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WATCH: Patreon Creator Panel Live from Chicago

As part of our live Patreon Assembly event we hosted a creativity focused panel in Chicago with local creators. Here’s what we learned.

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We gathered some of the biggest names in film, podcasting, art, activism, music, and media for Patreon Assembly, an afternoon of storytelling and performances. As part of our live event, we hosted a panel in Chicago with local creators. Here’s what we learned:

Sharing the four Pillars of Creativity: At 4:02 we dive in by identifying the 4 pillars of creativity: Entrepreneurship, Community, Creative Control, and The Future of Creativity To discuss those ideas, we first meet the four panelists from Chicago. Adal, creator on podcast “Hey Riddle Riddle” on Patreon, Andrew, creator on podcasts MuggleNet and Millennial, webcomic Stephanie, and James, head of the One Shot Podcast Network. The creators have spent between less than one year to around five years on Patreon.

Thoughts on entrepreneurship: At 7:14 we dive in, asking panelists what independence means to them. James points out that combining arts and business is hard because it puts you at the mercy of others. Instead, podcasting and Patreon make it so that he creates what he wants as an artist and has a way to find people who care about it. Andrew recognizes being your own boss and working from home can be “a blessing and a curse”, but makes the success more meaningful. Adal likes the sense of self-accountability and creating your own opportunities that creative independence demands. Stephanie loves finding people who support her own creations, not just fan art that other people want.

On what full-time creation means: At 11:31 we learn that all four panelists are creatives full-time. For James, leaving improv and going to podcasting was spawned from a rejection during an audition; he found validation through his podcast listeners instead. Starting their Patreon brought $2K a month only two weeks into their campaign, showing that this could be a real, full-time gig. Stephanie actually had fans of her webcomic online asking her if she had a Patreon page, which introduced her to the platform that would gradually grow to be her full-time income (in secret!) and she quit her full-time job. Patreon helped Andrew gauge interest in MuggleCast, setting their production goals based on the milestones they hit with contributions. Because of their patrons, they do a weekly podcast and prioritize that effort. Adal cites the “power of permanence” to describe the benefit of consistency in podcasting and patron contributions that let your audience continually support you on a predictable basis.

How Patreon and your Patrons influence creativity: At 19:15 the moderator poses the question of how their audience on Patreon influences their creations. “It inspires me more than anything else...because people are putting their money where their mouth is,” says Andrew. James loves that having a community of patrons means having a group of people who really get them and love what they love. Your audience buoys you up, says Adal, calling it “dreamlike...people supporting this dumb fun we’re having.”

How to approach innovation while making things people want?: At 24:57 the panelists get a chance to share how they cope with the challenge of being profitable versus being creative and innovative. Stephanie wants creators to know their own worth; don’t undersell yourself, trust yourself and believe in your work. Talking to your patrons helps, too. Communication! Andrew created a survey, asking people what they wanted out of Patreon. What benefits, how much are you willing to pay, how serious are you about pledging? “My number one tip...creating a survey, even after you launch. Doing a yearly survey, asking people ‘Hey, how’s it going, what do you want to see from us?’”

What will the future of creativity looks like? We end with this question at 33:05, asking panelists what the future holds in 5-10 years. James points out that creativity in the future depends on tools like Patreon still being available--people who are inspired to support artists directly. Stephanie hopes that more people will see value in art and creativity, that the stigma of being a starving artist will go away. She hopes that when people see what it takes to create something that it will build interest and respect. “The future will legitimize a lot of what we do,” says Adal. “More and more...consumers will be coming from a place of passion.”

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