Patreon, an online platform, allows people to financially support creatives, including authors, through a monthly tiered membership. It offers an excellent option for any indie author looking to diversify their income and create a new revenue stream.
But how do you optimize your profile on the platform for maximum returns on your time investment so that you entice existing fans as well as new readers and supplement your income at the same time? Read on for our top ten tips for mastering Patreon.
- Make the Most of that First Impression
A profile on Patreon without an introduction will quickly turn away potential patrons. Introduce yourself, your books, and your genre. Welcome visitors to your page, and let them know what you’ll be offering should they become your patrons. In turn, share what their support means to you and what they’re helping you achieve through their pledges. You can even remind your current fans just why they clicked through and became a patron.
Bonus points if you include a welcome video—people often appreciate putting a face and a voice to a name. A video is much more personal than a block of text. Through the video, you’ll also show visitors that you’re active on the platform, serious about it, and that ultimately, it’s a great idea for them to become your patron. In that vein, you could also create a personalized thank-you video for those who do click through and become patrons. This will make them feel special and connected to you.
Also, don’t assume that everyone visiting your Patreon page will know who you are. Make sure to include a link to your website or Amazon author profile to help convert random browsers into patrons.
- List a Range of Tiers
You’ll want to give your potential patrons a variety of options to choose from. That way, they can adjust their pledges accordingly. A one-dollar tier is a great entry point for patrons who wish to support you but who may not be able to afford more expensive tiers. Nonfiction author Joanna Penn offers the benefits of a simple thank-you and a hug if you ever meet the patron in person. Other benefits of higher tiers include listing the patron on her website, access to a bonus monthly Q&A, and polls on character or setting names. You could even offer patrons special roles on your private Discord server.
Likewise, an exclusive, extravagant, or expensive tier for superfans could also be an excellent idea if it fits in with your business model. Mountaindale Press publisher and author Dakota Krout has a one-thousand-dollar tier, in which he promises to fly the patron to anywhere in the continental United States, buy them dinner, and hand deliver a signed copy of all his books and a clothing item. For a superfan, that would be a dream come true.
- Brand Your Patreon
Treat Patreon as part of your business, and make sure that it aligns with your website and other social media platforms in terms of look and feel. Give your tiers names related to your books, and include header photos that relate to your books and your brand. This will create a cohesive experience between all your platforms and will make your patrons feel as if they’re part of your world.
- Go Behind the Scenes
You may wish to offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into your process as one of the benefits of joining a particular tier. These could include your outlines, handwritten notes, edits, or deleted scenes. These are invaluable to readers, who often want to see your creative process and glimpse “how the sausage gets made.”
- Don’t Overextend Yourself
This is an important one: Don’t try to do too much. It’s easy to get carried away and fill your tiers with all sorts of goodies for your patrons—after all, they’re handing over their hard-earned cash to support you, so you want to keep them happy. But left unchecked, Patreon can become a full-time job and eat into your writing and production time.
It’s better to offer items that you already produce as part of your process. (See tip 4.) These can include bonus or deleted scenes, early access (which requires no new content), or polls for cover art or character names. You can even offer to list your patrons in the acknowledgment section of your next book—this takes minimal effort on your part, but readers will be thrilled to see their name in a published book. You could also list their name on a dedicated part of your website with an optional link back to their own website or social media profile.
- Consider “Charge Up Front”
If you’re publishing content regularly on your Patreon (for instance, chapters of your books as you write them, or early ebook copies of your books), then you may wish to consider the “charge up front” option. If you select this option, your patrons are charged both when they join and again on the first of the month as opposed to only being billed on the next first of the month. For instance, if a patron joins on July 20, they will be charged on July 20, then again on August 1, only twelve days later. You could add a disclaimer to your profile, clarifying the policy and advising potential patrons that if it’s close to the end of the month, they might wish to wait until the first of the next month. That way, they won’t be charged twice in a short time frame.
The upside to the “charge up front” option is that you won’t get a patron who checks out your content, downloads your patron-only ebook, and cancels their pledge before the first of the month without paying anything. The downside is that potential patrons won’t be able to see what’s behind the paywall and decide if they like your content enough to become a regular paying patron.
Pro Tip: Author beware—once you change to the “charge up front” option, you can’t change back to the default billing method. So choose wisely.
- Set Goals
You may also wish to set goals on your Patreon. Goals are a great way to track your progress on the platform and to let your patrons know where the funds you raise will go. For instance, you could set goals for audiobook production, new covers, editing—the sky’s the limit.
In addition, goals involve your patrons in your creative process. They can follow along and help you reach that next milestone in your career.
- Have Social Proof
When you’re just starting out on Patreon, you may want to ask a friend or relative to contribute at a lower tier.
By default, anyone who visits your Patreon profile can see both how many patrons you have and the total amount that you make per month. You can hide one (or both), but it may be a smart idea to keep the number of patrons visible. This could encourage potential backers to support you, especially when they see they won’t be the only one.
This is why it’s extremely important to get those first few backers on board—social proof works wonders when it comes to convincing those who may be on the fence.
- Offer Merch
Everyone loves physical rewards. They’re tangible and often make recipients feel like their pledge was money well spent.
Patreon now offers merchandise fulfillment on its website for a range of items: clothing (T-shirts and hoodies, among others), tote bags, prints, stickers, mugs, or posters. Simply customize the item and choose a tier, and Patreon will handle fulfillment, tracking, delivery, and support.
By wearing or exhibiting your merch, patrons are also supporting you and your brand externally. That’s a win-win for both of you.
- Be Consistent
Consistency is king. Your patrons are contributing to your business financially every month, so be sure to put out new content at least once per month. You don’t want your patrons—who are arguably your most loyal supporters—to feel shortchanged.
Posting new content more than once a month is often better, but remember tip 5: Don’t overcommit. Patreon should be a natural extension of your business, not an all-consuming, full-time job. It is, however, a versatile platform, and you can certainly tailor it to fit you and your business’ needs. So go out there, create your tiers, and have fun!