Friday Archive Dive: Five Patreon Tips
You don’t need a subscription to read today’s Friday Archive Dive!
Even if you’re not a member of the site, you can read the entire post, which originally ran March 25, 2014. If you’ve ever been curious about the kind of information, tutorials and advice that you’ll get as part of your subscription to Webcomics.com, this is a good sample.
Patreon is proving itself to be a formidable tool for monetizing webcomics. Here are a few tips to consider before you launch yours.
The Kickstarter video rule holds here as well: Keep it short, bright and friendly. Absolutely under two minutes — better yet, aim for 60 seconds:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- How is your Patreon campaign structured?
- Optional: (since it’s still very new) How does Patreon work?
OK… you’ve probably got more to say than that. I tried to address this by recording a “Director’s Cut” video that went into further detail on the campaign. It was easy to embed that into my Patreon page with a custom YouTube thumbnail that invited people to play the extended video for more information.
Milestones and rewards were the most vexing part of Patreon for me. Rewards are what you offer people at different pledge levels, and Milestones are what you offer everyone if and when you reach certain levels of cumulative giving.
My gut was to make significant offers in both places, but that, I think, would have been a mistake. Remember: This isn’t a Kickstarter. This is going to be a monthly commitment for a (hopefully) long time to come.Having spoken to a number of people who have launched successful Patreon campaigns, I tended to hear variations on the same theme: This is a way for your True Fans to support you. They don’t necessarily want more stuff. They want to support a comic they love. The Milestones are secondary. If you do Milestones at all, they should either be 100% fun or they should be digital good you can “ship” via e-mail.
Milestones that remove advertising? I’m very leery of that one. That’s not a significant move forward in term of revenue. Rather, it’s trading one for another. If you consider this kind of Milestone, be sure to put it far beyond what you stand to typically make in a month through advertising alone.
Rewards, on the other hand, are much more important. Once a person has made the decision to support you on Patreon, those rewards can tempt a $1 pledger into becoming a $5 supporter. That’s key.Your lowest level should offer access to your Activity feed and nothing more. That’s the base level of support. Each level higher should offer something that’s more and more enticing. Don’t be afraid to put some high pledge levels in there (with equally enticing rewards). My top level is $20/month and I had a $20 pledge within the first ten minutes of announcing my campaign.Here are some great Reward ideas:
- Digital books / eComics
- Exclusive video chats (I used Google Hangouts this week to facilitate my video chat and it worked quite well).
- Coupons for your merchandise
- Desktop wallpaper
- Site sponsorship advertising
- Live, interactive video feed of drawing process
You have two feeds — the Activity Feed and the Creations Feed. The first is for casual communication with your backers. The latter is where the important stuff happens.
If your Patreon backers are paying every time you post a new project — for example, a Patreon campaign in which supporters pay for a graphic novel project by supporting each individual page that is posted with a money reward — then posting here with a “paid” post will trigger a payment from your backers.
If your Patreon backers are paying by the month, you should also post in the Creations feed. You will not need to mark them as “paid” posts because your backers are paying on a monthly basis anyway.
In either case, you can even control which backers can access the post. This way, you can post items that $10 backers can access, but backers at lower levels cannot.
The Creations Feed is the main engine to your success on Patreon. The number of updates is the first thing that fence-sitters will look at to gauge the “value” of their pledge. It also has an effect on how prominently (and how often) your campaign appears on Patreon’s Comics page. If they see a bunch of activity there, they’ll be much more likely to sign up. And if you keep bringing the goods in the Creations feed, they’re going to have no qualms upping their support.
Need proof? Look at the successful webcartoonist Patreon campaigns. You’ll see copious amounts of content there.
The Creations Feed should be dripping with Star-Bellied-Sneech appeal. This is your private club. You should make this a place that fans want to be a part of. Here are some great ones:
- That means behind-the-scenes content
- Coupon codes
- Special members-only merchandise / offers
- Recordings of previous video chats
Need another reason to keep that Creations Feed popping? Everytime you add content to it, you’ve got a good excuse to casually mention it on your site/social media.
My one problem with how the Patreon page is set up is this… the most important part — the Pledge buttons — comes at the bottom of your page. And if you have a lot of content on that page, you’re going to be asking people to do a lot of scrolling.
There is a way to get your Patreon reward buttons up into the page area (like this)…
… but Patreon kinda makes you hunt for the information. I’m including a quick walkthrough here, but I’m going to warn you upfront: You have to be somewhat comfortable with HTML coding. If you’re not, this might not be a good time to experiment. Making even a tiny mistake is going to screw up your Patreon mistake completely.
Go ahead. Ask me how I know.
Here’s the code you need:
[html]<div style="text-align: center;">
<input onclick="window.top.location.href =’***patreonURL***’; return false;" value="***Button_Text_Here***" style="width: 400px;" type="submit"><br>
Note, there are two places in which you’ll plug in your own information:
Now, go to Your Patreon Page in the Creator Dashboard.
In the Tell your patrons why they should pledge to you section, click on the button that looks like this: </>
- Go to your own Patreon page.
- Scroll down to the pledge area. Click on the pledge level for the button you’re working on.
- After the ensuing page loads, copy its URL
- Replace ***patreonURL*** with this URL.
Replace ***Button_Text_Here*** with the wording you’d like to see in the button.
Click Save and continue.