Category: promoting art

Patreon Project Kit for Artists

Cross-posted from The Muse’s Library.

I’ve been on Patreon now for about a year since the site went live. I’ve tried a lot of different experiments in that time and have built a small, but dedicated following via this community-driven site. I’m a firm believer that crowd-funding is the wave of the future and the core building block of a growing breed of artist-entrepreneurs.

I thought I’d share that spirit of giving by sharing the structure, templates, and other resources that keep my Patreon ticking!  I hope it helps other artists out there considering promoting their projects via this site.  Let’s make a Patreon!

Patreon Profile Image

Release Schedule

When you set up your account, it’s important to have an idea of how and when your releases will occur and also other notices you’d like to send to your Patrons so you can be aware of how much you might be spamming them at once so they don’t get fatigued by your posts. Mine go something like this:

– Last Day of the Month.  Patreon begins charging your Patrons on the 1st of the month, so let’s start there!  The monthly image is uploaded. I only release one painting per month to keep things simple, but you may want to release more frequently! If I ever do more than one painting a month, I stagger out my releases so that there’s always one being posted per month.  However, I do not charge monthly because I am a slow worker and I’d rather my Patrons only get paid when I release a painting, rather than taking a chance that they might not receive anything if I’m not productive enough.

– Within the First Week of the Month.  Rewards for all levels are posted in individual posts (one for each tier) and a PM is sent out regarding my Keyword Inspiration sketch (an event I hold monthly for $5+ Patrons where they turn in prompts and I draw the most inspiring prompt).

– The 15th of Every Month.  A mid-month reminder post reminding people to attend my monthly Studio Hangout (with a link to the Event on Google+), sharing a WiP of that month’s art, and any other important reminders that might be relevant. The 15th is also my internal deadline to have the physical Rewards mailed out.

Last Wednesday of Every Month.  A link to the recording of my live Studio Hangout is posted.  The recording is auto-generated by Hangouts and posted to YouTube for me, which makes things easy.

Digital File Rewards

Digital Rewards are the cornerstone of any Patreon since they’re easy to fulfill and require less of an expense on the artist’s part. Here are a few ideas for distributing digital items.

Patreon Attachments. The downside is a user might have to sift through a lot of posts to find the older Rewards that wouldn’t have been emailed to them. Storing a master list with links that you can link Patrons to in a private Rewards post is another idea to help keep track of older Rewards for new users.

DeviantART’s Sta.sh. DA’s sta.sh allows for private viewing of file links for anonymous viewers who have the url. You can store any kind of file (image, video, etc.) and also ‘stack’ them if you have multiple releases you’d like to show at a single url. The current default limit for free users of DA is 2GB while Premium members get 10GB. Another random perk is that you can also hotlink to sta.sh files if you are embedding images into html on other sites.

YouTube. YouTube allows you to upload videos at private links (called ‘unlisted videos’) that are only accessible to those who have the link.  It’s a good alternative if you want to offer a streaming option for videos instead of requiring a complete download of the entire file.

Private Journal Entries

Sharing exclusive posts can really make Patrons feel special! However, Patreon’s current journal function is very limited and doesn’t allow images and text to be formatted easily. For this reason, here are some suggestions for ways to share private journals:

WordPress Public Draft Previews. If you run a site built with WordPress, the Simple Preview plugin allows you to share a link to a Draft which is private and only accessible by those who know the url. The downside is comments currently don’t function on these posts. A workaround is to disable comments on the post and request that Patrons comment on the original Patreon post that led them, including a link so they can easily access the correct url to post their comments.

DeviantART’s Sta.sh. While also useful for storing files, you can also use Sta.sh Writer to create more robust journal entries than Patreon currently does. These private journals also allow users to comment on them.

Physical Rewards

Postcard and Greeting Card Mailings. I use www.postable.com for a fast, secure, and easy solution for mailing out postcards (ie. Christmas cards, Thank You cards, etc.) to my Patrons. You can personalize your cards online, though they will not be handwritten.

Prints. I usually print off my own prints via an Epson Artisan 1430 which boasts lightfast inks and wide format printing (up to 13×19 inches), but when I need bigger and/or fancier prints (ie. giclee, canvas, mounted prints, etc.), I turn to www.iprintfromhome.com (tell them Angela Sasser sent you and we both get Thank You dollars when you make your first order!).

Reader Suggestions

Before I get to the Templates, I’d love to hear your reader suggestions in comments!
If you have any tips or resources you’d like to add that I find particularly helpful,
I’ll add your tip to this journal entry with a link to your Patreon page.
Let’s make this entry a great resource for the community!

Templates

It’s important to have a link to your Patreon wherever you promote your work. Here are a few buttons and banners to help you out with that!

Download the editable files all at once here.

Profile Image Montage:

Button:

Event Banner:

Logos:

My First Kickstarter – Part 3 – What I Learned

So my first ever Kickstarter has ended and I regret to say that it did not meet its goal!  I am not completely crushed, however, as this has been an  experiment from the beginning.  I knew it might fail due to my own inexperience with hosting this kind of campaign.  I’m writing my thoughts here so that I (and you) can learn from my mistakes and triumphs.

“As the Lady of January, I must protest this treatment!”

What Promotion was Effective (or Not)?

To see a full list of the places where I promoted my Kickstarter, see Part 1.

– The Art Nouveau Tumblr blogs I submitted my promo posts to took about 2 weeks to process submissions.

– The Facebook Groups and Pages I submitted to never replied.

– The DeviantART Groups I posted to, especially artnouveau, were very supportive and enthusiastic! I had a few pledges directly from dA due to spreading the word there.  It’s also a community I’ve been on for 10+ years, which probably plays a factor.

–  Reddit, despite everyone’s insistence that it is vital, was useless for me.  I got a couple of upvotes, but I suspect Reddit is only effective if you have a particular fandom that would be interested in your topic. Alas, none of the several subreddits I posted to provided a single clickthru of support according to my statistics panel.  Perhaps I just didn’t find the right subreddit with the right people?

–  Paid Facebook ads ($40 worth, to be exact) seemed to be somewhat effective.  I got plenty of shares and Likes and a few pledges via Facebook, according to KS’s stats.  I promoted both a video post and a text post.

–  Paid Twitter ads (or promoted Tweets) got plenty of Favorites, but resulted in no direct pledges.  I have to wonder if people bookmarked the project page and came back later, which made them come up as direct traffic instead?  Either way, I had $100 free credit on Twitter for trying out their Ad area for the first time, so it was a great risk free promotion.

– During my campaign, Kickstarter launched a whole new way for projects to be found via their ‘Discover’ panel, which now includes clickable sub-categories for their main categories, which make it easier to narrow the focus of the projects that pop up for random discovery viewers.

The Bottom Line:  Out of all of the sites I promoted my Kickstarter at, my top three referrers which resulted directly in pledges were direct traffic via Kickstarter’s site (especially after the debut of the new discovery panel), DeviantART, and Facebook.

Disclaimer:  My results may not reflect your results, especially if we have unrelated projects.  Best to test them out for yourself and see where your target audience exists on the net!

Toughest Challenges

Losing sleep – I spent a lot of time at night trying to think of the exact perfect way I could say the right thing to encourage people to invest in my project.  I kept thinking up endless tasks for myself to do.  Not a recipe for good sleep!

Obsessively checking email – Even though I promised myself I would not become obsessed with this, I could not help but clicking refresh to see when Pledges came in.  With such a short timeline, every day is vital and might bring new pledges!  This is a dangerous activity for our egos, especially when a campaign fails.

Fear of not promoting enough or too much – Was I spamming people?  Was I not asking people to do enough?  Was I not clear about what my project was trying to do?  All of these thoughts kept bouncing around in my head every day and night, also not conducive to sleep.

Why Did My Campaign Fail?

And now the tough question!  Why did my campaign fail, anyways?  I got some great feedback from a person who was kind enough to come forward and tell me why they did not back my project as well as fellow artists who have ran their own campaigns in the past, which made me come to some important revelations.

Confusing Expectations – Most potential Backers thought they were getting the entire series at once or they wanted to get the whole series at once, instead of waiting.  What they did not understand is that by backing this Lady, they actually help to fund the next Lady in the series.

If I were to just finish all of the paintings first without breaking them up into a series, I wouldn’t actually be able to put any of the funding received along the way to a good use (IE. helping me to hire models, acquire new art supplies, etc) and therefore being able to improve the next Lady in the series.  I was not clear enough with my project Story and videos with how vital backers would be in influencing the creative output of this series and thus helping these paintings to meet their full potential.

Lack of Variety/Demand – The downside of only having one Lady in the series so far is that it is highly reliant on those with a connection to January.  January isn’t a popular birthday, as far as I can tell, meaning there were less Backers interested in picking this one up.  Now October?  I have a feeling she’s going to have an easier time meeting her goal!  (October has been the number 1 requested Lady so far!)  By the time I get to the later Ladies, the previous Ladies will be included as part of the Rewards, which will add to the demand for that Lady.

EDIT: I have since moved the Ladies of the Months project to Patreon where it’s currently gaining traction!

What Would I Do Differently Next Time?

I definitely want to try Kickstarter again and I plan to continue the Ladies of the Months Kickstarter series. However, I will definitely be going about things quite differently after this first experience.

–  Plan a strict time table BEFORE I start.
I had a loose time table in my head, but so many delays came up, particularly with the video editing, that I stressed myself out more than I should have trying to get things posted within the relatively small window I had to promote in.  Next time, I hope to have all of my sample Rewards and videos created and ready to post before the campaign even begins.

– Target my promoters ahead of time.
I’m going to make a list of places to promote my Kickstarter ahead of time so I’m not scrounging during the final days stressing myself out and desperately trying to find the right outlets who will respond to me.  I hope to approach promoters first and give them some lead time for working in an article about my Kickstarter into their schedules first so they won’t run into the problem of my campaign being over before they even have a free slot.

– Build a bigger fanbase first?
I’m torn on this one. Many people offering advice about this campaign stated you don’t need a fan base before running a Kickstarter, but the people I have seen succeeding the most on Kickstarter already have a collector base they have built or have worked with well-known IPs.  I have a small fanbase, but it’s not nearly as big as I would like nor does it seem big enough at the moment to support a Kickstarter for people who might pitch in on a whim.  Should I wait till I have built more of a collector base for a particular brand of art before starting another Kickstarter in this series?

By the same token, I’ve had many people notice Lady of January (and my Ladies of the Months series) thanks to the Kickstarter and just simply having the paintings out there at conventions and online has grown interest in them.  Most of my mailing list sign-ups at this past DragonCon were thanks to people wanting to know when their Lady’s month comes up.  Does this mean that though January failed, my audience has grown just enough to make chances of the future Ladies’ success bigger?  I’m still pondering on this one!

– Have a clearer creative journey.
I really believe focusing on how awesome Art Nouveau is and the physical rewards over the creative journey hurt my chances for success.  I intend to focus on how this series is actually helping me maximize the potential of these paintings beyond my current capabilities the next time.

I hope documenting my process has helped someone else out there.  I know it has helped me!  I look forward to presenting the Lady of February’s Kickstarter in the coming months armed with new knowledge and enthusiasm.

Thanks to all who pitched in and gave words of encouragement!  If anything, running a Kickstarter gave me real, tangible evidence of all the amazing folks out there who are wishing me well and sending their support.  You guys are fabulous!

Till the next time!  I cheer to your own Kickstarter’s success!

You can read the other parts in this series here:
My First Kickstarter – Part 1 – Concept, Preparation, and Promotion
My First Kickstarter – Part 2 – During the Campaign