I am about to celebrate three years of growing a Patreon and wanted to share an episode with some reflections on:
- How what I am offering has changed over the years
- What has worked and not worked for me
- What I would do if I was starting out now
- How I feel about pricing courses and building community
I hope this is helpful!
My Patreon account can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/daydreamingwolves
I also mentioned the waitlist for the Embodied Business Community: https://yarrowdigital.com/diy-business-school/ which will open again in January.
I would love to hear from you if you have wishes or questions for more solo episodes.
Thank you for listening (and leaving a review, that would be great!).
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⋒ Hi, my name is Yarrow and I am your host.
My Embodied Business podcast explores what it means to build a small business with integrity, joy and anti capitalist values. I interview other small business owners and offer solo episodes in which I am answering questions around tech, strategy, more ethical marketing and creative livelihoods.
You can learn more about my web design, tech support, mentoring and community offerings at YarrowDigital.com
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Hey, everyone, my name is Yarrow and you’re listening to the Embodied business podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. I’m excited to talk today about the last two years on Patreon. I can’t believe how quickly they have passed. And I’ve been thinking about what I would share with people were starting out now. And what, what I kind of learned and what I would do differently if I were starting over now. So yeah, I hope this will be useful for you. A few updates for me it took last week off, which is really good, because I’m recording this on November 2. So it’s Monday of US election week now and it just feels good to have rested a little bit more so that I could need this week and kind of relatively good spirits, I would say. And still super nervous, as I’m sure we all are and just hoping for the best. And thinking also about what kind of world during have beyond elections, and beyond centralised power and all those kinds of things. And so yeah, I will let you know what insights and followed LFA, I had some really strange dreams. A dream, for example, the other night that I was flying out to New York to have to vote. And then I, in another dream had a shower with Boris Johnson and tried to convince him of anarchy, which was really wild. And so clearly, my mind has a lot to process, I would say. And the other thing I will say is that I’m going to be on a winter break for three weeks over the holidays. And I think I’m mainly just saying that because I want to encourage everyone who’s running a small business to start planning for their own holidays as well. And to make sure you’re putting things in place now, they will help you kind of rest at the end of the year. And just honour how well it’s been. If you can in any way, give yourself a break, I think that’s a really good thing to do. And the the embodied business community is going to start open opening again in January, I’m going to be back my server on the 11th. So I believe that’s when I will open will have 15 spots again for the year. And yeah, if you want to hear about that, feel free get to get on the main waitlist and you’ll get the reminder, when it opens, does happily say, Oh, I’m going to say what kind of where’s my language is wanting? And trying to say? I’m glad it does answer out now. And it’s just a really beautiful community of people. I’m glad that we can give each other so much support, we have calls live every almost every week. And there’s a really active mighty networks community as well as a 10 module quiz. So I think it’s a really beautiful big package with a lot of support for your small business. And I would say the first zero to five years of building it. So let’s dive into the topic for today. So many of you have been asking me about Patreon, in the last two weeks. And I really appreciate these questions. And I want to keep them coming because I enjoy making solo episodes for this podcast. And it’s really great to know what people are currently working with and what they would like, episodes about. So Patreon, in case you don’t know,
is a subscription platform that has been around I would say maybe five years or something like that. I started mine at the end of 2017. It must be. And yeah, a few things have changed. There’s it but there’s a bunch of additional functionality. You can choose, for example between charging people monthly or per project. So for example, if you’re writing songs, you could say, pledge X amount, and for every new song that I’m bringing out, or you can make a quarterly whatever works for you. You can now also charge people for the year ahead, which is quite cool. So they’ve had once you can give them a discount for that if you want. But yeah, I would say that Patreon isn’t perfect. It is not been great historically, for sex workers. I don’t know exactly what the situation is. Now, I believe that are sex workers who are very successful on Patreon. But generally, I think there are limitations on what kind of content you can share on there. Which in some ways, I really think is a shame. And yeah, so that’s important to say. And also at the same time, I think that the Patreon module has really dramatically changed the ways in which we fund DIY media. And as you know, that’s me really passionate about I think it’s really important that we bring stories out and hear stories out from the margins that maybe don’t have a place in mainstream publishing. And I also think that this more direct interaction between people and makers has so much beautiful potential for healing the ways in which we trade with each other and learn together and kind of actively participate in the process of making rather than just consuming stuff. So that’s how I feel. More broadly, Patreon has over the years become a really important part of my business. And it’s really allowed me to be a lot more creative, a lot more spontaneous with the kind of stuff that I’m creating. And of course, it gives me a little bit more financial stability and having a regular monthly income that I can count on. In addition to kind of more project based income that I have, I’m aware of two alternatives to Patreon, if you’re interested in that one, as some people I’ve seen have just put up some PayPal subscription buttons on their side. And that saves you the patron fees, which is cool. patreon still has its own fees, which is, you know, its own thing, I guess. I would I wish I wouldn’t need to use PayPal in my business. But I do because I’m handling so many different currencies and found that even stripe or similar solutions are necessarily better, but it does cost quite a bit in fees. And obviously, that’s not great. The other alternative is called comradery. And that comes up Wait, let me see. It’s I think it’s a camaraderie calm. And it’s Yeah, and a new subscription based platform that is collaboratively owned. So at the moment, I believe that in that beta phase, and you can request an invitation and then become involved. And I think that sounds really cool. And I’m really curious to see how that unfolds. I haven’t Switched at this point, because I have a lot of patrons already. At the moment, if I’m totally honest, don’t have the capacity to be involved with the process of kind of organising together across the platform in a way that would feel an entirety to me. But yeah, I guess I’m interested in that. And I will definitely kind of keep an eye out for that. So I want to share a bit about my story would pitcher and I started my Patreon account after two and a half years of podcasting to support Daedra was mainly I think this podcast that you’re listening to now was really new at the time. And so Daniel was had been running longer, and they had grown its own audience. And that came to be really initially was a personal blog. So I, almost six years ago, started my web design business. And then it grew into tech support and social media and business mentoring and the embodied business community that I now run. But in the very beginning of the web design business, I still had some older personal blog posts on my web design website. And so I wanted those to have their own space and move that over to what was then Daedra was calm, and that grow kind of by itself. If I’m honest, I feel pretty cringy about the blog post from that time, and I think I have deactivated most of them. And, you know, I was just in my late 20s having a lot of feelings and sharing about them. And that’s okay. And I’m not really, really embarrassed or shameful. But I think it’s probably not stuff that I would right now. And that’s also the nature of
the internet, right? Like, we need space to experiment to find our own voice and become kind of clearer about what we actually want to talk about. And I think for me, this is definitely also been a process of just exploring my own thoughts and values that have definitely shifted over time. And maybe that wouldn’t have happened in that in that way. If I hadn’t hadn’t given myself that space. And about a year into doing that I just like writing wasn’t really sparking joy, to use Marie Kondo words. And so I started podcasting instead. And I really didn’t have have big expectations. I just wanted to experiment with another medium and share my thoughts. Initially, it was just gonna be me. And then eventually, I started doing interviews with people and it just kind of grew from there. And I also ended up process kind of became clearer about what I’m most passionate about sharing. And yeah, so I think they do was wasn’t meant to be a business initially. But it just gave me so much joy to share my own practices. So I started talking about self and community care and rituals and grief work and meditations and journaling and being creative and all those things. And yeah, more people said yes to being interviewed. And then eventually I thought a Patreon might be a really great way to kind of justify spending more time on that project and writing more people in publishing my podcast episodes, and then also kind of adding some additional content. So my first offering for people who started with me and the Patreon almost three years ago was called run through magic, and later was called embodied magic. And it ran for two years, and was a monthly subscription for a ritual kid. So I would record meditations and journaling prompts. And I would put together terrorist spreads and playlists. And I was also offering movement rituals that were auto recorded. And it was really, really great fun, we had a theme each month, something like boundaries, or protection, or expansion or dreaming. And so around that I would offer a ritual kid to people. And obviously, that’s a lot of content that I now have archived. It’s, yeah, I made 24 of those, which will kids in total, and 13 of those and now, and then accessible archives. So I’m no longer creating that new content monthly, but people who now become patrons, but they get access to the 13 ritual, kids that I like best, and they can access them all at once. And they can also receive an email series that’s automated, that kind of leads them through these 13 cycles over a year. So yeah, that was really fun to make. And I think people are still enjoying that content and dipping in and out of that as they wish and kind of needed. And however you end to doing that, I also recorded an online course for this business for Yarrow Digital, which was initially an aid model, online course on building a business and it was really kind of covering the basics, like, you know, what do I even want to offer? Who do I want to offer it to? And what format is it gonna be? What kind of pricing model will work for me? How do I load a website? What is branding? How do I work with social media, all those kinds of big questions that we asked ourselves in the beginning, and then had to figure out on your own, and so I wanted to kind of create a soundboard, I guess, the cause was pretty heavy. Also on me doing a screen share video. So I would record myself sharing my screen and really kind of show people step by step how I would set up stuff in the background, which I heard was pretty helpful for people. And that core is over the first six months grew into 10 modules that kind of flesh things out a little bit more. And I invited people to take part in the course and kind of receive access to it by pledging $11 on my Patreon, or $11, or more. So the multimatic was available from $3 up. So people would pledge 26, or $9. And then $11, or more was for people who want to take the business course. And you could argue that, like a 10 module business course, and many other spaces on the internet costs a lot more than $11. And there have been definitely like a small handful of people, I would say, who just pledge one month, you know, took the course and then kind of cancelled their pledge. And, I mean, yeah, I think that’s just part of having that kind of setup. And I’m okay with that. Overall, I really trust people to value my time and energy and to think about whether they want to take part.
And of course, I’m also not forcing people to pledge long term. And also, I understand that people’s situation potentially will change. And that’s okay. And, obviously, in my business, I’m thinking a lot about pricing and what is fair, and how do we price causes, especially, I think, is a really big and complicated topic. And there’s so much the big schools of thought out there, I think that will say, you know, charging 800 for a pre recorded self study course, is totally fine. And that is because it will create such change in the people doing it. And therefore, you can justify that. And also its use of your own learning that goes into that course. And I agree with some of that, but I think it’s really not as straightforward as that. And I think we need to Yeah, definitely kind of question whether we are blowing up the online quiz market in that way a bit. And I think the particular concerns I have with that is that this is only accessible to relatively wealthy people. And secondly, I think self study courses really have limitations when it comes to how we implement what we’re learning and how we stay engaged. So a few years ago, I heard that about only 10% of people who take self study courses finished them, which makes sense to me, I know myself, I’ve taken many courses that I haven’t completely finished, and that feels shared and I think they’re definitely topics where you can kind of lit a spark for people where you can show and explain something that maybe can be implemented in a weekend so my friends every day, for example, has a course called sales page love letter, where she just shares and Sophie day dot com. So if you will, why? About? Yeah, how to write a really good sales page. And I think that’s something, you know, it’s a really practical task that you can get great and straightforward inspiration and advice for when you do that thing. But for longer term courses that are very personal and transformative, I think sometimes we just need the accountability and support of a community or have an ever teacher that is accessible. And so I think, yeah, those two limitations are what I see as a kind of side tangent. But I feel that I haven’t, I’ve never regretted offering my courses at such an affordable price. I find that many people have stayed patient for a long time, they participated in different offerings that I had over the years. And I feel really happy about that, because I think there’s a mutual beneficial effect here. And that people, you know, pledge a little bit of financial support every month to my business in return, they get to participate in whatever they want to at the time, and we both win, I don’t have to do complicated launches. I don’t have to do scarcity marketing, where I say stuff, like you have 48 hours to sign up for this thing, and then it’s gone forever. And that feels good to me, because I don’t want to have that kind of stress in my business. I have changed things a little bit. So for example, with the business course, that was initially part of the Patreon, it is now no longer part of Patreon. And it’s grown into more of a community. So this is what it’s now the embody business community, it still has the 10 module course at the core. But it also has monthly group support sessions, we have twice a month live workshops that seemed we have co working spaces, my accountability post, I’m gonna add a tech support hour every month from January. So it’s really much more interactive, there’s so many ways to receive support from me within the community. So it’s not at all comparable to the course that I was offering that was done on teachable. And so yeah, I charge for that per year, because the $100 people commit to the whole year. So I’m now no longer offering people to kind of dip in and out of that, because I really want like a small intimate group of people who really get to know each other and are committed for the year together to build their businesses. And I’m opening that three times a year. So that feels good to me, because I think at the point where I got really excited about really making it community, in a lot longer made sense to Yeah, let people come in and out. And I also felt like $11 wasn’t a fair reflection of the kind of work that I was putting into. And, and that’s something that just naturally evolved over time. So it didn’t predict that. But I think that’s, you know, to me, it’s a value to kind of let my business grow organically and check back with myself over time and change things as I need to. And that has worked well for me. Um,
can I be check my notes here really quickly at all? I forget sharing anything? Yeah, I think I will say that the the low initial prices for courses that I was offering kind of really helped me get the Patreon off the ground, I sadly don’t remember how quickly it grew. But I think as like a very rough guide, after a year, I got to about maybe 70 or 80 patrons. And then a little bit later, I reached 100, which was really great. The most I ever had was, I think 170. And on at the moment, I have 150, which always fluctuates a little bit, especially around the first of the month, because sometimes pledges don’t go through. And that kind of limits, you know, the power for a moment, and then people come back. And that’s just a natural part of the process, I guess. Yeah, so so shifting things over from allowing people to pledge to take part in a business course to kind of having that be a separate thing that people pay for it has obviously been one that my patrons put out deliberate. So because people chose to became part of the commodity long term, and then some people, you know, is is always the case, just well no longer finding the cause useful and therefore kinds of their pledges or their financial situation has changed. And so, payments kind of moved away from Patreon and pod two mighty networks, which is where I now host a community. And that’s okay as well. So, yes, I have a few followers less than I had at the peak. But there’s good reasons for that. And I think, generally and I will maybe record another whole episode in that. At some point. It’s really good to learn to work around contractions in business and accepted that is a natural part as well and like or capitalism really has idea that we should always be growing. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that. I’m really happy to switch to mighty networks and the business cause was initially and teachable. And that is a functionality where you can comment on stuff. But mighty networks really is a space where you can facilitate a community, I think way better is specifically built for that purpose. And it feels almost like you’re on Facebook, except it’s not on Facebook, and everyone has their own profile and can talk to each other and can attend events and share stuff. So that’s cool. And the other thing I think is interesting is that I always invite people to consider whether they want to launch a Patreon or their courses or or do continuous promotion. So launching has the benefit that you have a kind of limited time of promotion and which you can go all out in a way that feels good to you can get people to sign up versus continuous promotion can be slower. And it can really, yeah, it can really be important to think about how you’re going to keep talking about your thing is this if your thing is not time limited. I had, I think two years a year three and for my business where I officially have like an orange free business module. And I just kind of continue to enrol people in the courses that I was offering. And I wasn’t having launches as such. And I really found that to be peaceful and good at the time. Because the launches that I tried to do before I felt really stressful. I was kind of still finding my own voice, I was questioning the way things were done. And I hadn’t figured out another way of doing it. And so that was the right thing for me at the time. And now I feel happy about the writer, I launched the embody business community, because I open it three times a year, I have 15 spots each time they always sell out, I just send two emails and do a few Instagram posts mentioned on the podcast. And that’s pretty much it. So it’s not a massive operation. And it doesn’t have to be and that feels good. And again, that’s not something that could have predicted I think trust is a word that really comes up for me when I think about this, because, you know, building the Patreon machine, the way that I do was really about trusting myself to make it work and also to trust people to not necessarily come for just one month take or I had an to offer basically and then leave. And again, I think that’s if you can understand that thing. Having that kind of trust also comes from the place of perused hours enough, having had an already partly established business to be able to take that leap. But it feels good to explore that. And yeah, I hope we all get the chance to do that. And another thing that has worked for me on Patreon is to offer a temporary incentives. So sometimes when I had time, my calendar, and I was still promoting the monthly magic, for example, I would say, you know, everyone becomes a patient as we get to one card tarot
reading for me, I really enjoyed doing those. I don’t have enough time for them anymore. But I really loved them when I did them. And I think people really enjoyed that as well. What I’m doing at the moment which IV love like, Oh my god, well then so much is that I have? So, okay, we’re going to organise my thoughts. So when people now become patrons at any level, they get access to the embodied magic archive of the 13 ritual kits, and then they get access to all my digital ziens. They get access to workshop recordings I did earlier in the year, this one for example, on terrorism, light and the dark one on writing themes. And then they also get access to any live courses that I offer. And over the summer, I offered a six week programme called unravel, which was exploring breathwork and grief tending, which was really cool. I think 60s 60 or 70 people sign up for the programme. Not everyone came live, but people really loved it. And I had very sweet feedback. And then at the moment, I’m in the very last week of another six week programme that I did, what I’m doing is which is called dream. And it’s pretty simple to realise it’s not, again, not a massive operation. But basically I’m offering an email every Friday with three journaling prompts, a guided meditation on creativity. And then every Saturday we’re meeting for 45 minutes sessions in which we just kind of gel together a ride out or work on any creative projects that we’re currently working in. And there’s always a check in in the beginning. Sometimes I’m reading a quote or I’m drawing an Oracle card and then we just quietly write or make together and then we check in again at the end and I made this because I felt really strongly that it wasn’t a time to offer more content or like teach anything specific but it You know, we’re all different kinds of lockdowns and isolation. And I just wanted togetherness and the simplicity of committing to being in a creative process together. And so I really now feel like I’m making things that I want myself. And that feels really easy and joyful, because I don’t have to overthink that. And I can be spontaneous, and people seem to like it. Of course, I still get people who, you know, cancel their patch. And that’s totally okay. But overall, I feel like people are responding positively to what I make. And I think for me this balance between offering a six week live programmes when I feel like it and when an idea comes up. And then the rest of the year offering all these recorded things. And the podcast, of course, like that feels really good. It gives me more freedom to work with my own energy and limitations, and also to experience more so actually, the dream programme with the 45 minute sessions on Saturday, for example, I love so much that I’m now offering those creativity sessions every Saturday to our patrons to winter. Because like I said, in the beginning, it’s election week. And in Europe, we’re going back into lockdown, there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of loneliness, and a lot of exhaustion. And I think that is the best thing that I can offer a comfort me conference to people who take part and I feel proud that I can offer it at a relatively affordable rate. I kind of wish that, you know, people can afford it and they come to all the live sessions, well pledge it a little bit more than $3, that would feel good to me because it is also work. But I also just feel really happy that I don’t have to be, you know, paranoid about being taken advantage of because, overall, there’s a good amount of people already pledging. And I feel that I can justify kind of the time that I spend on offering these things. So yeah, that’s where I’m currently at. That’s also part of my long term plan. I’m really excited about those Saturday sessions. And I see Patreon being a long term part of my business. And I have a lot of gratitude for what it has allowed me to do and how it has allowed me to connect with people in a different way and really question the ways we launch things and learn together and make things in the world. So yeah, I hope this has been useful for you. And I think really, my main takeaways, again, if I’m starting out now would be to think really carefully about what I’m committing to. If making once the content feels too much for you right now, I think that’s totally fine. And I think it’s it’s tricky to overcommit and then adjust. I’ve seen many people kind of let go of their Patreon. For that reason. I think that’s a shame. I think it’s beautiful, to be honest and transparent with people and say, like, you know, this is what I’m hoping this will do. For me, this is what I have to offer. This is how we can work together.
And then really, to be entered for the long game, which is, I know, easier to say than do. But it’s really been allowing myself to be in this process of exploration and refinement over the years. That has got me to a place now that feels so joyful and playful. Yeah, I think that’s it. Let me know if you have any questions. Thank you so much for listening.