A March Experiment

This entire month, I posted at least once per day to Patreon. I also funneled my messages through it, set up Discord servers, and otherwise tried to take advantage of everything Patreon offers. I learned quite a bit, including one tidbit that really will change how I use Patreon going forward.

I posted this today: https://www.patreon.com/posts/17883672 (relevant info pasted below)

Some awesome stuff came from this – I feel so much more connected to each and every one of you. Seeing and hearing from you every day gave me a connection to you I didn’t have before and I really love that. I also am so happy the discord server has brought YOU together; this is a community now and I’m so glad that worked so well! I wasn’t sure it would take off, but it’s given everyone one spot to go and chat and hang. YAY.

It also jumpstarted some projects that had been sitting around – I FINALLY edited that photoshoot video and put it up. I made more progress on my pilot. I’m planning another photoshoot with David Cater AND I started prepro on a short with the director of Not a Plan.

I was actually worried I wouldn’t have enough content to post, but I absolutely did – and seeing that was really pretty cool. It definitely means I’ll be posting more and sharing more about the work I do - good for you!

The Patreon is revamped – the perks, the titles, the text of the page – and I’ll probably shoot an updated video in the near future.

What it DIDN’T do: surprisingly, I didn’t gain a single Patron this month. I actually LOST one. I had figured that upping the activity and engagement would turn at least one or two followers or fans from other sites into Patrons.

But I learned something – people (mostly) do not support Patrons FOR the perks. They support people because they like the art and believe in what the artist is doing, which really means that nothing I offer can entice anyone to join. This is simultaneously frustrating (how do I persuade people to hop on board then?) and a huge relief (I don’t have to spend my time fulfilling/creating rewards - I can use it for my work).

I also learned a few things via the Patreon creator community: honesty regarding finances is key, you want 2000 1 supporters vs two 1000 supporters, having one location for your Patrons to communicate with you is key, and this is a job, and that means that it’s important to put it down to make sure I have time for the real reason I moved here: writing, acting, and creating.

I’m a big fan of continuing to experiment until I find ways for this to work for me. So I will! If you have any ideas, please leave 'em.

11 Likes

Thank you for sharing this @hackettkate!

1 Like

So interesting - in our own research we find people do support either for altruistic reasons (they really want to support the creator) or that they want the perks. Those motivations can morph over time, so that someone who originally came in just to support the creator ends up motivated by the perks, and the reverse can be true. Some creators can skew one way or another, it really depends on your audience and how you’ve interacted with them over time.
I’d love to get an update two or three months from now to hear how this is going. Sounds like a lot of amazing work you did on behalf of and for your community.

2 Likes

My data is flawed!! :smiley:

I think that’s absolutely true – my audience (and those I’ve talked with), thus far, seems to skew toward wanting to help WAY more than wanting the perks… to the point that I almost see very little point in OFFERING rewards, other than that’s expected. (And we like each other now) Even posting daily wasn’t as huge a boon as I thought it might be.

I’m curious how creators encourage patrons to “move up the ladder”, as it were. I suspect THOSE patrons are reward-motivated. This is definitely something I’d like to play with – how to convince people to level up - but I think that’s something to tackle once I have WAY more smaller donors. I’m very top heavy, which can be nerve wracking.

I’m not sure what I’m going to test this April – I know I need a break from posting EVERY day, but I’ll definitely keep doing Female Filmmaker Friday content, that’s stuck.

3 Likes

Sometimes it’s just doing a bunch of testing, like you’ve done to find what people are engaging with too. If you found one thing that’s stuck, that sounds great.

And yes, it’s a lot easier if you have smaller patrons to move them up the ladder, but that’s something to consider as you grow.

Love hearing about all of this though! Your audience sounds terrific and like they really care about you and what you’re doing.

People will move up the ladder for altruistic reasons as well. When I first started I made a $50 reward tier never thinking anyone would choose it since the reward was basically: pick something from my to do list or WIP pile for me to finish (things I was going to do anyway, the patron would just get to choose one a month to move to the top of the list). Also there were the lower tier rewards added in with it, but that was basically it. One of my best friends from high school pledged immediately at that level and asked why I didn’t have a $100 level because she would have given more and she didn’t even know about the rewards! She literally just saw that was the highest level pledge and clicked it.

I have another patron-buddy who started at the $10 level, moved to $15, and is now at $20 and she told me she doesn’t care about the rewards, that it’s more important I do the art and if I don’t have time to get to her stuff to not worry about it because she’s supporting me making the art first.

People like that are GOLD and rare. I think the majority of people want rewards, but those first few patrons are the ones who truly believe in what you’re doing and that’s why they’re there.

3 Likes

Among my patrons, I find the same thing Carla said - there’s some people pledging purely to support and some people pledging more for the rewards. It turns out I like having a mix of both. The rewards-driven folks probably churn more, but they also sometimes get more vocally excited about the bonuses and rewards I post, and that motivates me more than silent monetary support does. Plus when they say it publicly (which I always find super helpful), their feedback drums up interest among other prospective patrons.

The altruistic ones, on the other hand, are the ones you can count on to stay through the slow times and the hard times - and maybe even increase their support - and that’s been a life saver for me. And if they’re also excited about the rewards and bonus content, then it’s even better. :slight_smile:

Thanks for sharing your experiment! It was a really interesting read.

3 Likes

^^^ This is a terrific insight! Totally true.

2 Likes

I’ve been reaching out to each new patron that signs up and asking them if I can personally interview them about how they found my content, what encouraged them to become a patron, etc. It’s been really enlightening, and not that much of a time sink. Try that as your experiment.

5 Likes

Wow! What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far? Has it changed how you do anything?

I did something similar with my patrons and used their responses as testimonials. Like you said, it was very enlightening and encouraging.

2 Likes

Would you care to share your form letter? :slight_smile:

1 Like

No problem, this is what it looks like:

FIRSTNAME

Thanks again for becoming a patron.

I have one big favor… can we talk?

I’m trying to better understand the people who have chosen to support my work, so I can create better content and grow my audience.

Would you be able to spare a few minutes to talk to me by phone or video chat? It would mean the world to me. If you can’t do it, no problem, I totally understand. But if you’re up for it, just pick a time from my calendar that works for you:

https://calendly.com/frasercain

I’ll follow up to figure out the best way to reach you. I like the Zoom meeting, but if you want a phone call, that’s cool too.

Thanks!

Fraser Cain
Publisher - Universe Today

6 Likes