What is Patreon? And how can indie authors use it?
With new trends and platforms continuing to pop up all over the place, these are the questions lots of self-publishing authors keep asking. And we completely understand why.
We have done our homework and prepared a short overview of the Patreon platform.
Keep reading to find out:
- what is the concept of the Patreon platform;
- what are the benefits of using Patreon as an indie author;
- how to build your Patreon community;
- what are the best ideas for Patreon content;
Wait, it gets better. We have also selected some author’s Patreon pages and highlighted their best practices. Don’t forget to check them out.
Ready or not, let’s begin.
What is Patreon?
In a nutshell, Patreon is a platform where people (patrons) support different kinds of content creators: artists, video bloggers, musicians, cosplayers, designers, programmers, game developers, authors, and journalists.
Patrons can subscribe to your author’s work, paying you a certain amount of money every month (starting from $ 1). Or you can ask patrons for one-time payments for specific purposes (for example, preparing a training video). You can also promise them various bonuses (rewards), like early access to the content, a live stream Q&A session, etc.
Just take a look at the numbers. Even though Patreon is a fairly young platform, according to CrunchBase, by the end of 2019 there were around 4 million active patrons that spent about half a billion dollars supporting Patreon artists.
In fact, there are no secrets to success on Patreon. You just need to deal with your project systematically and respect the audience. Sounds like a fair deal, doesn’t it?
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of using Patreon as an indie author. Disclaimers ahead.
Benefits of using Patreon as an indie author
There are plenty of advantages of using Patreon as a content creator in general and indie author in particular.
Earn some side money
As you might have guessed from the description, there’s a financial factor involved in having and using Patreon.
Disclaimer: the very fact of creating a Patreon project does not guarantee instant success.
Do not assume you can make a living out of writing for Patreon patrons. Think of it as a part-time gig rather than a proper job commitment.
Some authors think that Patreon is just another crowdfunding platform, like let’s say Kickstarter. Wrong again. We’ll save you the trouble and say it upfront. You will not fund your publishing process (asking to cover the cost of editing, book cover design, etc.) using Patreon income. It’s just not going to happen.
So how can you use Patreon to earn some extra cash? Provide good-quality content, build your network, gather feedback, and develop the strategy that will work for you.
First of all, decide how much time and effort you want to spend on preparing the “rewards” for your patrons. Then, create your content plan and stick to it. After that, analyze how much you are getting out of it and implement some changes. Finally, enjoy the win-win Patreon solution.
Get motivation to increase your writing productivity
Another huge benefit of using Patreon is its majesty, the motivation.
Think about it. First of all, having a fanbase on Patreon that is expecting some interesting additional content from you, and is ready to pay for it, already sounds great. You can instantly see the reaction to your content “rewards”, gather feedback, and see what needs to be changed or improved.
Just to give you an idea. Let’s say you are a self-published fiction author. At the same time, you experiment with writing short stories in your free time. Since it’s not your main field of expertise, you don’t concentrate on polishing your short stories. And at the end of the day, you just commit less and less. Enter Patreon. Short stories are exactly the kind of content you can give as rewards to your patron. You post one, and it receives a great positive review. As a result, you are motivated to write more.
Expand your writing niche, boost your creative inspiration, and earn a few bucks doing it.
Disclaimer: don’t get too carried away. Creating bonus content on Patreon should not interfere too much with your actual book writing process. As an indie writer, your main focus should still be on your novel and marketing campaigns. Prioritize your time well.
Use Patreon for networking
And this brings us to another significant benefit of using Patreon – networking.
First of all, if you provide interesting good-quality content on Patreon, the word spreads around, and you can interest more patrons and get some loyal fans.
In addition, depending on where you stand financially, many authors on Patreon use the money they earned through the platform to support other authors. Basically, you can be both a content writer and a patron.
Finally, spread the news about what’s going on with your Patreon account on your social media and author website. It’s an excellent way to grow the community.
Now that we covered the basics, let’s move on and go through tips and ideas on how to use Patreon as an indie author.
Tips on how to use Patreon as an indie author
We have put together things that every content creator on Patreon should keep in mind. Pay attention to these tips, and may the inspiration be with you.
Content creation is the key element of your Patreon project. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Conduct a Patreon research and come up with your strategy. Before starting your own Patreon, do some field research. Check out what other indie authors are doing. Visit the projects of the bestselling writers. Collect ideas and create your content strategy.
- Create a content calendar. You need to be professional and stick to your promises. Try not to miss the deadlines, and deliver the rewards on time.
- Design the project page. You can upload photos and videos, and write a few words about yourself. People want to know the person they support better and see an engaging page. It shows that you have put some work into it, and care about your Patreon patrons.
- Make regular updates. Stay in touch with your readers, share your thoughts, express gratitude, work results, and even photos of your cat. This is how you need to communicate with those who believe in you.
Tips on how to engage with your patrons
In addition, you need to make sure you have established a connection and keep up regular communication with your patrons.
- Offer a variety of patron rewards. The sky is your limit. Try out new things to engage your patrons. Mix and mingle, experiment a bit. Based on the feedback you receive, you’ll see what’s working best.
- Tell your patrons what you need the money for. If you need to collect a specific amount, don’t forget to mention what you plan to spend it on. Is it a new book cover design? A present for your niece’s birthday? Share it with your Patreon community. The same rule applies to regular Patreon contributions.
- Engage with your patrons. Don’t think that it’s ok just to throw a piece of content at your patrons, turn off the platform, and chill. Not really. You need to engage and keep in touch with patrons. Create some polls or Q&A sessions. Always reply to the feedback you receive. That’s the best part of Patreon: patrons will tell you exactly what they want to see, and you get to deliver based on their needs.
We hope you found these tips useful and will implement at least some of them in your Patreon content strategy.
Now, let’s see what exactly you can use as your patron content rewards. Buckle up.
Patreon content ideas for indie authors
So the big question is what should you use as Patreon content? Well, it goes without mentioning that since you are an author, your reward content should be writing-related.
Provide your patrons with short stories that they can read in one sitting. Show them a well-told tale that will evoke emotions and get them hooked to your writing style. Initiate discussions, or even suggest readers to contribute to the story plot or character development.
If you are into poem writing, but it has always been more of a hobby, and you’ve never reached the point to introduce them to the world, here’s your chance. You might also consider to place the poems onto digital gift cards, and send them out to your dedicated patrons.
Trust us, readers and patrons love this one. After you’ve finished reading a great novel, you are often left with this feeling of craving for more. And deleted scenes are exactly what we need to calm that literature hunger.
Behind the scenes
Let your patrons peek at your creative process. You can share some insights, a funny story, an achievement, or even show your workplace. Help your patrons feel like they are becoming part of your writing journey. It sure does feel nice.
Show your top-tier patrons how much you appreciate their support. Mention their name in the acknowledgments chapter of your novel.
Create some exclusive videos for your patrons. You can make a short video talking about your book, hint to some plot details, or protagonist description. The good idea is to pick a book-related topic or trend and express your opinion about it. Just try it.
Keep talking. Not a fan of video content? Fine. Create a podcast instead. Your patrons can listen to it on their way to work, and get to know more about your next book or expert opinions.
Live video chats
Finally, you can host an online video chat with patrons, one on one, or in groups. Answer all of their questions face to face, share some of your ideas. Have an online coffee meet-up or a small online workshop. All you have to do is use your imagination.
It gets a bit complicated if you’d like to ship items to your patrons. So at least at the beginning, we recommend creating digital swag.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Do your creative research, and come up with a content plan that will work best for you and your target audience.
Top writers on Patreon
Before you leave why don’t we take a closer look at some of the most successful Patreon writer accounts? Unfortunately, it’s against the platforms’ policy to reveal any content, so you just need to trust us when we say they are worth checking out.
What we liked the most: the right balance of different types of content, warm and engaging style of writing.
What we liked the most: book cover banner design, exclusive content, lockdown updates.
What we liked the most: humor, live streams, membership levels.
What we liked the most: access to early chapters, intriguing content presentation.
What we liked the most: book cover reveals, regular content updates.
This should be about it. Hope you enjoyed reading our brief overview of the Patreon platform for indie authors.
Do you already have a Patreon account? Or are you supporting some aspiring authors on Patreon? Share your experience in the comments section below.