Little to somewhat known in the literary corner (though that fact is rapidly changing) is the crowdfunding platform, Patreon. Just as Shakespeare had Queen Elizabeth and Michelangelo had Medici, you too can have your own patrons who willingly support the funding of your work in exchange for special privileges and access to exclusive new creations.
As a Patreon user, you establish a page to share and highlight your creative and professional work and set your funding goals. Anyone can then sign up to be a patron and, depending on the level of contribution (which can range from $1 a month to thousands), will receive the respective rewards you offer at that level.
The most common Patreon creators at the moment are podcasters, musicians, YouTube personalities, video game designers, videographers, photographers, writers, comic book illustrators, artists, and DIY crafters.
As of September 2019, the writing vertical generates about $650,000 monthly from 243,943 patrons of 8,591 creators (The Graphtreon). Included in that list is humor magazine McSweeney’s, which offers everything from “updates from Chris, our well-meaning and unfashionably attired editor and sneak peeks of future Tendency articles” to “A Patreon-only eBook collection featuring our most-read and most-popular pieces from last year.” With 2,393 patrons to date, McSweeney’s is pulling in a pretty penny from this crowd. When they reach 3,000, the publication promises to introduce a staff writing program in which contributors will receive an actual payout for their work.
Clearly there’s an opportunity here for more writers, authors, and journalists to hop aboard. But, as Writer’s Edit warns, don’t bank on this being a leading source of income. McSweeney’s may generate anywhere between $5K and $20K each month, but that’s nothing when divvied up amongst the team of people they have behind the publication. In fact, only 2% of Patreon creators earn more than the federal minimum wage through the site (The Outline).
The most popular creator page is Chapo Trap House, a left-wing political podcast, that has 31,100 patrons and a monthly income averaging $140,000 (The Richest). But when doing some quick math (133,701 total Patreon creators/total monthly payout of $13,116,872), we see that the average earned per creator rounds out to $98 a month (stats from The Graphtreon).
So, we wouldn’t suggest using Patreon to try and fund your next book, BUT why not set up a page just to see who your fans are, what they’re willing to do to support you, and reach more people in a meaningful way through your creativity. You may not have a Midici, but your grandma’s entire knitting club is not a far second.
Patreon for writersCredits: Alexis Anthony, writer; MustangJoe at Pixabay, image