are key. We want you creating – not distributing rewards! Twitter follows, Google hangouts and access to content a day early are some of the most popular rewards, and they’re exciting for patrons, too!
Also, you don’t need a dozen goals or a dozen reward tiers to start off your page. That can be overwhelming as a patron! Instead, try to pick a couple of goals and a few reward tiers that you think your patrons would like. As your Patreon page grows, so can your goals and rewards!
There’s also the Patreon Podcast! Can you tell us a bit about that?
We actually have two podcasts and they’re both amazing! John Mierau hosts the Patreon Podcast, and he’s interviewed some totally crush worthy creators in great detail- like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Amanda Palmer!
What advice would you give to creators for success on Patreon?
Keep creating! Of course interaction and intimacy are super important too. Be candid, be yourself, and be a person. Most people want to support an artist, not a thing. The more you let your fans know the person behind the creations, and the more you get involved in the conversation and interact, the more they want to interact and support. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!
On behalf of Fjaloret.com, we would like to thank Heather Wilder for taking the time to speak to us about Patreon, and how the community of creators can use the platform effectively!
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