Why I was wrong about Patreon and why you are failing at Kickstarter

Hey all,

Okay this one on the surface may look irrelevant to you, but I think there's some really juicy stuff in here that is important to anyone looking to make someone "want" whatever it is they are selling/promoting etc.

So let's get into it. First off, I put my hand up. I didn't give patreon it's due. Now I know why, and we'll get to that, but hand up high, mea culpa, I thought it was garbage.

On the flip side, I "got" kickstarter straight away. 

Now if you don't know what either of these(and if you do skip a paragraph here) are, well let's clear that up before we go any further. Patreon is a platform that allows you to financially support creators and their projects via regular donations. Kickstarter is a dragon's den style concept where a project gets pitched and has a set amount of time to gain backers, and if the target isn't reached in the time allotted, they get nada. Got it? Okay let's move on.

So both platforms have some great things in common. Both are great ways for creators to cut out the middleman and go straight to the market to test out the viability of their ideas. Creators of everything from watches to comic books have gotten very rich off these platforms IF they have been able to use them right...but how to do it is a frequent question asked by plenty of talented people who have struggled to find success with either.

A few years back while running DOT Comics, I ran a successful kickstarter for a project. I got that platform pretty quickly and was able to use it  to galvanise a supporter base who financially backed the project to fruition.

So I'm pretty happy to speak confidently as to how to run a successful kickstarter campaign based on first hand experience with the platform.

But then on the flip side, I got patreon totally wrong, and at the time I probably missed a golden opportunity.  There were probably thousands of euros left on the table at the time due to my inability to see it for what it truly was and is.

For me, in hindsight both platforms are essentially the same thing- they are platforms for giving.

Now if you read that as "a platform for giving to projects" or "platform for giving to creators", well you've taken me up wrong. 

You see, they are both platforms for you, the creator or company to give, not the other way around.

And in the above sentence lies the answer as to why I got patreon so badly wrong. You see,  when I initially looked at projects using it, all I could see was people with their hand out looking for the public's money. Sure, there were token gestures, but it was clear as day for all to see, the hand was out. 

So I rather quickly brushed it aside as a platform of merit based upon my observations that it was being used merely as a way to take. Kickstarter, on the other hand was far more interactive and allowed people to give their money to projects they believed in and in return would get a look in behind the curtain so to speak.

What I failed to see at the time, was patreon could also be used in this way, it just wasn't be used correctly by the ones I had observed. At the same time, yes I and others were having success with kickstarter, but many, many projects were failing to get to grips with it.

I've a keen interest in both platforms and my opinions and insights on both are constantly evolving. Where I stand right now, is that I see no reason why both cannot be used by creators and projects to create a sustainable model for growing your business or brand, and both are most likely one and the same thing.

This all sounds very top level but doesn't exactly help with the nitty gritty, does it?  

So let's get down to that, let's make reading this practical for you. Oh, if you aren't a creative type and "just" run a business, well good news. You haven't wasted your time reading this far down, this is all gold dust for you too.

First off, say it with me.

Platforms for GIVING.

The onus is on you to give. Give a product the public want. Give an idea they can get behind. Give them incentives to get involved.

I mean sure, in return you'll get their money, but don't focus on that whatsoever. Stay focused on giving to the public and the rest will take care of itself.

So give, give, give. 

"What will I give them?" you may ask. Here's a quick and handy list:

1. Give them you. Most of these campaigns are successful because the public sees one of them make an impassioned plea to get onboard with something, or an excited face proclaiming their project as the next big thing and they get curious. You know what doesn't get that response? Flat, mundane ads. If people wanted to buy a book they'd be on amazon right now and not on kickstarter or patreon. They are there for YOU, so make yourself available to them when they want to learn about YOUR project.

2. Give them access. Show them everything you possibly can about your projects. Tear the curtain down for them. Show them the ups and downs. Document it all on twitter, facebook, youtube and let them know the stakes. If you are passionate about something, chances are other people will be too if you can share your enthusiasm, and while not everyone can do that through personality in a quick flash, chances are if you can spend time sharing more details on why you care or what you are trying to achieve that people will feed off that and in turn be curious and then hopefully supportive.

3. Give them a carrot. Why should someone support you? This is the clever part. What are you offering? What are you GIVING? Easy ones to do are make things limited, so you are giving them the opportunity to get something exclusive. Doing a graphic novel? Give them the chance to get some of the original artwork, or a sketchbook of the pieces not used in the project. Writing a novel? Give them signed scripts or writers notes. Something you can't get your hands on the local book store. Is your product a watch, or a leather purse? Make an exclusive version only available via this platform and give them this opportunity to get their hands on it. If you are clever, it's win win for both parties. You gave them something they wanted, they backed it, and your project is succeeding in return.

4. Give them thanks. If someone shows you support, be sure to thank them. I recently purchased an album on bandcamp and the next day I received a personal email of thanks from the artist. It's a nice, unexpected touch, and he has a fan for life. Do that. Give them a call out of the blue to say thank you. On your next video interview, instead of saying "people", say "people such as..." and give them their due.

5. Give them your word. Don't be wishy washy. If someone backs you, tell them when they can expect what you gave them and be accountable to that deadline. They'll respect you for it.

6. Give them more. They support you. Build on that. Keep up the good work and don't slack off.

All of the above applies to kickstarter, patreon and other crowdfunding platforms. It all also applies to that new software you're launching, the event you are hosting or the  product you are bringing to an exhibition. It's all about giving, and the second you start to take, you start losing them.

If you've any questions, comments or insights, I'd love your thoughts. Hit me up on the social channels @wesellwant and if you enjoyed this read, I think you'd really enjoy The We Sell Want Podcast, which you can get in your podcast player free, just search We Sell Want, and if reading is your thing, please subscribe below to The We Sell Want mailing list where we drop content like this semi-regularly and promise to never spam your inbox. Check both out and hopefully there's value in them, like there hopefully has been in the content above.

Be well,

D.