We get a lot of questions from creators asking if Patreon is right for them. If you’re curious about what kind of income to expect from membership, there is one question that can point you in the right direction — that question is, how big is my audience*?
(About that asterisk on audience — It’s there because, when you’re considering how big your audience is, it’s important to think not just in sheer numbers, but also in engagement. How often your audience leaves comments, or likes your content definitely affects how likely they are to join your membership on Patreon, but that’s another blog post.)
Okay, back to the question at hand: to get an estimate of how much you may make on Patreon, consider what platform has your biggest and most engaged audience. Is it Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram? Wherever it is, generally speaking, creators who launch on Patreon can expect anywhere from 1 to 5 percent of that audience to join their lowest tier for membership.
For instance, say you’re a musician who’s launching with a lowest tier of $3. You have a bustling community on Instagram, not just in numbers — yes, there’s 20,000 people following you, but also, they’re always liking and commenting on your posts or tagging you in their stories.
Generally speaking, creators who launch on Patreon can expect anywhere from 1 to 5 percent of that audience to join their lowest tier for membership.
In general, with a savvy launch and good promotion, this creator may make anywhere from $600 - $3,000 a month on Patreon.
Remember, this is just a ballpark estimation, and is in no way full-proof. But it does help give you a way to back into whether it’s time to launch your membership or spend more time growing your engaged audience.
So I know — more or less — how much I may make on Patreon, what now?
If you’re happy with that projection, then head over to Patreon U and start planning out your launch today.
If you’re not happy with that number, don’t worry. It’s not a bad thing. Many famous creators once stood in your shoes. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that Patreon isn’t the right option for you — many creators with small but engaged fanbases do well on Patreon. However, growing your audience can go a long way towards getting more patrons, so to help you out, here are some tried-and-true steps you can follow to grow your fan base.
Building a website for your brand is an important first step in establishing an official presence on the internet. Think of your website as your mission control to the world. It’s likely the first place new fans will land when they google your name or want to learn more about you. It’s a home for your content, your contact information, and all of the links to your social media.
Your website is also where you will host an email subscription box and build your email list for future updates or newsletters. Compiling an email list is super important, even if you don’t plan on sending out a monthly newsletter. The email list will come in handy down the road when you announce projects, or event appearances.
Did you make something recently that's getting a lot of attention online? If your audience is reacting to something organically, this is a good sign that you’re on the right track. So make more of that, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about. You can even ask your audience what kind of content they’d like to see from you. It isn’t always easy to see what’s working and what’s not from the fishbowl of our own experience, but by trusting your fanbase, you’re able to get a panoramic view of your creative business.
Pro Tip: After making the stuff your audience is craving, make sure to share it on social media (more than once, if you can). Rapid growth in fans happens when your direct circle of friends shares your work with their extended circles of friends. This allows you to make an impression on people with whom you wouldn’t otherwise have contact.
If someone discovers your work and learns that you’ll be releasing something new next week, there is a MUCH higher chance they will follow you. This is why having a dependable content schedule is a very important step in gaining fans. Dedicating yourself to frequent content also displays your level of commitment, resulting in more faith from viewers in that crucial moment when they decide to follow or not — Keep ‘em coming back for more!
Pro Tip: Many professional creators build their content schedules ahead of time. Approach your content schedule like it’s a business and plan ahead!
One very effective way to grow your audience is to collaborate with other creators. For instance, if you’re a podcaster, make sure to be a guest on others’ projects, and invite them on yours as well. By collaborating with other creators, you’re exposing yourself to different audiences, which is a great way to generate content, build an audience, and make a new friend.
Pro-Tip: If you invite another creator to collab with you, it’s polite to have a solid project idea already formed (or most of the work already finished). This is especially the case if you’re asking a larger, more well-known creator.
Being a part of a community is a great way to build your audience. You can become a member of someone else's community, such as a subreddit or a Facebook group. Or you can start a community of your own. Whatever path you take, make sure to avoid shameless self-promotion and instead, focus on curating authentic discussion and building real relationships. By getting more community oriented, not only are you getting your name out there — you’re also making actual connections with people who have the same interests as you, and once they find out you’re a creator, they’ll become your fan as well.
Pro Tip: Making educational videos is a great way to build community. By sharing the secrets of your trade, and your passion for what you do, people that discover you will become naturally interested in your creative work.