Patreon and YouTube go hand-in-hand helping creators of all sorts keep doing what they love. Here’s how to optimize your Patreon in 6 steps. Let’s get creative!
Wait, why Patreon?
In the aftermath of the Adpocalypse and subsequent monetization changes, YouTube creators are struggling more than ever to support their channels. For many of us, it’s a passion, but it’s near-impossible to sustain. Stepping up to fill this gap is Patreon, a site on the rise praised for providing a base level of stability for self-employed creators.
Finding financial support for long-term projects or a whole channel can prove difficult, especially considering the lack of profit generated during the process. Patreon allows online creators to essentially crowdfund their careers on a monthly basis, which is an absolute game-changer. Here’s what to consider when organizing your Patreon:
• Be authentic to your style and community.
• Make sure patrons feel appreciated, helpful, and rewarded.
• Establish clear and tangible goals, perks, and milestones.
Sound like a lot? Let’s try to break it down.
1. Defining your aspirations
What are you doing or making? Pick a broad genre, then use your bio and introductory video to get into the specifics that brand your niche and draw in like-minded people. Are you working on a specific project for an indeterminate amount of time, or a series of related projects like a web series? Tailor your marketing accordingly; knowing your audience is the basis for everything related to your work, on Patreon and elsewhere.
Pick a broad genre, then use your bio and introductory video to get into the specifics.
Patreon works excellently alongside YouTube, since both sites subvert traditional viewer-creator dynamics, fostering personal connection and authenticity over detached insincerity.
2. Getting creative with your tiers
Of course, there are plenty of tried-and-true rewards, commonly used because they provide high value with little cost to the owner. These include:
- Sneak peeks: Generate excitement by showing clips of videos before releasing them publicly.
- Updates: Post rough drafts and progress videos.
- Behind the scenes: Everyone loves seeing how you work, and backstage shenanigans can even begin some inside jokes.
- Credits: List Patrons in your Special Thanks, end screens, descriptions, etc. Seeing their name can make Patrons feel proud and appreciated.
- Polls: Getting your audience’s thoughts and opinions before proceeding helps you provide something they’ll love. The ability to influence the things they’re funding is a huge appeal.
- Livestreams: Host streams to answer questions, give updates, or just chat.
In addition to whichever basic options you employ, always include some unique tiers to set yourself and your work apart. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:
- Use your skills: Are you a writer? Have them pick a topic for you to write about (short story, poem, fanfic, etc.) Gamer? Play co-op games on your channel!
- Secret social: Set up hidden social media accounts. This is another awesome way to diversify cross-platform and keep them thinking of you. Something I like to do is make an account as one of my characters! It’s almost too fun.
- Merch discounts: They’re already spending money to help you, so give them a discount. Plus, merch gets your name out there — bonus!
- Raffles: Hold monthly drawings for prizes, like a painting you’ve made, a personalized video, etc.
- Let someone join you in a live stream: This also works for raffles. Let the winner do part of a stream with you.
- Anything else you can think of! Be as ridiculous or sincere as you like.
What makes a reward worth it is the VIP-feel and knowledge that their contributions matter.
3. Cultivating community
Making your patrons feel connected to you and to other fans brings you together as a group with common interests. Discussing and sharing what you enjoy creates a welcoming environment, keeping them engaged in the community. This is accomplished through collaborative goal-oriented motivators, interactive rewards and group activities.
One surprisingly effective way to do this is opening a Discord for all patrons — the more people there, the more conversations and connections arise. For extra intrigue, create a locked subsection for higher tiers to have monthly voice chats with you. You’ll likely gain some friends and ideas yourself!
Unlike sites like Ko-Fi and Kickstarter, Patreon uses monthly payments. Erring on the cheaper side encourages more patrons who’ll stay longer. On this note, make sure tier rewards are ongoing, so patrons won’t cancel after one month.
Quantity over cost! People won’t pay at all if the price is out of their budget. Thus, it’s necessary to take into account the size and dedication of your audience. If you have plenty of devoted fans, you can price a bit higher; if you have fewer but more supportive, passionate followers, price lower and hope you bring in more people.
5. Milestones: goals and rewards
Set some goals! One should be small and attainable — something patrons can help you reach quickly and get the satisfaction of truly helping. Set another long-term goal, such as finishing a project, and create benchmarks along the way.
Now add any other goals that you like and set rewards for each for patrons to look forward to. Goals based on the number of patrons fuel community accomplishment. Drum up anticipation by making prizes and celebrations more desirable as progress continues. These can be fun and wacky — like promising to shave your head or take a jello bath — or professional — like sending out thank you letters or merchandise.
Telling your audience is crucial. Make a video detailing your Patreon so people know about it and can decide whether to take part. Viewers who click on it likely want to support you. Put a link in each video and briefly mention it to get your viewers aware.
Customize this self-promo to your audience. It can be as silly as “Help me feed my pet aliens!” or “I need your help or I’ll be back on the streets… as a clown! Honking my nose at strangers… Oh, the shame!” Or it can be simply genuine: “This channel means a lot to me, and with your help, it can become something incredible.”
Whether you’re an actor, writer, educator, filmmaker, artist, musician or ex-clown, Patreon can help fund your ventures in a way that lets creativity thrive and brings people together to make something wonderful. Remember to keep it fun, engaging, and realistic, and it’ll make a world of difference. You’ll be surprised how many people are happy to help you achieve your dreams.