Was it quitting your day job? Balancing your work with your personal life? A piece of harsh criticism you received? Chances are, there is one standout moment that has immensely challenged your life as a creator. What was it?
It can be very hard when you are someone who invests a lot of energy into something you are passionate about and which has a huge benefit to others and quite literally changes lives, but that others don’t get because it is cutting edge or different than the norm. Even just getting people to understand the concept of ‘working from home’ as people sometimes see you as a lazy bum who watches Netflix all day and should ‘get a job’, despite you working ten times as hard as people in a 9-5 job. This really frustrates me at times, mostly because I know that if I could just have the skills or ability to show them what I do and why I do it, they would then get it. That is where half my battle is with Patreon I think. People have to get what it is you are doing and why, in order to take that next step and support you. The right photo, video, or blog post could be the missing link in bridging what you do, with an audience that isn’t your own.
I was really struggling to get friends and family on Facebook engaged or even knowing about what I was doing as a job, what changed, was starting a private group on Facebook and then doing live stream videos. Community engagement went up hugely, and pretty much brought Facebook back to life for me.
Honestly, it’s the ongoing challenge of being the boss of my own time, my own project manager, my own accountant. Making it all work on a daily basis is a huge ongoing battle for me
Totally hear this, Sarah! That’s awesome that you saw an increase in engagement with the private fb group and livestream. Is the fb group centered around the work that you’re doing on Patreon?
Yes it is about my project/expedition and what I’m up to each day, boat build updates, etc. I can definitely recommend it for folks who struggle with engagement amongst friends and family especially where pages don’t get promoted like groups do.
Totally–it’s like having several full-time jobs sometimes! I’ve really enjoyed keeping up with content from freelancersunion.org. Not sure how relevant all of their work would be to you since I think they’re US-based, but you might enjoy their blog.
For me it is Fear.
Sometimes it is fear of criticism or asking my audience for too much.
Sometimes it is fear of pushing myself too hard or of not pushing myself enough to step out of my comfort zone.
Other times its other stuff, I’m guessing lots of you can relate to?!?
But I think having a place like this to share and normalize our ups and downs is great along-side solid actionable advice and sweet, sweet data points.
IN FACT when @natemaingard was on the recent Patreon livestream I could REALLY relate when he was talking about the feverish feelings you can get lost in when asking for support and worrying about the numbers and stuff! Thanks Nate. https://youtu.be/VcsaP6PAXow?t=45m4s
I definitely second that with the panel and what Nate said. I would love to see more of those sessions, it was incredibly helpful, and really normalises things to hear other Patreon creators talk about their ups and downs both as artists/creators and experiences with Patreon. Its especially good when they are turned into videos so you can come back to them as and when you need to go over something.
I’m currently reading Amanda Palmers book ‘The Art of Asking’, I’m only the first chapter but there is a lot about the fear. Really good so far.
For me, the hardest thing is finding the creative energy to produce good work when you’re balancing a full-time job (that you also want to be really good at!!!). It means being really intentional about cutting back on socializing/resting in order to muse, create, and then produce content. Once you’ve figured out the time management issues, having the ACTUAL energy is a whole different ball game.
I think the hardest thing was building up that initial monthly income to be of sufficient size to allow me to fully focus on my writing and advocacy without worrying about affording my share of the following month’s rent. It was a real challenge to reach that point of finally being unleashed to do the work I most care about doing by being freed from income insecurity.
Far too many creative people out there are actively prevented from creating incredible things because they just don’t have the income security and time to devote to creation. Patreon is a very clever way of closing that sometimes seemingly impossible chasm, but getting from $0 to whatever that point of income security happens to be, can be extremely difficult and stressful.
Once you reach that point though, whatever it happens to be for you personally, the sky’s the limit.
One more challenge as well is building up one’s following on one’s platform of choice. That takes time and it can especially at the beginning at times feel like the creation of content after content that is tossed into a small room with no one in it instead of a packed stadium so to speak. Feedback is really important. As a creator, the more people who enjoy what I create the better. So that feeling like what you’re creating is being found and enjoyed by few people, can be a hit to the motivation to continue creating and sharing.
So it’s important to grow that following, so that what you’re creating finds its audience.
I think marketing is at the heart of all my other problems. I’m getting better at it, but progress is slow. It’s not just marketing to get new readers and listeners. It’s marketing the need for our existing audience to support us financially. (I’m publishing an online magazine, with a regular audience across formats of about 40K. It’s been around for ten years and has won awards.)
I had a significant audience in high school creating what I am now trying to continue to create in my 20s. When I was in high school, it never occurred to me that I should be holding onto my audience, and while I was at college and not creating much, well… that audience I had is long gone now.
I also underestimated how much I loved what I was doing and how long I would continue to enjoy it, which basically means I’m somehow still super passionate about things I’ve been creating on and off for 10 years but nobody is looking at it anymore now that I’m trying to make it sustainable. Tough stuff.
For me, I am currently in a key position running an established business on the side of my creative work to keep my bills paid each month. I have not fully reached a place where my creative work can be fully funded. Eventually I would love to build up the momentum to quit this job and continue to work solely on my creative pieces. However, for now, I am juggling both. It is hard for me to balance helping run this company and doing the work required of me while also working on my creative. I always manage it, but it has been a struggle in the past for sure! It has definitely minimized my social life!
The hardest parts for me are dealing with copyright and fair use issues on youtube; dealing with the inevitability that if you want to make money from fans, then you have to garner a large following, which means surrounding yourself with more and more people, and ergo being surrounded by more and more terrible people; a lifestyle that’s completely unstructured, and therefore difficult to find moment-to-moment fulfillment in, leaving me susceptible to existential dread and lots of drinking. Other than those things, everything is awesome.
I’ve been earning my living from my creative work for going on 12 years now. The hardest part for me is just keeping up with changes, and making sure the way I’m delivering content is current. When I went into business for myself, digital publication was a new idea, and video wasn’t even a realistic option for most people. Now, almost every lesson I post is done with video.
I feel like I’m constantly racing to keep up with what’s new and useful, and knowing when to let go of things when they aren’t. At a time when I’m also growing my creative skills, sometimes it’s overwhelming.
Totally agree with you Nate. I’ve been making guitar building/repair videos for the past three years as a way to show people what I’m doing and to get feedback on my wanderings along the learning curve. Within the past couple of months I’ve decided to pursue the business side of those creations and there’s SO much to learn and try to give attention to: do I learn how to use Trello today or do I pull the back off of the project guitar? Do I re-make thumbnails for the old videos to make them consistent or do I make a jig to align the mandolin neck? Most days have too many options and they all have a valid claim on my limited time.
Perhaps I shall make a list…
Without a doubt exposure and over saturation.
Everyone and their hamster is making content now. Our main platform is YouTube and it’s absolutely brutal to your self-worth and motivation trying to make quality, professional content when you have 12-year-olds screeching obscenities over video games reaching half a million subscribers in a year or two.
We’ve had our channel around for about eight years and have 2,500 subs currently. This all paints a picture of what must be pretty terrible content but, and I’m sure I’m biased, we make pretty good stuff - www.youtube.com/icwxp
Thankfully, we appeal to a slightly older crowd (which may be the problem on YouTube) that have this magical thing called disposable income and Patreon allows them to support us month to month.
Patreon has not only saved our show but completely changed my life. I can actually pay my partners who help out, I no longer have to panic over rent money or worry I’m not going to have any cash for groceries (there’s no producing something like what we do and holding down a 9-5).
I can so relate to this Nate, and so frustrating when you end up doing all the admin, rather than the creating, especially when you are starting out and don’t have budget to employ virtual assistants or whatever. I think that is why having a community like this one, is so incredibly helpful, especially when you can pick up tips and tricks from others and also share frustrations and realise you are not alone:)
Totally resonate with this, Lisa. Technology is moving at such a fast (and exciting) pace that it can often seem like once I get used to one tool, in comes another that makes the former obsolete.
I’ve had a very similar experience. The internet has certainly changed. It was so easy to get that first audience and I thought it would be no problem to build a new one now that my skills have improved and my output has increased. Now it seems I have to do 10 times the work to get a fraction of the notice. It’s okay though. I appreciate a challenge and it will just push me to keep improving. I’m no longer lookin’ back, but focused on my goals going forward.