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Try These 6 (Data-Backed!) Experiments to Grow Your Creative Business

One of the highlights of being a creator is the personal interactions you have with your patrons. These are the people who believe in your craft and want to be a part of your creative process. But what kind of incentives do patrons have to take your journey with you?

Maura Church and Hayley Rosenblum put data-backed experiments at the forefront of your strategy in their PatreCon 2018 talk, Using Data in Your Creative Strategy. Both Maura and Hayley come equipped with several years of experience in this area. Maura leads the Data Science team at Patreon, and enjoys sharing the science behind successful growth for creators. Hayley has ten years of experience growing the community for artist Amanda Palmer.

Before experimenting with new tactics to grow your membership, try to answer these 3 questions:

  • Have there been major changes in my patronage or Patreon page over the past year?
  • Have I made my Patreon page more or less of a priority for reasons outside of Patreon?
  • What data do I need to determine the success of my Patreon page?

These questions will help you contextualize your membership, noting your other revenue streams or actions you took, and help you understand what data you currently use to benchmark your own success.

Maura and Hayley explain that high-growth creators double their earnings every year. This rapid growth is often fueled by campaign pushes and exclusive rewards. Though these two methods differ from one another, both yield higher acquisition rates for new patrons.

So, which experiments should you run? Let’s take a look at six proven tactics in determining how to drive up your patron numbers.

6 Experiments for Gaining and Keeping Patrons

Before running your experiments, Hayley and Maura share some important benchmarks you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • The highest-performing Patreon pages aim for a 95% retention rate every month.
  • New patrons are most likely to remove their pledge within the first three months of pledging.

When looking at those goals, it can feel like a short amount of time to make a big impact. But with Maura and Hayley’s tactics, growing and maintaining patronage is easy.

  1. Incentivize with a special offer. Your strategy for special offers can range from providing an exclusive offer to providing a limited offer. This will help you determine whether offering something for a specific time period helps you gain patrons. If this experiment is a success, you’ll see growth in your pledge base (which includes the number of patrons you have and the earnings you receive from those patrons). You should also see growth in the tier where you’re providing the offer.

  2. Target your promotions. This experiment helps you determine where your patrons are coming from. Focus on a specific patron tier that you’d like to promote, and use your social channels to bring attention to that tier. The results for this experiment will live in your Patreon dashboard. You’ll want to look at the traffic to your targeted posts. You can also use other tools, like Twitter Analytics, to see the click-through rate on posts promoting your page.

  3. Create a new call-to-action. Think about how you frame your Patreon page, and ask yourself if there’s a different way you could talk about it. If you have a case of writer’s block, check out Patreon’s Creator Toolkit for some new ways to engage with your audience. To gauge your success with this experiment, take a look at your pledge base and number of patrons. If you’ve grown in either of these areas, you can consider your new call-to-action a success!

  4. Bring your patrons along for the ride. Will inviting your patrons to take part in your creative process help you retain them beyond 90 days? Asking your fans what they’d like to see is a fantastic way to capture their attention and keep them engaged in your creative journey. As you decide how to incorporate your patrons’ ideas, consider the engagement you get from your posts. Which posts get the most likes and comments? Of those posts, which have the most likes and comments from new patrons?

  5. Provide a lightweight benefit. This is as simple as putting a new incentive on your page and asking your patrons, “Do you like this?” For Hayley and Amanda, sending out signed postcards was a simple and meaningful way to provide benefits to fans without being overwhelmed by shipping logistics. Listen to your community and see which tiers are most excited about your promotion. This will help you focus on providing benefits that keep your patrons around.

  6. Thank them personally. Your patrons support you every day because they’re genuinely excited about what you create. By offering a new way to show your thanks for their support, you’ll be able to see if you retain new patrons at a higher rate than existing patrons. The smallest and kindest gesture to show your appreciation goes a long way with the people who value your work.

Data Doesn’t Have to be Scary

A good relationship with your patrons is built upon authenticity and transparency. Providing open lines of communication between yourself and your supporters encourages the sense of community behind your work. As Maura explains in the closing of her talk,

“Trying something new and learning from it doesn’t have to be a scary, data-filled box. Try something small, learn, and then share what you’ve learned with other creators.”


Want to find out what your patrons love most about your business? Sign up for Patreon here.