Here's how I doubled my number of patrons in 2 weeks

A couple months ago I posted about why I thought my income on Patreon plateaued for 6 months, and today I’m sharing notes on how I pulled out of that slump and doubled the number of patrons I had in two weeks (from 23 to 46).

TL;DR version: You are the primary person who recruits patrons. Taking this responsibility seriously and asking creatively (and frequently) are incredibly important.

As a disclaimer, I am still small and haven’t yet managed to earn enough to cover my opperating costs, but I hope my story will help give you ideas for growing your own audiences. Here’s a summary of what I did and (best as I can tell) where my new patrons came from:

1. Ask for support - the invitation
I posted this video to my YouTube channel, my personal facebook account, and pinned it to the top of my Science Mom Facebook Page. The video explains that the cost of my video production and school outreach has grown beyon my capability to sustain it, and invites people to contribute.
Number of new patrons: 9
One came almost immediately from one of my YouTube subscribers. The others came from Facebook friends and followers. The real strength of the video was that it gave several of my most active fans something concrete that they could share and use to invite others to join, and it educated people as to why and how they could help support me.

2. Talk up and share reward tiers.
Over the first week of my effort to increase patronage, I posted to social media every single day (something I had never done previously). Most of my posts were highlighting new people as they joined the Periodic Table of Patrons, my 10 dollar reward tier. As people shared their personalized cartoons, they created a good amount of discussion and comments and other people joined at that level as well.
Number of new patrons: 12
All are either direct friends of mine or friends-of-friends. The thing that worked great about this reward tier is that people who got it wanted to share it. Everyone I drew a card for posted it proudly on their social media pages and it was great publicity for my patreon campaign.

On one hand, this tier seemed to be working well. Lots of positive feedback and I was busy drawing into the wee hours of the morning trying to stay caught up as orders came in. On the other hand, it was yet another example of how much better I am at giving away time and money than earning them.

When someone joined the table at 10 dollars, I spent between 5 to 7 hours drawing a personalized cartoon of them. Then I printed and framed the cartoon and gave it to them so I would have a more visually appealing social media post to share. Paying myself 2 dollars an hour for my time, I was negative 5 dollars each time someone joined this reward tier. :frowning_face:

Also, there were a fair number of people who wanted to contribute 10 dollars but didn’t want to be on the table. So I made a new 10 tier and changed the Periodic Table of Patrons, pricing it at 50 dollars. Pricing art is difficult. As @Jack said in a recent blog post:

“there’s the art world who think I should be adding a zero to the end of the price in order to reflect the true value of the work and there are the people who wouldn’t normally ever consider buying art.”

Priced at 50 dollars, I don’t expect to have new patrons join the table until my platform has grown considerably. It might be years down the line. But I’m happy with the growth to date and very pleased that we reached our first funding goal. I could ramble on with more details about the pledge levels and what I posted, but it can all be summed up by saying that most of this growth was driven by people coming together for a tangible cause (give science activity books to school kids and help Science Mom do more school visits) and most of the patrons are still my own personal friends.

3. The Membership Model Shift
Until last week, I had been using Patreon primarily as a tip jar. My idea was that I’d make high quality science education material free to everyone, and that a certain percentage of the people who enjoyed my stuff would then reciprocate and become patrons. One of my videos, The Science Behind Slime, had 3 worksheets and 2 foldable books that were free downloads on Patreon. I linked to the Patreon post in the video description, and more than 800 people have clicked over to get the slime books and worksheets:
SlimeScreenshot
(As an aside, @carla I would love to know whether the post view numbers here are for the last two weeks or an aggregate of all click-through views to date. I’m assuming it’s a total of all click-through views the post has had since it was first posted?)

These slime printables had been free for more than two months, and to my knowledge not one person responded to the invitation at the end of the post to join me on Patreon.

Number of new Patrons: 2?
So last week I split the content. 2 of the worksheets and 1 of the foldable books remained on the public post, and 1 worksheet and foldable book were moved to a “patron only” post. Then I altered the invitation and my welcome page, indicating that Patrons get access to bonus worksheets and printables. Since then, 2 people whom I don’t know personally have pledged. Can’t say for sure whether they came from my slime video to Patreon or not, but what I can say with some confidence is this:

Most of my personal friends and aquaintances who are willing to join me on Patreon have already joined. Future growth will depend on inviting my fan base to participate, and as much as I didn’t want to put things behind a paywall, I think it’s necessary.

4. Press Releases, Interviews, Stickers, and Platform Building

During this two week effort to grow my patreon audience, I also sent out press releases and requests to do guest posts or interviews. If any of ya’ll have a podcast and want me to come on and chat, I’m willing! I haven’t seen any measurable return here yet, but this type of effort takes time and I do have a few posts and interviews scheduled over the next two months. Hopefully they will help me to connect with like-minded people.

Another change I made was to start putting stickers on the back of the books my patrons donate to elementary school kids. I had done a decent job of helping my patrons feel part of my school outreach by sharing picture of my school visits, but up until now I had missed out on the potential connection to be formed between the kids and parents I see at school visists and my Patreon page. Hopefully these stickers will help:

To be honest, after this last two weeks of effort, I’m tempted to sit back and say “Well, I gave it my best shot and now I’ll stop marketing and just create things.” But that would be a mistake. Growth will only continue to happen if I continue to invite, ask, share, and celebrate the support I have.

I’d like to give a quick thank you to @8bit and @Jack for their posts and comments here in the Patreon Community the past month, which were helpful to me in making this shift and becoming more active in marketing. I have a long way to go yet, but feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

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love this! what a great update!

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This is SOOOOO awesome! I love how much you shifted things around to focus on membership. I also love all the new marketing channels you uncovered.

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Thanks @8bit and @Carla.

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Another great post, Jenny, and I’m really chuffed to hear that I’ve been a small help in some way.

In my opinion, you have to keep on talking about your Patreon page. People will find you and be hooked, just in the same way that I was.

Indeed, we all have to keep talking about our Patreon pages so that our audiences — our crowds — know that this is how it needs to be in the future if great creative people like you are going to keep enriching the world.

I’m proud to be one of your $2 Patrons and we’ve never even met! Your story has that emotional hook that I often talk about — my impression is that you’re really making a difference and I want to be a part of that.

And, you’re right, I don’t want anything in return for it. When I pledged, the last thing I wanted was for you to do extra work just for me. “No!” Use the money/time to do what you’re doing even better and with less financial stress.

Thanks for referencing my recent blog post too. You may like to know that post has gained me 11 new Patrons in 3 days, several big sales through my online shop and a few one-off donations directly through my site.

It’s starting to sink in, not only for my audience but for online audiences in general.

And did you catch my latest tweet? Things are really going to start sinking in when the Director of Exhibitions at Tate Modern starts saying things like this:

One more thing on the topic of appealing to your Patrons:

Did you see the comment by Ben (one of my Patrons) at the end of the blog post? He said something really interesting:

I’d followed your project for a while before deciding to become a Patreon, I think the tipping point for me was recognising your commitment (not that it wasn’t there from the start) to finishing it. With that box ticked in my mind I decided to back up my following.

That’s gold dust information, right?

And I think that’s really why I pledged to you — because I saw your commitment. So, keep that commitment going, Jenny! No pausing!

Thanks again,

— Jack

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PS Watched your video too. It’s excellent, Jenny, and reinforced in my mind the reasons for supporting you and your work.

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So much here in this comment that I love @Jack! Gold dust information, all of it. I think you are right that seeing someone’s commitment to a project has an inspiring and contagious quality to it. I’m delighted to hear that your blog post has made a resonant connection with so many people! It’s an excellent post. The themes of creation and struggle are central to our humanity, and I think anytime we open up and talk about the creative process in an honest way, that story is one that has impact far beyond whatever particular field of art we practice. Thanks again for the note. I feel encouraged. :slight_smile:

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Thank you!

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This post and the comments which follow are happiness-inspiring! Thanks for sharing this great info, wow! I’m in a bit of a weird place right now, currently unable to play music in the way I’m used to and starting a new podcast…so it’s hard for me to work out exactly what my value offer is. Like, why should people pledge? I’m a music-less musician talking about life on a podcast :joy:.

Anyway, this post got me thinkin’, which is always good, thanks!

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Thank you so much for sharing this and really breaking it down. Your video is fantastic. I love the opening when you’re talking about asking for help with a broken arm. That is a great analogy that anyone can relate to. I’ve been needing to do a video for almost 3 years now and I’ve really been procrastinating. I feel very inspired by yours.

Best of luck to you! I shared your video on my Facebook page, so hopefully the teachers I know will subscribe and become superfans at least!

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Thank you @Lochy! Much appreciated!

@natemaingard it can be tricky to figure out what the value offer is sometimes. I saw a suggestion once to make a list of 20 things that are interesting to you, as “off the top of your head” as you can. Then rank them in terms of how passionate or interested other people are about them, with 1 being no one besides me cares much about this and 5 being that the subject has a strong already-existing fan base, then try to look for any convergences. Are there two or three of your items that, when added together, have a score above 10?
Might be a helpful exercise? I have to say, “music-less musician talking about life” sounds interesting to me! :slightly_smiling_face: Best of luck!

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this is good advice!

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@ScienceMom I just want to say we used this as a case study in our New York Patreon on Tour - people LOVED this. You did amazing work and know you’ll continue to grow with all this experimentation you’re doing.

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I’m SO happy to hear this @carla! Thank you! :grinning:

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