Re: Launching a Patreon successfully?

#2
Everyone will have different experiences, but I can suggest a few things to plan out before you start the Patreon:

1. What are your long-term plans? Are you prepared to (and far enough along to) say that you'll see the story through to its conclusion regardless of the success of the Patreon? Or, alternatively, are you writing it in arcs, so that you can end it at the end of any arc if it's not as successful as you're hoping for?

2. What is your definition of success? Do you want 20 bucks a month? 200? 2000? What will you do if you don't reach that level?

I usually tell people that you should only expect about a 1% conversion rate of your readers within the first three months. So, with 2000 regular readers, you might expect about 20 patrons within the first three months. Long-term (it can take two years or more), you can get that up to maybe 5% at best, or 10% for those insanely successful authors. However, these numbers involve readers coming from a mix of different sites. I suspect that if you're pulling from RR alone, the numbers are probably higher, because RR readers are more accustomed to signing up for Patreon.

3. If your story has a designated beginning, middle, and end, what will you do if the Patreon is a runaway success? Still end it at the same spot? Or drag it out by continually adding filler chapters so your money source doesn't go away? Needless to say, I don't like the second option. If your story has a designated end, then go ahead and end it. You can always plan out a sequel rather than artificially extending the storyline. If you want something that can be extended, write it in arcs. (But if your arcs go on indefinitely, you run into the problem of power growth over time. How do you continually provide enemies that are strong enough to challenge the MC if the MC just keeps growing and growing in power?)

4. What will your Patreon model look like? Most RR/Patreon authors use a model that charges monthly for a number of different tiers, with each tier having access to a certain number of chapters in advance. With that model, you have to ensure that you'll keep up the same pace so that you can always have enough chapters ready to go when they're needed. You'd probably want to have a backlog of chapters in case of emergencies.

I went a different route. Both my tiers get access to advance chapters at the same time, and I only charge them when I release a batch of chapters. That way, if there's a month where I don't release anything, I'm not charging for anything. That helps because, if I fall behind, I'm not on the hook to provide chapters on a constant schedule. And if there's a month where I release two sets of chapters, I get paid twice (though that hasn't happened in a long time). I don't know if my model turned people away. I suspect RR readers, at least, are used to the other type of model. You may want to stick with what's known to work.

5. I'd recommend looking at some of the most successful Patreon fiction sites and seeing what they do, to help with your planning. The last time I checked, the most successful fiction Patreons were Zogarth's "The Primal Hunter," The First Defier's "Defiance of the Fall", and pirateaba's "The Wandering Inn". I don't know if that's still the case now. I haven't looked in a while.

Re: Launching a Patreon successfully?

#3
Have advance chapters, post them very frequently, and mention it every week or two on your story.

I personally opted for a steadily increasing backlog, posting 5/wk to Patreon and 3/wk to RR, so the patreon 'value' will only keep increasing the longer it goes. It started out with only two chapters ahead, but by now it's over 20.

Tiers are a complicated snaggle of disparate opinions. I went for an all-chapters tier for 9, and a voting-rights tier for 14 at first, then added a one-month preview tier for 5 after some people complained about it being too expensive. Other people will advocate for other models, but I don't want to mess with tier unlocks and shifting chapters down to lower tiers. That's a time sink and a stressor I don't need on top of trying to manage a chapter a day.

I'd say better to price tiers higher than lower to start. It's much easier to give away more later if you decide you've priced too high, than to demand more if you realize you priced too low.

Of course, there are as many patreon models as there are writers, I doubt anyone's method is exactly identical. Mine is a hodge-podge of what suits my own habits and preferences best. I feel 9 is enough that I won't feel underpaid for the eventual massive backlog, while still being a little under the 10 that some people go for. The monthly preview tier for 5 is kinda kludgy but it's the only thing I could think of that didn't involve messing with unlocking individual chapters on a daily basis, while still providing reasonable value.

I'd suggest you set it up and start posting steadily to it for a week or so before you start advertising it, to get a backlog established and prove you're serious about it. An empty page won't impress anyone.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'm still pretty new to this but having launched decently successfully and fairly recently I should be able to at least cover the basics.

Re: Launching a Patreon successfully?

#4
Oh, one more thing ...

6. Once you start earning income (or paying for expenses), you need to be prepared to treat your writing like a business. Track income, track expenses, file taxes (the details will vary by country). That doesn't necessarily mean that you need to create a business entity (I just file as a sole proprietorship along with my personal income), but you do need to understand what the requirements are for your situation and your locale.

Re: Launching a Patreon successfully?

#5

IvyVeritas Wrote: 3. If your story has a designated beginning, middle, and end, what will you do if the Patreon is a runaway success? Still end it at the same spot? Or drag it out by continually adding filler chapters so your money source doesn't go away? Needless to say, I don't like the second option. If your story has a designated end, then go ahead and end it. You can always plan out a sequel rather than artificially extending the storyline. If you want something that can be extended, write it in arcs. (But if your arcs go on indefinitely, you run into the problem of power growth over time. How do you continually provide enemies that are strong enough to challenge the MC if the MC just keeps growing and growing in power?)


I'm planning to address this when I eventually launch my series at some point in, like, 2027 or something. There will be the usual model of offering advanced chapters, but there will be exclusive bonus content as well that's only available to Patrons. Of course, it's very debatable how much this would work as the meat and potatoes is still the main story. But I like to hope that the Patreon-only bonus content--which would include a villain miniseries that concludes after my series finale--would help somewhat in retaining readership once the series ends.

In order to make this work, I'm planning to have a lot of bonus content. That includes an additional eight episodes of The Adventures of BLUE EAGLE, special chapters based on each of my protagonists' pasts, a chapter delving into some deeper world-building lore, a couple holiday story, and the aforementioned five part villain miniseries. And even with all of that, the best I'm hoping for is to retain some Patrons when the time eventually comes.