15 Patreon Posts your Backers will Love
Patreon is a great way to monetize your work on the Web, but it’s inescapable — if you want paying backers, you’ve got to be prepared to make it worth their while. And that means posting often — including exclusive content. But sometimes it’s hard to know what to post when you’re putting everything you’ve got into simply doing your comic. So, what can you post when you’re out of ideas (and time)? Buckle up. I’ve got 15 types of posts that are proven winners — and most of them take very little extra time.
I saw a young cartoonist post this on Twitter, and it broke my heart.
Maybe I’ll shut off Patreon for a while… It makes me feel so stressed and gives me anxiety because I feel like i just can’t produce enough content. But I also feel stressed about not having regular income — lol. This is a lose/lose situation! Idk what to do!— Anonymous comics creator on Twitter
It breaks my heart for two reasons. First, I’m painfully aware of how difficult it is to balance life and work commitments with those of creating an independent comic. Secondly, because posting effective posts on Patreon isn’t that difficult. In fact, most of these ideas incorporate things you’re already doing. You’re just not using them to their full potential.
I often post over 30 exclusive Patreon posts every month. What’s my secret? I’m not working harder than you, but I might be working smarter. Here’s my list of go-to ideas for Patreon posts that always work.
This one is a no-brainer. Your Patreon backers should be getting your comics before anybody else. This can be a little as a 24-hour advance, or it can be significantly larger. But your Patreon backers are supporting you financially, and they deserve every perk you can send their way.
This one requires a little extra work, but it pays off so well that you’d be remiss to ignore it. Offer digital commissions at your upper Patreon tiers. This is a premium reward, so don’t be shy about setting the tier at as high level. If you would typically offer a commission for $100, then consider a $50/month tier that offers a reward on every other successful payment.
This may take extra time, so limit the number of backers who can pledge at this level until you know you can reliably hand that number of monthly commissions.
Not only is this a superb premium reward tier, but when you’re done with the final art, you can post that on your Patreon page as another exclusive post! And while you’re working on it, you can post a sketch of the work in progress.
Sketches and Artist Edition illustrations
Are you working on fulfilling Artist Edition illustrations for your Kickstarter? That’s prime Patreon content!
We’re so wrapped up with posting our final art that we forget that many of our backers love to see the process. They love to see sketches of your work in progress, but this has an even bigger role to play in your monthly schedule. Marketing professionals call it future expected value.
Have you ever launched a streaming service like Netflix and saw a movie or TV show that’s not available yet? It’s a promotion for some streamable content that will be available next month. That’s Netflix’s sneaky way of getting you to stick around for another month (in case you were considering ending your subscription). And it’s effective.
Sketches of your upcoming work serve the same purpose. They provide future expected value.
Process video and art-process posts
While we’re at it, let’s talk about process videos. Time-lapse videos of your work in progress is fascinating for your backers — and it gives them access that they might not be able to get outside of Patreon. They enjoy seeing how the comic (or the commission) was created.
This has become such an integral part of how comics artists work that Clip Studio Paint actually included a screen-record function in their latest software update.
If you’re working in physical media like ink-on-paper, it’s really quite easy to put a smartphone on a stand and use the video recorder to capture your process.
And if neither of those work for you, simply take some photos or screenshots as you’re working and write about the experience. Share your techniques, your aesthetic choices and your nit-and-bolts tips on drawing. It’s old hat to you, but it’s mesmerizing to your patrons.
eComics, eBooks and eSketchbooks
Whenever you finish a chapter or a storyline — or just reached an adequate number of individual strips — it’s time to collect them into an eBook or an eComic. Do you have a large number of comics about a single topic — like pets or relationships? Assemble them into a themed collection. In the time that it takes you to make a PDF, you can have an eComic finished.
While you’re at it, remember all of those sketches you’ve been posting? Once you’ve got a couple dozen of those, it’s time to create an eSketchbook!
You can put these on site like Gumroad.com and DriveThruComics.com for a proce, but before you release them, your Patreon backers should get them for free.
Patreon Content Trade
Exposing your patrons to someone else’s Patreon campaign isn’t only a good idea, it’s great content! So, every once in a while, I search Patreon for people who are doing something similar to what I’m doing.
Then I approach the person about a content trade. I’ll post something of theirs exclusively to my patrons. (Something they’ve already offered to their patrons.) And they can post something from my Patreon archive for their patrons.
Artists are reticent to do this because they’re afraid that their own backers will jump ship to become patrons of the other artist. In my experience, this has been an unfounded fear. In fact, very often, patrons decide to back both artists. It’s a rising tide that lifts both boats.
Desktop wallpapers / mobile backgrounds / printable calendars / avatars
At the beginning of the month, I always send my backers a package of about two-dozen files that can be used as desktop wallpapers, mobile-phone backgrounds and avatars — plus an 8½ x 11″ calendar page suitable for printing. This is typically a single image that I resize/recrop to fit each aspect ratio. It can be a commissioned illustration or a detail from a comic panel you feel proud of. Here’s a list of sizes that I use.
Sized for mobile devices
- 1080 x 2160 pixels
- 2524 x 2524 pixels
- 2732 x 2048 pixels
- 4750 x 2672 pixels
- 744 x 1392 pixels
- 750 x 1334 pixels
- 2662 x 2662 pixels
Sized for desktop computers (these have a calendar incorporated into the design).
- 1920 x 1200 pixels
- 2880 x 1800 pixels
- 3840 x 2160 pixels
- 1600 x 1200 pixels
- 1680 x 1050 pixels
- 1920 x 1080 pixels
- 1440 x 900 pixels
- 1366 x 768 pixels
- 1280 x 1024 pixels
- 1280 x 720 pixels
- 1024 x 768 pixels
- 800 x 600 pixels
- 1920 x 1080 pixels
- 1920 x 1200 pixels
- 1920 x 1400 pixels
- 1262 x 1262 pixels
Printable (includes a calendar)
- US letter sized (8½ x 11″)
- A4 sized (8¼ x 11¾”)
- 512 x 512 pixels
Dropbox collections with expiring links
You can set your Dropbox link to expire on a pre-set date. In your Dropbox dashboard, hover the cursor over the folder or file you would like to share. Click the blue Share button that appears, and select Send link.
At the end of the line that starts “Anyone with the link…” click on add expiration.
Now you can set your expiration date.
I set mine to expire at the end of the month. Then, when the new payment cycle has finished, I create a new link and send it to all of the current members. Anyone who has dropped out, of course, will not receive the new link.
If I find that a user has abused the link (by sharing it, for example), I can always manually deactivate the link. Go to the Dropbox dashboard and click Links on the left-hand column. You will see a list of all of your active links.
Simply go to the link you’d like to kill, and click on the grey X at the far right side of the row.
This is a great way to give your Patreon backers yet another way to access/read your archive!
Patreon Special Offer
It works like this: You set up a Special Offer — a reward that is available for a limited time — and use that urgency to drive new pledges. This Special Offer will be available to all patrons at predetermined reward tiers on a certain date. For example:
I’m excited to try something new:
On Thanksgiving, I’m giving out a 55-pg DRIVE eBook, exclusively to Patreon $5-and-up backers! It’s the encyclopedias, timelines, maps & more!
There’s 7 days left: Join us and get the exclusive!https://t.co/owMF3IOOjH pic.twitter.com/FzfffRWsvf
— Dave Kellett (@davekellett) November 14, 2018
On Thanksgiving Day, Dave sent this reward to all of his backers — new and old — at the $5 tier and higher. Before then, he used a countdown technique (similar to the final days of a Kickstarter campaign) to create an urgency behind pledging to his Patreon. How did it work? He made the announcement on Nov. 12.
Better still, according to Patreon’s internal metrics, backers who join as the result of a Special Offer tend to stick around longer.
Discord server and subReddits
Patreon has integrated functionality with both Reddit and Discord to give you additional places to enhance the community aspect of your Patreon. This can give your backers a place to discuss the ongoing storylines or even post their own art.
Here’s another way to give your Patreon backers the feeling of inside access — use Patreon’s built-in poll software. When you post a poll asking about readers’ feeling about a past (or upcoming) storyline, they feel connected to you in a special way. It’s yet another way to make your backers feel special.
Name in the credits
Speaking of making Patreon backers feel special, here’s another quick-and-easy option — including their names in a list of credits. This works best as an opt-in system (in other words, ask their permission first). This can go at the end of an animated presentation of your latest comic or it can be a simple list that you display with pride on your website.
Certainly, this new feature will be good for posting several different images for backers. But it has a second use that is far more practical — especially as the consumption of content veers increasingly towards mobile screens. You can now post your comic in a panel-by-panel format that improves the reading experience on small screens.
If you’re following the Multi-Channel Publishing strategy shared here previously, you’re already prepping your comic in this format for sharing on sites like Instagram and Webtoons. (If not, you now have an additional reason to consider it.
Using these individual panels to post your comic to Patreon backers would give those backers using mobile devises a vastly improved reading experience. Truthfully, you could easily have the best of both worlds. The primary image could be the full, multi-panel comic. This would satisfy overall display aesthetics and the concerns of desktop users. The subsequent images would then be that same comic, divided into a panel-by-panel display.
Better still, you can bulk-upload several images at once with a simple drag-and-drop function. And you can change the sequence of display by dragging an image into its proper position. So, for example, if your panels uploaded as A-C-B, you can click on “C” and drag it into its proper placement after “B.”
Here’s a look at the results, from the screen of my iPhone…
If you’re not sure how many of your Patreon backers are using mobile devices to access your content, this is a great excuse to do a Patreon poll and ask them!
Homemade Photoshop or CSP brushes
Have you created your own brushes to use in Photoshop or Clip Studio? Share them on Patreon! You might be surprised how many of your backers are artists (or want to become artists).
Last, but not least, consider hosting a Patreon-exclusive livestream of your art process. It’s yet one more way of giving your backers exclusive access to an artist whose work they enjoy! (That’s you.)
What NOT to offer
Having discussed what to post, let’s take a moment to identify pitfalls to avoid. The first is physical rewards at lower levels. These are dangerous because they don’t scale. Sure, sending out a dozen post cards per month sounds easy — and cheap? But what about thirty — or a hundred-thirty? At some point, you cross a line past which this reward actually costs you more (in time and money) than it’s bringing in!
The other trap to avoid is offering Kickstarter rewards for free to your Patreon backers. Patreon backers don’t expect free Kickstarter rewards. In fact, most of them are all-to-happy to support both endeavors. Therefore, instead of offering those Kickstarter goodies for free, secretly open your Kickstarter campaign early for Patreon backers and give them access to a couple exclusive tiers that will expire by the time you open the Kickstarter to the public!
Have you noticed a couple of common threads here? The first is Community. Specifically, you’re building a Community on Patreon and the members of that group get perks, access and exclusive rewards that non-members don’t get. It’s a way to make your readers feel special — appreciated. The second thread is stop thinking of each thing you draw as a single reward. Each comic you create is actually multiple rewards! You should use every stage of the comics-making process as an exclusive-access reward — sketches, process videos, livestreams, calendars, backgrounds, wallpapers, etc. are fantastic rewards. And they all use a single comic/illustration! And then, when you’re done with a large number of individual comics, re-package them into eBooks, eComics and eSketchbooks to use them once again to reward your backers.
It’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter.