Alliance Chat 20

Welcome to the Alliance Chat: where no topic has gone before!

In this podcast, we’re chatting about Patreon and how it works and might fit into our webcomics. With us is guest Dave Barrack of the webcomic “Grrl Power”. Find his comic HERE and follow him on Twitter HERE.

Right now Robin and Byron have their Patreon campaigns running. Check Robin’s out HERE and find Byron’s HERE.

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Posted in Chat Podcast, Featured News, Podcast and tagged .

22 Comments

  1. Hey guys, I haven’t had time to listen to this yet, but I’ll post my Patreon link for comparison. I just hit my first milestone goal today, as well.

    http://www.patreon.com/PIXELMECH

    I’m really digging it, and my supporters seem to like what I’m doing so far. One real question is will they stick around – only time will tell.

    • I’f finding a lot of familiar faces now on Patreon. Now to get our readers to find us.

      Yes, there’s momentum at first, but will they hand around all year, that’s another story. We have to deliver the product (luckily, it’s all digital for me) or we’ll lose their interest.

      • I was initially surprised at how few people were there at first. It seems in the last few weeks a bunch of comic artists have joined, which is great. Some people are doing so well with it, it’s amazing. Dave is really blowing it up, I didn’t see his on there.

        I have found it fairly easy to push a lot over there so far. I’m not getting a lot of feedback from them, so it’s hard to gauge how much they like it, although the little feedback I have gotten is good.

        I do agree that having them stick around might be tricky. On the other hand, if they are doing a lower amount, and it’s auto pulling from their debit/credit card, it’s probably out of sight, out of mind, and that’s a good thing. It’s easy to forget about that kind of thing.

        Doing a seasonal comic – you’d probably have to be supplying stuff in off season, but maybe that’s prep work and thumbnails or whatever.

        One thing I noticed is that some people titled their patreon page as their comic. Like “Joe Blow is making JoeBlow Adventures!” And I think that is a mistake. I think you probably want to state “comics” or “webcomics” because that is a term people will search for on the site. There were a few people were on there that I could not find at first because of that, until I searched on their name.

        • Agreed. My title says I’m creating “webcomics and illustrations” and that is crucial so people can find you when searching. Branding is important, so put your comic’s name down in the description below. But that top “headline” is crucial to be generic search terms.

          • Is WEBCOMICS really the best term? Why not comics?

            I see some people using terms like their comic’s name as what they are creating…and they’re invisible to searching.

            I feel like comics is probably a better general search term than webcomics.

          • Tyler, not trying to split hairs, but for me, I’ve always felt the term “comics” represents the print world. You go to buy comics. Webcomics are for comics that are web-based. I know a lot of webcomics do print versions, but the primary readership is on-line.

            If I use the term “comic” in a conversation, folks want to know where they can buy it. That is not true if I say “webcomic”.

            Just my 2-cents. What do you all think?

          • I had the impression that searching “comic” in their search bar also found “webcomic,” which would mean that webcomic is the more inclusive term to go with in this case.

  2. I just had a reader who donated through my old PayPal button say they’d prefer Patreon, so this episode was very relevant to my interests!

    Question for you guys, though: if you’re doing your comic on a seasonal basis, would that complicate your Patreon pitch or setup?

    • No, it shouldn’t. Just communicate that, and then communicate what you’ll be doing in the off-season. Commissions? Live drawings? Hangouts? Special request art? And the like. As I mentioned above with Tom, we have to keep the momentum going and keep our supporter’s interest or they’ll fall off and not continue to support you.

    • Like Byron said, as long as you communicate what your publication schedule you’re planning I think you’d be fine, the only trick is do you then set up your Patreon campaign to bill per piece of content or monthly. If it’s per piece, you won’t annoy anyone by charging them in a month you’re not posting your comic, but then you run the risk of annoying people who aren’t paying anything for 3 months in your off season, then suddenly billing then 5x a week for 3 months (or however your seasons work, you get the idea.)

      Again, communication is the important bit.

  3. Thus far I haven’t been impressed by Patreon for webcomics.

    If you already do a webcomic, why waste so much time with extra content and maintenance of group of subscribers for a measly $50 per month?

    Wouldn’t your time be better spent just drawing more comics? You’ll get more page views, have more chances to pull in new readers, and have more material to sell in books.

    With Kickstarter you can build a lot of excitement in your audience and there’s a definite goal everyone is pulling together for. With Patreon, there’s no end in site. It just keeps going and going, and I worry even if fans are excited to support you at the beginning, will Patreon eventually exhaust them. And hoping that people forget to cancel the auto-payments on their credit cards doesn’t seem like a good business strategy!

    It will be interesting to see how the support changes with time. Even with creators like Jon Rosenberg that are doing okay with it, I suspect it will just decay over time until it’s not worth his time to keep it up anymore.

    Anyway, I would be interested in hearing if anyone has a contrary experience to what I describe.

    • With my campaign I’m providing almost no new content, except for previews of upcoming pages, which I obviously need to draw anyway. What Patreon is doing is allowing me to work on my comic full time (for a few months at least) which lets me deliver it at twice the rate I used to. That’s the real goal. Good for me and the readers.

      There are some creators who are creating exclusive content, like NSFW strips, but that’s something I tried to avoid. As you said, I wanted to focus on the comic itself.

      • Yeah, I guess I like what you’re doing a little more.

        I like that you don’t have specific promises of giving stuff away at the milestones. It seems like it’s better to just specify how your life is being changed by the donations rather than try to turn this into Kickstarter, which it’s not.

    • My audience is not interested in books. I’ve proven that over the past 7 years. They want content. Rock and roll content. So for me (emphasis on “me”) Patreon is a great way to deliver what my audience wants.

      I’m not giving anything away, except a printed calendar for those folks who pony up $50/month for a while, and I doubt anyone will take that offer. The rest is merely making it possible for me to spend more time at the drawing table.

      This way I build up my illustration business and also my comic readers. I see Patreon as a short-term solution. It is by no means something that will support me for years and years. But, it will allow me to meet my goal for this year and then with that foundation built, move on and grow without Patreaon.

      Kickstarter is a single project, intense campaign. 30 days of insanity. Patreon is a year long project for me. I don’t expect to see $1000/month for a long time. It is part of my business plan for this year and will be just one part of my overall marketing/advertising scheme.

      As with anything, you have to see how it will or will not fit into your business plan.

      • Why put up a reward that you doubt anyone will take you up on?
        Seems like a waste of breath at best, and at worst, you’ll have potential Patrons thinking you’re either crazy or wildly overpricing your stuff?

        I realize the Patreon Best Practices are still in development…but if you can’t imagine the person that might take you up on an offer…why put the offer out there?

        • As you said, Patreon is new. I’m testing the waters. I know people will put down good money for Kickstarter rewards, but this is a different animal. I’m not looking for a few big “whales” to float my campaign over its goal. I’m looking for a large, steady crowd to come into my “store” and pay me a buck or two a month. My goal with Patreon is short term, maybe only a year or so. At the end of my goal, I hope to have a solid base on which to build. Then, if my supporters want something, I’ll do a Kickstarter to accomplish that goal. We’re all learning what Patreon can do for us, and what we can do to make it a value-added proposition for our readers.

  4. So I listened to this back to back with an interview with the founders of Patreon on the Chris Oatley podcast (http://chrisoatley.com/crowdfunding-for-artists/). Highly recommended after listening to this one, because they make a really important distinction between tools for BUILDING your audience and tools for NURTURING your audience. They flat out say that this is NOT a tool for building audiences, and that you’re going to continue to do the rain dance for fans on social media/conventions no matter what. But Patreon’s rewards, as they see them, are best used for the people who know you, love you, and want to see you succeed, and the milestones they mention are focused on improving the product you already provide, NOT giving people hats with your logo on it.

    I’m trying it out by supporting a few artists for a few dollars a month to see how it feels in my bank account and what I see in return long-term as a Patron. But my concern as a creator is, if half of Dave’s audience can’t keep that commitment going, is he going to fire the colorist he hired for the next month? If you’re promising more updates per week and you have an accident that hospitalizes you for a month, will people drop out and not come back? I’m confident in my ability to provide short, one-time rewards, and people understand that webcomic artists take breaks because Life Happens. But if the quality of your long-term project is directly related to how much cash you’re getting, and the cash amount fluctuates, what’s that going to look like?

    • I would concur that Patreon is not an audience builder at its heart. We the artists have to still do that with meeting updates and providing a quality product.

      I look at my Patreon as a long-term commitment on my, and on my supporter’s part. But I’m well aware of the “short attention span” today’s audience has and the moment a supporter has a engine blow up or their furnace break down, that commitments to folks like me are the first to go.

      For that reason, ALL of my Patreon goals/rewards are based on me, and me alone. No hats, not shirts, and yes, NO BOOKS. It is producing more of what I already do. This approach may or may not work for all webcomic artists. That is why you have to establish a business plan and goals to accomplish over at Patreon. If my goals aren’t met over at Patreon, then I’m out nothing. Very simple in my book.

      At the end of my first year, I may even discontinue the Patreon campaign. I’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

    • Thanks for posting this podcast. That was incredibly informative.

      It’s interesting to hear how the way many webcomics are treating Patreon is a little different than what the creators describe. That said, they must have mentioned webcomics a dozen times throughout the conversation!

  5. Just started my own patreon page (name link) and I have something for Moko Press. When people search the patreon site through their DISCOVER link squares pop up. The Square is an image created from the middle of your starter image on your page, so if your title or visuals are skewed towards the sides then not much shows up for people to see and click on. You should move your important titles and such to the center so it shows up in the square.

  6. Thanks for doing this podcast guys! It was really interesting to hear your takes on Patreon. I’m going to look into it more myself and see if it works for me. But I just wanted to really thank you for the info.

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