Advice for getting through the moments where you want to quit?

You really are better off getting paid for 1 event (plus expenses!) than getting exposure for 20 free events! No one can sustain free. I’m a children’s author - I guess I’d be deemed successful - I charge properly for school visits here in the UK. After a couple of months, at one or two a week, I am wiped out and want to throw the towel in. Then I find out everyone else is feeling the same. It’s last man standing.
I saw your post about asking for help and was really inspired, I thought you really had it worked out, and you have - in most parts, but you need to be a bit more business like. In business, cash flow is king. Do a few freebies to gain experience or try something new out, but after the free events - and the experience you have - you should be getting paid for what you do.
I would target schools as local as possible to keep costs down and do really cheap kitchen sink science, until you can invest in something more high end every now and then. The audience can only jin in with kitchen sink stuff anyway and there are other channels doing high end stuff. Do what you do best and what the audience loves you for. Really go into those analytics and work out what goes over best. And, BTW, the audience don’t want Klingons, they want YOU!

As for Patreon, yes, I’m constantly wanting to throw in the towel. I’m so grateful to my patrons and have regular conversations with some, But It’s another layer of work keeping me away from what I want to do and really should be doing. Catch 22!

Just keep pushing through and don’t try and be everything to everyone. Do well, what you do best and what your audience loves and wants you for - and always ask for a fee that covers your time and expenses.

Best wishes

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Definitely don’t be givin’ it away for free, especially not to schools. I was an art teacher a few years back and in charge of ALL of the field trips, in school events, and speakers.

SCHOOLS HAVE A BUDGET FOR WHAT YOU DO.

There was an organization that I ordered all of these events through. In Dallas it was Arts Partners. Find out what the organization is for the school district you serve. I couldn’t even tell you how this thing was funded, but I’m guessing it was all through grants. It’s been a few years, but I want to say I saw everything as a points system and had X number of points to spend. I made sure every grade level had some sort of event, but the teachers of each grade level chose what that event was. Usually we would have someone like you come for the little guys Pre-K, Kinder, 1st. 2nd-5th would get field trips unless the teachers for that particular grade level was having trouble with the entire group. We had some hell on wheels 5th graders the first year I was there and none of their teachers could bear the thought of a field trip so we had someone come in and demonstrate some science and blow stuff up. They loved it! Sometimes we’d have enough points left over to have one big demonstration/speaker for the entire school at some point in the year which also sounds like the kind of thing you’d fit.

I think if you get in with an organization like that, you don’t have to do anything for free. You could send a sample packet early in the school year with materials to the person in charge of scheduling their events for whatever the organization is called where you live, and ask them to pass it along to the science teachers. Maybe have a couple of printables in there and make sure Science Mom and your URL are on them so it will be in their head if they use them in class. Do your homework and know what the state standards are for science for each grade level and offer grade specific demonstrations. The teachers will remember and ask for you again.

Essentially, if the school doesn’t spend the money, they lose the money. Do not charge only cost of materials. Budget yourself a paycheck for each job, budget enough that you can afford an assistant when you get to the point where you’ll need one. Don’t make tons of printouts when you can offer teachers a digital download. Sell science to the kids, but sell yourself as a resource to the teachers. They will remember and choose your event again. Students and teachers will not be patrons, neither have money. They won’t get in the funnel. But they do have control over where that grant money goes for their events.

GET PAID.

Remember:

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I wish I could double-like this post!

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Ditto what @joumana said about your comment @Lochy! Such sage advice and good thoughts. And the Oregon Trail meme saying you’d died of exposure made me laugh out loud. Brilliant. Thank you.

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Thanks @shoorayner. It’s validating to hear that weekly school visits on their own (whether paid or no) are intensive and potentially exhausting endeavors. Your practical advice about watching costs and cash flow is also super helpful. It’s a little funny to me now (in hindsight) how I was so fixated on the “If I just add a Klingon alterego, my channel will take off like dynamite” idea. I still think that the concept of a Klingon giving commentary on social science issues could work out quite well, but it’s one that will only work if it’s done well, and there’s an extreme cost difference between doing a half-baked job and doing a professional production. And you’re right - as much as I might like the idea, it’s not my brand. It’s a tangent.

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THIS! Probably the best advice I have seen here. You have to give you time monetary value. You got skills that aren’t free and mouths to feed.

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Others have already said it about exposure. I can only repeat it.

I would add - remove tiers and rewards that are more effort and work than they pay out.

The other thing I would add: make your Patreon easier to find! I went to your website, and found no links for it (in a minute of looking, most people will not give you a minute). Anytime you’re doing stuff for free, make sure people see the tip jar. Remind them of it. Guilt works.

If you give free stuff, then make it hard to find the tip jar (patreon), people won’t look.

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That’s @luka.rejec! That’s super helpful. Funny how we can assume things are easy to find just because we know where they are.

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@ScienceMom I love this topic and think it’s one so many creators on Patreon would find relatable!

I’d love to rekindle this conversation, and, if you (or any awesome Patreon users in this thread) would like to be included in a blog post focused on this topic, please let me know!

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I’ve been feeling some of the same lately. I’ve always felt like my growth, be it Patreon or my social media followers, has always been so slow compared to the work I put into it and others that seem to be in my same field/at my level/experience. And some days I wish I did something else. Either something of an even more adult nature than I already do because erotic models seem to consistently do better financially (I an art nude and lingerie model) or I wish I had skills and talent like comic creators and game developers. Plus, I feel washed up and like maybe my time has past. So yeah, I feel at least something similar.

But here’s what I’m trying to do and what has worked in the past:

  1. I try to figure out exactly what the root of the feeling is. Sometimes it’s something really small that set it off and everything else is “sticking” more because of that small thing.

For example (and yeah, I’m gonna be vulnerable) I recently noticed another local model posting a lot on Facebook. She’s cute and 10 years younger than me and people are flocking to her right now. The thing is, I get it and I support her. I think it’s great to see someone else succeed. But now she’s doing the sort of projects I miss doing and I’m at a different point in my career. But then my Patreon amount is crazy low this month (down over 1/3 from last month). I knew it was coming because January was just really great and last year the same thing happened. And then I got declined for an affiliate program. And then apparently someone tried to hack my Instagram. But when I really sat down to think about it, I realized that it wasn’t those things that were stressing me out so much. I mean, they’re not great, but they’re not nearly worth giving up for like I was feeling. Instead, it was that little bit of insecurity over that other model. And as soon as I let myself acknowledge it (instead of insisting that I couldn’t possibly be comparing myself to someone again), I started to feel a little better.

  1. I look at what I can do to change things. My Patreon income is low this month, but it’s not that bad. I’m okay. And I thought well, what things have I don’t that bring in more Patrons in the past? For me, it’s YouTube videos. So I got my little butt in gear and spent an hour shooting content. And as soon as I started… I got so excited! I get to show off something new and my Patrons are going to love these photos! I’m sure your process is different, but maybe look at what you know works and revisit that.

  2. Look at marketing. Obviously your reach is pretty good considering all of your accomplishments! That’s awesome! I’d say the next step is just changing up how you market or what part of your fanbase you’re focusing on. Do you mention your Patreon when you do demonstrations? Maybe have a nice poster made up with a little Patreon advertisement on it. Put it on your printed materials. Or maybe you do all that and it’s more about finding a way to pinpoint those who are more likely to pledge.

And this is just what I do. But maybe it will spark something for you too. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks @ecampbell. I have to tell you that the advice I had from other creators after I made this post was such a help to me. I changed my structure this school year so that I charge $200 for school visits and then give away one patron-sponsored school visit a month. At first I was worried it wasn’t going to work - I only had one school contact me in the first month and a half of the school year. But then things picked up and my calendar is now just about as full as I’d like it to be with school visits.

The change has made my business more sustainable but more important has been the internal shift of giving my time monetary value. There are still weeks where I feel discouraged (I think I’ll perpetually be trying to do more than I can), but this conversation about exposure and value and knowing that it’s not “wrong” to feel down or wonder if you have it in you - it’s a part of the process and an opportunity to learn - this helped me so much.

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Thank you @dekilah. I so appreciated your thoughts here. I’ve has similar moments of insecurity triggered by comparisons (and it’s hard not to compare when social media analytic tools are constantly quantifying value!). Marketing is a challenge - I think I often feel like I don’t have time to both create and market and view them as an “I can either do one or the other,” but looking for small ways to work it in (like posters or making sure links are on printed materials) is a great strategy.

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Jenny, I continue to be so impressed by how much you’ve grown your work and how you’ve really been shifting your mindset to really value all that you do. It’s really exciting. I’m personally here cheering you on too!

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