Monetary goals vs. community goals

Has anyone switched from monetary to community goals and, if so, what kind of results have you gotten? Did you end up switching back?

I’ve been looking at the Graphtreon of some of the people I follow and I’m noticing they level off when they make that switch or even start to drop. Has anyone else experienced the same lack of growth/loss of patrons when they go to community goals?

I’m sure there are other factors involved, but if it seems to be a consensus this is an easy enough fix.

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Personally, my growth has flatlined since January 2017 when I switched to community goals. No new patrons at all. I figured I had reached a natural plateau and have been trying to build a following outside of Patreon.

I thought community based goals sounded like it would be less about the amount of money patrons could contribute and more about just joining the community. At the same time I switched off the amount I was earning and shortly thereafter went to a single pay what you want reward tier. I actually had a couple of patrons up their support since, but I absolutely flatlined then in getting any new patrons.

I’m wondering if it’s easier for one person to see the difference they make when I say “I just need $6 to reach my next goal!” vs “I just need 2 more patrons to reach my next goal!”

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Interesting. I can see how “just need $6 more” would be more motivating than “just need 2 more patrons.” I’m afraid I’m entering another flatline period myself. I haven’t changed much with what I’m doing - I think this one’s more a result of having tapped out the people in my friends/acquaintances who are willing to support me on Patreon. And for future growth, the size of the funnel is such that I think it may just take a lot of time and effort before I see increased growth. (The funnel being “general audience” to “fans” to “fans-who-will-investigate-Patreon” to “fans-who-will-sign-up-on-Patreon.”)

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I’m in this same position. I feel similarly.

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I think you’re right, @Lochy: a financial goal is more likely to induce someone to up their pledge, whereas there isn’t much an individual can do to influence a community-based goal. So, from that point of view, monetary goals win. However, I’ve just noticed on your page that it’s not clear what your goals are - because you’ve hidden your earnings! I can see the number of patrons, and the percentages of the goals met, but there’s no indication of what those percentages mean (I assume earnings). So I think monetary goals only make sense where the earnings are public, so that patrons/prospective patrons can make sense of them, and possibly be motivated to up their pledge.

However, I think it should be possible for goals to be mixed - i.e. monetary and community - not just all one or the other. I want to implement a vote, but I need a meaningful number of patrons to do this. So, let’s say this is 25 patrons. However, I would also like to have pledge-based goals - when I get to here, I’ll be able to go full-time (or whatever). Monetary goals are no measure of patronage - if I translate my 25 patrons voting goal into money, then I could have one generous patron that helps me reach that! Conversely, the number of patrons I have could either over- or undershoot my income goal. Does that make sense? Maybe I should flag this as a suggestion for development - @erin and @carla?

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This is a great question, we have done some research on this, but not nearly enough. We do know from some shared stories (some in this forum) that having goals can be appealing but at other times it can be immaterial to success.

It may take me a a few days since I’m heading out on vacation, but let me dig through the internal research we have around goals so I can share some of that out with you.

I also know that Erin does have some product plans around this too!

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@ScienceMom , I felt like I was entering that plateau right as I went into community based goals, so I’m sure that affected the outcome as well. I’ve been building my following outside of Patreon over the course of that year+, but that takes time. I do feel like being able to say “I just need $6” puts the power in the hands of those choosing to support whether they pledge $1-$6. And in my experience I’ve found people are more likely to do a thing if they are given choices ($1? $5? $6?) over leaving it up to them as then their choice is yes or no and that’s too big a percentage to give to a negative choice. But I’m no scientist. :wink:

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I understand what you’re saying about the earnings being public, but I personally don’t like my bottom line at the top always on display. Before when I had monetary goals, I would say I just need $X to reach my next goal in my various social media platforms when I was close. I would suggest a $1 pledge to help me reach it, but I had several people give me $X to reach the goals on different occasions. As I said above, it implies a choice of $1 or the needed amount where community goals only offer a clear yes or no choice.

As I go forward I will do it the same way. I will announce my next goal as needing $X amount when I am mentioning my Patreon on social media. I am pretty open with what I earn to my patrons or anyone who asks, I just don’t think that needs to be the primary focus for anyone coming to my Patreon. I literally lost my Dad as a patron after a year because he could see my amount and said something to the effect of “Well, it didn’t do what you were hoping, so it doesn’t make sense to continue.” What he meant was “It’s not making the amount I thought you needed by the end of one year.” I think basically most people are like that, they want to support $UCCESS and they make their own judgement about what that is and a lot of times that’s based on what’s behind that dollar sign.

Sorry if that came across as NO! ARRRG ARRRG! or anything. :rofl: I tend to go the long way round to explain why I’m doing something. Basically, I do plan on announcing how much I need to get to the next goal. It’s glitched right now so Patreon is showing my last goal and that one actually has the amount needed on it. I’m thinking of doing the same for the other goals so the amount IS there, but it’s just not so in your face, first thing you see.

AND I absolutely agree that monetary AND community goals would be great. I can imagine having something I want to do when I reached $25, fully expecting 25 $1 patrons to participate and ending up with 1 $25 patron. And with community goals you have to make an average estimate based on current patronage. When I went to community goals I was averaging around $5 per patron, but at the same time I started my nsfw Patreon separately and “lost” my two biggest patrons to that, dropping that average to almost half and so my community goals weren’t actually reflecting what I needed to make those goals happen.

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I hope you don’t think I was implying that you HAVE to make your earnings public! I completely agree that it shouldn’t be about money. I just meant that if the earnings are private, then it’s difficult to judge what the percentages mean.

Dads. :roll_eyes:

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I appreciate you putting that thought in my head though. I think I will put the amounts in the goals themselves so there is some idea of what the goal is for those who are interested and it won’t be so predominantly placed.

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@Lochy: Yes, I appreciate your point: you don’t want to seem to be obsessed with money.

@erin, @carla: Regarding goals in general, I also wonder if there might be other metrics: for example, a goal based on the number of patrons of a particular level, or on the number of posts of a particular type. For example, I could have a goal where, once I reach 12 posts of finished book cover designs, then I could produce a calendar. These could even be manually updated goals, if automation were too complicated.

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@gareth.southwell makes an excellent point, I would love to be able to customize goals, or have a separate counter, for projects. I did work on such a calendar last year, and right now I’m designing a meditation card deck that is shared exclusively with my patrons – it would be so motivating for everyone if the goal could show my progress this way.

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i also would love the option of BOTH monetary and community goals! I am on community goals but have been sooo back and forth on switching back to monetary.

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  • I’d love any data at all with regard to community vs. monetary goals, if trends ever become apparent, at least!

  • It would especially wonderful to see if there’s been any growth (or atrophy/flatlining) in creators who switch from Community back to Monetary goals. I’ve been contemplating this myself.

  • I also second the people saying it would be nice to allow both kinds of goals!

  • Another thought (related) is to allow us to hide earnings under a dropdown (or whatever), and then patrons can opt to click and reveal if they want.

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I tested this out in March / through April.

My findings were, bluntly, that having community based goals 100% stalled me out. I’ve reached a pretty big plateau in general and shifting goal structure did not help shake me out of it.

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Thanks for the feedback, Kate. That was what I was trying to do as I was hitting a plateau as well, but changing to community did not make any positive change for me.

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::decided to stop lurking and jump in here:: Having been on Patreon since 2013 and actively studying the metrics the entire time, I do want to point out that that “plateau” many are attributing to one reason or another is actually a very normal and statistically-proven lull that almost everyone experiences regardless of private or public income. When I switched to community goals in Jan 2017, my patron total had already flattened out for years. I had been concerned for a while that the community-based system was perhaps further impacting my growth — until this year, in the last few months — when I opted not to make my earnings (which are far higher than displayed on Graphtreon) public and try a focused campaign again (basically reaching out to my list, which I hadn’t truly done in years.) (I suck at newsletters.)

My patrons grew by 25% (almost 40 patrons) in the course of 2 months. And I only pulled back a bit because I’ve had to switch my focus to other deadlines temporarily. My campaign continues.

I can’t speak to the full science behind it (I’m not sure it’s been long enough to analyze the data) but I do think that my lack of campaigning (and poorly communicating what Patreon is to my audience) had a much bigger effect on my patron count than anything. I didn’t see any change whatsoever until I started campaigning again.

Food for thought.

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Very useful. Thank you for sharing this.

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I guess it depends on what your goal is: I mean, you just need “audience” or you need to cover costs? If you just need followers, people may guess why you’re asking them to pay when there are so many other platforms and community to use…