Last month, more than $6 million dollars in monthly recurring funding was raised for creators like us
via the Patreon platform. It’s time we looked a little closer at this growing crowdfunding platform. Are you ready for Patreon Launch? In this first part of the series, Tyler breaks down the differences between Kickstarter and Patreon, with the help of special guest Jason Brubaker.
This session is sponsored by
Club ComixLaunch on Patreon.
Get your free Club ComixLaunch VIP Insider bonus Kickstarter resource at ComixLaunch.com/club.
Session Table Setting
It’s your friend Tyler James and you’re listening to ComixLaunch, though, to be fair, you might be able to call these next couple of episodes the Patreon Launch Podcast… because we’re diving deep into this crowdfunding platform over the next month.
Now, I will be the first to admit that this is me jumping into unfamiliar waters. I speak on the topic of Kickstarter with some authority. Nine campaigns and working with students on Kickstarters will do that. But until this week, I’ve never launched a Patreon campaign, so I’m seeing this platform with fresh eyes. So, why should you listen to me? Well, I have been doing my homework. And more importantly, I’ve been listening and talking to creators who have had success on Patreon, as well as others who are just getting their Patreon pages rolling. So, we’re in this together and by the end of this series, I really hope to produce one of the best all around guides for getting going on Patreon that’s out there.
If you’re tuning into the show for Kickstarter tips, and have no interest in Patreon at all, I understand that. I would strongly suggest you listen to this episode though, because there are some key distinctions between the platforms that I believe every creator should be aware of, even if Patreon is not your focus.
If you’ve been considering launching a Patreon for a while, or have launched yours and are looking for tips on how to best leverage the platform, you’re definitely in the right place.
Enroll – Special Download
I’ve created a special BONUS RESOURCE for you all, called the ULTIMATE PATREON LAUNCH CHECKLIST. This resource is a Google Doc, and as of this recording, it’s still a work in progress. As I bring on new guests and continue to go deeper and deeper into what works on Kickstarter, I’ll be continuing to add to, tweak, and refine this checklist. Now, the link you’ll get to the checklist is a doc that you can access, save as a new copy for yourself. And you can also comment on the doc itself, so in a sense, we’re going to hopefully crowdsource some wisdom here to help make this really an incredible resource for creators.
ComixLaunch.com/patreonchecklist to access the Ultimate Patreon Launch Checklist.
This is a living document and when I make updates to it, I’ll let you know on the show.
What is Today’s Episode About?
Part 1 of Patreon Launch – Kickstarter vs Patreon:
What are the similarities? Differences? Who is each platform for? And which is right for you at this point in your career?
Two years ago, I wrote an article on ComixTribe.com titled: “A $95,000 Tip Jar for Comics? 10 Thoughts on Patreon.” Since published, that’s been, by far, the most read post on ComixTribe.com and I’ll include a link in the show notes:
It’s funny, two years ago seems like forever in some regards, but the fundamental different between Kickstarter and Patreon remains the same.
Here’s how I opened that article two years ago:
“Despite Kickstarter announcing that it has crossed the $1 billion pledged mark, it is no longer the cool new kid on the crowdfunding block. Already a maturing platform, recent headlines of project implosions and high-profile Kickstarter scams have taken some of the bloom off the rose.
Patreon, a new site that supports ongoing crowdfunding, is the hip new platform for crowdfunders.
While Patreon has been blowing up for musicians and YouTube video creators, in just the past few months, I’ve witnessed dozens of comic creators flock to the nascent crowdfunding site in search of ongoing funding for a variety of projects, including funding long-running webcomics, completely new projects, digital subscription services, comics related podcasts, and much more. As a nascent platform, the rules are still being written, and I’ll admit, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”
What is Patreon?
I think the concept of a Tip Jar is one of the best analogy for Patreon. I titled that article a $95,000 Tip Jar for Comics, first, because that’s an attention getting title, and two, because I was looking at one of the superstars of Patreon in the Comics World, Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a long-running webcomic.
At the time of that article, 2,932 patrons where committed to paying Zach $7,911 per month of webcomics for his work over at SMBC.
Important to note, and this is something that a lot of creators seem to miss, Zach was not setting up his Patreon as a No-Pay, No Comics scenario.
SMBC is still available for free for all at it’s website, whether you back his Patreon or not. Now, two years later, Zach’s Patreon page is going strong.
Currently 3,389 Patrons — more than 400 more than two years ago.
And he’s earning $6,851 per month of comics, which does drop it down to an $82,212 tip jar for comics.
However, I should note that recently, Patreon changed the number it displays on the Page. Two years ago, it was showing the total amount of funding pledged, as Kickstarter does.
However, as anyone who’s done a KS knows, the amount pledged is not the amount the creator actually receives.
Recently, Patreon made the decision, after lots of creator feedback, that the public-facing dollar amount should reflect what the creator actually takes home, so that number posted now reflects:
1) Transaction Fees
2) Patreon’s 5% commission
3) Declined Pledges
They’re doing this for better transparency, but it was not without its challenges. We’ll get to it later, but Patreon has a Milestone bonus and goal system built into it, where reaching certain funding milestones unlock different rewards.
Well, changing this calculation meant that creators who were over a threshold suddenly got jolted back below it, which I know was a bit of a disruption.
Shouldn’t affect any of us going forward now.
Point being, Zach Weinersmith’s SMBC, two years later, still taking home more than $80,000 on the Patreon Platform, which is just one of many sources of revenue for his business, is still enough to grab my attention.
Kickstarter vs. Patreon is the wrong question.
Zach is a great example of this, as he is a creator who has effectively harnessed BOTH platforms. In addition to the regular monthly revenue generated by his Patreon, Zach has launched 7 successful Kickstarter projects over the past three years that have collectively raised nearly $1.5 million in funding. He has two of the top ten most funded comic Kickstarters of all time. Now, Zach is an outlier, his success is not reflective of the experience of most webcomic creators. But just because he’s an outlier, doesn’t mean we should dismiss it. Rather, we should model what he’s doing, and his approach, and ask the right questions.
It’s not, “which crowdfunding platform should I use: Kickstarter or Patreon?” But rather – When and for what projects should I use Kickstarter? And when and for what projects should I use Patreon.
History and Size and a few key numbers:
Founded April 2009 (7 years old)
Raised about $10 M in funding.
Live $33 Mil Pledged live on KS, expect 28 Million will be successful, and 25.5 million will make it into the hands of creators.
Kickstarter about 5x Patreon… by these numbers.
Founded May 2013 (3 years old)
Raised a total of $47.1 M in investments
About have of the artists on Patron are YouTubers.
According to Graphtreon https://graphtreon.com/patreon-stats
Over $6M in monthly payouts to creators.
4% of the wealth on Patreon goes to top 10 creators on the platform.
As of this month, there are 8,674 creators on the Patreon Platform who are earning at least $100+ per month.
1,086 earning at least $1000+ per month
269 earning more than $3000 per month
So, here we go, here’s how you figure that out:
- If your primary goal is to fund an ongoing creative endeavor (ongoing series, webcomic, blog, podcast, web series, etc) use Patreon
- If your primary goal is to make a physical product, use Kickstarter.
- If you’re looking for a small monthly salary that may grow over time, use Patreon.
- If you need a large, one-time lump sum of funds and need it fast, use Kickstarter.
- If you’re willing to make a long-term commitment to engaging fans whether it takes off right away or not, use Patreon.
- If you’re willing to walk away from the project if it doesn’t catch on or find an audience, use Kickstarter.
- If the consumable content you create takes a few hours to a few weeks to create (example, a webcomic update, a podcast, a youtube video), then use Patreon.
- If the consumable content you create takes a few months to a few years, (ex. a full comic book or graphic novel, a film, etc.) then use Kickstarter.
- If what you’re creating isn’t easily translated into a physical product with tangible rewards (ex. podcast), then use Patreon.
- If what you’re creating is a physical product with tangible rewards (comics, prints, t-shirts, etc.) use Kickstarter.
- If you are comfortable getting out front and being the face of your project, and okay with the idea of people back YOU first and your project second, use Patreon.
- If you’re not comfortable being the face of your project, and want the project and the product you’re creating to take center stage, use Kickstarter.
This breakdown is included in the Ultimate Patreon Launch Checklist, which you can download at Comixlaunch.com/patreonchecklist
What Kickstarter and Patreon have in Common:
- They are both crowdfunding sites
- Open to creators of all stripes, experience, and ability levels.
- Have the same exact fee structure:
- 5% of every pledge + Stripe (or Paypal in Patreon’s case) fees.
- Success on each platform will require an existing fan base.
- Success requires that people love what you’re creating.
- Both platforms that bring you closer with and engaging with your biggest supporters. (Backers and Patrons)
- A strong presence and fluency with social media is required… both Kickstarter and Patreon are social platforms.
- A large and engaged email list is key to success on each platform… ListLaunch course.
- Both platforms require a lot of work to put into it to successfully launch… Kickstarter and Patreon provide a strong foundation and toolset… but it’s how you use that tool that will ulitmately make the biggest difference.
Patreon Creator’s Perspective
Several months back, I had Jason Brubaker on the ComixLaunch podcast (session 45 How to Build Trust with your audience.) While I had Jason on the podcast, he was nice enough to stick around for an extra 30 minute interview all on Patreon, that was not played back on Session 45. However, Clips from that interview will be shared throughout this series on Patreon. Here’s the first one:
Jason, you’ve raised over $200K in Kickstarter funding across 4 successful projects. But for more than 2 years, you’ve also benefited from crowdfunding via Patreon, where patrons have been supporting you monetarily for very Comic Update you post. As of today, you have 171 patrons contributing $449 per comic update… (which is a much better page rate than most publishers pay, I might add.)
As I’ve committed this month to going deeper into understanding Patreon myself, and launching an Patreon to help support the ComixLaunch podcast, you’re the perfect person to help clarify for me and my audience the key differences between the two platforms.
1) From your knowledgeable perspective, and as it regards the independent creator, what are the key differences between Patreon and Kickstarter?
2) Have you noticed any differences between Patrons and Backers? Are they the same people?
In a moment, I’m going to give you today’s ComixLauncher, but first, we need to thank our sponsor…
ComixLaunch listeners, are you ready to take your crowdfunding game to the next level?
If so, I’d love for you to join me and your fellow creators inside Club ComixLaunch on Patreon.
I’ve opened Club ComixLaunch to help continue and expand on the ComixLaunch mission of increasing the number of creators equipped to harness the power of the Kickstarter platform to bring amazing independent projects to life.
As a Club ComixLaunch member, you’ll have access to a number of exclusive perks and privileges, such as:
- A shout out on the ComixLaunch Podcast for you and your project.
- Access to the ComixLaunch Club exclusive Patreon feed for even more mindset, strategies and tactics to get your project funded.
- The ComixLaunch Club Insider Monthly Kickstarter Resource which might be a guide, checklist, cheat sheet, template, or bonus training video designed to help you launch.
- Priority enrollment in ComixLaunch Courses
- Discounts on Courses, Books and Upcoming Premium Products
- You can even sponsor an episode of the ComixLaunch podcast through Patreon.
And as the Club Grows, so do the perks…
See, there is a direct correlation between listener support and the value ComixLaunch can provide, and as the club expands, we hope to offer:
- Monthly Kickstarter Page Critiques
- Club Exclusive Chats and Q&As
- Bonus Sessions of the ComixLaunch Podcast.
- Full podcast transcripts for every episode.
- And much more!
For as little as a dollar a month, you can access Club ComixLaunch today, help keep the podcast going and improving, and take your crowdfunding game to the next level.
Membership has its privileges, and to get a taste of them absolutely free, please go to ComixLaunch.com/club and download a free Club ComixLaunch VIP Insider bonus resources today.
Let’s get you ready for your best launch yet!
I’ll see you inside the Club!
It’s time for today’s ComixLauncher.
A ComixLauncher is a short, actionable activity you can do immediately after listening to the show. They’re all activities I’ve done myself, and will get you one step closer to a successful ComixLaunch. They’ll transform this Podcast from a passive, lean back activity centered around Tyler James, into an active, lean-forward activity centered around YOU and your projects.
Patreon Questions: What questions do you have about Patreon?
Invite to share results @ comixlaunch.com/voicemail or in an email [email protected]
You’ve heard my perspective on the Kickstarter vs. Patreon, and you’ve also heard awesome thoughts and advice from Jason Brubaker.
I’d like to wrap up this first episode in our series on Patreon with 3 Key Takeaways that you should know about Patreon, and how it’s distinct from KS.
1) Patreon is more about the Person than the Perks
Jerks will have a tough time on Pareon.
Patreon is not primarily focused on selling PRODUCT…it’s selling PEOPLE.
I’ve made the point in the past that on Kickstarter passion (that of the creator and of the fan) is as important as the product. On Patreon, passion is MORE important than the product.
If you are a consumer and you want more stuff, or you’re a creator and you want to sell stuff…Patreon doesn’t have all that much to offer you. It’s a lousy storefront. But that’s not the point of it.
As they’ve said in their marketing material, Patreon is a place to “support and engage with the creators you love.” Perks, if there are any, are just that. Lagniappe. A lil’ something extra, but not the reason you came.
That’s fundamentally different than other crowdfunding platforms.
And it also means that if nobody loves you yet, if you’re not regularly putting out something of value that people love (or you’re a major jerk) you’re going to have a hard time seeing much of a return on Patreon.
2) A Patreon Creator wants a salary, not a Kickstart.
What a creator is saying is essentially Pay me so I can keep making stuff I want to make (ie: fund my creative life)
This is a concept that is controversial on Kickstarter, but seems to be perfectly okay on Patreon.
Here’s how Jon Rosenberg of Goats and Scenes From a Multiverse fame described what his Patrons are funding on Patreon:
My name is Jon Rosenberg. I’m the award-winning creator of the Scenes From A Multiverse and Goats webcomics. Please help me to make more comics! By becoming a patron, you’ll help offset the business and living costs of me, the cartoonist. That means more comics for you!
1043 patrons are currently proving Jon $3,095 a month, essentially a $37K annual salary before taxes.
On Kickstarter, the phrase “offset the business and living costs” would surely set off some backers. How many times have you heard people condemn projects on Kickstarter that included things like rent or other living expenses as a part of their budgets?
Sentiments like: “I’ll give you money to help you print your book, but I’m not signing on to pay your mortgage!” sort of thinking is common.
For whatever reason, Patreon is different… and that’s a good thing.
The truth is, creating comics (or podcasts or youtube vias or ART in general) is not free. It costs time (tons of it) which could almost always be spent on more lucrative (though usually less fulfilling)
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