Hello everyone! I recently celebrated my 5-year anniversary of being a Patreon creator, so I reached out to support to share my story and hopefully help anyone else in need of advice. They suggested I write a long form post detailing my experience, which you can find below.
If you have any questions, just ask! I’m happy to help.
Who am I?
Before jumping into my Patreon success story, I think it helps to introduce myself and talk about what I do.
First and foremost, my name is David Di Franco and I am a content creator. I created my primary YouTube channel on July 15, 2006 — a date I will never forget. From that moment forward, I knew I wanted to make a name for myself. I’ve always enjoyed recording videos and being on camera, so why not do something about it? After all, YouTube was still relatively new back then, so it was the best time to get started.
Over the years I created videos on just about anything that came to mind. My biggest focuses have always been sharing family memories and expressing my love for technology — amongst other things. However, these two areas were easily my most prominent. And you know what? It was working.
People enjoy real people. As long as I was true to myself on camera, then I’ve got nothing to lose… Right? In a way, yes. But it wasn’t always that simple.
Turning to Patreon
Advertising revenue at some point on YouTube was inconsistent, and it still is. I think we can all agree on that. It’s simply not reliable — at least for a channel of my size. 100,000+ subscribers isn’t exactly huge by today’s standards. I knew I had to do something drastic, especially for my own well being. It was time for a change.
When I decided to turn to Patreon in June 2014, I knew what I was getting myself into. Whenever it comes time for a creator to take the monetization route, there is always to be an uproar. Some people really hate seeing others succeed for whatever reason, especially when money is involved. Of course, things were no different for me.
To this day, my Patreon introduction video is one of my most disliked uploads of all time. But you know what? As much as the hate may have hurt back then, it means nothing today. Despite what hundreds of people tried telling me, I stuck with my original plan and fought through the negativity.
I wasn’t going to let others hold me back from moving forward and succeeding. And you shouldn’t either. If you’re considering starting something, please do not listen to those who try to pull you down. This is your idea, not theirs. You only know yourself best.
What’s been working for my Patreon
Five years later, I’m very proud to say that my Patreon campaign is still running strong. Like anything, it’s had its ups and downs, but overall performance has been consistently positive.
As you can imagine, the success of your Patreon campaign can be dependent on your rewards and how you treat your patrons. Below are several rewards that have been working for me:
Exclusive Vlogs - If there is one reward that has really helped my Patreon campaign grow over the years, it’s this. Every week I upload an exclusive vlog accessible only by patrons. On average each vlog receives 300–500 views, which isn’t bad if you consider I have just around 500 patrons at the time of this writing.
Early Access Content - This is another big one. In addition to recording an exclusive vlog every week, I also grant patrons early access to my usual videos — particularly my weekend vlog, which is easily my most popular content every week. This also goes for my holiday content, which always seems to do very well.
Patrons-only Facebook Group - Patrons have a Facebook group exclusive to only them. This has been a great place for casual chit-chat, as well as sharing occasional tech deals, feedback on my vlogs, etc.
Monthly Google Hangouts - Once a month, patrons and I get together via video chat to talk about anything that comes up. This has been a great way to get to know each other on a more personal level. The Hangouts are also streamed live to my Twitch audience, which has been a nice “window” into the Patreon experience.
While my Patreon campaign offers additional rewards, the ones listed above have been working best for me.
My best advice
Wrapping up this post, I would like to offer some advice to keep you feeling motivated. I understand it’s easy to lose your drive, but if you keep the following in mind, there’s no reason why you cannot find your own success:
No matter what anyone tries to tell you, always move forward in doing what you think is best.
Offer rewards to patrons as a nice incentive to pledge. The more value you can offer, the more likely you are to succeed.
Stay consistent in communicating with your patrons. This can be very effective if you set up a private Facebook group, Discord, etc.
Don’t be afraid to promote your Patreon campaign. There will always be people claiming that you’re “overdoing it.” As long as you promote realistically, then you should have no problem in gaining traction.
Succeeding on Patreon is more likely if you have an existing audience elsewhere. Create YouTube videos, upload to Instagram, etc. Just keep creating unique and original content.
With 5+ years of experience as a Patreon creator, I’ve seen a lot. I am more than happy to help anyone with questions or feedback. If you want to reach out to me, please do so here via my personal website.
Thank you, and good luck!
- David Di Franco