As a Patreon creator, you’ve found a creative market where you excel and an audience that supports your projects. Perhaps you’re offering your audience exclusive content, early access, or even something physical they can cherish. Many creators find success through Patreon, but it comes with effort needed to yield results.
Typically, there can be quite a bit of trial and error while finding what works best for your business; everyone experiments to discover their own secret sauce. Still, there are some tried and true best practices you can implement to reach two important aspects of transformative growth: audience growth and financial growth. Here are some strategies we’ve seen creators successfully implement to reach their growth goals.
It’s important to remember that any challenges you’re dealing with are ones that other creators, potentially in a different city and even working in a different genre, have dealt with at some point or another. You’re not alone. Knowing that you have a community of support behind you can boost morale and confidence in the art you’re creating for your audience. Use other creators as inspiration for your own business model and experiment with new ideas.
Additionally, there’s no time like the present to start something new; if it works, that’s great, but even if it doesn’t, at least you have an idea of what doesn’t resonate as well with your audience. Success is obvious, but often there's a valuable lesson to learn when you didn't succeed. We encourage you to savor the good and learn from the bad, and press on. Also, regardless of where you've landed, remmeber to be transparent with your patrons. They are your biggest fans — even if you’re having trouble delivering on a promised benefit or piece of content, make sure to keep them in the loop. They want to support you and see you succeed.
There are two options for growing your patrons: growing your casual fans or converting more of your casual fans into avid followers and patrons.
A great way to view the path from the total audience to actual patron is through a marketing funnel. At the top of your funnel, you’ll find your ‘total addressable audience’ or anyone who is into what you’re creating. For example, if you’re a podcast that chats about superheroes your ‘total addressable audience’ is everyone who loves superheroes. Next in the funnel is your ‘casual fans’ or people who have interacted with your content positively. Your ‘avid follower’ are those who are following you on multiple channels and craving your content on a regular basis. And your patrons, of course, are those who are your deepest fans. If you’re a musician, your patrons are the ones who want to not only hear your hits but your b-sides and rarities as well... and they’re willing to support you for access to them.
Remember, audience members become patrons because they are either support-motivated or benefit-motivated, or a combo of both. It’s important to keep these two aspects in mind when converting audience members into patrons.
Here are examples you can use to convert your audience into patrons with support motivation:
- Provide a story in Patreon page’s video or overview text that explains why you’re asking for support, and what you'll be able to do with your patrons behind you.
- If you decide to use goals, make sure to tie them to an emotional benefit.
- Thank patrons often, directly, and broadly.
- Remember to speak to support or your emotional goals in all of your messages so that your posts tie back to the main motivation.
Here are some examples of converting your audience into patrons via benefit motivation:
- Offer exclusivity and content they won’t be able to access anywhere else.
- Create community by giving names to different tiers you offer, for example, if you have a tier available to discussion forums you can call it “chat club.”
- Add physical gifts and benefits to the digital mix.
- Consider different timelines for rewards, offering some for a limited-time and others for a long-term.
- Provide these benefits on a recurring basis and deliver value monthly.
- Make sure to recognize all of your fans at every tier.
It’s important to know your audience if you want to convert them into patrons. Ask yourself who your audience is, then get to work defining it. Is it people who love electropop? Are your potential patrons people who are fans of angelic illustrative art? Are they a certain demographic? Put together as much information as possible. You’ll also want to know where your audience lives. Do they spend their time on YouTube? Do they hang out on Reddit? Where are you most likely to reach them online. When do you find the highest engagement? Is it Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest? What channels are essential to interaction? Where can you focus more of your time and attention? Also look at what your posting that gets the highest engagement. This should inform they content types you should share most often.
One important thing you’ll want to ensure is that you’re implementing traditional marketing strategies. That means staying on top of website updates and making sure to provide clear, easy to find links to your social media channels as well as your Patreon page. If you have a page asking your audience members to become patrons make sure to provide context on how Patreon has been valuable to you thus far and make sure to show how important your current patrons are to you. Creating a newsletter or email list is one of the best ways to convert fans into patrons; aim to send out a newsletter every three or four weeks with a clear call to action to join your Patreon. It’s also a great idea to include new creative and teasers of the exclusive content only patrons can access.
Additionally, you’ll want to stay active in any related forums or communities where you can discuss your creative passion and post content. This is a great way to find new patrons and grow your audience, especially if you post content in a way that feels organic to the community and not spammy. This is the same basic rule for running social media channels as well, except you’ll also need to engage with followers and develop a regular posting habit. Even if you aren’t creating something new to share regularly, you can recycle older content and share teasers and behind the scenes shots of what you’ve worked on.
Marketing can become overwhelming, but the good news is that you don't have to do ALL the marketing strategies, just the ones that work for your business and your audience. If you haven't set up your creative marketing plan for the year ahead, you can do that now.
And, please forgive us another quick product plug... creators like you are growing their audience and income by using the Patreon Special Offers feature. Read on for more.
Remember up above when we said experimentation is normal? Well, it's time to come up with some hypotheses. If you’re trying to grow your fan base, you’ll want to get as creative as possible. This could mean putting on events and conferences that make sense for your specific industry, or even just attending those events to network. You can bring business cards or flyers (any materials that include links to your Patreon) to events to garner interest in what you’re working on. Taking it a step further, you might know someone in your industry who could be valuable to collaborate with, opening you up to a whole audience segment who might not (yet!) know about you.
There is also paid advertising, which can definitely be hit or miss but is something that should at least be on your radar. If you’re not interested in paying for advertising, you might consider reaching out to existing fans on the phone or one-on-one to encourage more word of mouth for your brand or asking them directly to pledge.
Ultimately, implementing these strategies can positively impact your audience and financial growth, but the most important aspect of any of these strategies is getting to know your fans as people. Understanding who they are, where they live online, and more importantly, what motivates them to become patrons is the most important aspect of guaranteeing long term growth and overall success.