Happy Sunday! This weekend has been filled with performing for MLK Saratoga. Tonight (weather permitting) I'll be at the Lizard Lounge in Boston to slam on that stage for the first time ever and tomorrow I'm competing at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Family Festival Slam, popularly known as the Yale Peabody Slam in New Haven before I head back to Troy to host Poetic Vibe! But in the midst of all that, I wanted to share with you all what I've been working on for this week's blog post.
I don't know if you can tell yet but I'm into anniversaries. Well, Patreon kindly sent me an email a little over a week ago that January 19th is my Patreon birthday. Yay, right? I was taking the Business of Art class at the Arts Center of the Capital Region when I started my Patreon page and I was excited when I did. What artist wouldn't be? It was a new way to generate income and create art at the same time.
For those who don't know, Patreon is a platform for creatives to gain patrons or folks who are willing to donate money so that artists can worry less about where the money is going to come from to keep making art and concentrate more on actually making art. In return, patrons get the immense gratitude of the artist and special rewards i.e. access to new or exclusive content, behind the scenes, downloadables, etc. The creative just has to make sure to keep up with all the perks for their patrons OR have patrons who already see what work they are doing in the world and love it so much that if the Patreon page doesn't get updated, it doesn't bother them. I absolutely had the latter.
Some folks on Patreon are totally living off of their art although the article, "No one makes a living on Patreon," almost made me give up on Patreon altogether. I'm sure I'm not the only artist/creator trying to find sustainable ways to make a living from making art and frustrated when it doesn't work out as planned. I'm far from where I want to be but I admit I didn't engage with Patreon as much as I should have. Every once in a blue moon, I mentioned my Patreon page in public and then eventually, I didn't mention it at all. Literally, I can get on stage and perform the most vulnerable poem but I can't ask for money or help. Even charging the value of my work is a challenge still. I've gotten better at it but wow, it's hard.
Right now, I have five patrons who were loyal all last year and for that I am grateful. The $35 dollars I got each month helped me bring down some of the cost on printing my second book and with getting some art materials. But looking back now, I approached it all wrong. When I started, I quickly learned how much thought and work actually goes into maintaining a Patreon page and I also needed to get over the hesitation to ask folks to invest in my vision. I was also listing new things I would do instead of engaging folks in a new way with what I was already doing. Working smarter, not harder and believing that people will come through is the key lesson here for me.
So instead of shutting down my Patreon page, I opened up Issa Rae's Patreon page and got my motivation up. If she can do it, I can do it, If she can do it, I can do it. I took a good look at my projects for this year and how I can invite everyone into my journey a little more. Some of the tiers are about sustaining my work in the community; some are about engaging with my work on a deeper level. All about the support I'm not always ready to ask for but need. Here's to my newfound energy to take another shot at my Patreon page!