This year I decided to try something new to me. Shocker. I’m all for dabbling in new areas to see if it strikes a chord with me or adds to my overall author growth and success. So, after months of research, I took the leap and started a Patreon for my superfan readers on January 1, 2022.
Defining a Superfan
I imagine this definition is different for everyone. But, for me, since I run a decently successful online bookstore (that offers ebooks, signed paperbacks, signed hardbacks, and book bundles), means those readers who keep coming back over and over again for all the different variations of books I offer. These superfans are the ones who collect paperbacks or hardbacks or limited editions or collector’s editions on the regular. They show up time and time again to purchase all the things to add to their collection.
Rewarding a Superfan
When embarking on this journey, I wanted to do something for those readers who craved more of what I had to offer. This helped shape how I set up my Patreon and the tiers I offer. Research led me in all sorts of different directions on what rewards I could have for my readers. I knew that whatever I decided, three things were incredibly important when creating my membership subscription model:
I needed to choose and choose well because this was a commitment. I didn’t want to do anything half-assed or fizzle out after the excitement had worn off. My rewards needed to be something I could maintain and would be worth my time and my Patrons’ money.
When choosing your rewards for each membership level (or tier), Patreon likes suggesting ideas to you. At first, if you’re like I was, you will get excited, selecting all their options. They have all sorts of things to choose from. Anything from something basic like viewing posts or receiving a newsletter all the way to one-on-one phone calls with readers. It was all too easy to build on each tier, adding and adding as I went along. You’re going to want to refrain from doing that. I want you to take a long, hard think about what you’re actually capable of delivering.
Patreon is a Huge Time Commitment
At first glance, Patreon seems like it might could be a way to make passive income, but I assure you, there’s a lot more involved than that. Since these are your superfans (or at least the ones who are willing to pay a premium for extra access or unique goodies from you), you’re going to want to give them value. It’s best if you can underpromise but then deliver more than expected. This’ll leave both you and your reader feeling pleased. I suggest committing times of the week or month to do certain actions or posts so you continually provide content for those paying for it.
Additionally, if you’re offering physical item rewards, you’ll need to factor in time for ordering said items and packaging them to mail out. My sister and assistant always dreads what she calls “Patreon Week” as that’s the week we bust our butts getting everything ready for the club members.
- Newsletter creation
- Monthly updates
- Ordering merch, books, supplies for the following month
- Signing and mailing out books for the current month
Once we get past the chaos of that week, it settles down until we do it all over again a few weeks later. It’s just important to realize this isn’t a one and done membership program. It has moving parts that change over time. Those parts will need maintenance and fine tuning.
Top Patreon Reward Ideas for Authors
Now, for the part you’ve been waiting on. These are the ones I use and love, but you can totally get creative here, coming up with reward ideas that better suit your brand and supporters. This is to help get your brain ticking!
- Free Ebook – Easy to deliver and a great option for lower tiers if you’re trying to pull in new readers.
- Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) – A way to give your members access to reading your newest books before they go live.
- Discounts for Author Website Store – Readers love their monthly discounts and absolutely use them frequently.
- Sticker of the Month – This is a physical item, but inexpensive as it’s just the cost to make the sticker and a stamp.
- Book of the Month – Another physical item, but definitely eats into your budget significantly.
Other Patreon Reward Ideas
Those are my favorites, but I do have some others that I enjoy offering. Here are those as well:
- Bonus Content (or Deleted Content) – This could be portions of your stories you edited out for whatever reason or extra short stories.
- Sneak Peeks – A small excerpt of the book you’re currently writing.
- Exclusive Voting Rights – Allow your members to vote on anything related to your work: ie) Character names, next book of the month, etc.
- Lens Access – The opportunity to view picture/video type stories that disappear after a day.
All of these are great items to offer that don’t take a lot of time, too.
Conclusion – Main Takeaway
The main thing about my Patreon is I want the supporters in each tier to feel special. I want to give them that connection and access to me that maybe I don’t have the capacity to do anywhere else. This is crucial to your Patreon being successful. If the supporters feel ignored or feel as though they aren’t getting some type of value for their money, you’ll have a harder time keeping them. Your goal is to keep the relationship going for months or even years to come! And don’t get discouraged if it starts slow or dips up and down. Again, this is a moving machine and is to be expected.
Recently, I was interviewed on the Subscriptions for Authors podcast where I deep dive into all of these things and more. You can check them out here:
Here’s the link to watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FkxNJRD6ETw
Here’s the link to the audio on your favorite podcast app: https://rss.com/podcasts/subscriptionsforauthors/595738/
And here’s the transcript on their website: https://subscriptionsforauthors.com/podcast/8-how-k-webster-makes-8k-month-from-80-readers/
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