Today, there are a myriad of ways to pay your self-publishing expenses, you can do what most authors do and that’s self-fund or you can crowdfund, where you ask others to support your project. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the dominant sites for artists looking to raise money for their projects. However, several years ago, another site called Patreon rewrote the rules of crowdfunding by setting up a system where artists can collect payments on an ongoing basis. Patreon is a subscription-based membership platform where fans of a particular artist or creator can pay a monthly fee to support them. Launched in 2013, the site has raised over 2 billion dollars (U.S.) and has over 200,000 creators.
Authors such as; Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, and Lindsay Buroker have all used Patreon successfully to fund their ongoing creative projects. Some authors use it to help fund their self-publishing expenses, podcasts, or online courses. I’ve even noticed some creators who have no particular project and just ask for donations to fund their careers. As you can see, you can use Patreon for a variety of reasons.
Needless to say, crowdfunding of any kind should be taken seriously, because if you don’t reach your goals and fulfill promises your reputation could be called into question. That means people could see you either as a con artist looking for victims or you can be seen as just plain lazy and seeking a handout. This isn’t what you want for your career. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about crowdfunding before you choose this route. Fortunately, Patreon has an excellent list of resources for those looking into educating themselves about the site, I’ll link to them below:
- Patreon Blog
- Patreon U Articles & Video Tutorials
- Patreon Youtube Channel
The Pros & Cons of Patreon
Like with any business venture you’ll have to consider if it’s worth it for you. Below I’ll list some of the pros and cons of using Patreon if you’re seriously considering it.
- Patreon can be an alternate source of income
- Fans of your work can directly support you
- You can crowdfund a variety of creative projects
- You can choose the tiers and benefits you wish to commit to
- Your donations can fluctuate due to any reason.
- All money raised is taxable
- There are fees involved from both Patreon and some banking institutions.
- You’re expected to keep your promises which could mean more time and work in addition to your normal workload.
Crowdfunding can be an excellent way to fund a project if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Study the successful people on the website and try to emulate what they do but give it your own twist. Here are more best practices if you want to succeed on Patreon:
- Create realistic goals
- Make sure you have time for this
- Have a marketing plan
- Create exclusive content for your supporters
Ways To Use Patreon
If you didn’t know, your book is your intellectual property and that can be exploited in an unlimited number of ways such as:
- Audiobooks (With multiple voice actors)
- Special or limited editions of books
- Merchandise; games, toys, clothing, etc.
The Reality Of Patreon: A Sobering Reminder For 2021
Since the 2020 recession, several artists have mentioned that their donations on Patreon have dwindled. This probably has nothing to do with the quality of their work because Patreon itself just laid off 13% of its staff citing the current economic downturn. As if that weren’t enough, at the beginning of the pandemic Patreon revealed they were seeing more pledge deletions (cancellations) than in previous years but weren’t worried because membership remained strong. That’s great for them but not so great for the artists who are losing money.
If you’re hoping that Patreon will supply 100% of your writing income, you might be in for a shock. Most artists who use the site use it to supplement their income and not as their only source of revenue. Another thing worth mentioning is that since the COVID-19 lockdowns, performance artists such as musicians and singers have turned to Patreon which is creating even more competition for those already on the site. In fact, Patreon itself said an additional 50,000 artists have joined the site since last year, which is a lot of people fishing in the same pond. Keep in mind they only have 200,000 creators and 25% of them are new. That’s a big jump in numbers.
Today, authors don’t have to break the bank to fund their creative projects and that alone frees them from the confines of the publishing industry. Authors can now exploit their intellectual property in ways that were inconceivable before. As I mentioned before, Patreon does work but you have to put in the hours and the work just like with anything else. Anyway, I hope this post showed you a balanced view of Patreon and crowdfunding in general.
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Reblogged this on OCG and commented:
If you are looking at writing . . . err, casually.
Oct 7, 2013 Monday Morning West Coast time 4:335 AM
I was ripped off by Publish/America having received only one Royalty check in the amount of $1.40 this one check was to prevent me from suing them for breach of contract. Here seven years later I notified them that I would not be extending my contract with them. My novel is now ready and waiting to go into production. I too am in need of a sponsor to help me with the cost of initial publishing. I have the travel and promotion expenses covered but without a product in hand to display and sell that leaves me out of business. This is the first of three finished manuscripts that I can have published this year. A sponsor would allow me the opportunity to get published now rather than waiting to finance this project myself during the first quarter of next year. (E-bay MRL1950)
I really love this advice. This will go in a long way to perfect my zeal and dream.
One more interesting thing I will like to hear is how does a young writer like me make it in life through my enormous writing gift.?
I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.
Thanks, but you don’t have to wait, this article is a few months old 🙂 Here’s Part 2 if you’re still interested: http://rachelrueben.com/2012/02/05/getting-a-sponsor-for-your-book-part-2/
really good article. Ready to hear more next week
I greatly appreciate all the info I’ve read here.
Fair comment. I’m always open to sponsorship, because i know what the benefits such things can bring. I do think i’d be very careful of the company and the product though. With it being my own book i’d want to have passion for the product. Whereas if i was a sportsmen and asked to endorse a clothing company i didnt particularly like, well, that wouldn’t be much of an issue
I look forward to post number two though 🙂
Matt (Turndog Millionaire)
Honestly, no. There is commercial writing and literary writing. Literary writers write for arts sake. While commercial (genre) authors write to make money which is hard, because most publishing companies offer little, or no support for their writers in the form of marketing and visibility. They invest only in authors who sell BIG while the others, are left on their own. If you’re not Stephen King or J.K. Rowling then this is a problem. That means advertising and book tours are out of the question for most authors unless, they want to pay the costs themselves. I say, instead of using your own money, why not get a company to foot the bill? If you’re willing to promote a book, why not another product?
Interesting. I’ve dealt with a lot of sports sponsorships in my time, but getting a book sponsor hasn’t occurred to me.
With writing being such an art, do you not see many writers shying away from this method?
Matt (Turndog Millionaire)
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