What to share publicly and what to make patron-only?

How do you decide what to share publicly and what to make available only to patrons? What are some of your patron-only posts like versus your public ones?

I’ve started making livestreams a patron-only thing, but I’m looking for ideas about what else I might offer to my patrons exclusively. Thank you!

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A lot of my patron-only posts are journal-like entries about my thought process, sketches and experiments while working on a project, including failures. These are things I wouldn’t otherwise post online before a piece is completed, and even then the raw stuff would not be made public, as the text that accompanies the publishing of a new piece of work has a far more impersonal and concise tone (and that makes a public post). So this is completely between my patrons and I.


Interesting! I have trouble sharing process before a piece is complete, so this might be an excellent way to do it. Thank you!

Pretty much everything I post is public. Right now, I’m only limiting access to posts that contain rewards, which I post once a month, on the 10th. Other than that, all my progress photos and videos are public, and I post pretty much daily when I’m working on something.


Do you worry about the incentive to become a “subscriber” if there is not a lot of content that is only for patrons? I’m asking because I’m thinking about starting to talk about Patreon more as a subscription thing, but to do that I feel like I need to have more patron-only content. Any thoughts on this? And thank you for sharing your experience!

I choose not to use Patreon as a pay wall, making people to pay for access. I’m more of a let people who want to support me do so, but I’m gonna keep creating, regardless. Patreon is more of an art blog for me. Most of my patrons are longtime followers who support what I do wherever I go. They buy my products, and my artwork. They participate in art exchanges I organize. They back my Kickstarter projects.

I have no clue who my unpaid followers are, or how many of them there are. Maybe Patreon will give us access to that information at some point.


I separate my content into two categories. “Things i’d be posting anyways” and “Things i can only do because of my patrons”.

I don’t use patreon as a paywall for my usual content. So, finished content still gets posted everywhere (but patrons get a 5 day early access preview of my finished work before it gets posted publicly. They also get higher resolution images than what gets posted publicly.) So finished art, videos, etc, all still get posted publicly in the end, patrons get early access to it and input on what i create.

Some content is patron only because I wouldn’t really be consistently posting it otherwise. So, sketches, behind the scenes stuff usually gets posted to patrons only because otherwise, i’d maybe post a little teaser of something on social media once in a blue moon. Their pledges afford me the time to show processes, make tutorials, etc. their support is the reason i can put time aside for a monthly project of their choosing, make videos, etc. While all that content does become available publicly in the end, they get to direct me on what i make and they do get early access to custom item openings, sales, etc. (Some products i make through their direction get put in my stores only. Things like 3D models i’ve created as artistic references, etc. Those things are products that i can’t really afford to make free but they are still really cheap, $5 usually, because my patrons helps support the initial cost of time and resources to make such things.)

It really depends on what you want to create, what you think works for you. Sometimes people will make an item and have a special version for patrons as a thank you. Sometimes people will create one of a kind items and give first chance to purchase it to their patrons. Q&A’s, livestreams, content polls, etc. It’s all up to you. Don’t feel like once you’ve chosen how you want to run your patreon that you have to stay that way. I’ve made big alterations to my project on a yearly basis to keep things fresh and interesting as my patrons and the world changes. I’m constantly asking my patrons what they want to see, what they prefer to see from me, etc. I’m always adding new things and altering old things to be more interesting. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for sharing how you break it down!

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No problem :smiley:

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I see on your page that you reserve behind-the-scenes stuff for patrons…? Or at least that’s what your main video indicates. But you also obviously share behind-the-scenes stuff in your tutorials. How you decide what behind-the-scenes stuff is only for patrons and what is for everybody? I’m asking because I think we’re pretty similar in how we interact with our audiences–I don’t like Patreon to be viewed as a paywall by my audience either. At the same time, I think that calling Patreon a “subscription” might be a useful way of talking about it with my audience…and in that case, I feel like there should maybe be more Patreon exclusives.

No, I really do post just about everything as public. If you look at my posts page, there aren’t more than two or three patron-only items per month, for rewards. The only exceptions to that are if I’m pulling images of finished work due to publication, or if I talk about something that isn’t public knowledge yet, but those cases are pretty few and far between.

O, okay. I misunderstood what you meant by patron perks in your video. Sorry!

I think of patron perks as access to me. If a patron emails me about something, I respond as soon as I see it. If they need some slack on a swap deadline, I’m inclined to give it. If they need extra attention for some reason, I’m on it. If they ask a question about a post, I answer it, and sometimes, I do a whole new post to answer. That’s just not the case when random strangers contact me—and I tend to be a magnet for rando weird requests that amount to me giving someone who has never purchased anything from me, or supported anything I do, something for nothing.

For example, one of my patrons backed a project on Kickstarter, and her reward was four oracle decks. She messaged me, asking if I would be willing to ship them different places, rather than all to her. I happily took the addresses, and didn’t charge any extra postage for multiple shipments. I stuffed lots of extra goodies on those packages, too, because she’s been a supporter since long before Patreon.

So, patrons get more. More yes. More stuff. More me.

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I have a paywall on mine and post finished things publicly normally, my patrons get to see all the work in progress but I also show very small works in progress via instagram (but patrons see the full thing). So anything finished is public (unless it’s secret or I decide not to show it to the public!). My paywall is very low - $2 to see all behind the scenes stuff.


Thank you for explaining the way you break it down!

This is key. if you want to sell something then isolate that and just make public items and info which will entice people to come buy.
If you want to share with the world what you love to do and hope they will support you because you offer something of value, then do that.
Its a tricky thing to decide. Likely you need the income to enable you to do what you love, and there are plenty of folks who just take take take and never give. But i think thats an old world mindset. open source technologies have proved that sharing all encourages the best in people and if you offer something of value then the income revenue will follow.
Its not easy though…

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I’ve written a book about free culture and spoken about deconstructing your paywall to various audiences around the US as well as in Canada and Europe. I like to think of being an artist like being a U-Pick farm. Some people will come and eat a bunch of your berries and never pay you a thing, but most people won’t. Most people will appreciate that you do U-Pick, because then they get the experience of being at the farm as well as the experience of your fruit, and they want to pay you for that extra specialness you provide. So I get it! :slight_smile:

I’m more curious to learn about what other creators do and how they talk about Patreon with their audience. What do you do with your work, John? How do you explain Patreon to your audience? Have you tried calling it a subscription? Do you provide something that’s just for your patrons or is absolutely everything you do public?

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I offer financial services - its a little odd because im not an artist. i offer two tiers of subscription services. I create educational videos. i have about 200 vids and growing which are available to anyone paying me $5 a month. they also get access to various posts i put out. the $50 a month tier is for people who want to actually see live trades and possibly follow them too to create an income stream. The low fees is really for them to commit to their learning, i dont really have a desire to earn from patreon - infact each time i hit $1000 it goes to a charity i support for prosthetics in china.

The freebies i do is a weekly vid where i cover actions taken and this i promote in facebook, linkedin and twitter.
The other freeby is a weekly public video which i keep to about 40mins where i teach some aspect of financial analysis.

I have had some incredibly generous gifts over the years from people i have worked with or trained as a mark of appreciation from them, which is incredibly touching really. so yeah i do believe that most decent folks will give for that specialness. I think its difficult when you are starting out because often its all about community building, and well , im not very good at that. its the spirit of what you are doing and the personal touches which make people want to keep coming back. the financial reward obviously is enticing too also if your subscribers like you as a person then thats an added bonus and that can be guaged by getting feedback.

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I like hearing about how you break things down and I appreciate you sharing it, but I disagree with your conclusion–sort of! :slight_smile: Mostly, I think it’s important to note that offering education about financial stuff is an easier “sell” than art.

People view art as a luxury. They believe art is not a necessity like food, water, shelter, healthcare, or even financial security. This is silly, of course. Most people spend plenty of money on art every day without thinking they are. Specifically they pay for access to TV or other kinds of corporate art, because they need the art and the sense of connection it provides, but they don’t want to pay a lot. When you’re getting your art need covered by corporate art which is subsidized in a massive way by advertising, art by independent artists suddenly seems outrageously expensive. And suddenly “art is a luxury” seems like a rational thing to believe even though it has nothing to do with your behavior.

So while I agree that the true connection is all a content-creator needs in order to make a living, I think it’s important to note that independent artists have a lot more to overcome when trying to create that true connection with their audience.


I make everything public, for three related reasons:

  1. Every piece of work I publish raises awareness for my Patreon. Paywalled content doesn’t do that.

I this largely comes down to economizing my time. I can only produce so much, so if my content itself does double-duty as a marketing effort, I’m coming out ahead. I can’t afford to put another 20 hours/mo. in to make patron-only stuff in the hopes that this will draw in more people.

Since I’m a writer/illustrator and not a marketer, it’s also a lot easier for me just to use content as its own ad. Especially since my marketing efforts won’t get reshares or eyeballs at anything like the same rate as my actual work.

  1. Patreon’s UI doesn’t work very well as a ‘store’.

When I go to store, I see attractive photos of the things I might buy. When I go to a creator page with lots of paywalled content, I just get screens and screens of blurred-out content. Teaser videos or low-res would make more sense.

  1. Patreon’s model doesn’t work very well as a store either.

Imagine going into a store - candies cost $1, but if you buy one, you can take all of them. That’s Patreon. Treating Patreon as if it was a traditional store leads to mismatched expectations, a sense of resentment that drop-in/drop-out patrons are somehow ‘cheating’ (by getting access to the full back catalog).

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