When it comes to making videos online, the dream for many is to make enough money to pursue this full-time. And with Patreon, the online crowdfunding site, growing with over 1,000,000 monthly active Patrons, this dream is becoming a reality for more and more creators everyday. We got the chance to talk with one of those creators, Mary Kate Wiles, about what she believes is the best way to run an engaging and sustainable Patreon page.
Mary Kate Wiles, who you may recognize from such web series as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party, and the upcoming project The Gilded Lily, has been a part of Patreon since it’s early days and is currently living out her dream of being a full-time actor thanks to the support of her patrons on Patreon.
“Patreon allows me to be available to go on auditions, make self tapes, or just spend time learning material that I need. A really difficult part of being an actor is juggling side jobs with auditions that can come up last minute. Thanks to Patreon, I know I’m available when auditions pop up. And I have more time to spend on them, so I do better!”
Selecting your Patreon Perks
Patreon currently has 50,000 active creators who are all crowdfunding their art with the help of their patrons. But it’s not just a one way street; Patreon creators offer different reward tiers for different levels of support.
Mary Kate observes, “The majority of people on Patreon are musicians or artists or sketch groups or podcast, or whatever so there’s this built in, like, if I’m musician and you support me at this level you’ll get a song demo or a drawing. That was really difficult for me to figure out, like what to offer. My rewards are really just sort of based on what I can offer personally to the people.”
When coming up with what to offer people it’s important to make an offering that is both sustainable for you to deliver on and something that patrons will enjoy on a monthly basis in addition to the content they’re supporting you in making.
“Most people are going to pay at the lower level, so find something that is easy for you to fulfill for a large group of people that’s also exciting for them.”
Offering access to patrons-only Twitter and Instagram accounts are lower-level perks that don’t take as much time but still give Patrons an experience that not everyone gets.
The key to great Patreon perks is making sure the perks feel special. MK emphasizes, “…make it personal. That’s what makes people feel special, those personal connections. It’s not like you have to be everybody’s best friend, but you can have a personal connection as much as you can. I think that will only make your patrons feel more a part of what you’re doing.”
A few of Mary Kate Wiles’ current Patreon perks include access to patron-only streams, early access to her videos, a patrons-only Twitter and patrons-only Instagram, and she even sends personal notes or postcards to patrons.
Pricing Your Perks and Tiers
Once you’ve figured out what to offer your patrons, you need to select how you want to price each tier out.
The important thing to remember about Patreon is that your patrons are supporting you an on-going basis. According to Patreon, the average pledge per patron is $12, so you have to think about a majority of your patrons coming from lower level tiers.
“$25 a month is great, but you are more likely to have five people who want to support you $5 a month than to have one person support you $25 a month.
“Every month I have a group hangout with patrons who pledge at the $10 level or more. And there are folks from the Philippines, England and of course the USA in this pic! How freakin’ cool.”
“If people like you enough to support you on Patreon financially, they just ultimately want to support you.”
-Mary Kate Wiles
MK continues, saying, “You’re going to get the most traction at the under-$10 level so those are the important ones you want to think about. And I think it’s worth having multiple perks like $1, $5, $10. After that you can sort of be more choosy around, like, how much you want to charge people and how many different perks you want to have.”
Starting a Patreon page is a great step in making your online video carreer more sustainable. It offers you a closer connection to you audience and in return allows you to continue creating your art long term. As Mary Kate Wiles mentioned, it’s important that you have a variety of offerings that make your Patrons feel special but also that they are thing that you can scale and make sustainable for you to offer long-term.
“If people like you enough to support you on Patreon financially, they just ultimately want to support you. Know that whatever you’re offering for people is the icing on the cake.”
As you grow your Patreon, keep in mind that it’s all about the connection, value and creativity that you offer. That is what’s going to make your patrons glad they support your art.