How to Decide Once and For All If You Should Start a Patreon Account for Your Art

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Photo by Amauri Mejía on Unsplash

“Bro, do you understand what Patreon is yet?” I texted before I could change my mind.

“You give people money for their content or whatever.”

“Yeah lol nvm. For a brief second, I was thinking about making one again.”

“Why not make one?”

“Duck. I don’t know. If I made one would you become a patron?”

One hour passes.

“Sure.”

Managing a Patreon account is hard.

I’m a patron of a small number of Patreon accounts. A while back I canceled all of my pledges because I was having financial difficulties.

Recently, after recovering financially, I realized I forgot to pledge my support to one of those creators again, so I went looking for their account. I couldn’t find it. When I reached out to the creator they said “I axed that back in January,” which was a full ten months ago. Oopsie doodles!

The reason? They constantly felt guilty for not giving patrons enough. It was like no amount of content they could give would make them feel better about receiving money from their supporters.

You see, on Patreon creators set up pledge tiers of different dollar amounts, which usually have specific rewards for their patrons. It should be easy to manage expectations and not disappoint patrons knowing that, but for some of us, for some reason, we still stress ourselves out.

Running a Patreon account can truly feel like a full-time job, and to be fair a lot of popular Patreon creators treat it that way. They indeed earn a full-time income, but it’s not an easy road to travel.

No, it’s not an easy road at all if you aren’t committed. It’s hard work. You have to be confident in whether or not you wanna manage a Patreon account to begin with or you’re gonna have a bad time.

So let’s figure out if you should even bother.

Should I start a Patreon account for my art?

If you’re an artist, you’ve probably asked yourself this question before.

It seems like a great question. You see plenty of people using the Patreon platform successfully and making decent amounts of money. It’s something other artists do, and you fancy yourself an artist, so you should do it too, right?

It depends.

Now, to be clear, I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should start a Patreon account. That decision is always going to be up to you. I can only tell you what I’ve learned about making that decision.

What I’ve learned is: you’re asking yourself the wrong question.

Artists have a lot of options when it comes to making money.

Full-time jobs, freelance work, selling merch, taking commissions, and teaching are some of the best ways artists can make money.

Sure, you can try to do everything under the sun, but you’ll probably stretch yourself too thin. After all, there’s only so much time in the day. You gotta pick something to focus on.

So which of these options should you choose?

It depends on your goals.

Do you wanna help other people? You might enjoy teaching.

Do you wanna make AAA video games? You’re gonna need a full-time job where you’ll work on someone else’s vision as part of a team.

Those are just two of the possibilities.

So forget about Patreon for a moment. The real question you need to ask yourself is “what are my goals?”

There’s power in knowing your goals.

Understanding your goals will help you decide if you should start a Patreon account and build confidence in your decision. Here are some more benefits of having goals:

  • Goals give you direction and focus.
  • Goals help you stay motivated in the event of setbacks.
  • Goals bring clarity to decision making.
  • Goals help you realize your purpose.

Once you’ve identified your goals you will eliminate your doubt about what actions you should be taking, including whether you should be on Patreon.

Should I freaking use Patreon or not?!

“Stop beating around the bush, Nate!” I hear you saying across space and time. “Get to the point!”

Okay, fine. Here’s how it breaks down. Once you know your goals, ask yourself this question.

Do your goals involve working full time and/or freelancing on other people’s projects?

Yes: You probably don’t want the additional hassle of managing a Patreon account. Save some of your time for your personal life, geez.

No: You might want to consider making a Patreon account.

“Might?! Consider?!”

Yup. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of ways to make money as an artist, so you don’t have to choose Patreon.

And even if you do, depending on your specific goal, there are a number of ways you could set up your Patreon account. So you don’t have to go full Patreon with perks and all.

There are also potentially other options to consider to monetize your goals. For example, teaching has no shortage of competing platforms to choose from. It’s your preference.

Honestly, I think the less you want to work with other people and the less you want to create products to sell, the more likely you are to benefit from Patreon. Especially if you’re just trying to do what you love with no limits on your creativity. If you’re working towards that, it’s Patreon all the way down.

The bottom line is this: you have to know what your goals are before you decide what actions you should take to reach them.

A quick summary

Stop asking yourself if you should start a Patreon account.

Instead, ask yourself “what are my goals?”

Then, ask yourself “does Patreon help me reach my goals?”

If your answer is yes, and you decide to start a Patreon account, then you need to commit to it and take action. No more waffling and fence riding. You can make it happen if you put in the work. Believe in yourself. You can do it!

Wanna keep in touch? Follow me on Twitter.

Written by

Artist and blogger. I help people bring more art into the world: natedoesart.com

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