For years, I’ve bemoaned the loss of the patronage system wherein a wealthy benefactor supports an artist. In return for financial and publication aid, the artist would often create works specifically for their patron. All of Shakespeare’s sonnets and even some of his plays are examples of work he created for a patron.
So it’s really cool that a site like Patreon exists. Patreon is a web site that allows people to “subscribe” to the creator of their choice. They’ll pay a certain amount of money every month or every project, and in return the creators either create something specifically for them or for them to see early. If you’re really talented or good at marketing, you can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. So, to help all my fellow creators out there that desperately need to make a little extra cash, today I’ll be telling you about Patreon, including what it is, how it can help you, and how you can utterly fail at it. Enjoy!
First off, what is Patreon? Well, to figure that out, you can click here for a very short blurb or here for a longer, more in-depth description. I personally like the second one because it gives examples of how Patreon has grown and changed over the years and who specifically has profited from it.
But can Patreon help people? And who has it helped? Well, if you click here, you can go to a TIME Magazine article back in 2014 that shows how social media darlings can use it to actually make a sustainable living. You can also click here to see how Amanda Palmer (You know, the famous singer?) used Patreon to connect with and further her career.
However, before you get too excited, you should also know that Patreon takes a lot of work. If you click here, you can see the kind of budgetary gymnastics Kinda Funny had to go through to make Patreon work for them. Clicking here will take you to a really well-written article about how web comics get by with Patreon and other financial resources (Click it! It’s really good!). Clicking here takes you to an editorial about a writer whose Patreon campaign failed. Finally, clicking here will show you the dark side of Patreon and how some people took advantage of it to fund harassment and hate. This doesn’t mean that Patreon is impossible to break into – it just means that it takes work (like all things, really).
If that hasn’t scared you off the site, here are some resources on how to get started! Assimilate what you’ve learned in the above links with this step-by-step guide to starting a Patreon and this tip article for aspiring Patreon writers.
But what if you don’t want to start your own Patreon? What if you just want to support creators? Well, first off, if your favorite creator has a web presence already, there’s a good chance they have their own account. Just Google their name and “Patreon” and see what pops up. You can also join thousands of others and support the highest-paid Patreons, which you can find here. Otherwise, just search the site! Personally, I like following writers, comics, drawing and painting, and crafts and DIY, but just look for what aligns with your passions. And remember: every little bit helps and creators will truly appreciate the gesture.