I started writing these instructions for several people already, so why not write it down for everyone to read? Here it goes: how to earn and grow an additional stream of monthly recurring revenue if you have an existing audience/fans, or a pool of clients/customers, by receiving money from them via Patreon.com. This will be great for artists, musicians, writers, teachers, non-profits, or anyone who creates any kind of value for a living.
DISCLAIMER: I want to help with what I know now. At any time, information in this post may become incorrect or is incorrect already because stuff on the internet changes constantly, so please do your own research. I can’t be liable for any consequences you might experience based on what you read here. I’m writing this for absolutely no financial gain to myself, and the links here don’t put money in any of my pockets. Ok? Ok!
Summary of what you need
- Audience (people who already know you and who you can reach, preferably for free or cheaply)
- Patreon.com account
- Paypal account (with an ability to receive money, in Croatia this is via Visa cards)
- Some kind of content / activity you create regularly in order to entertain your patrons or create value for them. It could be videos, online lessons, or nothing in particular (really - read below).
Use Patreon.com to earn monthly revenue. What is Patreon, exactly?
www.patreon.com is an international platform where people who support your work are able to pay you money, monthly. It’s like a fixed-sum donation that people pay you automatically every month.
For example, if you think of yourself as an artist, think of the people who pay you as patrons of your art. They can be your existing fans, audience, readers, friends, family, acquaintances, clients, customers, friendlies of any kind, etc etc.
It’s similar to crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but not quite: on those crowdfunding platforms, creators have a start and end date for their crowdfunding campaign. There is no campaign on Patreon: Patreon is an ongoing way to collect funding. You never stop growing your Patreon revenue, unlike crowdfunding platforms which all have an end date. This is good in a way that there are no ‘successful’ and ‘unsuccessful’ Patreon profiles.
Examples of Patreon accounts (these are some of the ones I currently support or have supported in the past):
- Old Cat Shelter (a forever home for abandoned and abused cats in Croatia): https://www.patreon.com/oldcatshelter/ - this is the only Patreon account I have ever created as a way to support this cat shelter (BTW if you love cats, please consider becoming their patron!). The reason why I decided to support them in the first place was because they were always so positive about everything they do, even when things weren’t always rosy and great. For their Patreon account, I created several tiers, starting with just $1 / mo.
- Paul Priestley Art (a guy who teaches people how to draw on Youtube): https://www.patreon.com/PaulPriestleyArt/. Paul publishes completely free videos on Youtube for everyone to watch (not just his Patreon patrons). Patreon is just one way he uses to monetize his work. I first saw this guy on Youtube and I simply LOVED his energy and personal style. I decided to become a patron because I watch his videos and I want him to continue creating more videos. If nobody pays him, he’ll stop producing, and we don’t want that.
- Heretica.com.hr (a Croatian magazine for free and liberal thought, similar to Quillette): https://www.patreon.com/heretica/ - this magazine has a simple offer: pay us $5+ / mo so we could continue publishing good, original writing. I like what they’re trying to create, so I support them.
- Wait But Why (long-form blog posts by Tim Urban): https://www.patreon.com/waitbutwhy - just a famous blog, nothing more. Many people, including me, like Urban’s writing, and people pay him something and expect Tim to post something. He mostly does. Sometimes, he posts nothing for months. And then he posts a series of articles each 20,000 words long, or something like that.
How Patreon works
- You create a creator account on Patreon. It’s similar to creating a profile on Facebook. The creation of the account itself is free.
- You decide what kind of tiers (benefits for your audience) you want to offer to your patrons. Example: ‘For $1 / mo, you get my eternal gratitude; for $5 / mo, you get access to my online sessions / my work, for $50 / mo you get a private session with me once every three months’, etc. You have complete freedom regarding how much money you ask for, what you’re willing to give in exchange for that money, etc.
- You don’t have to offer anything at all, really, if you decide to do so. If people are willing to pay you just for existing and creating anything, it’s ok (and some people will be willing to do so). For example, if you’re an NGO or any kind of non-profit organization, people will be completely willing to finance you without expecting anything in return. And you don’t have to record videos. What you offer as a deliverable in exchange for money is up to you. Creators on Patreon create all sorts of things, including: blog posts, movies, videos, art.
- You start promoting your Patreon profile to your network / audience. You put a link to it everywhere where you communicate with your audience. Do it often, or as much as your audience can stand without being annoyed. Tell everyone you know.
- Your patrons choose the tier they can afford to pay (for example they decide to pay $5, or any custom amount - yes, custom amounts are available). Your patrons’ credit cards will be automatically charged for this amount every month, and this will continue for as long as they want it (or until they decide to cancel their patronage to you). Note that if your customers are in the EU, they will have to also pay their country’s VAT rate (25% in Croatia). So, if you ask for $5 / mo, your patron in Croatia pays $5 + $1.25 VAT = $6.25. THIS IS OK so don’t panic about this.
- Every first day in a month, Patreon will charge your patrons who have active patronages. This lasts for several days and once every month’s cycle is done (in 1-4 days), you’ll see that money available to you to withdraw to your Paypal account.
- Withdraw the money to your Paypal. Obviously you have to live in a country where Paypal is available for money withdrawal (Croatia is on the list, but countries such as e.g. Turkey and Lebanon sadly are not). However, that does not mean that those countries cannot pay you, it only means that you cannot receive money if your country is not on the list. People in almost all countries can PAY, but not everyone can RECEIVE.
- Once that money is in your Paypal account, you can choose to withdraw money from Paypal to your Visa card. Of course, Paypal has its own withdrawal fees and they’re not the most affordable fees in the world, but it’s the price you pay for Paypal’s service to have this option available to you. And it’s a great, great opportunity, so be grateful for having it. I know I am.
What you need to do to grow your monthly revenue
Growing patronage on Patreon is Hard.As.Fuck. Don’t have any illusions about it. It’s hard AF just like it’s hard to convince people to pay you anything and earn any kind of money, anywhere.
I’d say the more people love you (as a person / organization) and your work, the more you will earn. It’s not even about the current size of your audience: you could have a million Twitter followers and tell them to pay you a single dollar on Patreon and you may be disappointed with how little you earn.
Patreon is about deep personal relationships between creators and patrons. If you’re good at creating such relationships, you can make Patreon work for you.
So, what you should do, is earn your audience’s love and trust each month. How you do it is up to you. You can:
- Entertain them
- Teach them something
- Create something they want to pay for
- Create good in the world
- Motivate them
Why Patreon works, and why you should try it
Simply put, People are willing to support other people (you) with money because they want to see them (you) to succeed in life.
There are people who, as we speak, are willing to support you financially, but only if you ASK for their money, and only if you MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM to pay you.
Patreon is a way to ASK for money and create an EASY way to pay (with Paypal or a credit card).
Sure, you could ask your audience to use their internet banking software to pay you something each month, but how many people are willing to go through the hassle of their internet banking software? Besides, you have to ask them every.single.month, and with Patreon you only need to convince them once, and then work to retain their patronage (the latter is harder than I make it sound, but don’t let that stop you - people are sluggish in making decisions).
Patreon is not for everyone.
If you don’t have an audience (a fan base, a list of customers, a mailing list, a social followership), don’t start a Patreon. You need a crowd first (just like you first need a crowd to make a crowdfunding campaign work).
Also, if you dislike creating stuff / content for your patrons, or don’t have the time to do so, Patreon will be hard for you.
Patreon probably will not (and should not!) become your single source of income. It’s just one more way to have for your audience to be able to pay you and support you. So, please do continue to sell whatever you’re selling already, and use Patreon to monetize the traffic that you receive to your websites / channels.
- Patreon works in Croatia and everywhere where you can receive money via Paypal.
- To receive money in Croatia, you’ll need a Visa card (AFAIK, Visa is the only supported card in Croatia where Paypal sends money). Ask your bank if they can issue a Visa (Electron) card to you. I don’t know about what kind of cards you need if you live in other countries.
- People who will be paying you money will have to pay VAT if they’re EU-based. That’s really not a problem because every platform online has to charge EU citizens VAT, so don’t treat it as such.
- Patreon takes a small % of your monthly earnings to finance their business (see their plans & pricing page for fresh information on this, this things change so I don’t want to name any prices here). Once they transfer money to your Paypal account, that money is yours (of course you may have to pay local taxes for those earnings, but again: this is normal, and by paying your taxes you make these earnings legal). Don’t get all worked up about how much Patreon is ‘taking’ from you because people working for Patreon need to eat too, and it’s a miracle this exists at all. (Always remember that Apple takes 30% of every dollar app makers make on App Store, so you should be pretty happy about Patreon’s fees.)
- Your patrons will need a credit card or a Paypal account to donate/pay via Patreon. There is no other way to pay. Some prefer credit card payments anyway. For your fans who cannot be persuaded to use their credit cards on the internet, please do enable other ways to pay off-Patreon. For example, Old Cat Shelter has their IBAN bank number for donations, for people who prefer it that way. AFAIK (but I am not 100% sure), you don’t need a company to receive money to you Visa card. If you can get a Visa card from your bank, you can receive money. This does not mean you won’t have to declare and pay taxes. In Croatia, any money earned from any organization abroad (and domestically) needs to be declared once a year and you’ll have to pay your taxes. Again: don’t make taxes an issue. Pay them just like anybody else does. Ask your local tax office about how money earned abroad is taxed, and what you need to do. I am not a tax expert.
- I personally DON’T have a Patreon account that pays money to me or my company for anything. My only experience with Patreon is through volunteering to create an account and content on behalf of the Old Cat Shelter, and through being a patron to several creators on Patreon.
- I personally DO use Paypal that pays money to my company Visa Electron card, issued by Zagrebačka bank (www.zaba.hr).
Have questions? Is something missing here?
Ask in the comments and I’ll answer and update the article.
I’m not an expert or Patreon consultant, I’m just a person on the internet who knows a little about it.
If you found this useful, please share it with your people.