Making money from art can be hard. If you are an aspiring fine art photographer, or a struggling one, then you know that it can be tough to find a way to monetise your work. But that isn’t enough to stop you from doing it – when it’s your passion, you just can’t stop yourself.
Patreon is a new way to get your work seen and paid for, by your fans. You publish your work on a set schedule, and your fans pay to see it, as well as for optional extras. But how do you get yourself set up? Follow our step-by-step guide and it couldn’t be easier!
Create your account
The first thing that you need to do is to create your account. Click on ‘become a creator’ at the top of any Patreon page and you will be able to get started immediately. You can sign up with your Facebook account, or fill in your details to begin.
You can use your account to support other creators, or to build your own page – you don’t have to rush into launching straight away. Feel free to take a look around at other pages and see if there are other photographers you can draw inspiration from. When you are ready, just follow the process on-screen to set up your account.
The set-up process asks you a few questions, such as what you are creating, what name you want to have displayed on your page, and so on. Don’t panic about getting these “wrong” as you can change them later. Even if you accept the generic rewards options, you can change everything whenever you want.
Set up your page
At this stage, your creator page is still private. What you will start off with is a rather empty-looking page. The areas you will need to fill in are as follows:
- Your cover image – try to find something that showcases your work and will let people know what you are about right from the start.
- Your profile image – this can be a self-portrait if you wish, which will help your fans get to know the person behind the page. You could also use a logo here if you preferred.
- Goals – these are milestones that you want to work through in order to build your page more and more. Most creators like to have a good mix of things like added rewards, an increased work release schedule, or the benefit of being able to quit their day jobs. Fans like to know what they are allowing you to do, so include goals like “you’re covering my rent/mortgage” and “I am earning a living wage from Patreon” so that they can see how far you need to go (or how far you’ve come).
- Tags – when you have made a few posts on your page, you will be able to set your featured tags. These are the tags that you want people to see the most, so it’s a good idea to select these and to tag every post that you make.
- Description – this is headed with “Why [your page name] is on Patreon”. It’s a good place to explain to your fans what you will be doing on Patreon, why you need their support, and what kind of rewards you can offer them. Make the process clear here too so that they understand when they will be charged and what they will receive. You can also film a video to add here if you want to appeal more directly to your viewers.
- Rewards – this may be the most important part of your page! When your fans sign up to pledge money to you, they will expect rewards in return. You normally want a few basic, cheap pledges, starting from around $1 to $3 depending on what you provide. Make sure that you offer rewards from the lowest tier. Normally the base tier is getting to see your normal content when it is released. After your lower level pledges, you can set up a few premium pledges which are more costly. These can be limited by number, too, so you don’t have to do too much extra work if your page gets popular. We’ll discuss choosing rewards a bit later in this article.
- Thank you message – you may miss this one as it is hidden up in the header. This is the thank you message that Patrons will see when they pledge to your page. It’s an important place to make first contact with your new fans!
Launch your Patreon
When you are done with everything and happy with how it looks, it’s time to launch your Patreon page to the public. There’s a big green button marked “launch” at the top of the page, so press it when you are ready to go!
Now it’s all about promotion. There is an in-built guide to getting more fans in the Patreon system, so we won’t go too much into that here. But the more established and followed you are before you start your Patreon, the better. You want a core of loyal fans who will sign up straight away and start spreading the word. This is key if you want to make a success of your page. Don’t forget to share it often and tell the world where they can find you!
Finally, let’s look at some ideas you could use for your rewards. You can update your page whenever you like, so don’t be afraid to tweak the levels now and then.
- Exclusive photographs and sets
- Wallpaper-sized images for download
- Behind the scenes images and videos
- Access to your moodboards, drawing boards, or whatever you use to plan shoots
- Q and A sessions
- Patreon-only blog posts
- Early access to content
- Polls on future work
- Credits in published books or on websites
- Printed apparel or photographic prints/postcards/etc
- Video chats
- Photographic sessions
Are you on Patreon yet? Share us your page in the comments so we can see what you’re up to!