Many of you have asked me in the last few weeks about how I use Patreon and how to do it if you’re just starting out, or how to grow your audience if you have none, or how to grow your small audience THIS MUCH BIGGER.
So here are my thoughts.
Number one: I’m learning as I go, so all wisdom I’ll dispense here is “wisdom in process.”
Number two: My Patreon is slowly growing at a rate of about $100 a year (so 3 years ago it was at $100 per month, and now it’s at $300 per month). It's growing because I haven’t given up and keep posting there weekly, but I also haven't been focused on growing it. Who knows what will happen once I do.
Number three: If you have no audience elsewhere, don’t despair if you don’t have many (or none at all) Patreon patrons right after you start. See my posts about sales (first, second, and third). It'll take time and faith of posting regularly (just like you do with your writing—no matter what, show up, show up, SHOW UP).
Number four: Your patrons are your CHAMPIONS. How many do you have?
It takes a long time to build a tribe of true CHAMPIONS. These are the people who at one point in your writing career were STRANGERS who became READERS who became CUSTOMERS who became FANS who only then became CHAMPIONS and supporters on Patreon. (For more on what I mean about CHAMPIONS hang tight for my upcoming Author Book Selling Guide or subscribe to my newsletter where I'll be announcing all the glorious news about its development).
But back to the CHAMPIONS. Once again, this kind of relationship building and development of trust and mutual love takes time. If you post one post on Patreon and hope for likes and comments, and none come, know that you did nothing wrong! Keep posting regularly. Keep showing up. And keep showing up in all the other places, like your blog and your newsletter and your social media channels (see the list here). You must grow your overall audience before you can expect any long-term monetary support.
Just for kicks, here are some numbers.
I’ve been writing solidly for about 5 years now, but I focused on growing my readership only these last 2 years, so you can see that my 80+ patrons on Patreon are those who were loyal to me (my very own loyal hamsters! I love you!) for years, and who have decided my writing has come along far enough to be worthy of monthly support (I do a monthly subscription on Patreon).
The good news for you is, you have started!
Starting is the hardest part. The next hard part is sticking with it. And the next hard part is staying patient while growing your tribe.
Let me encourage you.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Start posting regularly and tell about it to all your friends.
Your friends are your CHAMPIONS after all, are they not? These are people who would support you if you were in trouble. All of us have about 100 of close friends, and about 250 people we know who could become close friends (give or take past family feuds over who will carve that turkey the best—a la Thanksgiving dinner disputes, or who can drink that bucket of vodka the fastest—a la Russian holiday disputes). You get the point. Once you get your Patreon going, guess what you do next:
- Post regularly (every week).
- Ask regularly what your patrons would like to see.
- Adjust your posts accordingly.
- Interact!! If you see someone heart your post or comment, thank them and comment back! If you won’t do it, you won’t have a conversation going, and your Patreon will soon be dead. Sorry.
That’s my Patreon wisdom for you.
It’s really no different than selling your books anywhere else. Are you providing value to your patrons? Then you'll gather more of them. Are you not providing value to your patrons? Then your patronage will dwindle and shrink. Simple as that.
I just posted a new Patreon post for patrons only, so if you join for $1 a month, you can see how half of my post is asking questions on what my patrons would love to see in the future, and how another half is sharing my writing process (restructuring TUBE) and asking for feedback. This means, conversation. This means, we’re creating my book together. This means, we’re in it together, my tribe and me. This means, when TUBE is published, we'll all be very proud of it! Now isn’t that a cause worth supporting?
TELL ME YES.