I started in January of 2015, and since May of 2015, Patreon has been the majority of my support. It’s how I make my living. Writing is my full-time job thanks to Patreon.
Interestingly, I actually had a very similar experience to @haikujaguar with my readership pre-Patreon by having a donation bar on my Web site of my first webcomic, Artifice.
In the beginning, it was a 1x week comic, but I had a big buffer of pages. Whenever that donation bar hit $200 I would post up a second page that week. The first couple times, it took a few weeks for it to happen, but once readers got a taste for the accelerated content, they would cheer each other on in the comments and take turns triggering the early update. By the third month, they were hitting that $200 target every single week.
One lesson to take away from that is the power of building a community of dedicated fans (which involves consistent updates of quality free content, interaction and nurturing), but another lesson, is to cultivate an audience who believe (or come to believe) your work has real value. Value worth paying for.
Even though I’m not practicing what I’m preaching right now, I 100% agree in diversification. And that’s one of the reasons I’m looking into branching out into prose novels. In the meantime, this is the year that I’m going to really start promoting my online store and tackle digital advertising which, to be honest, I’ve basically been ignoring.
While my free-to-read webcomic site is the backbone of my author platform, I see Patreon as the ultimate and most fulfilling destination of my readers’ journey as fans, and I’m setting up my education and nurturing campaigns accordingly. It’s where I can interact with and provide the most value to my most dedicated readers.
The Patreon site itself isn’t the best venue for those interactions, though, and that’s why I’m grateful for the excellent integrations. Currently I’m using their Wordpress integration to gate exclusive pages on my webcomic site for patrons, itch.io to deliver exclusive digital rewards to patrons, Crowdcast for livestream Q&A’s, and I just today launched a Discourse site for my patrons. I’m also working on integrating ConvertKit which shows great promise for education and nurturing, but that integration is still a little buggy, so we’ll see.