@aaronrutten thank you for the video overview on why your community plateaued. My experience has been as follows:
My first year on Patreon (Nov 2017 to Oct 2018), I experienced rapid growth, going from 2 to over 600 patrons.
My community peaked at 823 patrons in Dec 2018. That year I had an amazing Christmas as I pulled in just a few dollars shy of $7K in pledges. However, in my second year on Patreon (Nov 2018 to Oct 2019), my patrons steadily declined, dropping to 500 patrons.
Now, going into my 3rd year on Patreon, I’ve plateaued to 475-480 patrons over the past 3 or 4 months. I attract a few patrons, which is great, and then I lose the same amount, which is not so great.
My issue is less about rewards and tiers, and more about whether patrons are getting an emotional experience through the content I publish.
In my first year on Patreon, I released a writing prompt every week that patrons used to unpack their unconscious biases. They’d journal through the prompts offline, post their reaction in the comments, and I’d respond. At one point, I just couldn’t keep up with the number of comments - they were so many. For higher tiers, I offered a monthly gathering over Zoom to go deeper. I also offered a weekly patron-only audio podcast. Lots of content.
In March 2019, I published the last prompt, killed the audio podcast, and stopped offering the monthly gathering over Zoom. I was just plain exhausted and also felt I was repeating myself across the different media. I went from a predictable weekly publishing calendar (prompts on Fridays, podcast on Mondays, essays on Tue / Wed / Thu) to publishing essays 1-2 times per month, and only when I felt like it.
Offering content for patrons to read doesn’t keep them around (at least that’s my theory); offering content that allow patrons to have an emotional experience seems to be the trick in raising patron numbers. Of course, marketing helps too, but I’m focusing on what can be done to retain the patrons I already have.
Now, here I am in March 2020, and I’m finding my focus again. I’m going back to releasing writing prompts again on a predictable schedule, but this time, using video content to introduce the prompt. I’m moving from writing to documentary filmmaking and I’m eager to see how my community grows as a result of the renewed focus. The first 52 prompts I published in the community between Oct 2017 and Mar 2019 are being put into a book and I’m trying to figure out how to do a special offer around that.
Ultimately, I know that whoever loves me and my work will stick around, no matter what I offer. And I also want to provide an experience to patrons to thank them for their continued support, so I can grow my community back up to 800+ and more.