I think I know what you mean, Olivia, but I’m not entirely sure if I’ve got this right. I’ll share these thoughts anyway…
Personally, I like to plug my lowest Tier — the $3 ‘Welcome Aboard’ entry point.
I love the idea of having hundreds (well, thousands) of Patrons supporting me at this level.
Firstly, it definitely means that any risk is well and truly spread.
I mean, what would you truly want to have for your total income as a creator…a thousand Patrons paying $1 per month or one Patron paying $1000 per month?
I would definitely want the former! There’s no way I’d want to depend on one Patron for all my income and if a $1 Patron (or even a few) change their mind then hopefully the impact is minimal and swiftly replaceable.
Secondly, it means I don’t have to do any extra work for the money. Let’s face it, most creators have got enough to do already without having to do extra stuff!
Which brings me onto something else:
I think many creators feel that they have to provide special material for their Patrons.
I just don’t know if that’s true.
I think many Patrons pay simply because they like the work you’re making and don’t actually want anything else in return — they want you to use the money to more easily make the work you’re already making.
Now, I know every creator’s different and I’m generalising but I reckon my last point is worth dwelling on.
If you take a look at my Reward Tiers, you’ll see that it’s mostly geared around doing stuff that I’m doing anyway:
TIER 1 ($3+): Nothing extra required
TIER 2 ($10+): The discount code means extra sales in the shop for which I’ll be making extra money on top of the pledge, so I don’t mind that!
TIER 3 ($15+): I’ll be making the book anyway and this is a great way to show the publisher that there’s already a growing demand for it.
TIER 4 ($25+): OK, so this is technically extra work but making prints from the project is a big side to how I earn my living already. In effect, I see this Tier as a saving/instalment scheme for my Patrons and it’s also a way of me forecasting when I’ll need to make prints (a luxury I didn’t have before Patreon).
TIER 5 ($45+): Ditto to all the above but the only new reward on offer here is a personal postcard from each mission, so about three postcards per year. That’s why I’ve limited this Tier to 10, so I’m not having to write millions of postcards and to give it a really special feel for the Patron.
Also, I’m thinking of this one from a social media angle. I mean, won’t it be great to photograph/video/Lens those moments when I’m writing the postcards in a lovely coastal café somewhere? Surely that’s going to attract new Patrons at some level?
TIER 6 ($100+): Again, the only new reward on offer here is that Patrons get to spend a day with me on the road. Again, straight forward and nice, right? But, as you can see, I’ve already got two Patrons who are willing to pay for that…simply because they want to see it all happen in the flesh and ask me questions throughout the day — fine by me!
TIER 7 ($250+): No Patrons here yet but I’ve deliberately priced this one high because I only want to make somebody’s portrait on glass if it’s for the right money. I’m sure those Patrons will come and I’ve only got three on offer because that’s all I would want to make in a year in addition to the hundreds of glass plate photographs I’m already making.
TIER 11 ($1000+): I took a tip from @8bit and added this one very recently. As John said, it’s there just in case and you never know! But, even if people pledge at this level, I certainly wouldn’t want to rely on it because of the risk factor. Know what I mean?
I plug TIER 1 the most, hoping that will be the most attractive option. If visitors then see higher Tiers they’d prefer then that’s all well and good.
In short, I want to do the least amount of additional work because I’m already doing so much to create the project. I believe that point is vital for all creators to consider!
Don’t feel duty-bound to your Patrons beyond the work you’re already making — that’s what they should really be paying for.
Additional case study from today:
This ties lots of things together that I’ve mentioned so far in this AMA…
Today, I had my first Patron pledge at Tier 5 ($45).
Brilliant. I think it’s a great Tier for me and for the Patron.
The process that lead to him pledging illustrates that us Creators are only limited by our imaginations. Here’s what happened step-by-step (remember, this all happened today):
- I had 37 keyrings to sell that were ‘slight seconds’;
- I added the item for sale on my site;
- I wrote this tweet to my crowd (later to Insta and FB too);
- One particular customer bought three keyrings;
- In the automated thank you email from the sale I have a ‘Become a Patron’ link at the end;
- He clicked on that link;
- He became a Tier 5 Patron!
So, I made a £21 sale that ended up earning me an extra £390 ($540) every year…
…and all because I put a ‘Become a Patron’ link at the end of an automated checkout email!
As I type this, he’s catching up with loads of my posts on Instagram, realising how much he loves the story.
Do you see?
There are no rules. We just have to think. And that, dear Creators, is a gift.
Incidentally, I sold out of those keyrings by 2025hrs this evening.
It’s been a good day — the product of nurturing my crowd, working out how to speak to them and being imaginative about the mechanics of it all.
Again, I hope this is helpful?
Keep this those questions coming. I can’t promise that the answers will be brief!