Most cre­atives are com­mis­sioned for a piece or a pro­ject, mak­ing reg­u­lar work (and pay­ment) more than a lit­tle tricky to fore­cast. But there’s an on­line al­ter­na­tive quickly gain­ing speed: like a sub­scrip­tion­style Kick­starter, any­one who pub­lishes work on the creative li­brary that is Pa­treon doesn’t just get one-off back­ing from sup­port­ers, they can re­quest monthly fi­nan­cial spon­sor­ship from their fans. With a Se­ries B fund­ing round clos­ing at US$30 mil­lion at the be­gin­ning of last year, it’s safe to say that the plat­form, founded by Jack Conte and Sam Yam in 2013, is sin­gle­hand­edly de­stroy­ing the starv­ing artist cliche, one sub­scrip­tion pay­ment at a time.

A crowd­fund­ing plat­form that works on a monthly-sub­scrip­tion ba­sis. A mod­ern­day ver­sion of the pa­tron­age sys­tem used hun­dreds of years ago, it gives cre­atives a solid in­come while al­low­ing them to stay in con­trol of their prod­uct. Along with Si­mone Giertz, mak­ers and cre­atives of ev­ery kind use Pa­treon. There are blog­gers, an­i­ma­tors, film re­view­ers and pod­cast­ers (the top Pa­treon pod­caster is Last Pod­cast on the Left, which raises funds from al­most 4000 sub­scribers a month). On the more un­usual end of the spec­trum lies a ukulele teacher who up­loads lessons, cos­play pho­tog­ra­phers and even a video game doc­u­men­tar­ian who pulls in al­most US$22,000 each month.

Once you’ve signed up and built your pro­file, cus­tomised your URL and writ­ten your ‘About’ page, it’s time to de­cide what re­wards you’ll offer your fol­low­ers. Many cre­atives give big­ger in­cen­tives the more their sub­scribers pay – for ex­am­ple, video-maker and pod­caster Psy­chicpeb­bles of­fers ‘thanks’ for US$1 a month, for US$25 a month a sup­porter can ask a ques­tion of him on his pod­cast and, for US$100 each month, a fol­lower will be thanked on ev­ery pod­cast, and will also have a per­sonal mes­sage read out dur­ing each episode.

Once your plat­form has been built and your page is ready, it’s time to get some fol­low­ers. Your fol­low­ers will com­mit to a cer­tain amount of money each month in re­turn for what­ever re­wards you choose. Cre­ators earn 90 per cent of the money, Pa­treon holds onto five per cent, and the other five is usually taken up with trans­ac­tion fees. Pa­treon han­dles any is­sues on the fi­nan­cial end – if some­one fails to pay, or a fol­lower has a ques­tion, they’ll deal with it, giv­ing you the free­dom to cre­ate away! What’s more, you re­tain 100 per cent own­er­ship of your work.

Some mak­ers earn very lit­tle in­come – if any – through Pa­treon, while oth­ers sub­sist en­tirely on what they make, even af­ford­ing em­ploy­ees. On av­er­age, pa­trons pay more to Pa­treon each month than they do to watch stream­ing plat­forms such as Net­flix and Spo­tify. In 2016, there were 35 cre­ators on the plat­form that made over US$150,000, while video game stream­ing group Easy Al­lies brought in US$30,000 from 4000 pa­trons within 48 hours of launch­ing their page. Some cre­ators make US$5000 each month, some more than US$30,000 and oth­ers rake in dol­lars in the hun­dreds. The amount, re­ally, de­pends on the qual­ity of the work in the eyes of those brows­ing the site.

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