How I set up my @Patreon campaign (1 of 2) (#ChanceEncounter #interactive #novel #amwriting)


“Chance Encounter”, my “choose-your-own-adventure” interactive novel for extremists, is now on Patreon. You can view my project page HERE. In this blog post (and a follow-up), I will discuss how I set up my campaign. Hopefully, it will be of some use to those writers/artists seeking support for their creative projects.

Patreon, as you already know, is “a membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, as well as ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or ‘patrons'”. I have always liked Renaissance Europe where talented artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were supported by nobles. While artists received financial support and were thus free to pursue a creative career, without having to worry how to support their loved ones, patronage was and continues to be a way for the wealthy to give back to society. It is a win-win solution for artists and patrons, with the art-loving public being the ultimate beneficiary.

Today, the Internet empowers artists worldwide to promote their work in a truly democratic, direct and dignified way. Anyone can get out there, and, with much dedication and hard work, each and every one of us has a chance to get noticed. The “hard work” here refers to both creation and promotion of one’s work, which is mostly done by the artists themselves. A good example is writing, where even published authors are expected to do much self-promotion in order to remain in the limelight, as publishers are always prepared to move on to the next rising star.

Today’s artists are expected to also be entrepreneurs. To better protect our intellectual property, they need to know how to manage their rights. More importantly, today’s artists demand more control over the production and promotion of their work. They want to maximise the impact of their creation, not just in monetary terms, but also through other ways of measurement, such as interaction with, service for and feedback from their audiences. In this process, whether or not artists can attract much support from their followers is not the point. What matters is that artists can do it whenever they want to, and they are all on equal footing in terms of access to opportunities to promote their work on the Internet.

So I decided to give Patreon a try. It is one of the most user-friendly author/artist platforms I have ever experienced, with easy-to-understand interface and step-by-step setup instructions explaining not only what I have to do but also why. Interestingly, it is with simple tools that our creativity and innovation becomes really important. i.e. Everybody has a voice, but only a few can use their voices to move you to tears.

The first step is to research on how others have done it. It is likely that all the artists we look at are highly successful in their own fields. As a result, it is easy (and tempting) to assume that if we launch a campaign that looks similar or focuses on the same artistic form or genre as theirs, then it will help to increase our chance of getting noticed by those patrons already supporting those artists. Such assumption is false and should be avoided, or at least noted.

Instead, what we can learn from those artists already successful on Patreon is how they present themselves and their proposed work. For example, how do they specify the potential values of their proposed work? What are its strengths, and what are the practical steps they propose to take to complete it? Why do they need patronage in order to do so, and how exactly can it help? What will their patrons get as rewards as they get on with their work?

Trying to answer these questions can be exhausting, as we often have only a vague idea in mind — a desire to do something, an intention to do it, followed by the belief that we are capable of doing it. To specify the details, the concrete steps that we will take to complete something, is really, really hard. But this is what we need to do if we want to successfully get people’s support.

So I have learned to break down my “Overview” page into six sections. This page is really important, because it is your “landing page”, where people get to establish their first impression about you as an artist and your proposed artistic work.

In the first section, I introduce myself and explain the artistic concept and proposed scope of my work, as well as its potential impact as I see it, based on my understanding of the development and trends in my sector (which is reading, writing, reviewing, translating, publishing and promotion of digital and print books in English and Chinese languages). An image or a short video here is always useful, as it helps to set up a mental connection between me and my readers/viewers. It also helps to build a link between my proposed work and its projected result/s. For example:

The next section is to explain why I need patronage. It is important to mention past achievements, to show that I am a (reasonably) capable and experienced artist. Then it is crucial to explain, as honestly (and with as much dignity) as possible, why I have difficulty completing this particular work that I proposed. Note: This problem does not have to do with money. i.e. It can be a problem that money can help to solve.

In the third section, I explain how a patronage can help me. For example, I have this need, and this (small) amount of money each month can help to ease some (or most) of my pressure.

Then, in the fourth section, I explain how exactly a patronage will help to ease my pressure. e.g. This particular amount can help to solve Problem A, and that amount can help to solve Problem B, so I can get on with this and that aspects/stages of my proposed work. i.e. I am not going to just sit around doing nothing when/if I receive help. Instead, with someone offering to watch my back, I am going to go ahead and do as much hard work as I can.

The fifth and most important section is to tell my potential patrons, what they will get as rewards. Here I provide a brief yet interesting introduction, because there is a proper “Rewards” page to fill in later.

In the sixth and final section, I thank whoever drops by to view my Patreon Project. People are not obliged to support me, but it remains my hope that they will find my proposed work interesting. Perhaps they will come back later and pledge their support; perhaps they will move on to other, more interesting and valuable projects. Either way, I thank them for the (however brief) attention they pay to my proposed work.

OK, this blog post is getting way too long, so I will discuss the other aspects of setting up my Petreon campaign — rewards, goals, ongoing promotions, etc — in the follow-up post.


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