If there is one thing that people want in life is money. We equate money to a worry-free existence and many paths have been well traveled to get to that point in life. All creators want is to stay at home and work online so they can express their gift for writing, painting, blogging, photography and the rest of the talents that one could use to make money. In the beginning of the internet, massive amounts of people flocked to get a website and once someone learned how to get paid through online processing the rest was history. The gold rush ended a long time ago in “internet years”. Yet, that gold rush still motivates countless finger tips to search for their own jackpot.
Are you a writer or blogger but have no idea how to use YouTube and other sites to get known and leverage Patreon to bring in that crowdfunding? It’s not the only way to bring in an income that is sustainable. It’s just the one that I think is worth talking about in this post. How can writers make money by extending their efforts just a little bit further?
This is a reach for many and I am settling in on this one so we can talk about in length. I am working on my first real book so I can build my brand further. We are all trying to build our brands and it is not easy, but you already know this if you got here using a search engine result. One thing I have learned by helping authors is that they just want to write books and send them to the publisher. Those days are quickly fading away if not already gone, at least printing information on dead trees.
Maybe you are laughing at my assumptions about the Big 5 publishing companies and their control over the digital world. Here is the stats for published works over the last 27 months. Facts are hard, but it is not too late to pivot. You will easily see that eBooks are real and those lines are going to continue in their current directions.
I am using myself and this website as a prime example as I build my studio to prepare for my own expansion. This makes me put myself in your shoes, but the difference for some is that this is not my first time. I have done this several times before but never to this degree of commitment. Let’s assume upfront that you are not under contract with the Big 5 and you are free to write and self-publish on Amazon’s Kindle program if you so desire.
While it is pointless to make an argument based on fictional numbers, it is imperative that you read all of Amazon’s Kindle Publishing information so you are equipped to make an informed decision going forward. By understanding Amazon’s set rules and numbers you will be able to maximize your earnings and reach. Don’t forget other digital publishing platforms too.
I am currently writing my first book and I know that having an audience that is excited about my book is a really big deal and in the other hand, a harsh reality if you don’t have an audience. I safe guarded my position by doing the following things.
- Built my website. This is rule #1 and without this you don’t have a home to call your own.
- Branded my website to match my social presence to include logo, profile, and cover images.
- I write a lot of content on my blog that is highly informational.
- I built my Woocommerce store in case there is an opportunity to earn.
- I built out my personal 1-on-1 coaching calendar.
- I am somewhat active on social media and have built a following.
- I have a YouTube channel as all the other platforms too.
- I have a Patreon page that has gone unused to this point.
That is where I am. You maybe be only a few points in or even further than me on this. If so then my hats off to you. I am currently managing 3 separate brands and they all have to grow together at an equal pace so take that list and times it by 3. I know I sound like I am boasting, but contrary to your belief I am exhausted. If takes the life out of you and you are jumping around trying to make all of this work. So my point to this mark is to say that I hear you and this is not easy. You sleep less, you check in to make sure you cover any mentions on Twitter, or to schedule that next Facebook post.
Let’s YouTube Instead
Leaving that exhausting list behind, it’s time to think about building some manageable and high-impact. In the same breath that I will say YouTube is vital, it is even more draining & demanding to get discovered so you need to clear house, take the waste off the table and play the long game.
You need gear and location along with some deep dives in processes and being a frugal film maker if need be.I don’t really like a bunch of lists in my blogs even if you might think that I do, but it’s easier for me to visually break down a bunch of same ideas without saying “I” a lot.
- Bought 2 GoPro Hero 4 Black editions for the 4K and 2.7K at 60 frames. They were on-sale for $399.99 each. Yes, it’s an investment
- Found massive deals on official GoPro brand batteries (bought 8 for $10 each), LCD for $40, and Back Pack for $30.
- Grabbed a Rode VideoMic GO for $60 on Amazon.
- Picked up an accessory pack on Amazon for $40.
- I already had stands.
- Ordered several reels of LED strips from Amazon (different brightnesses. I grabbed the 5630’s for max brightness and bought 5K & 6K colors) and made my own light panels. Save a lot by doing it my self. There are plenty of how-to videos on it if you want to go down that road.
- Purchased a 40″ 4K monitor for $250 delivered on a Saturday (I live in South Korea so it’s easier) from GMarket for editing video with Adobe Premiere Pro.
- Had my graphic designer whip up some images for YouTube thumbnails and channel art.
- Purchased an intro from Fiverr for $5. It’s only 1080p and that’s fine.
In all, I have some money invested, but these tools are the future and after I retire in 126 days from this post being published it will be time to truly build. I plan on blogging, shooting video and podcasting on a regular basis from the Philippines. I wrote all of this because it’s important to show that you can put down the keyboard for a bit and just stream using a basic webcam if you want to start simple.
Note: Remember to keep your clothes on and don’t have a messy house.
Perhaps you think my list is overboard and don’t want to go that route. Then please get a good 1080HD webcam (I use the 920c from Logitech and bought it for $49 on Cyber Monday 2015) and just go to Blab.im and do your thing. They will send you a link to download your audio and video with audio so you can post it on YouTube if you want. The point is that you have options and people need to see you and interact with you. You can answer questions from fans, or do something else like telling them a story. What do your favorite YouTube channels offer? Take some notes from them.
Setting Up a Patreon Page
Now, moving along beyond the YouTube side of the house, let’s Patreon! Wait, that’s not a verb yet, but it will be eventually. Remember that you saw it here first. Patreon is really easy and you can get some financial support if you produce content that people believe in.
Contrary to belief, people will pay for content if they value it. Netflix is the example that everyone should model from. They give you what you want at a very reasonable price, no ads, and they produce original content that is amazing. Do NOT blueprint your strategy from Hulu, Amazon Prime video, or YouTube Red. All of these options are terrible and most people hate the service and push people towards Netflix or Piratebay. I don’t encourage piracy, but you can’t ignore it either. The YouTube Red is still too early to call, but I have very limited faith in Google. Google, or Alphabet now, is based on no customer support. They have a little staff of sales now, but it is not a focus like Zappos had which then led to being bought by Amazon.
The biggest issue you’ll have is earning yourself a loyal fan base that donates each month. This is what your books and YouTube are for. You need to push out good content often and build a base otherwise Patreon doesn’t matter. Setup rewards that are reasonable. You don’t need a $1 donation or a $10,000 one either. Setup simple and attainable reward like mailing a signed book, or private content, or a supporter badge. Some do t-shirts, credits on a video, or other small ones. Do a study to see what other pages are offering and copy the successful ones. This is where you have to offer something to get something. In this case it’s money. An hour reviewing other successful pages will give you all the ideas in the world.
Patreon is just like any social media platform where you have branding and need to write content for. The difference is that they need to verify you, you need to setup rewards for people who support you, and you have to be visible & verified. You’ll need to add a bank account and work to build a presence on. This is not hard and it’s something I am in the middle of too so I feel the need to take all of this advice for my projects too. We can do this together.
Hiring a Team
I know this is overwhelming in so many ways. Slow down that feeling of anxiety and let’s see what options we have. Hiring an assistant to help manage the little things for a couple dollars an hour is easy. Go to Craigslist, head over to the Philippines section, then to Resumes and start reading and sending emails back and forth. It’s what I did and it’s been really great for the past year. You could hire them for 10 hours per week to manage social media, write the Patreon content, edit video, or whatever you can pass over to someone to handle. You can strike a deal for how many hours you need and what you need done fairly easy. If you have no luck on finding someone then please email me and I will try to help.
The digital world is coming and you should be thinking about this as a current author of printed books. You are about to be outdated, but with some quick reading or watching YouTube videos on your Chromecast device, you have a shot at turning you world into a digital one now, and not later. Take some time in studying things like digital publishing, Bitcoin, audience wants & needs, and it should work itself out. Don’t be afraid to hire a freelancer to be on your team if you can swing it and it makes sense. I have written in depth on this topic too.
A Tale of Doing It All Wrong (Really, like 110% wrong even if that is impossible.)
Remember, never bite the hand that feeds you. Over the last 4 weeks or so I witnessed a YouTube channel that covered technology implode on itself. It was/is the Tek Syndicate and they had $6K+/month coming in from Patreon. Someone said it was over $10K at one point, but I didn’t verify that number. As of this minute the Tek Syndicate Patreon page (do not fund them) is under $1,800/month with 441 supporters and it’s going to continue to plummet. You are probably scratching your head for an answer to how they ruined their success after 4 long years of building it.
Allegedly, Logan (main business owner I think) spent money on moving several times across the U.S., building an office that has been dragging on for month, firing some key hosts, and refusing to be transparent about the bank account. There is more than likely a lot more to this divide but I named a couple of the big things things. Wendell is the other owner with 30% of the company and is the “Linchpin” to the whole thing. Wendell is intelligent and brings depth to their show called “The Tek”. Logan is there to move the video along and sell some shirts in their Epic Pants store. The divide between Wendell, Logan, and the firing of an employee named Quain (sp? not worth Googling) went public and almost overnight people pulled out by removing their Patreon contribution and unsubscribing from their channel on YouTube.
I have been looking for a way to work that into my post. The point is that when you have success with your YouTube channel and have thousand’s of dollars being donated per month, don’t piss it away because you are a pretentious artist. Don’t do something foolish to end the road to success.
Using All Of This Together
You have a website, you are a best seller author, maybe even on Oprah’s Book of the Month Club, and you took my advice. You should be writing as you normally would, understand all of Amazon’s options for publishing, maybe selling your books on your website, and have a fairly decent YouTube channel in the near future if not already. If you take all of it and build a strong Patreon page with reasonable rewards, I would argue that you have learned to leverage writing, video, and subscriptions. Of course, don’t forget about Twitter and Facebook presence or where ever you like to be when time allows.
This entire idea is difficult. Please don’t take a few thousands words and some links to think that tomorrow you are going to have funds flowing into your bank account. Writing takes years, as you know, and building a digital footprint also takes years in some cases as well. Take a pragmatic approach and get to know your audience if you are a new author. Authors with years and depth under their belts will have a much easier time building this idea.
This was a topic that I guest blogged about previously, but I had to stay brief and I felt the need to take the idea and the process much deeper than 750 words. I loved doing the guest blogging and I hope it helps people think about additional options. If you have read previous articles or watched my YouTube videos you know I am not brief by any measure. So I wanted to thank Wendy from No Wasted Ink for allowing me to cover this topic on her site for her readers to discuss.
Lastly, I am hoping that some authors or “would-be authors” took something away from this. I truly think the digital landscape will allow for authors to connect on a more personal and visual level even if it’s just answering fan’s questions in 3-5 minute videos once a week. This path could easily work to grow a Patreon page or even a Kickstarter for a larger project. The point of this entire piece is to get authors to think about using other mediums and methods to build their online footprint. If you want to add additional thoughts to this please write a comment below. Feel free to correct anything I missed or tell me a story about how you did this. I want to hear from you if you have a thought to share!