My own Patreon launch was a huge success! I had only 2500 followers on social media, yet I made more money in a month than many people I know who have 40K fans! It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality… quality of your own launch and how you market it.
This is a part 3 of 4 part article series. All this info is straight from my own ebook Patreon for Small Creators. If you’re here, just go to download the whole book instantly. You get it all right now! Download it [HERE]
Launch before the launch!
Before your launch I’d suggest you make some posts on your Patreon.
Make one public post for each tier and link them from your Patreon home page. And make one private post for each tier, so when new Patrons come in, they already gain something even if you just started!
Before the launch, my tip is to prepare at least double amount of Patreon exclusive posts than what you plan on publishing on your Patreon normally. It’s important to keep posting enough things the first month to gain a hefty archive of posts. What really reels people in is if they know they get to binge on all of your Patreon Exclusive content the moment they become backers!
I will not go too much into the actual rewards you should have, because honestly, those are so different for each creator! Many say NSFW stuff is their best seller. I tested it, only 2 people were interested. This is because I don’t have a reputation as a NSWF artist! Why would anyone want porn drawn by me if they became my followers to see wholesome cute comics? (Some still do want that, but not enough to pay for it as I noticed.)
At first, choose rewards that are ridiculously simple to fulfill! Don’t bite more than you can chew. If you promise to make 3 Patreon Exclusive podcasts and later on you have to cancel 2 of them, your Patrons will feel disappointed.
When I started I promised very little and after testing that for a couple of months I realized I can have a Patreon exclusive comic. So I started a very sketchy autobiographical diary comic. Then after doing that for half a year I realized I can do more, so I launched my Patreon exclusive fictional comic After the Fog! I’m still being careful with not promising too much, so I only promise 3 pages of After the Fog in a month. That way I can take one week off from it every month! Work smart, not hard! (I’m lying, I often also work hard. But please take care of yourselves!)
Taking care of yourself?
Design your rewards in a way that it is possible for you to schedule them! That you can sometimes do more and have them posting on their own while you’re taking a break! And if you take a break, be open about it. I often tell my Patrons “Hi, I’ll be traveling for the next 2 weeks, meanwhile I have scheduled 3 Patreon posts for you! See you when I return!” This way you can take breaks without having to close your Patreon for a while! You’re supposed to be making a living and you also need to live while you rest.
Failing is part of life. Failing is inevitable.
Failing is like rainy weather, it will come.
You can’t avoid failing, you just
have to prepare for it.
You will get tired, you will forget something.
Make stuff in advance, finish things a bit before
the deadlines you set to yourself, don’t
build yourself a tight schedule.
My schedule is built in a way that at any point I am always able to take 2 days off. I am always 2 days “ahead” of my actual schedule. If I get sick, if I get tired, if I’m too ADHD, if I am needed elsewhere, I can just drop my work any time for 2 days. This is my way of being ready for failure. And when I’m ready for it, I don’t actually feel like I have failed.
This might not be a Patreon advice, but I think it’s an important one and I keep repeating it to all the comics students I lecture to when I’m on tour. I’ll be sure as hell repeating it here too. I want people to succeed and be in a good place mentally.
Get ready to change everything
Something is absolutely going to be a failure… and it’s okay! Just change things that don’t work! you just need to make sure to always announce the change a month ahead, so your Patrons can decide if they want to change their tier before it! I have changed a lot of things on my Patreon, and honestly, nobody has ever cancelled thanks to the changes! Why? Because I only make changes that make the Patreon experience better for them!
Create a Launch they can’t miss!!
You’ve probably heard of FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. It’s not just a thing cool hipster brands do, pretty much anyone can create some sort of feeling of urgency. I dislike the thought of actually giving someone anxiety over not using money right now, not being a capitalist NOW, but I see benefits in using some of the same principles. Just be open about what you do to your customers and try to think of an ethical way of selling your creations.
Create sense of Urgency
When I launched my Patreon I had planned on a limited deal only the people who become Patrons the first month can get. The deal was that any level of backing will get you drawn in my webcomic Life Outside the Circle and that you can cancel your pledge after you have paid for the first month. Guess how many canceled? Zero. The people who became backers were the people who were already interested in becoming one! They just needed the push to get them past the “I can do it later.” When they knew they could only get this one specific thing in January, they had to become backers right away.
This was my main trick to get people to become backers right away. Patreon is a long process, normally people don’t get hundreds of backers right away. It’s very normal that the amount of backers starts slowly rising, first 5, then next month 4 more, then next month maybe 3… Especially if you don’t have a huge online following. My follower numbers when I launched were around 2500 on every social media account I had. In total it was probably around 8000 followers but I’m fairly certain some of those were the same people but on different platforms.
You can design your own Launch Special! It can be anything that fits your work. Are you just writing a new book? Promise people they’ll get their names printed there! (And no, you don’t need to send them all a free book. Don’t do stuff like that, your customers don’t expect you to do that. If you want to be super nice, maybe give them a small discount for Patrons only!) But whatever you choose to do, make it a limited time deal. And limit the time in something like 1 week-1 month. If the time is too long, it will not create the urgency anymore.
Set yourself a marketing timeline.
I have a marketing timeline I have used for anything from Patreon to book preorders to a new webcomic. It’s a general schedule on how I promote the things that I promote before the whole thing even happens. Promoting something before it’s online is scary, because you might not get any comments, any retweets or any likes. This has happened to me time and time again. I am getting no feedback, so I start assuming nobody is seeing my posts. But it’s not true and it’s not the time to quit! People just don’t bother to comment that much before they actually see the project, but they still wait for it and build up expectations on it!
I don’t follow the schedule perfectly every time. Sometimes I leave out things just because I don’t have time for everything, sometimes I leave things out just because it doesn’t fit the current project.
Let’s explain the basic schedule a bit…
The moment I decide I’m starting a new thing, I mention it on my social media. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know the launch date, if I know it’s coming, I can tweet “I’m planning on opening a Patreon.” Also the Mailing list: Now’s the time to gather emails!!
2 months before the launch I send press releases to online magazines, local print magazines, podcasts, youtubers, bloggers… Anything goes! Google: “How to write a press release”. It’s easy! And then just search for emails to magazines! I didn’t do this for my Patreon, but I did it when my webtoon Immortal Nerd launched. I sent 20 emails and got 5 interviews on both print and web publications! It’s normal that at least half of your emails get ignored, but if you don’t try, you will never gain anything either!
1 month before the launch I post an ad with the actual launch date. Image or a video is better than just text.
I also told people that if they join my mailing list, I will do a “soft launch” and give them the link 2 days before the rest.
2 weeks before the launch I revealed the limited deal. I also reminded people about the mailing list that will ensure you get the deal because you get the link 2 days in advance. I also started posting promotional images about the launch every other day.
1 week before the Launch I often start a countdown to it. 7, 6 days, 5 days to go and so on. This keeps the launch date in people’s minds! I didn’t do this with my Patreon launch (I came up with the idea after my Patreon had already launched), but I did it with the launch of a new webcomic, After the Fog, which earned me $170 worth more Patrons instantly. It’s also good to talk about it! You’re doing something so just tweet “I’m so pleased with the banner I made for my Patreon.” It keeps it in people’s minds. Also feel free to show WIP stuff, like the banner when it’s still unfinished!
The Launch day!! I post link to the Patreon 3 times, every 8 hours, for every timezone to easily catch it. I also tell my social media followers how the launch is going. Just letting them know “Wow! 5 new Patrons while I went to the grocery store??!” makes them interested in hearing how you’re doing. But make sure to keep this one only positive. You don’t want to be a downer like “Oh no, nobody cares about my launch. Sad.” because even if that might gain you a Patron or two, they didn’t come there because they want to, they came because they felt they had to, to make you happy. And if they feel they did it for wrong reasons, they will quit when they see you’ve gained more Patrons as they feel they have done their part. That will not make you constantly gain more Patrons, it will just result a limbo where one cancels when a new one emerges.
Immediately after the Launch I just keep letting people know how the project is doing. Silly things like “NICE! Next Patron will be the 69th one lmao! Who’s it gonna be?” are great! It won’t make someone who’s never even thought of becoming your Patron to become one, but it’s a small thing that can make the people who already intend to do it eventually, do it now. At this point I share the link about once a day. If you know what time most of your social media followers are online, it’s best to post then. There is no one perfect time to post. I live in Finland, but over 60% of my followers are from USA. I also have a following in UK. So the best time to post for all of the countries varies! That’s why I just post the link once a day for the next week or so and change the time of the day every time. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss.
A few weeks after the launch I keep mentioning how it’s going, but not as actively. It’s good to do promotion in waves now. It’s gonna be an ongoing project and if you promote 3 times every day for the next 3 years, you will have no followers left by the end of it. I tend to promote more about once a week and other than that, talk about other things and post funny comics.
And that’s this part. Next part, the last one, will be about Marketing Strategies and general advice. Stay tuned for that one too. Or just go and download the whole ebook right now. It’s free after all! Get it here:
All the Best!