I talked about crowdfunding before but now, we take a deep dive into your crowdfunding supporter motivations and relationships.

Your crowdfunding supporter motivations have to be clearly defined. You need to know why people care about what you do and who you are. I had the honour of speaking to Cassidy from Patreon in a virtual call. They were keen on offering help plus they were curious about this Patreon in Australia that had a good stability rate despite showing lower activity on the Patreon than they would expect.

I am taking that as both a compliment and bum kick. I need to make this work for you OUTSIDE the mainstay Freelance Jungle group.

Cassidy has seen all kinds of Patreon projects and was eager to explain the psychology to me.

Photo by William White on Unsplash

Usually, there are two reasons why you end up with a crowdfunding supporter –

  1. They have a love for the project and want to support it (this is how I would define our current brood of supporters). For this to work, we still need to continue to give you something special. This is part of that new beginning.
  2. They have a desire for reward/benefit. This means we need to strengthen and focus on making the website and the Patreon work better. I can do this with content. Frankly, now I actually have the time to do it!

For someone considering a Patreon model of continued support, this means:

  • You have to cultivate the audience first
  • There needs to be a desire to help pay for you to create something
  • That creation needs to benefit existing members
  • It also needs to entice people that might not care so much about you but see the benefit in what you are doing

My translation of that during these times is to:

  1. Pull out all the stuff I know helps solve my Patreon’s current issues. Thankfully, I can use the Freelance Jungle group to survey you to find out exactly what you need
  2. Give the Patrons the final say. By using the blogs and polls feature (like I did with the proposed Death by PowerPoint), you can have a say in what I create next
  3. Promote that back to the group to entice them to come over to Patreon as a paid member
  4. I also need to review what my supporter benefits are in light of COVID-19 so I know I am meeting that brief


Tiers and access

Tiers are important. Understanding what you can deliver and what your crowdfunding supporter want really helps.

I made a mess of my $50 tier in the beginning. I recognise that I promised a sort of all access pass and didn’t really deliver. It meant people that really liked the project but didn’t get the value or access they sought dropped down to lower levels.

It’s a process of learning these as you go and being smarter.

Now, I have chartered out what I need to check on with people. But admittedly, COVID-19 has derailed that again. So, it’s back to the drawing board.

Overall, you should keep your levels succinct and easy to understand. They should reflect the personality of the people you want to have in the group. And they should want to move up to get greater support.

Otherwise, you invite decision fatigue.

If you are starting yours, 4 well placed supporter levels are good idea. From my work with Pozible, I know the sweet spot is between $25 and $100 (that’s Aussie dollars). For my Patreon, it seems to be $10 and $2 that go off like frogs in socks.

According to Cassidy and the Patreon blog, the strongest start should be with the crowdfunding supporter on the lowest levels. Then build on the relationship over time. And consider running crowdfunding supporter drives to see how people are feeling.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

The wisdom for encouraging your crowdfunding supporter is as follows:

  • Nobody likes to pay for a thank you. Digital thank you style stuff has it limits and should not exceed $2 USD a month
  • Product matters. People prefer some part of the project you are creating, so treat it like a subscription access model or a pre-order model. E.g. like pre-ordering an album or content at regular intervals
  • Let them be a part of the action. If your supporters can put their stamp on what you create, it works better. E.g. name in the liner notes or credits on the video or shout outs and holding them up as amazing
  • They want to engage with you. Behind the scenes, picking your brain and being their friend is part of the process. One I have neglected but am changing
  • Not every person will like every idea or item. Your aim is to refine based on that feedback but not take the haters too much to heart. Some people enjoy being miserable and will complain no matter what you do
  • Keep going even if you don’t get much action. Crowdfunding is a lot like social media in the early days. You have to plug away at it and will often feel like no one is listening. I have been surprised at times by people showing no outward signs of listening and engaging in my content only to have them later tell me it touched them, helped them or had some kind of strong effect
  • Surprise people on occasion. Once what they have opted in for is spent, that doesn’t mean that’s where it ends. Surprises help people keep focused. You can even channel your inner community radio station and do supporter drives with added bonuses!

Who cares what people think?

Like anything in life, people will have opinions about what you crowdfund and how you do it. You will get people that tell you directly (or anyone who will listen) the latest thing you did wasn’t to their liking.

Even a crowdfunding supporter can give you a bum steer on occasion. For example, you might find a poll leads to no clear cut decision. Or you have a crowdfunding supporter or seven who asks for things you don’t have the budget or time to create.

My advice is unless they want to speak to you about it and give you constructive, solution-orientated feedback, put on some Tay-Tay, shake it off, get back on the horse and keep going. Pick and choose the moments where crowdsourcing opinions adds value and leave the rest.

Patreon is designed so that a crowdfunding supporter can make their own choices. They can subscribe or unsubscribe as they please and you should trust your Patrons will make their own decisions. Patrons can come back to that direct Patreon content or the website when they want to.

You choosing to create doesn’t mean they are forced to pay you attention.

Yes, it’s frightening to think, “gee, I have to create my stuff and hope the audience appreciates it”. That level of spotlight is tough to take. I personally haven’t been so great at it as I have unhealthy doses of Imposter Syndrome to go with it.

But the way I have switched my head around and found my motivation is three things:

  1. Treating my writing and creating and ideas as a superpower. I have convinced myself if I create prolifically with an ear to the audience, I will have a better chance of commanding my own destiny than if I compete with everyone else for jobs where someone else is calling the shots
  2. Some people whinge no matter what’s on offer. I have realised that people will always comment and make fun, no matter what I do. So, I may as well do what I want instead of having people call the shots on my endeavours.
  3. Taking action is its own reward. I cannot control what will happen to my health, livelihood, the people I care about or a myriad of other things. I used to say to people that their detractors wouldn’t be at their funeral or be the ones that had to feed their family. It feels oddly prophetic now. What people think of you for giving it a go doesn’t matter a hill of beans now the shit has truly hit the fan

Plan in low maintenance work (coz you may get sick)

When I first started my Patreon crowdfunding page, I was going into hospital. I didn’t expect to get over $200. And I thought if nothing else, it would give me an excuse to close the Facebook Group because it was more than a full-time job for the entire team.

I got well over $1000 in a day and it has dropped sometimes but basically stayed steady with 160-ish supporters each month.

When I came back from surgery, I had a lot of work ahead of me and no plan. It overwhelmed me and it drove me away from the Facebook Group too.

I was disorganised, on the back foot and didn’t manage to translate what I had started.

Don’t be like me is what I am saying.

Keep your levels tight. Make them low maintenance so you can fulfill them. Have stuff ready and a one-page timetable ready. Include a contingency plan should you get sick, because coronavirus is the likely reason you are doing this, right?

Oh, and stick to what you know. If you write, do that. If you play music, do that. Don’t challenge yourself to do ballet moves if you’ve never even seen a video of Swan Lake.

Tips for keeping it lo-fi and easy to manage include:

  • Be realistic. Ask yourself what you can do today without tools and focus on that
  • Repurpose stuff. Creating templates you can use and re-use
  • Use your creativity and knowledge to the best advantage by giving that freely to people
  • Do it in low barrier ways– the Patreon blog, video, audio, live, raw stuff
  • Screw perfection. It’s not worth the brain space required
  • Think in short, timely bursts – people want updates over essays (might hang that on my wall…excuse me a moment)
  • Get vulnerable. I do this shit because I care about people. I believe every creative person genuinely feels the same. But some people will try to shut that down because they don’t want to do the same thing. That’s on them, not you
  • Stay true to your values. Your values are what makes it possible for you to create easier than anything else. It also means you won’t get caught in creating work- or drama- for validation’s sake
  • Always keep the audience in mind. Yes, it’s your creative journey. But they have to feel a part of it. They have to gain benefit and be inspired. It’s what they are there for

Also, during these times, I would stay remain hopeful, optimistic and beacon for people to follow.

There’s so much sadness, anger, misery and fear right now. We need (as the darling Carly Findlay and I discussed recently) more heart and less snark.

Let’s not create based on scarcity and fear. Let’s not shut each other down. Instead, let’s move forward together with compassion and care.

It’s the innovators and the creators who get people mentally, emotionally and intelligently out of problematic situations. We may not be able to rely on our government or standard leadership- but we can rely on the shared experience we have with one another.

Together, we can create safe places for new ideas, audiences and for the pain we feel to translate into something helpful.

Pain is often the sand that makes the pearl. We need to remember that now more than ever.

Want more advice on how to support your crowdfunding supporter? Stay tuned!






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