When it comes to thinking about being an artist, the old-fashioned comments of “that is not a real job”, “what are you going to eat?” and “you are not getting paid for that” could come to mind. The truth is that making money and creating art has been two separate concepts from the cultural point of view.
The reality is different, and it has been for a while now. We just need to see how the internet has allowed us to make a living from ways we have never thought about before, to professionalise our passions and be able to create content without being a “starving artist”. From selling through Amazon to becoming a micro-influencer, we have more access to new ways of getting paid that do not depend on third parties that take off the biggest part of the income.
That was the goal of Jack Conte, the musician who decided to launch Patreon in 2013, to give back the power to the content creators of their own material and allow them to create a community that supports them while still getting a regular income, as he told Forbes.
I was working on a music video for over three months. I maxed out two credit cards producing it. I went all out and only made $150 bucks on ad revenue from YouTube for it. I couldn’t stomach that millions of people viewed that video and that was all what my paycheck was.”– Jack Conte to Forbes.
After that, Patreon came to life as a membership platform. People can sign up and subscribe to their favourite creator (regardless if it’s a musician, a painter, a digital artist, a writer, a podcaster…) and get premium access to their content. The amount they paid depends on the tier they select, but that money goes directly to the creator (after, of course, Patreon’s own percentage). Either way, as it’s a regular monthly or yearly subscription, this allows the creators to have a steady ground to work on, knowing that if their content is good, it will keep their customers with them.
Somehow, the viewers are the sponsors of the artist. And that is a game changer in an industry that is filled up with competition and becoming famous enough to actually live off the art sounded more like a dream than a possibility; because getting a manager, for example, is something out of the radar for most of the creators.
Of course, social media takes a huge role, because now the connection is directly to the customers and creators don’t have an agency that secures their events and payments. However, with the viralization of TikTok and the media reach of Reddit or Twitch, we are leading to a world that is focused on decentralised communities where the consumer is looking for higher authenticity and a closer relationship with their beloved content creators as well as more power to decide what they want to consume, when and how they want to pay.
How can a brand succeed on Patreon?
Patreon is, at the end of the day, another platform that connects a target audience to the creator, but this time it’s even closer. The creator interacts directly with their public, chats with them, and offers them exclusive material, but of course, they need a strategy to grow on this website.
- The community is everything
Building up the community of fans is probably the most important part of this journey, since Patreon is not a social media platform, the clients won’t subscribe to the account if they don’t feel connected with the brand.
However, the creator needs to be present on other platforms with easy, free access (let’s call it TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, Youtube, Twitter…) so the customers can see them get curious about the story behind it and what the brand offers to patrons, if they feel interested enough, they will go by themselves to Patreon.
This combination of superfans oriented platforms with primary social media platforms is key to make your brand succeed.
- Let’s be Premium
The idea is to attract people by social media and then redirect them to the Patreon site, but the question is: how?
Brands need to be creative and smart to select and differentiate the premium content from regular one. Clients don’t want to feel like they are purchasing something that they can consume for free on other platforms.
In this sense, the strategy should be oriented towards the value of what it’s offered on Patreon. Behind the scenes, showing a few special requests of other Patrons, giving small looks of what they can get if they support them with the membership is a great way to start, not only because of the FOMO but because the patrons will feel closer to the artist/brand as well.
Then, the material in Patreon can be as extensive as the creator likes, and as Patrons are willing to pay.
- Multiplatform, multi-format
Fan wants to have everything they can from their favourite artists: unique material for the membership, gifts, live videos, early access, the opportunity of requesting a personalised piece, stickers, mugs, t-shirts… It doesn’t have to stop at a certain point. And being creative is key to identifying others’ ways to satisfy the customers desires.
The benefit of this website is that content creators can finally have full control over their material and payments, they can professionalise their passions and don’t feel stressed out about making ends meet at the end of the month.
Of course, there is still a challenge: to be relevant enough within the niche to have a growing community that allows the creator to actually live off their content, but this, as any other career, is a process that needs time, strategy and patience. The north of the entertainment is orientated to the direct relationship between creators and their fans, and that’s here to stay.