For those of you who are confused by the article headline, don’t worry. We’ll be covering everything there is to know about Patreon, how to make money from it, and how to keep your Patreons happy as you continue to build yourself up on the platform.
If you’re an artist looking for new and innovative ways to make money online, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is Patreon?
To start with, it’s probably best you know a little something about Patreon. Essentially, Patreon is an online subscription platform in which people are able to subscribe to different content creators in order to access their creations.
Patreon as a platform is meant for creative people of all kinds. Musicians, artists, dancers, YouTubers, etc. For everyone who likes to create artistic or entertainment content.
If you’re a content creator with a passion for the art of any kind, then you can absolutely become a success on the platform and make a real living off your art.
The subscribers to your work (or Patreons to use the proper term) will pay a monthly or annual fee depending on how you set your personal Patreon account up and will be able to access everything you post. We’ll get more into the specifics about what else you can post besides your art later on in the article, but for now, it’s just important to know that the Patreons that subscribe to you will do so for a fee – and this is how you make your money.
Know Your Audience
This is really important. You’re not going to get anywhere on Patreon without first knowing your audience, and the first step to doing this is knowing who you are targeting before you even set up your Patreon account.
Think first about your art form. Who are you making it for? Children? Teens? Young Adults? Adults? Step number one is knowing who your art form is supposed to appeal to. If you’re not sure, then post an example piece online and ask. Once you know who you’re targeting, you already know a lot about your audience.
Now, depending on who you think your audience is, you’ll need to make some changes to your Patreon subscription amounts. If your target audience is children, then the likelihood is it’s their parents that are buying the content for them through their account. This will need to be set at a slightly lower amount to convince the parents that your content is worth it.
If you’re creating adult content with NSFW influences, though, then you can obviously charge a little more since the intended audience are adults with disposable income that they’ll be willing to spend on their personal interests or hobbies.
The reason knowing your audience is important is that you only get one chance to make an impression on Patreon. Patreons need to subscribe to you and get exactly what they thought they were going to get when they signed up for your monthly or yearly fee.
Starting off with one type of content intended for a specific audience and then changing your mind partway through and working for another audience is a mistake. You’ll burn bridges that way, and as you’ll see further down the list, keeping Patreons happy is the name of the game!
So, decide on your audience early, and stick to it. It’ll help you in the long run.
OK, so you’ve decided who you’re making your content for, but how do you get them to hit that subscribe button and start paying the fee for your artwork? Well, you need to go out there and get them because they’re not just going to flock to you. Your next step is to gather your audience.
This can be done in a variety of different ways. A great tool for any content creator is social media. There are entire communities of artists out there already, just waiting for you to join them. By doing so, you’re supporting one another and making yourselves more seen online. Doing this will result in customers coming your way.
Whether it’s hashtags on Twitter or on Instagram, putting your work out there online and letting people know about your Patreon account is a great idea.
The monthly or yearly subscription fee works really well for this type of marketing, too, because instead of screaming ‘buy my product’ into the void, your giving potential customers a taster of what you can do and then inviting them to pay a small fee for continued access to all future works.
Essentially, you’re asking them to get behind you as an artist, not just your content.
Another great place to gather an audience is through a YouTube channel. Many artists are able to create a following for themselves on YouTube alone.
How-to videos, draw/sketch/paint with me videos, and everything in between can be money makers of themselves. But, if you run a Patreon account alongside your YouTube channel, then you’ll be more likely to gather interest because the people who watch your videos are already familiar with the quality of your work and whether or not it will interest them on a subscription basis.
Finally, blogging is a really effective tool too. This blog has proved invaluable in gathering an audience for my passion projects, and it has certainly worked for many others too.
So, create a space where you can talk about different things relating to the artwork you create and the artwork you’re interested in, and people will feel your passion and join you on your journey elsewhere, including Patreon.
Offer Enticing Tiers And Rewards
One part of Patreon we haven’t really discussed yet is the tiers and rewards system that’s available on the platform. These tiers and rewards are set by you as the Patreon account runner, and you essentially decide how much a Patreon subscriber has to pay to access certain content.
As an example, let’s imagine that you’re a digital artist. For a set amount a month, you might allow Patreons to access your artwork – but only the images you create. This might be set at around $2 a month since they’re not really getting a lot for their money, but they will at least be able to access the artwork they are interested in and support you as an artist.
If, however, you posted how-to videos or other similar process videos on your Patreon account, then perhaps for $5 a month, a Patreon subscriber would be able to access your artwork and all videos that you post too.
The point is, the tiers and the rewards that a Patreon gets from those tiers are created by you as the artist. Now, there are no restrictions on what you allow access to for each tier or the amount of money that is required to access it but be warned. Nobody will pay extortionate amounts of money if the content they are getting from you is not up to par.
So, you need to make sure your work is high quality, posted regularly, and that your Patreons are able to get exactly what they were promised by your tier system when they subscribed to you, to begin with.
In fact, when you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to have only one tier – access all areas type of deal – for a relatively low price point (around $2-$5 a month) while you entice more customers your way.
You’re able to add more tiers for different prices as you go along; just make sure there is always a low price point option for those wanting to support you but who may not have the disposable income to spend more than a couple of dollars on the content you create.
Keep Your Patreon Happy
Remember how we said earlier that keeping Patreons happy is the name of the game? Well, here are some tips on how you might do that successfully to keep them coming back to your account time and time again while also increasing the likelihood of them spreading the word about how awesome you and your content are too.
The first thing to do is be consistent. You need to give yourself a posting schedule, and you need to stick to it. If somebody was paying you for any other work, they’d expect to know when you were doing it.
The same applies here.
If you set a schedule that you stick to, then your Patreons will know what to expect of you and will be encouraged to see that the money they are spending is going to good use because of your consistent content posting.
It can be weekly or monthly, whatever you decide. But bear in mind that Patreons can subscribe to your account on a monthly or yearly basis. If they see that you are posting irregularly and they’ve already put their faith in you for a full year, then they will be disappointed. The point is, you need to stick to a pattern.
If you are charging more due to different tiers, then you also need to make sure you are creating content that covers every single tier. Content is great, your content will be appreciated by all tiers, but if you’re charging some customers extra for behind the scene videos and content surrounding the process of creating the artwork itself, then you need to reliably post things pertaining to that too.
The final point to make here is to make sure you keep your Patreons updated. Art is a subjective thing, and nobody knows when a particular piece you’re working on is going to be “done,” so if you’re going to be a day late posting, then post an update to let your Patreons know.
They are a community that has formed around you and your work, so they’ll understand – but failure to post consistent updates can lead to disgruntled fans and fewer Patreons over time.
This links to the final point above, but you HAVE to be transparent. Remember, Patreon is a great platform because it garners support for you as an artist, just as much as it does for your artwork. So be honest and open with your Patreon subscribers: they’ll appreciate you all the more for it.
One way to be transparent is to post regular updates about your business plans. Remember, even if Patreon starts out as more of a side hustle originally, your Patreons are still paying for a service – so to them, it’s still a serious business.
Let them know your hopes for the future, talk to them about your long-term goals on the platform. Whatever you decide to post, just make sure you keep Patreons in the loop, so they get to know more about you and what you stand for.
Now, this next point might not be suitable for everyone, and you should always only post what you are comfortable sharing about yourself online, but a great way to show your transparency is to update your Patreons on your personal life too.
Have a big family event on a day you were supposed to post?
Don’t just post the next day with an apology. Update your fans ahead of time and let them know what you’re up to that day. They’ll understand, and they’ll be incredibly supportive of whatever is going on in your life too!
Use The Features Patreon Offers
Probably a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, lots of people just neglect to use what the platform has to offer. Patreon has a range of features that you can use to interact with and build upon your Patreon subscribers, so use them!
If you’re not sure what you’re missing out on, then read this section carefully. Still not sure? Then go and check out a how-to-use Patreon video or get in touch with the admin for advice.
There are tonnes of tutorials and people willing to help out there, so get any advice you need in order to use your Patreon account effectively.
As a quick run-through, here are some of the key things you can do on Patreon:
- Posts (your main way of providing updates to Patreons and letting them get to know more about you as an artist).
- Videos (could be used for how-to and behind-the-scenes stuff that might interest higher-paying Patreons).
- Images (your main way of showing your artwork and providing access to the finished piece).
- Polls (an excellent way to interact with the community and find out what they want to see moving forwards).
The point is, Patreon gives you plenty of ways to diversify the stuff you are posting and provide you with all the tools you need to really create a bustling community around yourself that can thrive and grow as you do as an artist.
Make sure you’re making use of it because there are plenty of other Patreon account holders that are doing so, and your Patreon subscribers might end up going there if you’re not holding their interest with unique content.
Add Thank You Video
This is SO important! People are willing to pay you (a would-be struggling artist at any other time in history before the internet was created) to have access to your work.
Now, if you don’t think that’s amazing and mind-blowing and a little crazy, then you’re really not giving your Patreon subscribers enough credit.
So thank them.
Let them know that for every single person that subscribes to your tiny corner of the internet, you are eternally grateful. The more people see that you appreciate them for supporting you and your dream to make money through art, the happier they’ll be to continue supporting you.
It isn’t rocket science – whenever we’re thanked in any walk of life, we’re automatically more inclined to help out again if needed. And the same applies to subscribing to your Patreon account. If they feel appreciated, then they’ll keep on subscribing.
A thank you video is a great way to do this. They get to see you like the artist again, and it’s a great place for you to tell them everything they need to know about you and your artwork. You’ll also be able to express your gratitude clearly, and it’s a much more personal way to do it than simply writing a quick post.
Remember To Thank Your Patreons
Yes, a thank you video is wonderful, but it’s not just a ‘say it once, and it covers you for life’ deal. Your Patreons are coming back to you week after week, month after month, and they aren’t leaving. That’s a truly wonderful thing, so keep thanking them for their support for you.
Every image you post, every update you provide, every single time you make a video – use it as an opportunity to show your gratitude. The more you say thank you, the more appreciated your Patreons will feel, and the happier the community surrounding you will be.
After all, it is through their gracious support that you’re able to do this thing you love AND get paid for it. If that doesn’t deserve a thousand thank you’s, we don’t know what does.
So, remember to consistently thank everybody for their support, and show them as much love as they show you!
Why Patreon Is A Viable Way To Make Money
This is the real clincher, isn’t it? What was the point in all of this information about Patreon if you can’t be 100% sure that you’re able to make money out of it? After all, you’ll be dedicating a lot of your time and effort to this pursuit, so you want to make sure you’re getting something in return.
Well, first, you might want to take a look at one of our other posts that looks in detail at the top earners on Patreon as a source of inspiration. You can find at ‘Can Artists Make Good Money?‘ article. If they can make a good living through Patreon, why can’t you?
Of course, not everybody is going to be making thousands of dollars a month through their artwork right away, so how do you know Patreon can make you any money at all?
Let’s break down some numbers for you. As you start out, you might start with only one tier that your Patreons can subscribe to – and maybe you’ll charge something like $4 a month, so they are paying $1 a week for your content, and they get access to all areas that you post in.
Now, when you look at it like that, it doesn’t sound much at all. But if you follow all of the steps we’ve provided above, then there is no reason you can’t gather an audience and keep them coming back for more content consistently.
Maybe you set yourself a target in the first month of gaining just ten Patreons. Well, that’s still $40 a month you wouldn’t have had before, and you earned all of that just through your artwork. Then maybe the next month, you aim to double those Patreons, and now you have twenty, and you’re earning $80 a month.
Now don’t forget the beauty of word of mouth. Not only will you be marketing away, gathering an audience from all different sources such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, your blog, etc., but you’ve also got twenty Patreons who are impressed by your content and are willing to sing your praises. If they tell a friend, who tells a friend, who tells a friend, then you can start to see how easily those numbers can snowball.
100 subscribers, and you’re earning $400 a month. 200, and you’re at $800. 1000 and you’re making a more than respectable $4000 a month.
Patreon is a great platform that rewards users who take themselves seriously. If you put out top quality content, have a community that you show appreciation for, and put in the hard work to build yourself up as a serious Patreon account that people should subscribe to, then not only is Patreon a viable way to make money, but it could one day be your only source of income for a very comfortable life!
Work hard, follow the tips above, and keep on working on your art with passion, and who knows where it will take you a year from now?