From laying out your tiers and benefits, to promoting your content, to engaging with your fans, there’s a lot that goes into running a successful Patreon membership program. And when you add in your actual creative work on top of that, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no doubt that being a creator is hard work, but there are also so many things you can do to streamline your daily tasks and design a business that works for you and your community.
We connected with Anna Puig and Laura Benson from Patreon’s Creator Success Team to get their expert advice on creating a successful and sustainable membership program.
1. Think carefully about the ROI of your membership subscriptions Unsurprisingly, most creators have a pretty solid handle on the creative aspects of their membership program, but some flounder a bit when it comes to the business side. For example, Laura was a Patreon creator before joining the Creator Success Team. When she first set up her page, she offered a benefit of handwritten poems for her lowest sponsorship tier. However, she quickly realized that the time and energy she invested in this benefit didn’t make sense for her business financially.
To avoid getting into this situation, think carefully about the benefits you want to offer before you launch your page, and what the ROI (return on investment) of your membership subscription will be. If, like Laura, you want to do something handmade or custom, make sure you understand how much time, energy and money you would have to put into it, and what kind of sponsorship you’d need from your Patrons to make it worth it.
2. If your tiers and benefits aren’t working for you, change them If you’ve already launched a benefit that your patrons love but isn’t working out from a financial standpoint, remember that you still have options. If you’re feeling swamped, consider doing a quick audit of your current tiers and benefits set-up. “Go through each of the things that you’re offering now, and consider what is costing you the most time and whether that feels priced efficiently,” says Laura.
If it’s not, make a change, but be sure to keep a clear and open dialogue with your patrons so they understand where it’s coming from. In Laura’s case, she decided to move her poems to a higher sponsorship to better reflect the value of her work. We’ve all had times in our lives where we bit off more than we could chew, so your community will likely be a lot more receptive and understanding than you think. It's important to be open and honest with them, and yourself.
3. Create a content schedule and stick to it Not only will this help you consistently engage with your patrons, but it will also cut down on the time you spend wondering what you should be posting and when. And if you find the idea of posting content all the time stressful, remember that you don’t have to post a highly-produced video or finished piece of art every time.
You can post something as simple as a fun behind-the-scenes photo or even a day-in-the-life Snapchat video. “Your life as a creator is so interesting to your fans and your patrons,” says Anna. Simply including them in the process will keep them engaged for relatively little effort on your part.
4. Schedule your content promotion in advance Speaking of engagement, you should schedule in time before and after you launch a new piece of content to engage with your fans on your Patreon page and on your other online channels. This will help build buzz and get them excited about the new release, and also give you the opportunity to see how they felt about it after it’s out in the world.
To make this process more efficient, Anna recommends using the app Todoist to sync your notes, jot down reminders and schedule tasks and Laura suggests Buffer for social media management. Patreon also has a number of integrations with popular apps to help creators streamline their content, manage their patronage and more.
5. Embrace the cross-post A lot of creators are wary of using scheduling tools to automate their content for various reasons. You might be worried about annoying your fans who follow you on multiple platforms with the same messaging and concerned about how that might affect your overall engagement.
While those are totally reasonable fears, as Anna says, “Your creative process comes first.” Sometimes, this means having to make some trade-offs to maximize your overall productivity. And remember: posting the same thing on all your channels is still better in the long run than posting nothing at all.
6. Limit yourself to 3-5 tiers This is the sweet spot when it comes to your subscription options. Having a lot of tiers and text on the page could lead to decision fatigue and lead to patrons pledging a lower amount or leaving your page entirely.
To avoid this, use shorter paragraphs, bolded text and bullet points on your tier page. This will not only make the set-up process faster for you, but it’ll also make it more accessible and readable for your patrons.
7. Digital benefits are often easier to manage than physical benefits When you have physical benefits like letters or merchandise, you have to deal with stuff like inventory and shipping costs and making sure your products will be delivered on time and undamaged.
In comparison, a digital benefit like including your patron’s name at the end of a video or podcast can be super easy to implement and can be just as exciting to your patron’s as receiving a physical product. But, if you do decide to go the physical route, Anna and Laura suggest putting a cap on your physical benefits so you can control your workload.
8. Ask your patrons what they want At the end of the day, you wouldn’t have a business without your patrons. So before you set up your Patreon page and spend a ton of time brainstorming custom benefits and creative tiers, talk to your community. Ask your current fans and followers what they’d like to get from you and what subscription price points make sense for them. You can make this even simpler by creating a poll to collect the data.
Here at Patreon, we want you to regain your creative freedom. But this doesn’t happen by chance. If you want to create on your terms, you need to know what those terms are so you can set yourself up for success.
Ready to take control of your creative career? Sign up for Patreon today.