Eric Bieller and his partner Allison created their Patreon, The Endless Adventure, to fund their travel and create useful content for others wishing to do the same. But they didn’t always think it would be okay to ask their fans to support their creative career.
“When we ask other creators why they aren't on Patreon, the number one reason we hear is that they feel weird about asking their audience for money,” says Bieller.
Truth be told, that was the key concern that kept them from joining Patreon as well — what would their fans think if they asked for a “hand out.” After looking into other creators using Patreon to generate similar content to theirs, they quickly realized that what they have to offer has value, and putting a pricetag on their content wasn’t the same as asking for a donation.
“We realized that Patreon is more like a private club."
"Members pay their dues and get something in return, and it's up to us to decide what that is,” says Bieller. “And ultimately, it's up to your audience to decide if it's worth paying for.”
The Endless Adventure quickly overcame their fear once they asked themselves ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’
All you can do is ask, says Bieller. “If people choose not to support you, then you’re in exactly the same position as now. There’s really nothing to lose, and a potential revenue stream to gain. It’s a no-brainer!”
They started building tiers for their Patreon page to engage with their fanbase and give direct access to their eBook on traveling the world, behind-the-scenes footage from their travels, printed deliverables, and even a monthly adventure box with goodies from each country they visit. Since they started their Patreon, Bieller shares that the pledges started coming through slowly and they have grown to almost $1,000 a month in recurring income from Patreon. “This extra money has been crucial in helping us sustain ourselves and our business,” says Bieller.
They’re not alone in fear of asking for money for their creative content. Many creatives have issues pricing their work and knowing their worth. But it’s not personal, it’s business.
Artist Austin Kleon, of Steal Like An Artist fame, often talks about money on his blog, where he hosts other useful resources for creatives. In a recent post he said, “‘How will I pay the bills?’ is not a question of the scared or cowardly, it’s a question of the sane and responsible.”
Animator ShadowLeggy has been making animations since 2006 and says that in those days, “the term ‘e-begging’ was coined by those who disapproved of content creators earning money.” However, she pushed through that mindset to become a full-time creator (and pay her bills!) by asking her fans to fund her work.
“You just have to remind yourself that what you're doing is hard work. You're creating something with your own flair that no one can duplicate. Being compensated for your creations is totally valid,” she says.
ShadowLeggy created her Patreon page to support her animation work and she charges her patrons per completed animation. She offers engaging rewards like opportunities for cameos in her work and behind-the-scenes packages on how the animations are made. “Nowadays, there is an outpouring of support, monetary or otherwise, with content creators as a whole. Patreon has definitely helped pave the way for people to find the confidence to bring their creative dreams to life,” she says.
So now you’re inspired and want to attach true value to your creative work. Let’s dig into some actionable insights. If you want to launch from a free to a paid model or want to increase your Patreon tier pricing but are hesitating, know it’s okay to tie greater value to the content you work so hard on. Consider creating a special offer to invite patrons to join a higher tier for greater benefits, and if you’re going from free to paid, consider making a marketing plan to guide your launch. Aside from that marketing plan and those special offers, you also need to think about the big picture. Kleon shares on his blog that it’s important to line up your budget and your overhead with your creative goals, especially if you’re quitting your full-time job. “Low overhead + ‘do what you love’ = a good life,” he writes. “Live frugally so you can do the work you want to do. Save up some “screw you” money, so you can quit a job you hate to take a job you like better.”
Bieller is glad that they started to pursue Patreon while their audience is still small. First, it adds validation to their creative travel project and helps them pursue bigger opportunities with sponsors and vendors. But more importantly, it would be harder to ask for money later in the game, with a bigger audience, when you’ve been giving away valuable content for free. “If you aren't currently generating a lot of revenue or don't have a huge audience, then Patreon will be seen by your audience as a useful and necessary way to make money and keep your content alive,” he says.
Ready to ask for the support your work deserves? Sign up for Patreon here