Patreon is a membership platform where you can get closer to some of your favorite creators and show them how much you love their work. These creators can be anyone from an artist, musician, gamer, YouTuber, writer, graphic designer, and so much more. Art is everywhere and we are all artists in some way.
There’s a lot of misconception about Patreon. Unless you’re some sort of artist, freelancer, or entrepreneur, most people tend to think Patreon is just a “donation” platform. I’ve been part of Patreon for almost a year now and I still get people commenting and asking me why I ask for donations from people.
Now, there are a ton of places out there where people can ask for money. Patreon is one along with Ko-Fi, Kickstarter, or some people just leave buttons to they PayPal. For some reason, people only tend to question Patreon. Yet, the other platforms are completely normal to them. Of course, this is just what I hear and maybe I don’t pay enough attention to the others, but I’m going by what I’ve experienced and what I’ve witnessed.
It’s because of all this, I decided to share why I chose to join Patreon.
This is probably one of my longest posts, but it would really mean a lot to me if you read until the end.
When I started this journey – you know, the whole writing and blogging thing – I never imagined I would be here, in this spot, in this very moment. I never imagined my blog would have over 6,000 followers. I never imagined I’d be in the process of self-publishing a novel.
I never imagined I’d be doing a whole lot of other things as well. This includes book publicity, co-hosting a Twitter game, contributing to other websites plus an online magazine, and so much more. So, when one of those doors opened, I jumped on it. I thought it would open way more doors – which it did, but not in the way I had expected them to.
I worked. A lot.
I was working in a preschool classroom making $14,000 a year. Yeah, a year. A full-time job that was making me just a tad over $1,000 a month. On my third year working there, I realized the substitute teachers got paid more than me. Even though I was part of a classroom working with a great team and working with the same kids for 180 days of the school year – plus the summer program – I realized I was at the very bottom. I got three sick days a year. No personal or vacation time. No benefits or insurance. One, because I was still under my parents and two, because my co-worker, who was the same level as me, carried the insurance for her family and ended up getting $1 paychecks and owing money because she didn’t make enough for the insurance and taxes and everything else to get taken out.
I soon realized I was nothing in the eyes of the town I worked for.
I wrote and blogged in the early morning hours. Then went to work until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then I babysat for a few hours after that. When I got home around five or six, I ate dinner, and wrote and blogged some more before going to bed just to wake up and work another 12-hour shift.
So, I quit my preschool job in June 2017.
It was a rough decision for me to quit. I loved the teachers I worked with and I knew I would really miss the kids. Honestly, if I didn’t need money to survive in this world, I would have stayed. But I just couldn’t. I wanted to be a writer and I had my blog well established at this time. I talked to my parents and thankfully, they were supportive and encouraging enough to allow me to quit my job and pursue my writing career.
I still babysat in the afternoons though. I was still the director of my church’s Sunday school program, which paid me as well. So, I was losing $14,000 a year, but I was still making money for me to get by.
The summer of 2017 I had an internship with a book publicist with the option of it becoming a part-time job in the fall. I thought this was my foot in the door. I could put the preschool jobs behind me and focus on writing, blogging, and everything in between. I could finally work in the writing world.
Once the internship was over, however, I got one paying job and then… nothing. It took a few months for my employer to reach out again saying there were other jobs lined up. Then nothing still. It’s now been a year since I’ve heard anything.
That’s not all that was short lived.
That was disappointing to say the least, but I had still learned a lot and was able to move forward, hopefully to do some things on my own. I still had babysitting and Sunday school, after all.
Well, no. Before the 2017-2018 school year began, my church asked me to help with the email list and the Facebook page. I agreed. In October, I asked where my paycheck was for September and the answer? “Oh, I forgot to tell you… you’re out.”
My church, at the time, wasn’t doing well financially, and apparently, I was the one they decided to cut completely. So, now I had no book publicity jobs and even though I was still doing the work for my church, it was all volunteer-based.
I was still babysitting three days a week. Except the father became a firefighter and his work hours were weird. He worked mostly nights so he was home during the day, which meant they didn’t need me as often. At most, I was making $25-$50 a week. In the spring of 2018, they told me they wouldn’t need my anymore. Their oldest was going to middle school the next year and between the father’s work schedule, they knew she’d be able to be home alone for an hour or two after school.
“When one door closes, another opens.”
Not in my case. One door opened and everything else locked me out – including the door that opened.
In less than one year, I quit my full-time job, lost a potential part-time gig, lost my compensation for my church despite still doing the work, and lost my babysitting job. I was left wondering, “now what?”
What do you do when you take a big risk and it doesn’t work out?
I’ve been job-hunting since June 2017. Just because I took a risk, doesn’t mean it didn’t scare me. I’ve applied to quite a few places since then. Unfortunately, nothing has ever worked out. Apparently, you need experience to get experience and even though I do a lot for this blog, it’s a “personal” blog and therefore doesn’t count as experience because it’s not for a “third party.”
I’m easily stressed. I panic a lot. I can’t predict the future. I can’t know cause and effect of my actions and my decisions. I often wonder so many “what ifs” about my choices.
What if I had waited a year or two to quit my job? Or not quit it at all?
What if I had started looking for a new babysitting job earlier to fill in the lost time?
What if I didn’t agree to do so much for my church? They didn’t pay me any more, but it’d be a weight off my shoulder.
I often wonder if I did something wrong or maybe I didn’t do something well enough. Why did my church decide to cut me off completely instead of docking a little bit of pay from everyone? Why did I never hear back from that book publicist? My work was often praised, but was that just a front? Maybe it was more work for her to have a middle-man and I just complicated things.
I guess I’ll never know the answers to these questions, but the fact remains – I made decisions and this is the result.
Now what do I do?
I was at a loss of what to do. I had heard of Patreon from a lot of the YouTubers I watch. I didn’t think it was something I’d be able to do though, even though there are plenty of writers and authors on there. For a while, I thought I had nothing to offer.
In addition to everything I do offline, I do a lot online as well. I run two blogs, I’m working on various novels, I co-host #TheMerryWriter on Twitter, I’m on the Editorial Board for the 85K90 writing challenge, and I contribute game reviews to two websites as well as help out with social media and contribute to the magazine for one of those websites. I did an unpaid freelance gig because I wanted to help a friend and I wanted to get more experience, plus I was hoping to develop a working relationship. Once the gig was over, I never heard back from her.
I don’t get paid for any of these things. I do them because I enjoy them. I like learning new things and I like to help out. I’ve met a lot of people and have made a lot of friends these past couple of years. However, if money didn’t make the world go round, I would not be writing this post.
In doing all this though, I realized one thing.
I do have something to offer.
I wouldn’t have so many followers on my blog if you guys didn’t enjoy my content, right? If you hated my articles, if you didn’t care for my writing voice, or if you thought my creative writing sucked, you wouldn’t be reading this right now, right? (Of course, this is a super long post, so if you’re still with me – thank you!)
Between the work in real life and online, I’ve learned a lot. I have a good amount of skills. It’s taken me a while to realize it because with the lack of communication and the lack of compensation, I always wondered if I wasn’t good enough or if I was doing something wrong. I never knew and I’ve finally decided to step up.
I work hard. I put my heart and soul into my work. I’m often the first one to jump up and volunteer to do something if it helps someone else out.
But my writing has suffered for it. My mind has suffered from it. Everything all at once is stressful and then to end the night by job hunting when I already have like, five or six jobs, takes a toll. I can’t keep giving away my work for free.
So I joined Patreon in February 2018.
It was a long shot, but I bit the bullet and decided to join Patreon. I work night and day and I create a lot. As a creator, I feel I should get compensated for my work. No, I’m not looking for donations. I’m looking to be compensated for my time, for my hard work. I’m looking to build a community and get to know people who enjoy my work. I want to keep doing this for a living and, without something like Patreon, I fear that will never happen.
I’m still trying to figure out to make my Patreon page the best it can be for my patrons. I’m trying to be better at promoting it. I’ve always felt funny self-promoting… I don’t know why. Maybe I feel like my work isn’t good enough, but then, if that’s the case, why am I doing any of this at all?
Plus, if I’m going to be self-publishing books, I need to work on my self-promotion and marketing skills anyway, right?
So far, Patreon has been a wonderful experience. I’ve met a few new writers through there and I’ve loved being able to share my journey with my patrons as well as support other creators through Patreon.
Getting an email saying someone became a patron of yours is the best feeling in the world. That feeling isn’t because of the monetary value, but it is because of the money itself. Let me explain what I mean:
Money is sacred. We all have bills to pay. We all have groceries to buy. Maybe your saving up for a new video game or that shiny new car. Maybe you’re trying to whittle down your school loans. So, when you get an email saying, “Hey! This person gave you $1 – they really must like your stuff!” It means the world. It means that even though you have a mortgage to pay, you decided to spare a dollar on me, a stranger, simply because my work makes you happy. Because you believe in my work. Because you want to support and encourage me to continue to work.
I’ve worked and reworked my Patreon page a couple times to make it the best it can be for you guys, my patrons. Of course, I’ve been promoting my Patreon more than I used to. However, I’m not asking each and every one of my 6,000 followers to join. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. If you don’t want to, don’t do it. If you enjoy my stuff anyway, reading and commenting on this blog is great. Reading my books when they come out is great.
I’ll still get crap for it, but I don’t care anymore.
“So, you quit your job and now you’re asking for donations?”
That’s the biggest comment I get whenever I mention my Patreon. But now you know. I quit my job thinking I was all set and I wasn’t.
Maybe I was naive to think that. Maybe, out of all the work I do on and offline, I should give up a couple of them. Maybe I should stop working “for experience” when I already have a lot. Maybe I should stop thinking I’ll “grow” with these people, these websites, these companies.
I know all this now, though I didn’t realize it then. I know I’ll eventually have to give up a couple of these jobs so I can work on my own creative projects. I know, once I find a paying job, the free ones will have to be given up, despite how much I enjoy doing them, aside from the money part of it.
I don’t regret anything.
Life isn’t perfect and the choices I’ve made in the past were the “right” ones at the time. Life loves to throw a few curve balls here and there and, despite my panicking, I know I’ll figure it out at some point.
I did find a new babysitting job for this year. They’re paying me more and they needed me for more hours than the family did last year. Plus, their friends need an occasional babysitter so I sometimes have double-duty.
I’m still running the Sunday school program at my church. I’m still doing the Facebook page, running the newsletter, and now managing the website. We’re in the process of getting a new Reverend and when all is official, the first thing I’m going to do is talk to him about getting paid again. The church is doing well financially again and I definitely deserve to get compensated for all the work I put into it.
In the end, though, I still have bills to pay. I still need to save up to hire an editor for my books. That’s why I chose to join Patreon. I know a lot of people out there enjoy my content and maybe they’d want to see more of it through Patreon.
Thanks for reading.
Seriously, if you read this far, I really appreciate it. I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks. It’s been on my mind for a while and I think you guys deserve to know why I joined Patreon and why I’ve been pushing it more. I’m not looking for “donations” because I quit my job. I’m just trying to make a living like everyone else.
With that said, I have to do one final plug – I’m running a special promotion for my debut book. If you become a patron at the $1 tier than you’ll get an exclusive promotion box which will include a paperback copy of the book, a bookmark, a handwritten thank you note, and a special surprise. This offer ends in four days on January 20, 2019. So, if that’s something that interests you, then you can head over to my Patreon page to learn more.