Tiers - It Should be Tears!
The Joys of Patreon #3The about section was bad, but, oh my, the tiers were more daunting. This is where we have to decide what we do and what our fans might actually like.
On Patreon we can reward our patrons at differing levels depending on how much they pledge to us - these are called tiers.
There are 2 business models:
- per creation - patrons pay per product we produce - a bit like a kickstarter
- subscription - patrons pay monthly
I decided on the subscription model, since that is the way I work, so this post is all about that ideal.
Read the Best Practices and examples given by Patreon themselves - they know what they are talking about. These are to be found on the Tiers tab of the page editor.
Advice No 2:
Go look at other Patreon users and see what has worked for them.First thing to consider is sustainability. Whatever we add to our tiers we must be able to produce and continue to produce to satisfy our obligations to our patrons - unfortunately we are not Leonardo Da Vinci and we cannot abandon projects just because we feel like it. So basically we should not add in anything we might not be able to produce.
What is really good is Patreon has a benefits system where we can add in each benefit and then it will track it for us. Benefits can either be one offs at signup or monthly, and it will show us who is in line for which benefit. This means we should never lose track of who has had what when.
Some of the things we are looking for are exclusive content, some is value added content, both of which should appeal to fans. What we have to remember about Patreon is that we are not going to be able to grab everyone who likes our product, be it books, fine art, illustrations, comics etc. The people who sign up are more than that, they are fans who wish to support us in our endeavours to succeed at what we are doing.
Exclusive ContentExclusive content are, simply put, things that cannot be obtained from anywhere else. For example:
- Blog posts only available on Patreon
- Videos or podcasts linked nowhere else
- Cat pictures (seriously - the internet loves cat pictures, or pictures of any pet)
- Short stories, new art etc
Value Added Content
Value added content are things that may or may not be exclusive forever, but are special to our patrons:
- Voting rights on content, e.g. authors can ask for input on character names or which cover to choose etc
- Previews of work, e.g. draft chapters before release
- Money off products
- Shout-out on social media or within our work - e.g. in-book thanks, or thank you blog posts etc.
The Method In My Madness
This is how I went about this:
- Read all of Patreon's advice and checked out other authors.
- Sat down and wrote a long list of everything I thought might interest fans.
- Crossed out everything that I did not think I could produce regularly enough (but kept the notes to revisit in the future - we don't have to launch everything at the same time, after all this is a learning process).
- Ranked all the content on how valuable I thought it would be to people.
Creating the Tiers
Right, so now we have our content sorted, we need to decide what to do with it.
There are several things to decide:
- How many tiers we are going to have
- What to call each tier
- The price of each tier
- What to put in each tier
1. How Many TiersSome people only have one tier, some people have many, Patreon recommends somewhere between 1 and 5.
- Advantage - we only have to produce one set of benefits and all our patrons get the same.
- Disadvantage - we would have to price it higher than some of our fans would be willing or able to pay.
- Advantage - we can offer varying levels of price for our fans with differing means or levels of engagement.
- Disadvantage - we have to decide what to offer where and have enough in each tier to justify its price, which will likely be more work.
How I Decided
My thought process on this was 2 fold:
- I knew I wanted a range of price points that needed to be 3 or 4, because I wanted a tier at the min of $1 and at least 2 above that.
- I had my list of things to offer, so I looked at how well it would divide.
In the end I went for 4 tiers because it gave me the range I wanted and I figured if anyone wanted to give me more than my highest range, they would anyway.
2. What to Call Each Tier
The whole point of Patreon is that we're drawing our fans closer, they are becoming our patrons. This gives us a certain relationship to them which is above that of someone who simply buys our product, or even interacts with us online as colleagues or fans. To enhance this Patreon allows us to give each tier a name.
The hard part is coming up with names that reflect how we wish to interact with our patrons and that fit our brand.
I did consider choosing something in the vampire genre for my titles, but decided that might not come across quite right, since the genres tends to use words like familiar and servant etc. Not really the tone I was after, and I don't exclusively write vampires, so I discarded the notion. In the end I went for something more neutral, but I am actually still thinking about this and may yet change my mind.
3. Price Points
Now this is a very personal thing, for some, having prices into the hundreds could be right, especially if we've gone with the per-creation model. However, the subscription model needs a range of price points.
There are 2 main factors in what patrons are willing to pay:
- means - some patrons have lots of money, some do not
- investment - patrons who are highly invested in us and our product are likely to be willing to pledge more
So when setting price points we need to consider how to give good value at the lower end, but with bonuses at the higher end to encourage the investment we seek. This is a tricky balance because, of course, we want to bring in as much income as we can, after all this is our livelihood, but we do not wish to short change our fans that do not have the disposable income to give us more.
I went with a very simple structure: $1, $5, $10, $20
My reasoning was that those at one end ($1) are probably going to be either loyal fans with a low income or people who like to support artists that don't know me well enough yet. Then at the other end $20 there would be super-fans who really want to connect and support me in my writing aims.
4. The Content
Finally the really hard bit: deciding what to offer in each tier.
Those in every tier, from $1 up, are giving us their hard earned money to support us in our endeavours and what we are offering them in return is membership of our community. Hence I believe that is important to be inclusive from the ground up.
Hence I thought of the tiers like a house and my patrons all have a key to the foundation level where I welcome them to my home, but pledging to the higher tiers gives them keys to the stairwell and the more interesting rooms above.
This made the foundation level very important and it needed to be something I could build on. I considered having levels of blog posts for different tiers, but, in the end I decided that blog posts would be my foundation.
My main assumption with this whole endeavour is that people willing to pledge and become patrons wish to know about me, my work, why I do it, and how, hence my decision about blog posts.After that is was a matter of adding in content for each tier which added to the foundation in increments. The hardest one was the last tier - coming up with something I knew I could produce, but that would give patrons at that level just that little bit more, in essence, a little bit more of me.
I've changed my mind on what is in various tiers at least ten times already, just in case you were wondering (even made some edits while I was writing up this post), but I think I am done now ... probably ;). I'll make a big announcement when I finally launch so everyone can check out my final choices.
What kind of thing would you add to your Patreon?
What would you like to see in an author's Patreon to entice you in?
P.S. This post would have been much easier if I could spell tier - I keep typing it as teir, no matter what I do! Thank heavens for spellcheck. :)