This is a story about how I dreamed the crowdfunding dream.
It’s also a story about failure.
Just over a year ago, I took a plunge I had been thinking about for a while: I signed up to Patreon.
I followed every guide out there. I carefully wrote and rewrote my overview, filmed an intro video, and worked hard on my rewards. As each month went by without a new Patron, I would tweak the levels and their values, change and add milestone goals, and try hard to make it as appealing as possible.
I put the link everywhere. You’ll see it here on my profile page. You’ll see it at the end of many of the posts that I published here. It’s been on social media, I’ve emailed it out, I’ve shared it constantly.
Over time, my stats were growing here — but still no interest there.
Finally, I got my first Patron after months of trying.
Then, in short succession, my second.
Yes! I thought. This is it! The road ahead is paved with gold! I’ll be living the dream! Just you wait and see!
… And here I am months later, with the same two Patrons, running out of time to produce content for them as well as doing the things that actually make me money.
I knew Patreon wasn’t going to be easy from the start. I knew that it would be hard going to get those first Patrons, especially when I didn’t have friends or family members starting me off (and really, I’d prefer for them to give me money directly than to be paying Patreon’s fees).
I just didn’t expect it to be this hard.
People tell me all the time, “Oh, I love reading your latest updates!”. But they aren’t paying for it, perhaps because everyone and their uncle is asking them to crowdfund this or sponsor that.
So here I am, a year down the line and with not much at all to show for it. I’ve written pieces that ended up in magazines during the year, and getting published as e-books. I’ve had some fun at a writer’s critique group sharpening up my fiction skills and developing my voice yet further. I’ve been able to support a couple of other Patreon pages with the $9-ish that I get every month (well, kind of — one of my Patrons hits a ‘declined’ notice every single month and is delayed for a couple of weeks). But that’s really it.
A learning experience? Yes. A goldmine? A good place for exposure? A way to raise support? Even a bit of fun? Well, no. It’s been hard work, and many hours of it, and I’m left feeling nothing except the bitter taste of disappointment.
I’m still writing, because I’m a writer. I would write even if I had no pen, paper, electronic device, or so much as a stick to scratch with — that’s just who I am. It might just be that I have to do it less for myself and more for commercial clients if I want to keep the roof over my head.
If you’re trying Patreon, weigh in with your progress in the comments. If you were as depressed as I was to see them highlight the highest-earning creators of the year, let’s chat about it below.
Rhiannon D’Averc is still creating on Patreon, even though she is starting to bitterly hate it with each passing month. Show her the world is not as bleak as it seems with a pledge, or just hit recommend silently like everyone else — your choice!