How Artists Can Earn Income and Support Using Patreon

by guest blogger Mckenna Hallett

Crowdfunding site Patreon helps creatives and artists support themselves with the assistance of monthly pledges that provide income. Mckenna Hallett shares her experience and insights for artists who are interested in getting started.


How Artists Can Earn Income and Support using Patreon. Read about it at


How Patreon Helps Artists Gain Patrons

What do you get when you cross a membership site with a crowdfunding site? Patreon!

Based on a Kickstarter-type concept, Patreon is designed to host your artful endeavors by giving you a platform to build a community of direct support from the people who matter – your fans, collectors, and would-be collectors. This site is especially useful if you offer classes.

Patreon is similar to other crowdfunding sites, but with an emphasis on creatives, artists and ongoing projects. “Creators” can set up offers, terms of engagement, types of creative assets, and then create “reward” tiers for “Patrons.”

Since support is ongoing, it’s similar to a membership site. However, people can “follow” without becoming a Patron. I would encourage you to offer some free access and public “posts.”  For example, I have my first five episodes from “Find Loving Homes for Your Art”, my podcast, as public posts.

What sets Patreon apart is that it’s a place to share your creative endeavors directly and intimately, with no outside influences or advertising. For me, it was the perfect choice to host my podcast, which is hosted there for free. The entire site has no costs for Creators. As you gain Patrons, fees are taken directly from your pledges.

First Things First

In putting my site together, I spent hours over many weeks looking at the top Creators and studied their pages and setups. It’s been an amazing journey. Since the relatively steep learning curve of building the site is still fresh in my mind, I’ll share my “early days” research and experiences.

First, I pledged to a few Creators, and highly recommend that you do so as well, to see how things work. In fact, my page might be a good starting place. (Yes, that is a call to action!) Here’s my link.

Your first big decision is to consider which type of pledge you want. You can choose to have people pay you “Per Creation” or “Per Month.” If you might have an on-again-off-again relationship with creating for your Patrons, you might want to use the Per Creation pledge method.

As an example, the founder and CEO of Patreon, Jack Conte, is a musician who creates music videos. Jack virtually abandoned his site in 2013. (He’s super busy running this fast growing company.) His last video was released back in late 2013, but if he were to release a video tomorrow, he would earn just over $3500. He used the Per Creation pledge system. This is smart since he really “owes” no one anything if he goes silent. It’s a good model to consider if you have a “release” of some kind as your main art project.

Many others, myself included, use a straight up Per Month pledge. I created that pledge system to give my Patrons a sense of consistency. I know, without hesitation (and this is important) that I will post a new podcast every week. It’s my pledge to those who support me, and I have a five year history of consistent blogging and a notebook filling up with topics.

Bottom line, you will want to examine this question up front. Be honest with yourself. Depending on which way you go, it will have an impact on how you structure the rest, especially your rewards and tier levels.

Four Parts for Success

After studying sites, and going through the tutorials, I found a fairly clear pattern for success that revolves around four specific areas on the site:

  • The Introduction Space (aka “About Me”) – with a video being a vital asset
  • The Tiers and Rewards Section – which needs excellent verbiage to entice visitors to pledge
  • The Goals Area – where you spell out what you hope to do with the pledges
  • The Banner – which helps you with your branding and sets your tone and style

The nitty gritty is all marketing skills, your authentic voice, and relevant calls to action that will resonate with your target audience. Let’s break down those top three areas:

The Introduction Space

The Patreon home page takes some attention to detail in order to keep the visitor on board and engaged. You must make it crystal clear to potential Patrons, so they have the right information in order to feel generous enough to pledge their financial support.

The first time I landed there to learn about becoming a Patron for someone I admire, it was a bit confusing. Fortunately, that Creator had made it easy to understand. and even easier to rationalize a monthly pledge. I signed up within minutes.

I highly recommend that you give yourself a fighting chance by creating a video introduction. If you are still not quite ready for that level of challenge, don’t let it stop you from starting a page. Many successful creators skip the video, but don’t avoid it forever. It’s really a best practice.

Setting up the Tiers – the foundation of your success

Setting up tiers could be the most difficult part of getting your Patreon site up and functioning. For example, I am a Patron to an artist named Stephanie Law. She has a very active site that is just over a year old. She has 529 Patrons and is earning just over $3300 a month from the site. Her $2 tier includes things like giving access each month to “early works-in-progress and doodles.”

It’s not uncommon for Creators to offer “first dibs” on any number of things. Stephanie offers “Advanced opportunity at brand new original art” for her $5 tier. (See what she did there?) Many artists offer “free” videos of art in progress, or merchandise like sketches or a full resolution painting to download.

Creatives and artists who teach can find a good home on Patreon. Melody Lane, who has over 5400 Patrons, creates videos and “Cricut Tutorials.”  While she has chosen not to show how much money she receives (an option anyone can choose) clearly she is doing quite well.

Melody may very well be among the five-figure crowd. She had already built quite an empire on YouTube and people can watch the how-to videos for free. But obviously her Patrons still want the extra rewards by pledging on Patreon. It’s noteworthy that she has 15,000 subscribers on her email list. She is a hard-working creative!

There are even some six figure creators. Yes, there are people making over $100,000 each month on Patreon! Of course they have huge patronage and often came to the site with big followings.

As I see it, no matter how many artists become Patrons on my site, every dollar pledged is helping me help others. Patreon helps me offset costs involved in creating podcasts and other content that I will push through that site in the months ahead.

Take Note: Don’t make promises you can’t keep or offer to do things that will take so much time that you are a slave to “serving” your Patrons instead of creating your art.

Setting up the Goals Section

I love the potential to create community on Patreon.  So as an example of my goals, I want to do more volunteer work with artists and art organizations here in Hawaii. Since that involves expensive airfare, I made that my ultimate goal.

Some Creators have avoided goals, but I think it helps build an implied sense of a community rallying cry of “let’s get this going!”

The goals can be simple, like Angela Anderson who creates “Acrylic Painting Video Tutorials on YouTube” had a simple goal for reaching the $5000 a month mark: “When we get to $5000 per month we will do a special viewer’s choice show for all current patrons and give away the painting.”

Success Requires Engagement

The one thing that I see repeatedly with the more successful Creators sites is strong engagement. Treating the site a bit more like a Facebook page (without all the distractions) or a private group seems the easiest way to describe the right approach.

Although I’m just getting started on Patreon, I believe it will be of increasing value to me.  Many Artsy Shark readers may find it valuable, too. It’s certainly not “passive” income, but it’s time well spent if you are being “paid” to engage with your Patrons! You won’t get paid directly to engage on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

I know one thing for sure: With all the changes going on in social media and the intensified advertising and noise online, it’s nice to go somewhere like  There you can see how pure creativity can be shared directly, and that people with talent are being supported directly.

The ancient concept of being a “Patron of the Arts” was the norm with kings, queens, and others with financial status for centuries. Now it’s arrived in the 21st century. Happily, it allows each of us to become Patrons or find Patrons in a few clicks on

If any of you have already set up a site on Patreon, please share your link below. And if you have questions, please fire away! I will do my best to answer them.


Mckenna Hallett lives on Maui at the base of an extinct volcano. She is an author, blogger, speaker, podcaster and has made the “Top Ten Guest Blogger” list three times here on Artsy Shark. She calls herself a Marketing Therapist and she coaches and shares her insights to help artists “Find Loving Homes for Your Art”. She has over 50 years of experience with sales and marketing including her first business at the age of seven that employed two school mates. You can find that story and other great resources at My Golden Words

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