Thousands of creators on Patreon use the Patreon Discord integration to foster community and dole out rewards to their supporters.
Discord is an app originally created for gaming communities as a way for individuals with similar interests to communicate in designated, relevant channels. Users can interact using text, images, videos, voice, and emojis.
Any Discord user can create private channels, then add and remove individuals as desired. But for many creators, manually adding and removing patrons based on their reward tier is too time-consuming. The integration with Patreon means that patrons are automatically given or denied access based on the status of their patronage. In this way, access to Discord channels based on patronage is a simple way to enhance reward tiers.
For this article, we spoke to representatives from World Anvil, Kitten Academy, and Printable Heroes to explore how they are using Discord to build up their communities and reward patrons for their support.
Note: Want to earn recurring, predictable support from your biggest fans? Try Patreon.
Anyone who wants to use the Patreon Discord integration will need to be familiar with "roles."
Roles allow you to group your patrons and fans according to whatever metric you fancy. For example, World Anvil (featured below) set up the following roles for their fans and patrons:
The username of someone with a special role will appear color-coded according to that role. In the World Anvil example, fans who are not patrons have their usernames appear white. Patrons get colored names and are grouped by support tier. For example, "Legendary Worldsmiths," who pledge $50+/month, have their usernames highlighted in hot pink.
Setting up roles for your patrons is a simple but necessary step to help Patreon’s Discord bot automatically manage any special access you give your patrons. For more on how to do that, visit this article on how to integrate Patreon and Discord.
Now, let’s take a look at how three creators are using Discord in addition to setting up roles.
Dimitris and Janet are the creators of World Anvil, a worldbuilding platform for authors and game masters alike. The platform offers users a way to easily store, crosslink, and reference their maps and other information about characters or players and the world they’ve imagined. It’s also a place where users can engage with content creators to provide feedback and interact with the world being built.
Their patrons are worldbuilders: authors and game masters and other creative people who sign up to receive updates, voting rights on new features, and of course, Discord rewards.
Dimitris shared that "Guild Members" (i.e., patrons) get access to:
- channels with unique content
- discussions on closed features
- closed-door audio chats on the server
- channels with insights about the creators’ daily lives and the development of the tool they’re building, and
- Guild-only challenges and writing workshops.
That’s in addition to color-coded roles and extra customer service.
The husband-and-wife team has been using Discord to dole out Patreon rewards for roughly one year. Their success on the platform in that short time attracted the attention of other creators; the pair currently advises four other Patreon creators on how to grow their communities.
"Discord for us is a way to empower our community. We consider our Patrons to be family. It’s been a great opportunity to get real insights on what our biggest fans want to see, which, combined with the ability to build hype around our product, has been a blessing," Dimitris shared.
Not only do they embrace the community dynamic Discord facilitates with their fans and patrons, but they also realized that being on Discord "brought us closer to other influencers, which helped us grow further away from our initial echo chamber," he said.
"We are very happy that we brought to Patreon over ten new creators by giving them the confidence to get out there and show their work, which is awesome," he added.
"We've specialized in taking in momcats who come into the shelter already pregnant, giving them a safe place to deliver their kittens, getting them all up to an appropriate age and having the mom and kittens all spayed and neutered, and then adopting them out (typically around the time the kittens are three months old, give or take)," said a representative from Kitten Academy.
Fans and supporters of the rescue can watch a live stream of the adorable kitties on YouTube. The same stream has been running since April 2016 and features one or two groups (called "classes") of kittens at a time. The kittens are housed in a dining room and sometimes in a converted spare bedroom. Since so many people enjoy the stream, it’s been a lot easier to find adoptive families for kittens and momcats who “graduate” the Academy.
Kitten Academy has been on Discord for the past two years. But unlike World Anvil, the Kitten Academy Discord is accessible to patrons only.
"We're a big happy family of nearly 2,000 people," the representative shared. “I often refer to it as ‘the best place on the Internet.’”
They use the Discord for announcing events, such as the KA Tree Decorating Pawrty mentioned below, and maintaining a friendly place for supporters to chat about everything kitten-related.
Their patrons love GIFs from the live streams (because who wouldn’t want a highlight reel of kitten antics?). So Kitten Academy has a Discord bot that catalogs and links the GIFs. "The bot, called KATaru, was created by one of our earliest supporters. It gets loaded up with GIFs and then people in the Discord chat are able to ask it to search for and post the GIFs into the chat. For instance, if you wanted to see the time that Tiffiny's kittens used her as a springboard, you might type "!gif tiffiny springboard" and you'd get something like this," the volunteer shared.
Here’s a look at the GIF itself:
In addition, they use "Toonkaru," a standard Discord "mee6" bot, to pull up additional videos and gifs. For example, a KA patron could type in “!tinytakedown” to retrieve a video of a cat mom pretending to be pushed over when her kitten pounced.
But the KA Discord also has a more serious use. "Most importantly, it's used over and over to alert me of issues with the kittens we foster in real-time. It’s a valuable way for me to get real-time alerts when a kitten gets into trouble or is sick," the representative shared. KA supporters who are watching the live stream will let the volunteers know when a kitten on camera has made a mess (like when a kitten named Ink barfed on-screen):
Other times, the notifications might be more positive — like celebrating a kitten who has finally learned to use the litter box.
All these perks go a long way toward growing the Kitten Academy patron count. That said, Kitten Academy’s basic call-to-action is already compelling on its own: Donations go directly to rescuing and caring for kittens and their mommas.
"The Discord is, for sure, a major reason people contribute money to us," they said. “We started our Patreon page after repeated requests from fans for a way they could donate to us. We never would have expected it to be such a success — there's enough money coming to us through Patreon to easily cover our standard expenses, and so far, enough beyond that it covers the (often extravagant) vet bills that crop up unexpectedly, but often.”
Marshall Short provides free files for game masters and adventurers alike to print out miniatures for their games. His work is supported full-time by patrons. In exchange, they get access to rewards like bonus art, voting rights, PSD (Photoshop layers) files, and of course, Discord.
The Printable Heroes Discord is for patrons only. Using the Patreon Discord integration, he offers color-coded roles to designate each reward tier. For patrons of "The Council," the $5/mo tier, he has an exclusive channel dedicated to one piece of collaborative art per month.
As for the community dynamic? "It's pretty amazing," he said. “Even though I'm pretty active throughout the day, my patrons frequently answer questions and resolve issues amongst themselves before I even have a chance to. Everyone is really positive and supportive, sharing tips, photos of their games and minis, recommending resources, etc.”
Because his patrons are so engaged on the platform, he’s able to get their feedback as he works. "I like to share work-in-progress (WIP) previews and get feedback from my patrons throughout the month. They frequently give me ideas/solidify directions I can take my work," Marshall said.
And while his community steps up when it comes to answering questions and troubleshooting issues, he still maintains a #helpdesk channel to make sure everyone’s needs are met.
Overall, Marshall said, "The community has been great in answering/resolving their own issues/questions, which saves me lots of time. Discord is a wonderful community space where it's very efficient to engage patrons and preview work."
Thousands of creators on Patreon use the Patreon Discord integration to provide patrons and followers with a space to interact. Some creators make their Discord channels a completely private space for patrons, while others make only some channels private.
A majority use "roles" to color code patron’s usernames (a recognition reward, which you can learn more about in this article). And many, like the examples above, use Discord for fulfilling other rewards as well, including customer support, voting, and extra content.
If you’d like to set up Discord rewards, follow the instructions in this tutorial post.