Hey, all! By request I’ve added another level of patronage over at my Patreon! Some of my $15 art Patrons requested an intermediate level between that and the deluxe $60 level. So there’s now a $35 level, which allows me to make something extra-spiffy and get it shipped to you each month. Head to https://www.patreon.com/lupagreenwolf to sign up for the patronage package of your choice, whether that’s books or art or curiosities, or simply the opportunity to get sneak peeks of my works in progress!
I’ve had several people ask me how Patreon’s been working out for me, so I decided I’d just write out a post for general consumption. I started my account back in July 2014, and as of this writing I have 35 Patrons and a total of $531 in monthly pledges, which is pretty damned good, all told. Overall it’s been a worthwhile effort, but here’s a more detailed breakdown.
–It’s a fun way to connect with people who like my work and treat them to exclusive stuff.
I love connecting with fans of my work. If I can create something that makes someone else happy, then I’ve done a good job. Patreon is essentially a regular feed of my writing and art, both online and via snail mail. Patreon offers two different ways to get paid for your work, either a pledge per individual project or a flat pledge per month. I am a very frequent poster; in seven months I’ve posted almost 250 projects, or about 35/month. A lot of these are work in progress shots that are only visible to my Patrons, though the completed works are there, too. (I use the “activity” tab for updates and check-ins with my Patrons.)
So this means that every week my Patrons get an eclectic mix of work in progress shots, final projects, sneak peeks of blog posts that haven’t gone live, and whatever other fun things I decide to post. And then once a month I get to send out the monthly rewards. For those pledging $5 or more, that’s the profile I post of a different animal, plant or fungus totem each month. Starting at $15, I start mailing out actual physical goodies, ranging from art to books to the makings of a cabinet of curiosities. I really get a kick out of mailing these little “care packages” to folks, and I hope they look forward to them at least as much as I look forward to sending them.
–It’s a fairly steady amount of money each month.
The first of the month is always a challenge financially. Not only is rent due, but so are several other decent-sized bills. So it’s a real boon to get an extra chunk of change in the bank account right about then. Patreon usually starts charging Patrons the first of the month, though there have been one or two times where they were delayed for a couple of days. However, they’ve gotten faster about processing since I signed up, and the money generally shows up in my account within 24-48 hours after I initiate a transfer.
–It’s a great way to try out crowdfunding without a big risk.
If you’re thinking about crowdfunding but you’re unsure whether you’d get a project fully funded, Patreon is a good training ground. I’m planning an IndieGoGo (or similar) campaign this April to help fund the Tarot of Bones; it’ll be my first time-limited, single-project crowdfunding effort. Patreon has been a good way to gauge interest in my work, and to help me brush up on my promotional skills, and I feel more prepared for the spring fundraiser than I probably would have without Patreon.
–It’s not a 100% predictable amount of income.
People can sign up as your Patron at any time, but they can also end their Patronage at any time, too. And while Patreon emails you whenever someone signs up or changes the amount of their pledge, they don’t let you know when someone drops off, so it can be a little disappointing to go to your profile and see your pledge level has dropped unexpectedly. I have had former Patrons message me when they dropped their pledge to let me know why, which is always appreciated. But it’s best to see Patreon as a supplement unless you’re one of those rare folks who has hundreds of Patrons giving thousands of dollars a month.
–You don’t get to keep all the money that’s pledged to you.
Patreon takes a BIG chunk of money out. From their FAQ:
Patreon takes 5% and the creators cover the credit card transaction fees which are generally 4% across the site. Also remember that some pledges will fail due to declined credit cards. We’re happy if a creator sees around $0.90 of every dollar!
As as an example, of that $531 in pledges that I had at the beginning of February, after Patreon’s fees and two declined cards I received $463.88. It’s still a nice bit of money and I’m grateful for it, but I feel it’s important for readers to know that what it says I get per month on my profile won’t necessarily be what ends up in my bank account.
Additionally, I spend a fair bit of each month’s pledges in shipping costs. Granted, they’re factored into the pledges, but I routinely spend between $3 and $9 to ship an item to a Patron. This month my shipping charges were well over $100 because I promised if I hit $500/month in pledges I’d send all the Patrons who helped me achieve that goal a little natural history specimen as a gift, and so I had to send out over 30 packages, including a few international ones. Had this been a normal month I would have sent out seventeen packages, but the shipping would still have been in the $60 range.
–It’s a LOT of work.
When I started my Patreon account in July, I didn’t automatically have $500 worth of pledges flood in. I did hit the $100/month milestone within the first few days, which honestly blew my mind. And in January I managed to go from $401 to $531 in a matter of something like two days because I did a bunch of “Woohoo! Help me hit $500!” social media posts.
But in between $100 and $401 was a ton of work. As a self-employed creative person I have had to perfect the art of self-promotion–or at least work toward perfecting it. I mention it multiple times a week on Facebook, Tumblr and elsewhere. I talk it up when I vend in person. I let my online customers know about it. In short, I do my damnedest to let everyone know that “Hey! I have a Patreon and you can get all kinds of cool stuff that no one else gets if you sign up!”
This means you have to be absolutely tireless in your promotion to make it work. I mean, if you already have a platform of tens of thousands of people ready to throw money at you then your Patreon should fill up quickly. But for the rest of us, it’s a hell of a slog, and I am absolutely grateful for every one of my Patrons, past and present. (And would-be–I know there are folks out there who’d love to pledge except they can’t afford even $1/month right now. Totally understandable.)
–No way to browse individual artists (“Creators”) as opposed to projects.
If you go to Patreon’s homepage, there are only a few ways to find Creators. Below the initial “Hey, we’re Patreon!” video you can see five featured projects. And if you click on “Featured” on the bar at the top of the homepage you get a couple dozen more features projects. That “Featured” page also has a left menu of categories, but again it it only takes you to individual projects, not Creators. The only way you can find individual Creators who take pledges on a monthly basis rather than a project-by-project basis is if you search for their name or keywords in the search bar at the top of the site, so it’s well-nigh impossible to be discovered by a potential Patron who didn’t already know who you are.
I’ve contacted Patreon about this, and they claim they’re working on a solution, but I’ll believe it when I see it. As it is, I have to rely a lot more on my own promotion and the word of mouth of others than Creators who pledge per project.
–Back-end navigation is a little counterintuitive and disorganized.
You would think that if I wanted to edit my profile (which shows what I’m offering the world) AND my Patreon Manager (which tells me who’s pledging what) I would go to one central location, right? Nope. To get to the former there’s a dropdown menu accessible from the upper right-hand corner of the screen, marked by my logo. To access the latter, I have to click on “Home” (not “Patreon”), and then click on the little button that says “Patron Manager”.
And it just gets more unwieldy from there. Each month’s record of Patrons has its own individual page, meaning a lot of clicking through and having to compare each month from its own tab. I’m sure they’ll keep upgrading it, but for now it’s kind of a pain in the ass to navigate.
Gripes aside, I see Patreon as a way to get guaranteed custom work each month. I have a group of people that I know I’ll be making art for, and I have people I know I’ll be sending books to, and I have folks who will be enjoying little exclusive treats in my feed throughout the month. I’m quite used to having to work hard promoting my stuff, so this is just one more thing for me to offer.
Speaking of that–if you want to be my Patron, here’s my account again! You can become my Patron for as little as $1/month, and help me keep writing posts like this one. And thank you!
Hey, folks! I’m going AFK for a few days later this week for a much-postponed backpacking trip, but before I leave I wanted to give you a quick update on my Patreon account! It’s been live for a little over a month, and I already have almost $300 in monthly patronage—thank you to everyone who’s become a patron, spread the word, and otherwise been supportive!
I’ve since added more patron rewards, including one for a monthly totem card reading, and more cabinet of curiosities options. I’ve gotten great feedback from my patrons so far about the goodies I’ve been sending them. And if we can get my monthly patronage up to $500, I will send every single one of my patrons a nifty natural history specimen, anywhere in the world.
Want to help me reach that goal? Head over to http://www.patreon.com/lupagreenwolf to become my patron today 🙂
I have been making my art since 1998. My first article was published in Sagewoman in 2004. 2006 saw the publication of my first book and the creation of my first serious blog. Over the years I’ve explored many different avenues for getting my work out there, from writing for countless publications in pixels and paper, to expanding my vending setup to make it easier to meet you all in person, to stepping just a teensy bit into the gallery scene, among other ventures both successful and ill-conceived.
All along the way I’ve had the support of so many people. You’ve cheered me on, given me constructive feedback, shared your own experiences and questions with me, and introduced others to my art and writing. And, certainly not of the least importance, you’ve supported my work financially, buying my art and books, attending paid workshops, purchasing totem readings, and otherwise compensating me for my time and effort and creations. In short, you’ve given me a part of yourselves so that I can continue to have a roof over my head (and more art supplies under that roof!) All of that tells me that you like my work and want to keep seeing me create things.
Your support has helped me become more productive; I’ve been completely self-employed since 2011, which, of course, means that I get to art and write full-time. (More than full-time, really–eighty hour weeks are not uncommon here.) One of the challenges of this otherwise awesome situation is that there’s no steady paycheck. I could have a week where I pull in a four figure sum, and then the next week I make just enough to get some quarters for the laundry. While it’s a challenge I’m up to, I want to make this a more sustainable venture.
Which is why I’d like to introduce you to my Patreon profile. Patreon is a platform that allows artists to share content (including exclusive works) with modern-day artistic patrons who make a monthly financial contribution to the artist’s efforts. You don’t have to give a whole lot, either. For just one dollar a month, you get access to patron-only content–sneak peeks of blog posts days before they go public, work in progress pictures of art, and other things that patrons alone will be the first–or only–to see. And there are other monthly perks depending on level of patronage, including but not limited to:
–Monthly profiles of animal, plant, fungus and other totems, viewable only to my patrons and not to be posted to this blog
–A “book of the month club” where I’ll send you one of my currently available books every month until you have the entire set
–Several art subscription opportunities, where each month I send you something I made, from jewelry to ritual tools to elaborate costumes
–Three different cabinet of curiosities subscriptions, where each month I send you a selection of curiosities I’ve made or curated, and at the end of six months you have a complete collection, including a booklet that I’ve written to explain the theme of the collection and what makes each piece in it awesome
Plus there are even MORE perks for you if the total amount given by all my current patrons reaches certain milestones. The first time it hits $100 per month, every patron gets a hand-drawn thank you card from me. On the other hand, if I somehow accumulate enough patrons giving enough money that I’m making $2,500 per month, I’m going to write you a full-length book. (No, seriously. I will write a book, minimum 45,000 words, on some topic of nature spirituality, and self-publish it in both ebook and paperback format, and my patrons will get a free copy, and no one else will have access to it for at least a year. I would LOVE to write you a book, just sayin’.)
What do I get out of this? Not just money. I get stability and more of an ability to budget from month to month. And that’s a huge benefit. Knowing that I am guaranteed to get a certain amount of money coming in from my patrons, regardless of whatever other sales and income I get, helps reduce the stress of chasing after dollars.
Moreover, it tells me that those who choose to become my patrons really want to see me keep making creative things. I love making art and writing for myself, don’t get me wrong, but it takes other people loving my art and writing enough to compensate me for it that allows me to keep creating at the rate that I do. And at the end of the day, it feels really, really good that enough people like what I do to enable me to be a full-time creative sort. It’s a great motivator to keep making cool things happen.
So. Sound like a good opportunity to you, too? Then head on over to my Patreon profile, and see what patronage level works best for you!
(And thank you. Again and again and again.)