Even if you're new to the creator scene, chances are you're already aware that earning an income solely through YouTube is becoming more and more difficult. New advertising restrictions and a higher barrier for entry to the platform's Partner Programme both mean that ad revenue is often negligible; and even landing brand deals or selling merch can be extremely difficult with a smaller or less active audience.
Because of this, many creators are branching out to alternative platforms and methods to support their content financially - and through this, some have even found success in turning their passion into a full-time job! Crowdfunding has proven one of the most effective methods in recent years, and this has been largely in part due to Patreon.
So what is Patreon?
Patreon was founded in 2013 by singer-songwriter and entrepreneur Jack Conte, who wanted to create a service that operates "like a kickstarter for people who release stuff on a regular basis."
True enough to this, Patreon is similar to other crowdfunding sites, in that creators can offer different and bigger rewards at increasing levels of monetary support; but the big difference is that becoming a Patron means signing up for a regular subscription. To this end, it's important when becoming a Patreon creator that you know your limits, can manage expectations, and are able to offer your audience rewards that are worthy of their support!
How does it work?
When you visit a creator's Patreon page, one of the first things you will see is a brief explainer of what they're creating. Patreon creators aren't just jilted YouTubers - they're musicians, they're streamers, artists, writers, podcasters... and sometimes, a little bit of all of these!
On the right of the page, a creator will often have a list of Tiers - these are rewards for support, increasing in levels of value depending on how much the patron is capable of pledging. Patreon deals in US dollars; and so reward tiers can range from as little as $1, up to much higher increments. How high you go with your reward tiers depends on two things:
- How much you think your audience members would be willing to support your content.
- How much you can offer in return for this level of support.
What kind of rewards should I offer?
The most important thing is making sure that you are capable of fulfilling whatever benefits you promise your patrons; whether it's an issue of time, resources, or both, managing your audience's expectations is key. After all, this type of support is a little more transactional - and therefore requires a little more commitment and responsibility from the creator (that's you)!