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Essential Tips for Creators to Reach Beyond Your Network and Build a Community

For content creators, it is essential to have a strategy when it comes to expanding your reach, as well as retaining your current audience. In order to truly engage a committed audience, content creators may consider setting up a subscription for their content. Platforms like Patreon, OnlyFans, and Twitch all present tools for creators to share exclusive content with audience members who have the desire to feel as though they are personally connected to the content creators they follow. 

I chatted with Clare Collins, Creator Onboarding Manager at Patreon to learn how creators can build a strong community, and why it is important to do so. 

Hey Clare, great to be speaking with you. First up, can you tell us about your role at Patreon and your day-to-day work with its creators? 

Hello, thanks for having me! I’m a Creator Onboarding Manager for Patreon. This means I help creators get started on Patreon and advise them on how to grow their earnings over time. My day to day can vary but it’s always centred on connecting with creators in the UK and Ireland. I answer lots of emails, spend a lot of time on Zoom giving personalised strategic advice to creators as well as look at data charts to try and find growth opportunities for the creators I manage.

For a creator that’s first starting out on Patreon, what are the fundamental pieces of advice you’d give to create a strong profile and start building a community? 

Figure out your ‘why’ for membership. Do you want to connect with your fans in a closer way or grow your creative business without relying on advertisers? Do you have an excess of content that you don’t want to give out for free? Is there a new content format you want to share in a safer space? Having a clear ‘why’ helps you and your audience understand the importance of membership and what to offer.

Keep it simple. Once you have nailed down your ‘why’, plan your membership. I recommend keeping it really simple at the beginning, no more than three tiers! Try to focus on scalable digital benefits rather than physical, or one-off rewards. These are much easier to maintain over time. 

Value yourself and your content. I often see creators underselling themselves with low-priced tiers. As tempting as it may be, avoid the £1 tier. Nothing you create is worth such a low price. 

Finally, shout about it! Having a consistent promotion schedule is the key to success on Patreon. You want to regularly tease your Patreon content on your social channels, shout out and celebrate your patrons publicly and have a link to your Patreon visible everywhere. The more people that know about it, the more people that will convert to paying members.

Once they’ve established a community, how can creators connect with new fans and continue to grow it?  

Once you have a community it’s important to continue to maintain it. If people are having a good experience, they will recommend it to their friends. I also recommend continuing to grow your audience publicly. If you are following our marketing best practices and shouting about Patreon frequently you will see your Patreon audience growing as your public audience grows.

So, why is it so important for creators to build a loyal community? 

Having a loyal community allows you to continue to create on your own terms. Loyal communities can bring support, feedback, and inspiration are the ideal candidates for membership.

Since starting at Patreon, do any stories stand out to you in terms of how creators collaborate with their fans?  

While She Sleeps is a fantastic example of a creator who collaborates with their fans. They created the ‘Sleeps Society’, a membership for their dedicated fan base. Their ‘why’ is simple: 

By joining, your support and dedication enable us to continue making music, employ our touring crew & dedicate our time and energy directly into delivering the highest level of content, keeping you at the centre of all things Sleeps. You’ll find out first about everything we’re working on & even have a say in some of the decisions along the way.’ 

They involve their audience in every step of their creative process. From helping plan album promotion to voting on merch designs their members have a say. 

Finally, what are your predictions for the future of creators who are growing their fan base? 

We are so excited to see the creator economy continue to explode. Patreon has been in this business for nine years and recently there has been a rise in membership options for creators to generate an income from their work. The question is less focused on ‘if’ creators should start a Patreon and it’s more framed as ‘when’ and ‘how’ to start a membership.

It was great to chat with Clare to learn more about the benefits that creators and their audience can gain by setting up an exclusive subscription model. So, creators, it’s time to start building your community…