How to Make Money with a Patreon Account
Patreon is a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter, GoFundMe or IndieGoGo, except with a slight twist. The company's name intentionally sounds like the word patron because online content creators need to find a way to monetize their work and finding people who are willing to contribute to your process and help keep it going. Where crowdfunders like Kickstarter raise money for a specific one-off project such as an album or film, Patreon's incentivizing element is to provide continuing support with a small contribution every time new content is uploaded (with a capped limit). Keep reading OneHowTo.com to know How to Make Money with a Patreon Account and see if it something which will work for you.
Who is Patreon For?
Whereas the early days of crowdfunding was almost exclusively the stomping ground for musicians, novelists (writers) or filmmakers who wanted to get a new project launched away from the vested interests of music labels or film studios. However, it soon branched out into everything from new product launches, hoodies and even potato salad! Such one-off projects work well on these platforms and they are given added incentives such as guest list places at shows, your name in the credits and even merchandise or meet and greets with the artist. Of course, many of the pledges will receive a copy of the product they are helping to support. You can also have different levels of rewards depending on the amount you pledge.
This model doesn't work so well for patreon. If you are going to get a lower per content release payment rather than one donation or pledge, then you will have to make lots of content to see any reward. If you are a musician, it is unlikely you will be able to put our an album per month without a) having bad quality or b) being driven to distraction.
Patreon, therefore, works better for people who can release lots of content on a continual basis. This might include vloggers (video-bloggers), podcasters, comics, animation, comedy, art or writing. There are musicians who use it as well, but this tends to be more for videos with cover songs or progress updates rather than new material. So, if you are a creator who is able to provide new, engaging content with consistent quality, perhaps Patreon is for you.
How Does Patreon Work?
Each creator starts a profile and gives details of what content they are going to put out. On the right hand side of the profile is a list of what donors will receive depending on how much they donate. A common range starts at $1 per month for basic access to the content (i.e. links to videos or whatever), continuing to something like $25 dollars per month where they might get some sort of reward (such as a credit or something more tangible like a mug), then going all the way up to hundreds or even thousands (very rare) of dollars which will get you something extremely exclusive.
The middle of the page has a feed where the creator will post updates of what is going on in their process and what they can expect upcoming. Sometimes this is open to anyone, sometimes you will need to be a donor to see it. Members of the community can post comments and thoughts, making the whole process from creator to consumer more closely linked.
You can create an introduction video to be seen at the top and add featured tags to make your posts more SEO friendly. You can even put an RSS feed for easier subscription access. For donations, you need to set up a goal so that you can have a base amount (usually per month) to provide the content. Usually this is a per creation pledge, but you can also have the opportunity to charge up front which means they will be charged the same amount every month like a direct debit, regardless of how much or how little content you post.
You will need to set up an account into which pledges can be sent, but it is best to do this through a secure method like Paypal, Stripe and Payoneer. You will also need to make sure that you pay your taxes on the amounts you receive, so it might be wide to consult an accountant, especially if you are making decent money. This will usually involve changing your tax status to self-employed, but can be tricky if you also work another job. Patreon gets their money by taking 5% of overall pledges (plus some credit card charges), less than usual for an agent or a business manager.
Positives for the Patreon Creator
There are many positives and the first main one is that, as you are making money on your own terms, you don't have to be beholden to anyone else for your content. You are your own boss. You will create the content that you like and, if people like it, you will be able to share with lots of people and get your work out there for all to see.
If it is successful enough, you will be able to use it as your primary or only source of income. It is increasingly difficult to get rewards for your content creation, especially for those working in the arts. This is a way to cut out the middleman and allow you to get paid in a competitive market where it can be particularly difficult to monetize your content. You will also have more time as you won't have to spend so much of it at a day job or worrying about how to pay the bills.
You will also be able to forge a community which will be able to help in other ways, whether it is something specific like coming to your show, or something more general like promoting you on social media. There is great support from the website creators and they will be willing to help you out, as the more successful you are, the more successful are they. The website is easy to use, create and update with intuitive interfaces and a manager set up to make sure you are keeping a track on all your postings and donations.
Negatives for the Patreon Creator
As you are your own boss, this means that not only are you able to make decisions for yourself, but you have the responsibility to make the right decisions. Many Patreon creators don't like calling the process crowdfunding and prefer using the term subscription, as you might get with a physical magazine or newspaper. However, as it is a subscription, you will need to be able to make good on your deal. You will have to continually create content which is up to the standard of the community. You may not have a boss, but you won't have any patrons either if you don't put out good work. If you don't think you'll be able to issue quality content with regularity, then perhaps it is not for you. This does, however, also work as a positive as it incentivizes the creator to create, whereas doing it for no tangible reward does not.
If you look at the Patreon homepage, you will see that there are some highlighted accounts which seem to be making a lot of money. However, it is not easy to find out other accounts on the site, so discoverability is really up to you. You can't just put up an account and hope people will come to you. You will have to work on some sort of campaign to get it out there. So, if you don't have many people in you social media friend group or don't have influential people to help spread the word, it will be important to find out how to get them alongside the account. You might want to use Twitter to do so.
There is a lot to think about when trying to make money from your content, but it seems that Patreon is a good option for many people who don't want to go down more traditional routes. The money goes directly to you and you are able to build a community who will encourage and support you as you go. They will also help troubleshoot any problems you might have.
If you want to know more about how to make the most of your online presence, take a look at this article on the most effective social media marketing techniques for your business.
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