How Creative Entrepreneurs are Using Patreon to Build Their Businesses


For creators and artists, being able to work on what you love for a living is the ultimate dream. One tool is making it a bit easier to connect these creators and artists with the fans who love their content, while making the dream a more attainable reality.

Founded in 2013 by artist Jack Conte, Patreon has spent the last three years helping creators and their fans work together to create new and exciting content. The name is a combination of two words: patron, or a person who provides financial support, and eon, used rhetorically, meaning an indefinite or long amount of time.

Like Kickstarter or Gofundme, Patreon’s platform gives your target market a chance to support  your efforts directly. Unlike these sites, Patreon is not a crowdfunding platform.  Visitors are not asked to invest in your project. Instead, Patreon allows fans to subscribe to premium content by donating a small amount of money per work, or by month. Patrons earn different rewards, depending on the size of their donation. The creator gets to decide what those are.

Also unlike Kickstarter, Patreon is a subscription service. So rather than ask supporters to donate once, users are asked to contribute a small amount on either a per work or per month basis. On average, each patron donates about $7 per creation. This allows creators a more steady means of income, and therefore a more reliable way to fund their work. Of course, as on other sites, Patreon takes a small fee out for the service; however, this doesn’t hinder some of the users from raking in thousands of dollars a month in subscriptions from their fans.

Patreon is quite popular among artists, YouTube video producers, and writers. Through the platform, fans can donate as little as a dollar a month in order to gain access to premium perks, exclusive content, and other rewards based on their subscription amount. Some artists are using Patreon to allow patrons to  view works early, provide prints of art, shootouts in videos and more. The platform is a tool to help creators get off the ground, and a way for fans to help support the content they enjoy.

One user, Shannon Maer, shared his experience using Patreon on his site recently. Maer is an artist who creates tutorials, paintings, cover art and more. Six months ago, he decided to join Patreon as a new way to reach out to his fans. He explains, “At the time I was looking into a better way to market and put my art to work for me. I had already generated a fair sized portfolio, but outside of sharing them on social media, I didn’t really have much of an outlet for them. I discovered Patreon through other likeminded artists, and it appeared to be everything that I could have asked for.”

Like any other social networking platform, the key is remaining engaged with your audience and providing them with the content they want. The reward and goal system make it much more interactive, letting people know what they’re funding and where their money will be invested. For many creators, this means spending long hours perfecting content in order to remain active and keep their audience happy.

As Maer puts it, “Like everyone else, I began my art page there with zero followers , and then began that journey of discovery. Learning what artwork to share, and how often, was only part of the challenge. I developed my social skills, and became more than just another artists sharing their pictures. I began to offer some genuine interaction with fans, everything from a pleasant greeting, to encouragement and counseling. Within a three year time period my audience has exceeded 75,000 followers.”

Patreon is an interesting combination.  Allowing artists to reach out to their audience in this way brings together the social aspect of a networking site and some of the financial perks of a crowdfunding platform. For those looking to get started using Patreon, it certainly offers a fresher option than eBay or another ecommerce platform as a way to market your creative output.

Image: Small Business Trends via Patreon