How are you feeling after wrapping up your first Special Offer? We’d love to hear updates about progress you’ve made, new patrons you’ve gained, or how the campaign went in general for you. What was great? What was tough?
My overall increase in patronage was pretty small. I had 2 new patrons join at the $5 level (which was the level at which one had to be to get the special offer).
The great things about the campaign, for me, was the course. I think the idea of a special offer is a fantastic one and I appreciated the time and care you guys put into designing the course. The suggestions about what to post and how to promote were incredibly helpful, and I plan to implement them more going forward with my general self-promotion.
The tough thing about the campaign was self-promotion/publicity. This is my own personal pain point with being a creator. I probably would have done better if I’d done more than 1 video and four social media posts … But the reality was that the weeks surrounding the special offers campaign had some “life happens” distractions that limited the amount of time I had to put into the campaign.
I’d love to hear how other people’s campaigns went - particularly if anyone has any insight about which posts/strategies worked the best for getting the word out.
We’d love to hear your ideas on ways that Patreon could make those tough things a little less tough – we know that marketing/promotion is hard and not something that comes easy to a lot of folks. If you could wave a magic wand and have all your promotional concerns addressed… what would that look like?
I’m in a niche field (rpg podcasts) and there are a lot of things I could do to try and market it, but I’m not sure which would actually be worth the time and money. So some kind of podcasting marketing expert help would be good. Like this article you posted was somewhat helpful https://blog.patreon.com/promoting-podcast but it boils down to “get help from others who are as popular or more popular than you are” or stuff I am already doing.
I guess things like “how to get more noticed on Twitter and FB” or “SEO for podcasts” or “how to set up and run an effective email list” “is setting up an internet streaming/radio station worth it?” “Youtube for podcasters” “What you can do with analytics data” or even having a technical expert evaluate my website and podcast feed and episodes to see if there is anything I could do to improve the podcast from a technical standpoint.
Also, maybe a way for related patreon creators to find each other so we can cross promote more easily?
The first “magic wand” answer that comes to my mind is for someone else to do my marketing. I say that partly in jest, but the reality is that it’s much more effective when one of my fans shares one of my videos to a facebook group than when I do. People trust recommendations more than “look what I made” posts. In terms of how Patreon could help here, I’ve already found some good ideas in the blog posts that feature creators and I’m working on building up a larger fan base and engaging with them more - but it takes time.
@rppr hit on something with the comment there about cross promotion. I got an email last week from a fellow creator on Patreon who does a science podcast for kids. They found me through Patreon (I’m not exactly sure where/how - I’ll have to ask them) and recognized that we have a really similar audience, and wanted to just arrange a time to talk. We had a great conversation and set up a little collaboration for next month which I think will be really beneficial to both of us.
A rising tide lifts all boats, and anything you do to help similar creators discover each other and network is great. I’m a big fan of the Patreon blog articles that I get periodically in my inbox. Perhaps consider a series of blog articles featuring a cross-promotional collaboration, or a “hang time” featuring a Q and A with a creator in a certain category where you invite creators in that same category to join…
IDEA: In your conversation time, what about having a short (10-15min) Zoom-recorded conversation about what you love about science/podcasts/kids that you cross post to each other’s feeds?
I’m feeling both ecstatic and exhausted! Ecstatic because my campaign was “stuck” at the same level for over a year, far below the number of patrons I was hoping to attract and, of course, not as much steady income as I am hoping for.
Results: nearly 1/3 net INCREASE in Patrons during this Campaign (from 32 to 41)
Lots of engagement/interaction both within the Patreon site, emails and social media avenues. I also had a one-time patronage gift from someone who wasn’t able to complete the patronage process in the site.
Significant increase in $ per month support (from $401 to $558) !!
We blew right through (5) (count’em!) milestone goals that I had set long ago.
Now I am in the fulfillment side of things…as I also prepare for a Reunion Concert with one of my bands in Kansas City and a tour in the UK that will take most of the month. (and see below)
Learnings: This class, the support and weekly encouragement, resources (Canva), suggestions, community suggestions from others in our cohort, catches & corrections are GOLD!
This promotion was nearly a full-time job! I am certainly glad my Fall teaching schedule hadn’t yet kicked into high gear (which starts THIS week).
I learned a lot about using Twitter and FB and Instagram in different ways… (I also recommend Hootsuite’s Social Marketing “class” which I was taking as I did this: https://education.hootsuite.com/courses/take/social-marketing-education/lessons/2509561-2-1-facebook It was very encouraging to have my Twitter Feed shared as an example of good practice…that encouraged me at the right time!
I swallowed my fear and apprehension about posting “too often” and got very creative about also posting and tweeting and re-tweeting OTHER things than my campaign as well.
I learned about using all of my email lists in Mail Chimp and using the Re-Send to those who didn’t Open it the first time, with small tweaks in the titling and details (for me to recognize which campaign is which AND because they were sent a day later.) At first I despaired about how few people opened the emails in my main gig list (25% in a list that usually does much better), but then I created a spreadsheet to enter the figures after a few days had gone by, I added up the original send and the re-send and it was a 40% response, so I don’t feel so bad.) I still want to figure out how to interact better with these people…but that is beyond the scope of this campaign.
I focused on how each of my patrons would view the campaign, rather than how I viewed it. This was an important shift for me.
The TIME-SENSITIVE nature of the Special Offer was huge for most people. The reminder that these campaigns resemble a SmilE with more response at the beginning and at the end was certainly borne out in my experience: 3 at the beginning, 2 in the middle and 6 on the last 2 days.
I think ending the campaign on the last day of the month is good strategy, however, ending on a weekend is not. I had several issues (some communicated by patrons who couldn’t get their patronage to go through…at the same time I was having trouble getting several posts to save and actually post) and despite emailing, there was no response from anyone in the mothership)…so ending mid-week seems like a better idea.
Ending in the middle of the day is strange also, but when I set it up, I wasn’t able to change the final clock time for ending it. Despite that, 2 patrons signed up AFTER the lightning bolt had disappeared.
So I am grateful and am also loving to hear about others’ experiences as well!
One more reflection:
When I first started and made a list of what my Special Offer could be, I focused on what I want to do…but then I chose instead, something I had just completed, so it was easier to deliver and talk about and have photos of–my creative energy went into the Campaign, rather than be diverted in the creation of the New Thing (which I am STILL going to do!)
In the end, I gained 30 patrons. I did lose a number to natural turnover (so the net gain was lower), including unfortunately my largest patron to a family issue. So with that having happened, the special offer was the difference between a sucky step-back month and a very pleasing month instead. But it was not a massive 50% gain, either – I went from 160-ish patrons to 180-ish.
Mainly there were a number of lessons learned for me:
- I needed more time to prepare for the special offer. In the future, I’d try to get all my ducks in a row one month, and do the offer the next. For instance, @DysonLogos offered me an early peek at one of his maps that I intended to make a 3D-printable model for as part of the promotion (thanks for that!). I worked with my artists on it, but I only yesterday received the last models needed. So I’m going to release my 3D version of his map this month – it still seems like a great idea – but I missed his publication date and the Special Offer window.
- The two-week duration was good. I feel OK promoting to the same channels at the beginning and end of that time frame in a way I wouldn’t be OK doing twice within a few days or a week. The kinds of things I offer naturally align with the monthly Patreon cycle and I could do a full month offer, but I don’t know that extra time offers that much other than to increase the likelihood that I’d annoy someone by promoting.
- I don’t have a good platform for daily updates to potential patrons – I have used e-mail and places they gather already (which I can’t aggressively promote to), rather than places I create and own and could post a daily countdown to. So I didn’t go “all out” as the plan suggested and some others were able to. I should try to build this kind of channel before next time.
- I feel like I have a natural audience, and I didn’t do a good job of escaping it to appeal to “new” potential patrons. For the next offer, I think I should focus on appealing to an expanded audience. I’m not sure whether that will be more productive than further attacking my “low-hanging fruit”, but I feel like it’s worth a try.
- Though there are still bugs, the Benefits screen was invaluable in managing a bunch of new patrons coming on board in the final day of the offer. It would have been much harder to track who I had fulfilled “the old fashioned way”
- I had one patron who pledged $3, upgraded to $15 mid-month, downgraded to $3 on the 1st, and then canceled later that afternoon. What?!? He’s made my October number trend downward already! Fortunately, I’m not seeing a mass of cancellations, so I’m hopefully that the new patrons will largely stick around. I’m not sure whether to expect a slight down, neutral, or my typical modest increase for October. We’ll see.
- One of my promotional communications prompted an unrelated conversation in which someone said “what is it that you actually do?” It makes me think that my promotion assumed that people “get it”. And when I’m going out to a larger audience, that’s maybe not the case. OK, obviously not the case for everyone, given the question. I can’t explain the whole thing in a Facebook post, but maybe I should have a landing page somewhere that explains everything with bullets? Something quicker than all the text on my main Patreon page, but more detailed than social media allows? Maybe I just need to streamline my main Patreon page?
A big thank you to Patreon and of course @laurab for doing this! More workshops like this one would be amazing Setting up the special offer and “pushing it” was a breeze thanks to the handbook. The live video sessions were a big help too!
I gained 142 patreons (at 519 now) and went from $900 to $1300 per video. That’s a big step towards being able to make my passion my fulltime job. When the special offer feature becomes available, I’ll certainly make use of it again.
@rppr - thanks for the suggestions. I’ll take a look at what resources we might be able to either build or recommend. I’ll reach out to our Marketing team to see if they have any suggestions of current content that might offer some value for you in some of those areas.
As far as meeting other Patreon creators - you now have access to the forum, which is a start! I’m sure there are many other podcasters in here that might be great connections. @mindy is our Community Manager. I bet she has a few threads to recommend where podcasters tend to connect.
We do also host meetups periodically and are excited for PatreCon in early November. I think in-person events are a great place to meet and connect with other creators.
I think most Patreon creators have basic Internet marketing skills, so we need more inside knowledge/advanced skills to push through. Part of it is just keeping up with changes in search algorithms and how to stay relevant when the habits of our fans keep changing. Reading up on Youtubers going through burn out because they keep having to change formats to stay high in Youtube results made me wonder if I should be doing similar things even though I’m not on Youtube.
I know there are sources for this kind of ‘inside baseball’ knowledge but I don’t have time to listen to a bunch of podcasts about digital marketing and track down other sources.
@rppr I made this thread just for you! well, and other podcasters too I’m sure if you lead the charge you can start getting other podcasters to say hello and discussing things, like burnout and marketing.
Thanks @mads.dahlke! I’m so happy to hear that the handbook and video sessions were helpful. Also, congrats on gaining so many new Patrons and jumping past that $1000 mark! SO SO SO excited!
Wow @steveeulberg! Thank you for such thoughtful and detailed reflections on your process and outcomes! It’s good to know that this took more time than expected. How much on average would you say you spent working on this each day? (or week)
Really happy to hear that you’ve seen a bump in your patronage this month! Maybe we can work together on another Special Offer in the future or keep using this momentum to get you over the thousand-dollar mark in a few months!! (I always think that’s such a great milestone to hit.)
I’m going to check out the Hootsuite resource you shared as well, thanks for sharing that with the group!
Definitely hear you with ending on the weekend - that’s something that became pretty clear and we definitely won’t set creators up for a weekend ending in the future.
I’m in full agreement here! I’d love to keep the momentum rolling, as well as look at a future special offer.
Hi @ammulder - thanks for sharing all of this. I definitely hear you that longer-prep time is needed for these. A few other creators I’ve talked to have had similar thoughts, and we’re definitely going to build in some more flexibility in the next steps of the product. Thank you for going for it anyway, and for stepping in to the program regardless!
I think the learnings that not everyone “gets it” is a great thing to learn. I love the idea of having a landing page somewhere, making it really clear to folks what you do and the value that you offer through Patreon. One thing we’ve seen is that the more education that happens on external platforms (where your fans are used to interacting with you and your content) the better for conversion. That way, once a fan clicks through to Patreon, they’re already aware of what it is, and sold on the idea. The barrier to entry is lowered, and they’re less thrown by learning a new platform if they haven’t been to Patreon before.
What are the blockers to “aggressively promoting” to your fans in the spaces they already gather?
Hey, somewhat related but did the membership reboot thing already go through? I was invited to that but never got follow up emails for it.
I had so much “life happens” stuff going on during the weeks of the campaign – I was really struggling to stay motivated and positive about it. That showed up in my results, I’m sure. I broke my hand, am starting a new relationship after MANY years of being single, some intense activism that required me to witness some really disturbing stuff…
I got four new patrons, two at $25, one at $10, and one at $5, and an existing patron bumped up her pledge from $1 to $5. This new zine I made is going to go to all af my $10+ patrons, so they are getting a special benefit they weren’t expecting. I hope this will increase their already existing feelings of loyalty.
This also inspired me to write the story in the zine, and I am working on a new song to accompany it. This is my second zine/song combo and my designer friend who I make these with suggested this time around that we plan a series of two more zines that will be exclusive to Patreon BUT when there are four of them I can release a book with all four stories to the public along with an EP of the original four songs. So that will be a cool way to track back to patreon within the book itself and in my promotion of it.
I have the most luck (emotionally) when I remind myself that Patreon seems to be a slow grow for me, and that i am in it for the long haul. I got discouraged that I only got a few new patrons, forgetting that I already have ~130 who seem committed to staying. I’d like to keep my eye on the community I have built rather than the folks who don’t seem too interested. I keep creating for the people who love my work, it feels so much more inspiring. Of course I will keep working to bring people in, but i really have to remember those people who are already “all in” or my emotional state about my work goes right in the shitter.
Kinda related, I ran across this great podcast episode from Chase Jarvis:
- Create what you love.
- Relentlessly share that work.
That was really perfect for me on the heels of this!
So happy I got to be a part of these, and thrilled for the new connections I made in this community!
Actually, I feel like I had a better response to changing goals than I did with this special offer. I don’t think the feature added much for me. (Maybe if changing the banner, updating the rewards text, etc. was baked in, it would be an organizational benefit, but the lightning bolt alone wasn’t a huge gain for me.)
Before all this, I made a special offer (discounted price) on a different ebook directly to Patrons and ended up making considerably more. (I had to route them all through PayPal since it couldn’t be done in Patreon.) Yes, it was one-time income from the existing group, but there’s nothing wrong with that and it wasn’t like this latest offer triggered much pledge growth. In the end, an integrated store for special offers would probably work more for me. That probably has more to do with what we produce (a magazine and podcast) than anything else.
Marketing is always tough. Despite the poor results, I’m happy I gave this a shot and would be willing to engage in further experiments.