How to start a Patreon page in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how important it is to diversify your income streams. Membership websites such as Patreon can ease some of the financial pressure. This article will help you get started.

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Three years ago I started my Patreon page. Patreon is a website where you can support your favourite creators by giving them a monthly donation. The donation amount can vary and is set by the creator. In exchange for your donation you get access to Patreon exclusive content (more about that later).

Since my start three years ago I've had exactly 100 Patreon supporters (aka Patrons).

In 2019 my Patreon page made me close to $6000 ($5884 to be exact) and allowed me to create more content for my followers without having to worry about monetisation issues.

An enormous amount of my freelancer and creator friends are suffering hard right now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this article I'm sharing my best advice on how to start a Patreon page. I'm hoping that this might ease some of the pandemic struggles for my creative friends.

First off, let's talk mindset shift. Because before I started Patreon I was very skeptical about the platform, and I didn't feel like it was the right thing to do.

The Patreon mindset

Instead of retyping all of what I want to share about mindset in regards to setting up a membership platform, I'm copying an excerpt from my newly released e-book Passive income for creatives. (more about the book at the end of this article)

Membership websites can be very lucrative, but some people have issues with them.
I was one of those people once.
I had a big mental block before I decided to sign up to the platform.

I felt that as a freelancer it was my responsibility to run my own business and to make sure I was making enough money.
I felt bad “asking” for money from my audience on social media.

Then I had a conversation with a fellow YouTuber about it. He said one single line that changed my mindset entirely.

He said: “The only people that are going to give you money, are the people that really want to give you money.”
What it comes down to is giving people an opportunity and a place to support you.

Hearing this line made me decide to start a Patreon page to see how it went.

Three years later and I haven't regretted my Patreon page a single time. Even better, I've made some new friends through it too!

Now that your mindset is in the right place, let's get started.

How to make a Patreon page

If you register through this link you can get a bonus $50 if you get 20 supporters in your first month. This might seem hard at first but it could be a good challenge for you to get started!

By the way, Patreon is free to start. They make their money by taking a cut of all payments.

Once you're on the site go through the following steps and fill out all the relevant information. Patreon's sign up process is incredibly straight-forward and simple.

Once you finish these four steps and you have your page you should upload a clear profile photo and cover image for your page. You want these to be of high quality. First impressions are always crucial!

It is important to explain both in text and in video what this page is all about. Explain why the page exists, what people can get out of it, why they should support you etc. Keep in mind that a lot of people have no idea what Patreon is.

Some people prefer to read, others prefer video, so make sure to cater to them both.

You can easily record a video and then upload it to YouTube and set it to ‘unlisted'. This way it's not public on your YouTube channel but it is visible on you Patreon page.

Setting up Patreon tiers

Tiers are different levels of monetary support. The higher the tier, the more money Patrons pay and the more rewards they get. More about rewards later.

I currently have five tiers on my page ($3, $9, $25, $49 and $99), although I recommend you start with three tiers. Here's an image of my first three:

Note the names of each tier at the very top.

As you can see at the top of each tier I've gone with a sort of distance/friendship naming scheme for these. You can get really creative with these! Try and come up with something that is relevant to your type of content.

I recently coached my good DJ friend Shady Lady (click here for her page) on how to set up her Patreon page and one of my suggestions for her tiers was to name them like physical albums. For example: a single, an album, an LP, a collectors edition etc.

As for pricing, I would keep the first tier like a cup of coffee, the second should be a few cups of coffee and the third is quite a bit higher. Keep in mind that there's always going to be a person out there that is willing to pay you the top tier.

If you don't believe me then please read the book 80/20 Sales and marketing. You should probably also read that book even if you do believe me. Trust me, it's very good.

Tiers come with rewards. The higher the tier, the more rewards. Let's talk about those next.

By the way, if you are enjoying this article, please consider subscribing to my newsletter. I'll email you about once a week with new content, interesting news, discounts or offers, community features, featured gear etc. Join over 3000 others here:

Patreon rewards

Firstly, you don't necessarily need to offer people anything at all. As long as you're clearly telling them what they will get. You could for example sell your page as strictly a way to support you, without any rewards.

If you do decide to offer rewards, which is what most creators do, you need to come up with some good ideas. Here's what you can get out of my Patreon page:

  • Digital wallpapers (easy for photographers)
  • Behind the scenes videos or photos (great for any type of artist)
  • Patreon only question and answer threads (literally anyone can do this)
  • Shoutouts on social media (great if you have a lot of followers)
  • Shoutouts on livestreams or other videos (great for DJs or other streamers)
  • Discount codes on merchandise
  • Exclusive access to merchandise
  • Early access to content (most of my videos go live on Patreon first for 24 hours, after which they go public on youtube)
  • One on one voice or video calls (great if you offer mentorships)
  • Scripts or content plans for upcoming videos
  • And so much more

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to look for a creator that is in the same or a similar field to you and to see what they do on Patreon. Maybe you can modify or expand some of their approach.

The patreon blog is an amazing resource, check out ‘Explore by creator type' on the top right of this page here to get inspired.

Before you launch your Patreon page, it's a good idea to pre-populate it with content. People that are looking to sign up or just having a look at your profile will see a box that says ‘Become a Patreon supporter now to unlock x amount of Patron only posts'.

Here's what my “teaser box” looks like at the time of writing:

Patreon goals

Patreon allows you to set certain monetary goals on your profile. This is almost like gamifying your page. People might see that you're close to a certain monetary goal and jump up a tier to make sure you get there.

My first goal was $25, then $100, $250 etc.

I smashed through these first few goals with ease in the first few weeks!

You could for example promise a certain performance or art piece or video when you hit a goal.

When I hit a high goal I went and bought a new set of lights, which improved the quality of my youtube channel. I let youtube know that my Patrons were directly responsible for this upgrade in quality.

Here is an example of a goal from my page:

Create Patreon hype

I think it is very important to put some feelers out there with your existing audience across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever social media platform you use.

Get people involved, make them feel like their input matters (it should!).

Conduct polls and ask them what they would like to see on your page. You might end up with some really great suggestions.

Then once you're close to launch, announce a launch party. Do a physical celebration of the launch of your page like my mentee Donny Westhouse did on his birthday recently.

Donny has been a long time Patreon supporter on one of my higher tiers (along with Toronto based timelapse photographer Daniel Judah) and has been getting a one on one mentorship through my Patreon page with monthly video calls and feedback on projects etc.

Donny made a short trailer for his Patreon page and showed it to his family and friends at his birthday party.

Which brings us to the next bit: where to find supporters.

Where to find Patreon supporters

Patreon's blog has a great suggestion: ask your family and friends to be the first to support you. Some of them will be grateful for a place to support you as a creator.

For example: My dad has been a long time supporter of my page. Thanks dad!

It's all in the wording. Make it clear that this is a place to support you. If they like what you do, ask them to consider having a look.

Once again Patreon's own blog has a lot of guidance.

Now that you're set up and running all you have to do is keep providing your supporters with value. Send them a message every now and then, keep them engaged by posting questions and polls for everyone to see.

Patreon alternatives

If for some reason you decide not to go with Patreon you can check out alternatives such as Podia or Buymeacoffee.

I hope this article was of value to you. If you have any other advice to share that you think is useful please drop it in the comments below.

If you think this article is useful for others, please consider sharing it. Thanks!

If you would like to know more about setting up passive income streams, check out my brand new e-book Passive income for creatives.

Want to learn more about timelapse photography?
Check out these articles I wrote about just that!
The basics of timelapse photography
Five tips for better timelapse photography
How to shoot a holy grail timelapse

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