Many of us dream of getting paid to write. And while it’s not impossible, making enough money to support yourself by writing short stories or poetry isn’t easy. Even authors who manage to finish a book, get an agent, and sign a publishing contract may only receive an advance of $10,000—not enough to live on. Some writers have turned to the crowdfunding website Patreon to make money by writing, even if it’s just a few extra bucks. But before you create your Patreon account and start posting, Web Design Relief gives you the facts that every writer should know.
Welcome to Patreon!
Launched in 2013, Patreon is a crowdfunding website that gives creatives—writers, podcasters, visual artists, musicians, video creators, and others—the ability to publish and share their original content. In return, fans (or “patrons”) support the artists by paying for access to the content. Creators can charge by the post, or they can set up monthly subscriptions.
The subscriptions can be tiered too. So the more a patron pledges to pay each month, the more content they will receive.
Creators can also set funding goals, which are checkpoints that explain what they will be able to create or achieve once they have a certain amount of monetary backing.
It’s free to get started: Once you start earning, Patreon takes a small chunk of your income—currently 5-12 percent, depending on the plan you choose.
Patreon Is Different From Kickstarter
Sites like Kickstarter are mainly used to fund entire projects and get them off the ground, but Patreon allows fans to support artists on a continuing basis—and usually with much smaller monetary contributions.
Kickstarter users set an initial goal for the amount of money they will need to complete a project, and then ask people to fund that project. And although you can set funding goals on Patreon, the overall idea of the site is very different.
This is why, while Kickstarter may be good for those looking to make a movie or an album or something that can cost a lot of money up front for production, Patreon is perfect for writers who want to post regularly and earn some money while doing so.
How A Writer Can Use Patreon
True, there are writers on the platform who bring in thousands of dollars a month (N.K. Jemisin snags over $5k a month!), but most Patreon users won’t be able to give up their day jobs.
However, writers who use the site can definitely bring in some side money. The more patrons you have, the more you will earn, so income will build as your base does.
To start, you can offer smaller rewards for a fairly low monthly subscription, and include a few higher tiers. Rewards can be new poems or short stories, newsletters or blog posts, or even services such as offering feedback or proofreading/editing someone else’s work! In general, the more content you create, the better chance you have at making money.
And that leads us into another benefit of Patreon—motivation! If you have people paying you (even if it’s just a few dollars a month) and they are expecting new content on a consistent basis, it can serve as a great source of creative inspiration and motivation.
To have the best shot at making some money, you’ll want to play to your strengths. If you already have several short stories, poems, or even a completed novel that you’ve yet to submit for publication, consider publishing the work on Patreon (a novel can be serialized for the platform).
Keep in mind that your income hinges on building a following, so self-promotion will be necessary. If you have social media or an author website, those are great places to spread the news about your Patreon account.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember, if you publish work on Patreon, it will be considered previously published by literary editors. Don’t publish anything on Patreon that you might want to submit to literary journals for publication.
Tips For Success On Patreon
- Check out other writers on Patreon (especially the successful ones) for inspiration.
- Don’t be afraid to self-promote!
- Make (and stick to!) a content creation/posting calendar. If you don’t keep to your promised posting schedule, your patrons won’t keep funding you.
- Connect with your patrons—see what they like, what they want to see more of, etc.
- Make sure to set up rewards that you know you can consistently provide. Start small but include a variety of tiered options.
- If you write in a certain genre, check out places on the Internet or in real life where fans of this genre congregate, and promote yourself!
- You can always adjust your fees/rewards. Maybe you need to lower your subscription fees at first. Or maybe you can add new tiers at higher rates. Writing a lot? Put out content more often! Not writing consistently? Charge by the post instead of by a subscription.
The Takeaway: What Writers Should Know About Patreon
Posting on Patreon probably won’t replace your day job, but it can be a great, long-term option for bringing in some extra cash, maximizing your productivity as a writer, and building a fan base.
Question: Have you posted on Patreon? How has it worked out for you?