The Formula to Make Money Writing on Patreon

These results come from my Pen-Name Patreon account. I focus less on my regular Patreon account for my real name (Kurtis Eckstein, aka AuthorKurt), instead putting more effort into making money via published books on that one, which is why you will see smaller numbers if you visit it.

These numbers took 6 months to achieve, starting from scratch with a new Pen-name, at no cost aside from my time spent writing.


   Table of Contents    

1) Story Strategy: How to Make Money Writing on Patreon

2) Patreon Strategy: How to Set Up Your Patreon Tiers for Success

3) Big Picture View: The Formula to Make Money Writing on Patreon

Hopefully you’ve had the chance to read my articles on How to Make Money Writing on Patreon and How to Set Up Your Patreon Tiers for Success, and if you haven’t then definitely check those out.

However, something I’ve noticed is that people will read these articles and think something like ‘Oh, I’m doing all this,’ but then when I look at their stuff I can tell them almost instantly what they are doing wrong.

They think ‘I’m doing 80% of this right,’ and yet I can tell them exactly why they aren’t successful.

Some might even be skeptical of my results (which I think are actually modest compared to what’s possible), because ‘they’ve been doing most of this for a long time,’ and haven’t had results. However, I can go look at their work, or visit their Patreon, and quickly identify the key thing they are doing wrong that is delaying their success.


And I actually know of one particular Creator who has a whopping 500 patrons, but is only making a little over $1,500 (less than my own results), and I was able to instantly identify for this Creator the reason why that is. Literally, just one thing they could change and everything would be different for them.

One thing, and they could be wildly successful.


Because unfortunately, even if someone is doing 80% of the things I’ve mentioned, it isn’t enough.

Even if you’ve been doing this for a long time, it isn’t enough.

You need to do things right. All the things right.

The reason why?

Because this method is almost like a complicated and delicate 'chemical reaction.'

Leave out even one ingredient, and nothing happens.

Yeah, that’s true. You can do most of these things correctly, as I’ve occasionally seen, but then leave out one key ingredient and only see a mild reaction instead of a huge explosion (like the person making only $1,500 with a whopping 500 supporters). And I'm not talking about getting lucky. I'm talking about seeing people make critical mistakes that some think are no big deal.


Essentially, it's not about doing everything perfect, so much as it's about including ALL the right ingredients (and not leaving anything out).


For example, there might be a writer who already has 200 supporters on Patreon, but because they offer all their advanced chapters at the lowest tier, their average ‘income per supporter’ is something like $3, resulting in only $600 when they could be making so much more.

Alternatively, the average on my Patreon for my Pen-Name is about $6.45 per person, in the examples I’ve provided, which makes a world of difference. That would be almost $1,300 for 200 patrons, instead of $600, and in fact that was about where my account was at when I had 200 supporters.

And with 500 supporters? We're talking the difference between less than what I've got with 250 patrons, versus making a whopping $3,200 – that's huge!

All because of one vital detail that was overlooked.


And my results are not because I’ve gotten lucky or done something unique.

It’s because I did exactly what I said needs to be done in my previous articles – I gave my patrons the correct incentives to be in the higher tiers, and they did just that!

Because they do want to support you, but often can't justify spending $10 per month unless they are getting something decent in return.


Let me say that again, because it's actually super important:

Your supporters are often willing to support you with $5 and $10 per month, but they usually need a decent incentive to justify doing so (advanced chapters).

And even the average on the Patreon for my real name (Kurtis Eckstein, aka AuthorKurt) is well over $5 because of this truth, with it only being lower because I’ve given my supporters the most incentive to be in the $5 tier instead of the $10 tier, so that’s exactly where most of them have ended up.


I’m not surprised by my ‘income to supporter’ ratios, because I know exactly 'where' I’m giving the most incentives for my tiers. On my Pen-Name Patreon, I give the biggest incentive for the $10 tier. On my Real-Name Patreon (Kurtis Eckstein, aka AuthorKurt), I give the biggest incentives on my $5 tier, with me not having extra advanced chapters exclusively available to the $10 tier for my real name, so unsurprisingly most are in the $5 tier.

It’s that simple.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not brain surgery.

What I’ve done, and the results of that effort, are very predictable.


This is a graph of my real growth, which unsurprisingly started off slow, but began picking up steam as I remained consistent in releasing new chapters on a regular basis. However, the main point is that there was no 'explosion' or me getting lucky. My results are instead the outcome of steady growth.

Alternatively, the writer who is only making about $3 average per supporter (or sometimes even less) has often given little incentive (that readers care about) to be in higher tiers, and they’re often offering all the major perks in the lowest tier.

Again, there’s no surprise there.

This was exactly what was going on with the Creator with 500 patrons. They literally gave away all the 'important' perks in the $3 tier, added extra stuff that nobody cared about for higher tiers, and guess what?

Nearly all their supporters were in the $3 tier, exactly where all the incentives were.


If you charge $1,000 for a car, and say you can add a nicer speaker system, a spoiler, and nice rims if they pay $10,000 for the car instead, then guess what?

They’ll only pay you $1,000 and forgo those perks that they don’t care much for (or that they don't feel is worth the cost).

Now, charge $10,000 for that car with all the perks, charge $5,000 with only some of the perks, and charge $1,000 for only basic stuff, not including the car at all, then you've created a system of incentives for people to choose from. But if you're giving away 'what should cost $10,000' for only $1,000, then of course that's what people are going to end up going with.


Now, let’s talk about the specific parts of this formula to make money writing on Patreon.

So what exactly is this perfect formula for making money on Patreon?

First, as I explained in How to Make Money Writing on Patreon, you obviously need to have an interesting story that has mystery/suspense, utilizes cliff-hangers, and overall just keeps the reader’s desire of ‘need to know more’ going.

And a lot of writers do this correctly, although giving the reader all the answers and not creating any suspense is certainly going to cause this delicate chemical reaction to fail.

Usually you can gauge how you’re doing in this department from ratings and feedback you get, as well as overall interest in the story. If your feedback and ratings are decent, then you’re probably doing just fine here.


Next, once you have a good story, you need a decent way to get free exposure. This is again a part that many writers do just fine. They post their story on Royal Road, Webnovel, Scribblehub, or someplace else where they can get free exposure from offering free chapters of their serialized story.

However, one aspect someone might overlook on this part is the importance of the little details that actually make a world of difference.

When someone sees your story in the sea of other stories, what makes yours stand out? What makes it interesting and eye-catching? What will cause the reader to click and check it out?

If you end up having a confusing or uninteresting title, or have a boring synopsis/description, or possibly even just a boring/uninteresting premise to begin with, then you're going to get less exposure than someone doing the exact same thing with a much more intriguing title, synopsis, and premise.

It could also be the cover too, if the site you’re posting on offers that option, with some writers either having no cover at all or a really dull one. It's always good to take a look at what others are doing, and ensure that your cover is equally as interesting and eye-catching, if not more so.

And this is the part when it would be best to try to get some honest and constructive feedback, and be willing to take those suggestions into consideration. (Don't get defensive when someone tries to help you out.)


However, even on this previous point, I’ve seen a lot of writers do just fine.

They are already getting a decent amount of exposure to make this work. Sometimes they already have some patrons and are slowly gaining more.

Rather, the main disconnect often comes when they get to the ‘Patreon aspect’ of the formula.

For readers, the number one incentive that is most important to them is advance chapters, where they can pay you to read ahead in the story. Yet, despite me emphasizing this point, I’ll see Creators have all their advanced chapters at the lowest tier they offer, with them doing absolutely no ‘chapter staggering’ as I pointed out in my previous articles.

These same Creators then wonder why they’ve got 200 patrons and yet aren’t successful yet, not taking into consideration that they are only earning $3 per person because they’ve given away all their important perks in the $2 or $3 tier.

About my Results

I find it interesting that I've decided to share these 'trade secrets' with you guys, to show you exactly how you can make this work for yourself, only to have some writers suggest that I'm actually not sharing my 'true secrets,' (by not disclosing the genre, or revealing my Pen-Name, and other things that don't affect the principles that make up this formula), because they haven't been successful themselves, even after a lot of time and effort.

That's ridiculous.

First of all, I'm writing in a very normal genre (two stories at the time of writing this), I'm consistently publishing chapters on a regular basis (more on that later), and the reason I don't disclose my Pen-Name is because:

  • 1) This is an ongoing experiment that I don't want to be influenced by outside forces, since I've started from scratch to achieve these results, and,
  • 2) My Patreon is actually doing much better at this point than I'm showing you, and I normally keep my income information private. But now that I've shared my ratios, anyone could easily figure out what I'm earning, which is not my preference.

So if you write LitRPG, for example (I'm not at the moment), then you're probably going to have way better results than me by consistently posting on Royal Road or Webnovel. (Assuming you do everything else right.)

And that's the point. This process can still work even if you change the variables a little bit (the issue is that people will completely ignore certain variables). For example, if you do all this stuff right, but maybe have less exposure than average, then all that means is that the process will still work, but it'll just take a bit more time.


And I don't have to share this information with you guys at all, but I've decided to do so because I'm tired of seeing so many people try forever and perpetually have success remain far out of their reach.

Will you get 250 patrons and $1,610 in six months? Maybe! Maybe not.

You might do it faster, or you might do it slower.

But that's not even the point.

The point is that this process is repeatable, if you do all of it correctly by including all vital ingredients. And you might even do it faster than me if you write in a hot genre and possibly even get a little lucky.

And if your story isn't doing too well, then it's time to try something new (different premise, different title, etc.). I had to write four different book 1's before I finally wrote a story that people really found interesting. And my books since then haven't been nearly as hot, simply because it can be hit or miss.

But you can still do this, even if your story has average interest. And 'trying out different stories' is just the 'name of the game.'


To be clear, becoming someone who is earning $10,000 a month on their Patreon is abnormal, especially if they reached that point in under a year. But growing your account to $1,500 in a year? That's very possible (if you don't ignore vital ingredients, thinking they aren't important), and do these things right.

All the things.


And I'm sharing with you what you need to do right.

But it's also a delicate formula, that needs all the ingredients or else there's no chemical reaction, so please read through all this and make sure you aren't missing a vital ingredient.

Now, let's get back to the formula.


The next issue I often see is Creators having too many tiers, which causes choice paralysis, and they frequently have these ‘wall of text’ descriptions for these tiers that make it difficult for readers to figure out which tier they want to be in.

You want readers to land on your Patreon page and quickly be able to make a decision on which tier is right for them.

If this already sounds like you, and you need help setting up your Patreon page the right way, then check out my tips on How to Set Up Your Patreon Tiers for Success.

However, basically, to solve this problem, it is best to use bullet points, to always put your highest perk at the top (which, in this case, would be how many advanced chapters they will get for being in that tier), and you need to eliminate most of your tiers so that you have no more than four total.

A good recommendation is to have a $2 tier, $3 tier, $5 tier, and $10 tier.

Or, if you plan on offering an amazing perk like audiobook codes, then you might eliminate the $3 tier and instead have a $15 or $20 tier. ($2 tier, $5 tier, $10 tier, $20 tier.)


However, sometimes I have people reading this, and they think ‘Oh, well I’m basically doing that’ only to end up having six tiers with perks that readers just don't particularly care about, and they wonder why I was able to achieve success in six months whereas they are still struggling (choice paralysis is a real thing).

Or, they have done most of this right, but they have their least important perks listed first, and only put the advanced chapter information in the middle or at the bottom.

Yes, these details matter. They really do.

Putting your best perks at the top vs bottom is a night and day difference.

 

And here’s the thing, what I did isn’t special.

It’s not unique. And I didn't get lucky.

Just the opposite.

The grind was long, the results felt mediocre, and I had to tweak it along the way. However, it all added up with time and consistency.

And, most importantly, it's repeatable.


I started from scratch, did all these things without any benefit from my already established name, and found success because I handled these parts like a delicate chemical reaction. This was not some overnight success. This wasn’t even a huge blow up that happened in a month or two.

It took six months to reach $1,610 and that’s not even a livable income for many. But it’s a start, and it’s something that anyone can do (I'm assuming you're already a writer and have your trade practiced well enough, although even if you do have a lot of words under your belt, you can still benefit from my tips on How to Make Money Writing on Patreon).

And even if it takes you a full year to reach 250 people and $1,610, you can still do it just the same, if you do all these things right.

Assuming you don't leave out key ingredients.


So, write an engaging story, keep your readers wanting more, consistently feed them with chapters on a regular basis, and you’ll get there eventually, possibly even faster than me if you set your Patreon up how I've recommended.

You can do this too, if you just follow my tips and suggestions. All of them.

Now, let’s back up a little to something I just mentioned:
Consistency.

That is one thing I haven’t really touched on much, but is a very important point, because it's something I see some people struggle with, even if most do alright in this area. They aren’t being consistent in their writing.

If you want to gain traction, and if you want people to join your Patreon and actually be willing to stay, then you need to be consistent. This is where having a buffer can be helpful, which is basically remaining ahead of what you post on your Patreon by a certain number of chapters so that you can still post in the event you have a week or two where you can’t write.

However, most writers are aware of this concept.

Still, I’ll see them go a month or two without posting anything, and wonder why they are losing their supporters faster than they can keep them. The reason is because you’re basically providing a service, making a promise to your readers that you will supply them a chapter a week, or maybe a really long chapter once per month (as some successful Creators do), and when you don’t meet their expectation, they will leave.

Because you’re not giving them incentive to stay.

So yeah, be consistent, or else you’ll lose people. Offer the incentives they care about, or else no one will join. And value your writing enough to not give away all your advanced chapters at the lowest tier.

Are you doing all these things?

Truly, are you doing everything the same as I’ve written out?

If you are, then great. Just keep doing that, and you’ll likely find success. It took me six months, and it felt slow while I was doing this experiment. And it will probably feel slow for you too, since you’ll likely have a lot of days when you get no new patrons.

But keep at it, and if something seems wrong, then try to identify where the problem is.

Is it your exposure? Is your title or synopsis uninteresting? Are people checking out your story at all? And if they are reading it, then are they leaving good or bad reviews?


Part of writing is just taking a chance with an idea and seeing how it does. If it’s not gaining any traction, then just do a different idea. This is called being a 'shotgun author,' where you kind of just throw a bunch of story ‘beginnings’ out there and see what sticks, but if you want to be successful as a writer, then that’s what you kind of need to do.

Because what people might find interesting can sometimes surprise you, and while you might think you have this amazing story idea, you may just discover that no one is super interested in it.


There’s a reason why I currently (at the time of writing this) have seven separate storylines published, most of which are still unfinished. As I mentioned, my first book wasn’t interesting to most, even though I thought it was a very good story. My second book likewise wasn’t interesting to most. My third book found some traction, and then people really liked my fourth book.

But then my fifth and sixth books? Reception was mediocre.

My seventh book series? Reception was okay for book 1, but then mediocre with book 2.


And so I’ve put the majority of my effort into the 'best three-out-of-seven series' that have at least been mildly successful. And while I will definitely finish all of the published series that I've started, you aren't obligated to do that with serialized chapters.

The nice thing about this format is that it’s much easier to stop at 10,000 or 20,000 words, when it’s not gaining traction, and try something else. Or you could get it written up to 40,000 or 50,000 words and only abandon ship once you’re confident the interest just isn’t there.

However, when deciding if you should abandon a story idea, keep in mind that most people won't join your Patreon until they become 'invested' in your story.

From my personal experiences, this usually takes about 15,000 to 20,000 words, sometimes more/less, depending on your writing style and the story itself.

I've had people begin joining my Patreon after only 5,000 words, and then I've had other stories not begin to show real results until almost 20,000 words (both were successful stories). But once I had that engaging story that was hooking people, it was mostly smooth sailing from there.

After that, it's just a matter of consistency, keeping the suspense going (answering questions while creating new ones), and listening to feedback from your readers to ensure your story stays on the right track.

And if you feel like you’re not making any progress following these tips (all of them), then try to pinpoint where the chemical reaction is breaking down. Also make sure you're looking at it from a month-to-month standpoint, since you can feel stagnant if you look at your progress day-to-day or even week-to-week.

But if you still think you're not making progress, then try to pinpoint where you’re missing the vital ingredient you need to have for that explosion...

Granted, 'explosion' is an exaggeration by far. I certainly didn't have an explosion.

Honestly, the process is more like a moderate gallop, like the tortoise winning the race by running slow and steady, but you get the idea. You can't finish the race if you're crippling yourself by leaving out vital ingredients in this process.


Alternatively, if you do all these things I’ve recommended, then you'll probably be surprised at the impact it can have on your Patreon growth, and it'll probably feel like magic once you add that one or two ingredients you were missing.

But it’s not magic, and you can do this too.

Happy Writing!

   Table of Contents    

1) Story Strategy: How to Make Money Writing on Patreon

2) Patreon Strategy: How to Set Up Your Patreon Tiers for Success

3) Big Picture View: The Formula to Make Money Writing on Patreon

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