How much is too much?

Hi! I’m new here, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to ask more seasoned Patreon-ers (Patreonites?) for some advice.
Backstory: I create fine art and art videos.

Currently I have the levels set as such, per month:
$1: Access to exclusive sketches and videos
$5: Physical art reward, usually a sticker or sketch from my sketchbook
$10: A slightly nicer, more polished piece of art (ACEO, watercolor sketch, a digital print, etc.)
$20: Custom refined sketch/loose watercolor painting
$50: Custom small refined painting

So, most of these tiers offer a physical reward. I do have a $50 Patron who says he doesn’t want a reward, just to support, which is GREAT. But I have plenty of others awaiting their shipments in the mail.
What I’m wondering is, do you guys think this is perhaps… too generous? Should I maybe cut back the physical rewards to the $10 and up tiers? I do eventually want Patreon to be a large portion of my income as a career artist, and I think eventually the amount of custom stuff and mailing might get overwhelming after a while.
What types of intangible rewards can I do instead?
I’m thinking: video credits mention, high-res downloads of pieces… it’s hard to sell anything less than a physical reward as anything but a downgrade.
If anyone else has been in positions like this, I’d love to hear what you did. :slight_smile:

I htink you’re going to struggle filling all these physical rewards monthly. I put myself in a similar situation (though with less physical rewards) and was never able to send them every month but ended up making a big package every few month t omake up for it. Happily my patrons didn’t mind, but I am now revising my pledges so as not to make promises I can’t keep.
In your case, a physical reward for $5 sounds a bit too much unless you make it a one-off (I send a welcome postcard with a sketch for that tier and that’s it). For $10 maybe, if you keep it super simple. But even at 20, a custom watercolor feels like selling yourself short.

Thanks for your feedback! I think I’ll make some edits to the rewards, especially the low-tiers.
$1 is now just access to the patreon feed, to see exclusive stuff like WIPs and sketches and finished pieces before any other platform, and the monthly patreon only video.
$5 is the same, but also access to a high res download of a piece, and your name in the credits of any public videos.
$10 will be random goodies in the mail per month (sketch, sticker, small print)
$20, same as above, but a more refined and more customized sketch.
That seems fair, I think? That way the cost of shipping is offset enough by the $10… now to break the news as gracefully as possible, hehe.

I agree with joumana. I feel like physical rewards are a pretty special thing, because of how time intensive it is to mail them out every month. Remember that your time, even the time spent licking envelopes, is valuable! Personally, I kind of think your reward tiers are still really cheap. I would even consider offering the sketch rewards and such at $10, but only at $20 and up would I think about doing physical rewards. Most people will understand, and the ones that really want something physical will have no problem jumping up to the higher tier!

I only send monthly physical rewards (handmade postcards) to my top pledge level. Everything else is digital. I spend one day each month putting those together, and getting them posted. I want to spend time making the art I want to make, not making patron rewards.

If your Patreon is very successful and you have scores of people at each reward tier, will you be able to fulfill that all?

Some advice I see given to Kickstarter projects is to avoid stretch goals that are less profitable than the base offering, and/or not something the project initiator has expertise in.

What happened to me was that I had a base offering which was a digital good - it cost me 20 hours to make each month. I had a $10 offering for one person that took me about 5 hours. As I got more successful, the effective hourly rate for the time I was putting into my base offering was going up - when I had $120 in pledges, I was earning $6/hr, for instance. When I was earning $180, then the base offering was $9/hr.

Unfortunately, the $10 reward still only paid $2/hr - it made no sense economically to put my time there.

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Same boat as pretty much all the responses so far - physical rewards are punishing time-wise unless they are the entire basis of your Patreon (I patronize one artist who’s campaign is based around sending out physical rewards, but in that case he’s printing off hundreds of copies of the rewards and mailing them out - that is the entirety of his campaign).

The only physical reward I offer is to my top tier patrons ($60 a month or more) and I send them one of my original pieces - digging into my archives and sending out maps I scanned and published last month, last year, or even 8 years ago.

The goal is always to make it worth the time it costs you as an artist and in most cases that means making sure it adds almost nothing to your workload - because most of us are already spending more than 40 hours a week doing this.