This is a great thread and I’m happy to share. I’ve lost about 4 or 5 Patrons who said their “financial situation changed” in the exit survey, but I expected that was going to happen. So far, the loss isn’t any greater than what I usually see each month, so I’m not concerned there is going to be a mass exodus. New Patrons are still joining as well. Here’s how I’m responding:
I wrote a long message that I posted for Patrons-only. First, I asked how everyone was doing and then acknowledged the virus and it’s impact around the world. I try to keep my Patreon posts apolitical, but this is worth making an exception. In the past, I have lost Patrons who disagree with my views, so I anticipated the possibility of losing a few folks just because there are people out there who believe the virus is a hoax, while others feel it’s being blown out of proportion. My concern is that the less-populated places are yet to be hit hard like here in Seattle, so I wanted to express the degree to which I am reacting, but was careful not to worry people.
Second, I encouraged everyone in the community to reach out to each other for support. I encouraged them to share their feelings as well as their artwork on the Patreon Community tab and my Discord. I let them know that I am here to help in any way I can as an artist.
Third, I gave an update on my business and reassured Patrons that I am not shutting down and I will still be posting content on my regular schedule, but I may focus a bit on creating content for non-Patrons as a contribution to those who are stuck at home.
I ended with a personal update sharing how the virus has impacted me at home. I let them know how I have been reacting, not only as a business owner, but as a human being. I also acknowledged the financial impact being felt across the world and encouraged Patrons who need to save money to cancel their pledges. I let them know that they will be welcome back any time.
I also made sure to let Patrons who are in a good financial situation know that their support is greatly appreciated, especially now. I made sure to communicate that Patreon and product sales make up the majority of my income and that I do rely on their support. Being humble goes a long way and I think it’s important for bigger creators to acknowledge that they are vulnerable too. Coming off as out-of-touch with reality because you make all of your money online is not going to go over well with folks who just had to file for unemployment. But at the same time, offer hope for the future and remind Patrons of the world we can look forward to: A better world than we had before this virus.
I don’t know about making 1 month free on Patreon as you suggested, because I think the majority of my Patrons want to stick around and will want to support me through this. I don’t think people are going to want to involuntarily inconvenience me, even if it is a kind gesture. However, I have been offering free courses and discounts on the products I offer outside of Patreon.
I hope this is helpful!