One month ago, singer/songwriter Nataly Dawn was free from a label with an unreleased homemade album in its final stages, almost in the hands of her long-time fans.
Dawn’s career has been lengthy and compelling; she’s been signed to labels, conquered the world of YouTube music (both solo and as half of Pomplamoose, alongside husband Jack Conte), traveled the globe on world tours, funded an album on Kickstarter raising over $100,000, and now, nearly completed an album in her apartment living room.
Dawn’s main reason for leaving her label was that she had confidence in a different kind of revenue stream that allowed her to maintain freedom over her finances and choices as an artist. “Making $1,450 per video on Patreon was enough of a reason to not be signed to a label. I didn’t need that advance from them anymore. I had made the album at home, which cost me very little.”
This album was long-awaited by her community of fans and she wanted to make it worth their support:
“When I was mostly done with the production of the album, I wanted to outsource a few things like mixing, mastering, and pressing. I was foreseeing all these costs and all the people I wanted to pay for their work. It’s one thing to make a living on Patreon and it’s enough to support your art, but when you start wanting to hire other people, you realize, SHIT, I need a budget for this.”
After weighing out a few options, she decided to cover the extra expenses with a solo mission to increase her patronage on Patreon. Although the initial push would be mostly album-related, Nataly wanted to make sure that anyone joining her Patreon community understood they weren’t coming on board just for her album, but for her ongoing vision as an artist. This is especially important because patronage tied to a milestone or project tends to dip around 20–25% after the projects completion, although it maintains a much higher level than previously.
“How do I communicate to people that this is a project, but more importantly, it’s ongoing, it’s not just one single thing that I’m putting out," said Nataly. "It’s every single music video, every song after this that I want to make. I wanted to get people on board for me putting out music on a regular basis. I decided that I was going to try to get people into the vision, and not just the album. I had to figure out how to reward people for that on Patreon.”
Fast forward 30 days and Nataly’s patronage increased by 400%, passing the $6,100 mark and doubling the amount of patrons along for the ride. She had tried Patreon pushes like this before, but none had been this successful.
I chatted with Nataly to dive into what she did during those 30 days, uncovering 6 simple tactics that played a game-changing role in her explosive patronage.
Nataly’s tiers on Patreon had been the same for a while, so her first order of business was to go back to the drawing board and find new ways to incentivize fans to become patrons. “It was about finding ways to give back something meaningful to my patrons on a regular basis,” she notes. With that in mind, these 3 improvements stuck out as big wins for Nataly:
Nataly was trying to do two things during this month-long push: get patrons excited for the upcoming album and keep them excited for everything she would be releasing post-album. To do so, she made sure that every tier had incentives for both — an album-related element paired with an ongoing perk.
“Set up rewards in lower tiers that would be really exciting to people.” While a $100 pledge is always welcome, Nataly knows that most fans are likely to choose the lower reward tiers, so those should be widely attractive to the majority. Also vital to note, “since so many people pledge at the lower tiers, it’s important to make sure those perks don’t take too much of your time to fulfill or disrupt your workflow.”
Nataly dug into the old-school patronage playbook for a tier that was too enticing for fans to say no to: all patrons pledging before August 15th would get their name on the physical album.
“When you contribute to a university, you get your name on a bench. Beethoven’s patrons got their names printed in the libretto when the 5th symphony debuted. A label puts their logo on the back of the album, but I don’t have a label. My album is because of these patrons, so I’m putting their names on it.”
Now with over 1000 patrons, Nataly has since expanded the size of the album packaging to fit all the names of the fans that made this happen.
What you can do: Opt for short and long term value, improve low tier rewards, and if possible, find ways to get their name on something (end of videos, album cover, corner of a painting).
So, we’ve got a brand new set of enticing tiers… shouldn’t we tell someone? Introducing, Post Paralysis.
Post Paralysis: a condition where one fails to post on any social media platform because they can’t decide where to go or what to say.
Nataly’s cure for PP? Do it all.
“Post on all of your socials, all the time. I posted on my Instragram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube — even Pomplamoose’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.”
Although her biggest audience is on YouTube, Nataly divided and conquered on every platform because there are engaged fans wanting to hear from her at each of those places. If you hyper-focus on the platform you feel most comfortable with, you neglect all the fans who have chosen to follow you on everything else.
You might be thinking this “post everywhere all the time” strategy could get annoying to your followers, ultimately deterring them from coming on board. To that I say, I too shared the same fear until I noticed how many posts I mindlessly scroll through in a day, many of which are from the same person or brand, without even noticing. Often times, a post really catches my attention but I can’t dive in that moment, so I close out and forget it ever happened.
Sound familiar to you? That’s where post frequency and platform come into play.
“It’s easy to forget that your life is really only your biggest priority — it’s no one else’s.
“Your own mother isn’t thinking of you all day. She has her own existence,” Nataly laughs. “You can’t be surprised when people aren’t just rushing to give you things, because they have their lives. The only way to get in touch with people is to break through and become a part of their lives for just an instant. Then, they can remember that they have their life and you have your life, and maybe they are interested in yours.”
What you can do: Beat post paralysis by getting the word out everywhere and as often as possible.
Straight out of a marketers tool belt, Nataly used perfectly-crafted social posts to create a constant sense of urgency throughout the push, effectively running a marketing campaign for her Patreon page. “I decided on a cut-off day to get your name on the album and communicated that date everywhere. Setting a date is really great because you have a reason to constantly promote. You want everybody to know before it’s too late. You can get people really excited for it, as if it’s an event.”
Tell me you don’t look at those Instagram pics and think, “Wow. I should become a patron… now.” Studies show that urgency (15 days left!) and scarcity (how many names fit on an album?) cause people to act quickly, which works perfectly when you have dates you want (or need) to hit to wrap up campaigns.
What you can do: Pick a date, create an expiring incentive, and let them get excited with you.
Notice a theme throughout all of Nataly’s images? Yes, fun and engaging, but I’m talking text. Every single one of Nataly’s images across all social platforms had the important message she was trying to communicate overlaid on the actual image, not just in the caption.
People aren’t reading captions anymore.
YouTube caught on to this years ago with it’s use of annotations. Viewers rarely clicked inside the “more info” section below a YouTube video, so YouTube started overlaying information on top of videos, ultimately bringing in much higher conversion and clicks.
What’s the point of having text on your image if it isn’t clear and concise? Put as dryly as possible, this could look like, “if you do X, Y happens.” When Nataly opted for simple and astonishingly clear, magic happened… in the form of getting a $2k influx in one weekend.
“The major shift that happened was a result of one picture I posted (above) that very clearly explained everything.”
What you can do: Ditch the captions and put clear, concise calls-to-action directly on the image.
Talking to Nataly about this process assured me of one thing: she takes absolutely none of it for granted. It’s one thing to be inwardly appreciative of the pledges rolling in, but it’s another (very magical) thing to celebrate with the people who got you there. Take one quick look at her tweets and you’ll see the value she places on communicating her gratefulness back to her community, whether it’s a quick tweet or a thank you video.
When Nataly hit her $3k goal, she made a video of her dancing with joy (can confirm: it’s hilarious) and sent it to her patrons. When she hit $4k, she let them vote on a song she should do, then recorded it and released it to the community that helped her get there.
“You can’t just ask people for things, you have to celebrate with them. You have to let them know that they’ve succeeded and you’ve succeed. Let them live the experience with you. I’ve been really freaking excited this whole time, so I want to let them in. It’s SO easy to do that.”
What you can do: Remember to pause and celebrate the wins with your community, whether it’s through a tweet that takes 10 seconds or a dance that takes little to no choreography.
Nataly had done pushes like this before, but none just like this, using these tactics throughout her campaign. 30 days later, she comes out the other side with learnings to share, saving possibly the most important one for last:
“If you don’t try, no one will care. If you give up, it won’t matter. So, try. I felt like I was staggering for so long, like I’d been going no where for a really long time. But I kept trying new things. If something isn’t working, stop doing that thing and do something else.
Sometimes I talk to people and they’re discouraged because they didn’t get the job, or someone said no, or the thing they’re trying to do isn’t working, so they just feel like they aren’t going to have it. I don’t believe that. If I’ve ever wanted something in my life, I’ve had to break down so many walls. Keep pushing through different doors. So many people have been generous and gracious beyond my wildest dreams, but only because you ASK.”
Become Nataly’s patron on her Patreon page here.