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What to offer with your Special Offer

Creators, do you want to give your earnings a boost? We’ve got some good news…

Last year, we launched the Special Offer feature at Patreon. If you don’t know what a Special Offer is, don’t worry. We’ll get into that later.

What you do need to know is this:

So far, on average, creators who ran a Special Offer saw a 200 percent increase in new pledges when compared to new pledges acquired in the previous month.

What is a Special Offer on Patreon?

We humans are hardwired to value scarcity and limited availability. Maybe it comes from our hunter/gatherer past, or perhaps it was an invention created by the Don Drapers of the world.

For whatever reason, consumers love limited-time offers — and so do patrons.

A Special Offer allows you to use the power of a limited-time offer on Patreon.

Here are some events that work well with a Special Offer (but feel free to invent your own):

  • Launching your creator page
  • Celebrating a new project (book, album, etc)
  • Revamping your Tiers and Benefits or returning to Patreon after a hiatus

Now that you know what a Special Offer is, what should you offer with your Special Offer?

Offer a chance to hang out with you digitally

You may have heard the phrase, “your time is valuable.” But your time isn’t just valuable to you. It’s valuable to your fans, as well.

If you’re not sure what to offer for your Special Offer, offer them a chance to get to know you better.

RPG Inclusion advocate and long time roller of dice Tanya C. DePass offered her fans the chance to play Dungeons and Dragons with her as dungeon master.

Tanya C. DePass is an important figure in the RPG world. She’s a member of the popular Dungeons and Dragons live stream show, Rivals of Waterdeep (her paladin character loves baths and naps as much as slaying monsters). With her live talks, videos on Twitch and Youtube, and her non-profit, I Need Diverse Games, Tanya merges her passion for gaming with advocacy for diversity and inclusion in RPG spaces.

As a Special Offer benefit, Tanya gave a limited number of her fans the opportunity to play in an online Dungeons & Dragons game with her as dungeon master.

Embedded content: https://twitter.com/cypheroftyr/status/1105811648147800064/photo/1

What made her Special Offer so successful?

Tanya’s Special Offer was authentic, unique, and fun.

When you’re brainstorming your Special Offer, ask yourself this: what kind of hang out would make your fans jump for joy?

If you are a musician, maybe your fans would like to see an exclusive, live stream concert, through GetVokl, or Crowdcast. Or, if you are a gamer like Tanya, perhaps your patrons would like to play in a game with you. By offering a hang out that’s hand-selected for your audience, you'll be giving your Special Offer a better chance at being successful.

Offer exclusive, limited-edition merch

With all the monumental changes media has gone through over the past decade, one thing remains the same: selling merch is still fundamental to artists getting paid for their craft.

On Patreon, merch is, and has always been, a great way to entice fans to become patrons. It’s one of the most well-known transactions between fans and artists, and, since fans understand this transaction — and see the value in it — it becomes a forceful tool in a creator’s pitch for membership.

Video creator Deep Look offered their fans limited-edition t-shirts

If you don’t think a bumble bee is cute, you haven’t seen the above video by Deep Look — once you watch it, you’ll understand why they refer to these insects as “tiny, flying teddy bears.”

Deep Look is a science and nature video series created by KQED, a PBS station based in San Francisco. They make beautiful mini-documentaries, and we do mean mini. In stunning 4K resolution, their videos capture the nuances of animal life that are impossible to notice with the naked eye.

While many of their videos zoom in on bug life, like this terrifying one about bedbugs, they go deep on other types of animals, as well. Here are a couple of our favorites:

  • Ever wonder why kittens are so silly and friskey? This adorable video on the brain development of kittens will have you looking at your cat in a totally different way.
  • We all know that elephants have giant ears. But did you know they can hear with their feet? We didn’t!
  • Crow funerals — it’s a thing. This mind blowing Deep Look video about crows will give you a whole new respect for these intelligent, often misunderstood birds.

As a Special Offer, Deep Look went all out by offering their fans a limited-edition t-shirt.

But besides creating merch that their fans wanted, Deep Look did something else that made their Special Offer successful.

Deep Look told their fans why they were running a Special Offer

Deep Look’s t-shirt was enticing on its own. But the story they told made it even more successful.

On their creator page, Deep Look published a post explaining what they’d do with the Special Offer pledges: they’d go to Oaxaca, Mexico to make some exciting, new videos. They even told their fans about some of the fascinating creatures, like the beautifully patterned MacDougall’s Spiny Lizards, they’d be filming on location in Mexico.

What do you want to achieve with your Special Offer? Make a compelling case to your fans and patrons about what you’d do with the new Special Offer pledges. They’ll be excited to learn that your Special Offer will lead to more content (and that they helped make it happen).

Note: Offering items like t-shirts and tote bags can be expensive and time-consuming. When offering high-resource items as a Special Offer, make sure the tier price is high enough to accurately reflect your production costs (and to get yourself a raise).

If you don't have the time or the resources to create (and ship) a t-shirt, here are some other items to consider:

  • Offer them a thank you postcard
  • Offer them stickers or buttons with your logo

Bonus tip: Offer your patrons a shout-out

Every time a patron engages with your content, they get the amazing feeling of knowing that their support helped make those creations possible.

So, why not offer your fans a shout-out as a Special Offer? That way, your new patrons will know just how vital they are to your content.

Here are a couple shout-out ideas to offer for your Special Offer:

  • Offer them a shout-out on your show: If you are a podcaster or a video creator, you could offer your fans the chance to receive a shout-out on your show.
  • Offer them a thank you: A thank you is low-resource/high-impact, which means your patrons will be happy (and you’ll be able to quickly get back to creating). Get creative with it. If you are a writer, offer your patrons the chance to have their names in the jacket of a future book. Or, if you are a musician, you could offer a shout-out to your patrons in the liner notes of your upcoming album.

Ready to launch a Special Offer on your creator page?

For detailed instructions on how to set up a Special Offer, head over to this support page. Also, check out the Special Offer Handbook, which has ideas for every stage of a Special Offer, from promotion to launch.

Then, when you're ready to jump in, click this link and launch a Special Offer today.