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The Letter J



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:13 pm    Post subject: Patreon Reply with quote

Anyone here have any experience with or thoughts on Patreon? I know it's the old micro-payments thing again, but this time there seems to be some decent results (at least initially) and it does appear to be gaining some momentum.

Anyway, didn't see a discussion about it here and thought it might make an interesting topic. Smile
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2956
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could also call it "the old crowdfunding thing." : )

I just started up a Patreon for my webcomic recently: patreon.com/smbhax

I tried to base what I did on the super-popular webcomic Patreon campaigns, like SMBC, and to a lesser extent Wapsi Square, etc. I think I'm still lacking in the milestone department...but I'm kinda skeptical that the setup matters a whole lot, seems to me that it's almost entirely down to how big your readership is, ie basically x % of your readers will participate--depending maybe on how visible you make the links to your Patreon page on your main site, and how eloquent they are. Basically I think you have to keep telling people about it, reminding them, etc...hopefully not to the point of too much annoyance, of course. For instance I now have a kind of noticeable text banner link thing to my Patreon underneath my comic on my site--is that more annoying than it is effective? I dunno!

I find Patreon's search thingy a bit befuddling; for instance, as far as I can tell, if you try searching for "webcomics," you will only get the top ten results or so...ever. Bleh! So I don't think you can count on a whole lot of "discovery" through the Patreon site itself, it's up to you to drive people there from your own site. (The one thing I am hoping for is that someone will be lazy and type in just the first three letters of "SMBC," in which case my "smbhax" will be the other search result ; )...I have no indication that that has worked at all, heh. : P)

All that being said, it *is* kind of just money sitting there waiting for you to cash it in, so there's really no reason *not* to do it as far as I can see; mind you, just don't over-promise on the rewards (again, for me so far the rewards don't seem to be what drives people to participate; since Patreon is ongoing funding, the rewards are much more symbolic in comparison to what people are giving you than Kickstarter, where it's a one-time funding for that one-time reward; then again, maybe if I was smarter I could come up with some ongoing rewards that somehow wouldn't take up more and more of my time each month--I've seen people offer access to a live monthly vlogcast, for instance; not sure how much of a draw that kind of thing is, though, and personally I don't like the idea of putting my content behind a paywall like that).

Oh yeah one thing I thought was interesting was that since their campaign video pitches are just embedded YouTube vids, you can see how many views they have--and you can see that, for webcomic campaigns at least, almost nobody bothers watching them! Which was a relief, because I really didn't want to do a video. : P
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been thinking about starting one, but considering I've only ever received a donation once, for $5, through my PayPal button, I'm not sure it's worth my time right now. And I don't have the time to make extra rewards anyway.

smbhax.com - if you work with a buffer, you could let your supporters see the next page or so early. That'd give you at least one subscriber-type reward that really wouldn't be any extra work.
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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started a Patreon in late January out of sheer desperation -- not so much for money (though I could always use more of that) but I desperately needed to find ways to buy some time.

The response was really positive, and for my readership size I feel I've done well.

Patreon is, basically, a way to automate donations. Most potential donors only give when they're poked with a stick, and most of us do not like to stand there every update waving a flag and going "Hey! Over here! Donate button! GIVE ME MONEY OR ELSE!" With Patreon, you poke them, they donate, and you keep getting paid without that need to find new, better, and pointier sticks.

As such, it doesn't pay to pour too much into your donation levels. If you have the time, energy, and desire, sure -- but most people are not going to donate for your Cool Stuff, they're going to donate what they can afford. And it's really hard to guess what motivates people.

It is also helpful to have some very clear goals for yourself and your audience. "Hey, I have a Patreon, I would like some money" doesn't really motivate people. Be specific about why you need this. Be specific about what will happen when you get it, or what will happen if you don't. Try to keep your writeup very concise.

You will have an initial surge of signups followed by a very, very slow trickle. Try to maximize that initial surge. When I pitched the idea of a Patreon to my husband he said, "for god's sake do an update announcing it, because I never scroll down to the blog section on webcomics and I'm always missing donation drives and Kickstarters because of it." So I did, and I think that helped a lot. I also did a random drawing for anyone who signed up to Patreon by the end of the month -- hard to say how much that helped, but I don't think it hurt.

Logistically I have no complaints. Patreon's search, as others have said, sucks balls, but the setup is very simple, the payouts have been utterly painless (the fees seem closer to 10% than the 8% they suggest, but they've already dropped once in the two months I've been signed up, so I'm okay with that) and the risk is very low.

As for the money... it's not like something that'll make or break me, but... there's something magic about knowing people will give you money just because they like your stuff. Smile I've stopped feeling so guilty about the time I take "away" from my day job or my kidlet, because dammit now the webcomic is paying work instead of just my guilty pleasure. It's given me the courage to tell my bosses I think I'm working too many hours and want to cut back. I've even started looking at Kickstarter again, tentatively, because... well, I have at least 22 people who'd buy in for sure, maybe it wouldn't be such a long shot as all that....?

So yeah. Patreon is a great tool and I'm pleased with it. But as with all tools you get better results from careful usage. Smile
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2956
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera wrote:
I've been thinking about starting one, but considering I've only ever received a donation once, for $5, through my PayPal button, I'm not sure it's worth my time right now. And I don't have the time to make extra rewards anyway.

Come to think of it, the reason I decided to try Patreon was because I had someone donate via my old PayPal donate button, which hardly ever happens so I emailed them to thank them, and they said no problem but have you looked at something like Patreon, I'd prefer to use *that* to get you money. So that got me thinking!

MindChimera wrote:
smbhax.com - if you work with a buffer, you could let your supporters see the next page or so early. That'd give you at least one subscriber-type reward that really wouldn't be any extra work.

Oh yeah, I've seen some that do that! I'm not too keen on even a one-day paywall though...well and I just can't resist showing my latest stuff to everyone as soon as it's done. Which is also why I operate without a buffer I guess. ; )
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
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Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

katastrophe wrote:
Try to keep your writeup very concise.

I started with what I'd thought would be a short one, but somehow in Patreon's narrow column the three small paragraphs looked dauntingly long--so I kept whittling away at it and to my surprise it eventually boiled down to three sentences. : ) Might be *too* short, I suppose...but I think it's really mostly just your own readers who are seeing the page, anyway, and if someone new comes along, well, at least this way there's a chance they'll read the whole thing. : )
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The Letter J



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice to come back and see so many thoughtful responses. Definitely some good and beneficial material being posted here. Very awesome. Although, I'm finding that I don't have much to add to the discussion – I'm mostly just nodding my head in agreement with what's being said. Very Happy

The one area that still gives me concern is in regard to when that initial surge turns to a trickle as Katastrophe pointed out. Trickles very easily die off. So, how do we keep it going?

I do like the idea of posting pages early for Patreon supporters. It's work that I'd be doing anyway plus it gives contributors a feeling of satisfaction that they are getting something for their donations – and on a regular, recurring basis which is motivation to keep their subscription.

Occasional promotional bursts could be great too. For example, say you finish a new chapter, convert it to a pdf and say, “Hey, new pdf is now available! Get it here for x amount of dollars OR you can go to my Patreon and donate X and get a bundle package with all these extras!” While the promotion might be for a one time thing, this still could be a be a good way to send eyeballs back to our patreon pages when things inevitably slow down.

I'm just worried that a graphic link or banner on our comic's site as a reminder of our Patreon page is that it just becomes background noise like everything else after awhile.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2956
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the links on my site are really for new arrivals. I'm definitely planning on giving it a good mention in the blog now and then (more milestones would be a good excuse for this...); and I set up my rewards as sketches, which I normally show in my blog anyway, so whenever I've sent one of those out to a new supporter I'll be able to feature it in the blog too and mention by the by that it went to someone because they helped me out on Patreon. : )
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R. Fisher



Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Patreon campaign of my own, and started one mainly to be able to have time to work on a personal project without having to sacrifice time that could be spent working on freelance/commission work. I only just began using in the tail end of February, but I've seen what I feel are great results for having a comic that's still on hiatus (I'll be updating again in April officially, but the patrons charged for March are rewarded with early access to new pages), and I'll be keeping an eye on it once I'm able to officially introduce a Patreon button to my main site.

I really like that Patreon has the option of pledging either per new content or monthly. If updates are regular, using a monthly charge is best, but if they become irregular, creators can switch to charging patrons per content update. However, communication with patrons is very, very important in doing this, as only the frequency will change and not the amount charged. Luckily, Patreon does allow patrons to set a monthly cap to help avoid this, but it's not mandatory, and only works if they've done so, of course.

The tiered reward system is also nice, and familiar as many are already accustomed to Kickstarter-like interfaces. I think a lot of success (or at least much less stress) lies in manageable rewards. For example, most of my rewards rely on early page/first-look art access, and only the highest tiers get things that cost me small amounts of time or money, such as headshot sketches of their OC or free posters. I follow KS campaigns fairly often, and have seen how rewards can balloon out of control, so I've tried to be careful and limit myself to things that I know won't be a time sink and leave people wondering where the things I've promised are.

I'll echo previous posts and also vouch for Patreon's easy payout system. They pay out around the 15th of each month, but you also have the option of requesting immediate payout. Of course, they get their cut, which is 5%, plus credit card fees, which I believe was recently lowered to 2.1%

One thing I've noticed is that you honestly get what you put into your campaign. I think I've largely done well because I've 1)announced the campaign every place I post my art (tumblr, dA, etc.); 2)really been selling early page access; and 3) probably the biggest thing, made a video explaining my goals and the Patreon process, whereas other comics who I know for a fact have larger readerships than me haven't done near as well, because they really only announced it on one platform and didn't include a video (Patreon themselves say that campaigns with videos do significantly better, by 25%, if I remember correctly).


As great as Patreon is, I think it is a good idea to include a tip jar on main pages along with it, so people still have the option of one-off donations. I was talking to one of my readers recently who told me he wanted to support my comic, but didn't want to do it through Patreon. When I asked why, he said a monthly deduction would be more difficult for him to budget. So, something to keep in mind.

I think Patreon is definitely a great venue to try, but as others have said, it's largely going to depend on you making sure readers know about it, so don't be shy!
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2956
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This topic had got me thinking about doing a separate thread to collect all the webcomic Patreons into one list, but a quick Google showed me that that is already being done, on tumblr.

And they found mine, so obviously this is a pretty good list. : D
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The Letter J



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great find, smbhax! And....bookmarked!

And I certainly wouldn't mind a dedicated thread here as well - might be a nice feature for the community. Smile
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

R. Fisher - it looks like yours is going very well, congrats.

If you're willing to share, what was your experience as far as getting donations through your PayPal button?

(P.S. Love your art style.)

You guys may have already seen this, but Patreon has a video on YouTube with some helpful tips.

I think I'm going to start putting a page together, though it'll take a while for me. Not like there's a rush or anything though, haha.

And yeah, I think it would be good to have a thread here. No reason not to put the link in more places, right? Potentially bring more eyes to them.
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R. Fisher



Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera - Thanks all around! Admittedly, I've received very few donations via Paypal, but I think this is possibly because it was positioned too low on the site page (people rarely scroll beyond the bottom of comic pages), and that there is no incentive for people to donate just because. Comics that set up donation goals for extra pages per week/month seem to do a lot better in that regard, so I may experiment with that at a later date.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 754

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Patreon campaign is kind of slow, but I love donating that way. It makes my life so much easier, especially since I often get advance updates in my email.
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally got around to launching my patreon today http://www.patreon.com/traegorn

Hopefully something comes of it.
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