Web Series World News: Patreon 5 Year Anniversary


(Stareable) #1

Welcome to Web Series World News, where we pick a topical piece of news and discuss it as a community! Today’s topic is…

Patreon’s rise in artistic relevance

patreon-money

In celebration of their five year anniversary, Patreon revealed that it has paid out over $350 million to creators in that time. Of course, there have also been sobering reports making it clear that only a fraction of the site’s users can actually make their living off the platform, but nevertheless, we can all agree the model of Patreon has changed the game for monetizing indie creative content.

Some questions to consider:

  • What are perk rewards you gravitate to when committing to someone’s Patreon?
  • What are perk rewards we as web series creators can offer on a MONTHLY basis that won’t completely drain our time and energy?
  • What are perk rewards that you can offer that will be worth it to fans of a relative nobody (as opposed to the more established, popular Patreon users)?
  • Is Patreon the preferred model for online monetization, over crowdfunding, brand integration, or ads? What works and doesn’t work about it?

(Bri Castellini) #2
  • What are perk rewards you gravitate to when committing to someone’s Patreon? I don’t have a ton of expendable income, so I’m usually on the lower tier of folks’ Patreons, but I like exclusive heads up about new things, behind the scenes content of the making-of whatever it is, etc. I care less about early access to things usually, I’d rather know about the process or new projects way before they’re announced.
  • What are perk rewards we as web series creators can offer on a MONTHLY basis that won’t completely drain our time and energy? This one haunts me because the idea of doing more on a rolling basis (as opposed to a one-off for a crowdfunding campaign) is a LOT. I’m curious @HackettKate’s thoughts- she’s someone who’s had a ton of success building her Patreon from the ground up and I know she does a great job at activating her audience. I maybe like the idea of doing monthly progress reports on various projects, maybe pitching the audience new episode/show ideas and seeing which ones they like most.
  • What are perk rewards that you can offer that will be worth it to fans of a relative nobody (as opposed to the more established, popular Patreon users)? ??? Something unique and weird that I can’t think of I guess.
  • Is Patreon the preferred model for online monetization, over crowdfunding, brand integration, or ads? What works and doesn’t work about it? In theory, being a full time filmmaker and Patreon-er makes sense, because Patreon would kinda become your day job (making your monthly/weekly perks, planning Patreon-specific events, extra content, etc), but it seems like a LOT on top of a full time day job and a full time creative side hustle, so the intervening period between being supported by your day gig and being supported by Patreon seems super rough if you’re actually committed to doing it. That said, making it more institutionalized for folks to give a dollar a month to everyone they enjoy watching would make such a difference, and is ultimately such a low barrier for entry. I’m curious everyone else’s thoughts.

(Bri Castellini) #3

@SnobbyRobot @SecretLivesPS @FilmFaction @filmwritr4 @movieguyjon @Jessi_Almstead @whoisjonporter @JonSosis @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @mdec24 @kmd @floorthirteen @OddLantern @dj_tilney @Halen_Williamson @mkatiehunter @rjlackie @barbaramcthomas @Joseph_Brett @JustinHarris @RobbieRuviews @w-e-spear @spatulawilwheat @gmcalpin @Shinsuke_Fusushi @Deliver_Me_show @alwaysafilmgeek @Ayelette @raggedybun @movieguyjon @animationshot


(sam lockie-waring) #4

i dunno if i can speak to all the questions i should consider, but i feel like there are a lot of parallels to common crowdfunding best practices… keep shit digital, keep it personalized but low key for you, etc. i also like process shit- in progress look books, behind the scenes pics, out of context set photos, bloopers, that kind of thing, and that’s stuff you’re already doing. it’s about setting a schedule and sticking to it i feel.

as for whether patreon is the preferred model, i dunno. this new subscription culture is kinda whack because there’s just so much content and it’s hard to say we should be paying individually for all of it. i dunno what’s better, though. it just feels like a lot of responsibility as a fan if you’re a fan of more than two or three things/people.


(Ray Robinson) #5

I’ve signed up for an account, but haven’t explored it yet. Since I’m still new to the game, I’ve decided to create a little content first to give people reason enough to pay to see more. Since I have grand future plans for short films and future seasons of Deliver Me, I’m sure Patreon will figure in.

I could never go full-time though - my wife and I need the health insurance my sales job offers. :neutral_face:


(Bri Castellini) #6

What kinds of things are you offering on your Patreon? Did you base those decisions off of creators you’ve supported elsewhere?


(Mark Mainolfi) #7

I know that for YouTube creators, Patreon has become necessary as YouTube continues to demonetize their videos. For creators like this, that have to put out regular content, Patreon is probably one of the best options. Traditional crowd funding seems more geared towards getting to a specific project, rather than supporting a creator to put out regular videos.

I think one of the benefits of Patreon is that it can help build a community of viewers. Just like subscribers on Twitch, creators can interact more heavily with their Patreon supporters and form a strong community. Creators just have to make sure not to completely abandon those who can’t contribute. I agree with @samlockie that subscription culture seems to be getting out of hand. For now, creators have to make sure not to pressure viewers into contributing, so that all the responsibility isn’t on them. It’s getting more and more expensive to be a viewer.

I’ve seen creators release content to their Patreon supporters a few days in advance, give them special merchandise, and even let their highest tier supporters come to set for the shooting of an episode. Creators can also offer exclusive merchandise, and chat rooms where supporters can discuss new content ideas and such. There are a lot of creative ways to go with supporter benefits.

I think at some point we have to find a more elegant way to support the content that we watch, but until then, Patreon offers creators a creative platform for bringing in regular money for their projects.


(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #8

This is something I want to dive into, but is a little daunting. I have to put myself out there all the time and I’m not sure that I’m ready to do that. Plus, the whole asking for money thing is not exactly my favorite activity. I wish I knew more about the platform to answer these questions. I’ve only seen a handful of Patreon accounts.


(Jonathan Hardesty) #9

Flagon actually has a patreon, but it isn’t activated. At the time I couldn’t figure out the character rigs my animator gave me so I couldn’t complete the patreon video. And then I second-guessed myself because the prevailing thought was that as a relative nobody the patreon wasn’t really a good idea. Since then I’ve wanted to return and get one going, but I work full-time, and with a week like this week with demanding clients I’ve had virtually no time for anything other than work-baby-sleep.

  1. “What are perk rewards you gravitate to when committing to someone’s Patreon?” I don’t have a lot of income to pass along to the patreons that I would like - and there are many. I don’t necessarily want tangible items as a patron, but I want something and I’m not entirely sure what that is. I think today I value being a part of a community and that kind of relationship over being just a monthly atm. Yay for vagueness.

  2. What are perk rewards we as web series creators can offer on a MONTHLY basis that won’t completely drain our time and energy? I have no idea. As someone who can’t figure out what he wants as a patreon, I have trouble finding the thing that would be worth anyone’s $1-$5 a month. Some ideas specific to Flagon that I’ve had: Monthly or weekly streams of varying types. I could give advice on DM’ing and world-building. I could help people with their scripts or writing projects. I could do game streams, advice streams or hangouts. IDK. I wish this were easier for me.

  3. “What are perk rewards that you can offer that will be worth it to fans of a relative nobody (as opposed to the more established, popular Patreon users)?” See point number 2.

  4. “Is Patreon the preferred model for online monetization, over crowdfunding, brand integration, or ads? What works and doesn’t work about it?” I’d love to have a patreon going and do things like that that are a continual engaging of fans. I think it’s probably the ideal and most tangible way of fan building.


(sam lockie-waring) #10

for sure man. and i just realized i needed to clarify- i think viewers should have a responsibility to help when they can, because expecting to get all your entertainment for free is unfair to people who spend hours and months making that entertainment. but there’s gotta be a balance for sure.


(Bri Castellini) #11

FILMMAKING MOOD.


(Gordon McAlpin) #12

Mostly, just like with any other form of crowdfunding, people support your through Patreon to support you, not to get rewards.

Early access to stuff, free things now and then, and in-process stuff that you don’t want to share publicly on social media are plenty and don’t create a lot of work for you. And that’s literally all you have to do. Maybe a private livestream sometimes. People overthink the rewards stuff way too much.

If you’re making videos like… uh, everybody here, I assume, then putting peoples names in your credits (with or without a “producer” credit) is a no-brainer, as well. I only have a couple of takers at those higher levels right now (fingers crossed), but they’ve been long-term patrons, and so I assume they think they’re getting their money’s worth.


(Erik Urtz) #13

I don’t think we’ve found a sweet spot yet. Youtube is too cost burdened and in bed with advertisers to really care about creators. I do think they want to help creators but they serve too many masters. Patreon is great, but it doesn’t work for everyone. I think you do need to establish yourself before you can take advantage of any of these opportunities.


(Bri Castellini) #14

But then… how do you establish yourself without these opportunities/resources? THE OUROBOROS OF THE DIGITAL CREATOR LIFE.


(Gordon McAlpin) #15

That’s the thing with Patreon, though: it CAN grow with you. It does grow with you. You just have to periodically pitch it to your audience so that newer members of your audience realize it exists and that you need to keep producing stuff.

It doesn’t matter if you only have 10 patrons this month, because in a year, you could have 50. You just have to keep working it.


(Erik Urtz) #16

It requires a high level of personal investment in yourself.


(Bri Castellini) #17

ugh but myself is the worst


(Meaghan Cassidy) #18

I contribute to two podcasts on patreon. They make it really easy to integrate RSS feeds to podcast apps and I feel it works really well for them. I don’t see it working as well for webseries. General crowdfunding is more appealing to me because you know the team will be getting all the money they need up front to finish their project. Podcasts generally have a lower production cost and are able to charge by episode and use the funds to go towards new equipment, etc.