How to use Patreon as an artist

If you’re an artist who’s struggling to replace lost revenue streams in the wake of the current pandemic, Patreon might be the solution you need.

Jack Conte and Sam Yam cofounded Patreon in 2013, providing an online platform to help creators like artists get paid for making art. The platform has over 200,000 creators, including content creators, podcasters, painters, comedians, photographers, webcomic artists, YouTubers, TikTok performers, and more.

Patreon operates in a similar way to Kickstarter, except that subscribers support artists directly for all work rather than just for a single project. Subscribers can receive exclusive content like artwork, photographs, videos, and creative physical rewards for financially supporting their favorite artists. The artist can then allocate the money they’ve raised through this platform to whatever they need to make their art, including living costs.

Additionally, some artists say that Patreon’s marketing efforts have raised their profiles. A lot of people who use Patreon also say they have been “discovered” on the platform. Some Patreon users even have lucrative jobs, such as their own podcasts or a social media following that has transformed them into in-demand influencers.

Pro Tip

You can connect your JotForms to your Patreon account through Jotform’s Zapier integration in order to collect membership pledges and any other information you like.

How Patreon works for artists

If you’re going to pursue an income stream via Patreon, the first step is to set up a free Patreon account. Create a dynamic and interesting profile page that shares more about you, including what you create and why others should support your artistic endeavors.

You can offer your subscribers different support levels. For example, your Patreon page may list subscription amounts of $1, $5, $10, or more per month. In return, you provide reward tiers for your fanbase.

Once you select the optional subscriber levels, it’s important to start sharing your Patreon profile on social media and asking others to sign up to receive updates from you.

After your supporters begin to sign up, you’ll see a revenue stream as those monthly payments begin rolling into the account you designate. Patreon deducts a 5-percent fee and additional payment processing fees, so it’s important to figure those costs into your budget.

If you experience any issues or uncertainty while you’re getting started on Patreon, the platform offers many tutorials to help you create your profile page and perform other administrative tasks. It’s committed to helping you nurture your creative process, grow your fanbase, get peer support, and turn your artistic passions into full-time work.

As an alternative to traditional crowdfunding that only works for a limited time, Patreon offers ways for you to increase the number of patrons you have in order to build a sustainable income. Here are tips from successful Patreon users on how to make the most of the platform.

Change your mindset

Patreon offers a new way of working that you may not yet be accustomed to as an artist. Unlike freelancing, your monthly income is clearer because you see the number of subscribers. It’s up to you to build that fanbase, which is similar to working as a freelancer but different from a traditional job.

For artists, it’s about changing your mindset — realizing it’s possible to cut out the middleman and go directly to those who are interested in what you create. While it may seem helpful to have that middleman’s help, you also lose some control and revenue in the process. The Patreon membership platform helps you hold onto both.

Build your audience

However, as a digital artist, you can’t just sit back, create art, and wait for subscribers to find your Patreon campaign. Instead, you’ll need to sharpen your marketing and publicity skills to get noticed.

You’ll need to launch a website and update social media profiles on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Depending on your artistic specialty, you may want to create a YouTube channel and TikTok account. Etsy is good for artists who sell creative items like paintings, photos, and fashion.

Once you develop a social media following, share your Patreon campaign to entice those followers with exclusive content for a small monthly subscription fee. Your biggest fans could provide marketing assistance by sharing information about your Patreon membership plans with their friends and followers.

Offer incentives

To attract Patreon subscribers, create personalized incentives that thank them for their patronage. Giving them something that they can’t get anywhere else shows your subscribers that you value them. They may then be more inclined to share information about you on their social profiles.

Support other Patreon artists

One of the best ways to use the membership platform is to support fellow artists. They share a passion for creating, even if it’s in a different medium. You can support your creative colleagues by offering advice, connecting them to others who can help them, and sharing their Patreon campaigns on your social profiles. If you love what they do, you can subscribe and collect what they create.

Sustain revenue through all economic cycles

The amount of money you make as an artist may vary drastically from month to month, let alone through different economic cycles. Use Patreon to bring stability and sustainability to your monthly income. Rather than relying on big companies that may reduce their workforce or lay you off during a recession, you can use Patreon to provide a steady stream of money and a healthy audience of fans who love your work.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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