PatreCon 2018

Chad Ellis went along to PatreCon 2018 to learn more about monetizing and gaining financial independence through your art.

PatreCon 2018

By Chad Ellis

So two weeks ago I was at PatreCon 2018 in Los Angeles, and as the name suggests this is a conference hosted by Patreon. It first kicked off back in 2016, with the aim of bringing creators together in a collaborative and educational way, to help everyone grow and build creative and financial independence for their projects.

The 3-day, invite-only conference was a relaxed mixture of lectures and workshops that ran from the 1st to the 3rd of November. Aimed at giving you the skills, tools, and mindset to take your creative business to the next level. To build alternative monetization streams, hiring and support for your workforce, and much more, all through the lens of industry experts and peers who have walked the walk.

With almost fifty speakers, a mix of Patreon staff and creative peers such as Amanda McLoughlin, Broke-Ass Stuart, Bryanda Law, Jackson Bird, Steven Ray Morris, Lauren Shippen, and Zach Valenti to mention just a few, you can imagine not only did we get some great insight into raising up our products, but had great fun at the same time.

PatreCon was as inspiring as it was unexpected for me. I first heard of it from some guests at my Halloween party, and after an entire articles worth of serendipity, dive bars and roof top haunts I had an invitation from Julia Schifini of the Multitude collective. I arrived with the intention of capping off a wild week by hanging out with some podcast friends, and I walked away with a fundamentally changed viewpoint of the relationship between creator and fan.

How do you get paid as a creator?

It’s a difficult concept for a lot of us to wrap our head around. There’s impostor syndrome (why would somebody want to pay for something I made?), there’s over politeness (I can’t ask people for money), there’s self limitation (I’m already making $100 a month, it can’t go higher than that!) It’s difficult to value our work when we’ve grown up in a culture that only values art that’s already successful. One minute we’re tripping over ourselves to get a picture with a celebrity, the next we’re asking the person who says they’re trying to make it as an actor what their day job is, as if they are defined by the thing that pays the bills.

Let me set the scene. You enter one of the most Blade Runner looking buildings in Los Angeles holding a box of donuts. The donuts are important. You pass couples pushing strollers and rocking baby bjorns, turns out there’s a New Parent convention going on in the upper levels. You’re directed down a staircase to the basement. What could easily be a sterile, windowless environment is lit up in gentle reds and blues.

You almost collide with a familiar face. Parasocially familiar. It’s the star of that one YouTube series your best friend is a fan of. They comment on the donuts. You walk by a wall covered in the stages of the creative journey. You see a list of events. They say things like “Building Community” and “Navigating Financial Independence”. You take in the event space, the perfect amount of room for just over 300 people. Their badges all read the same thing. “Creator”.

This is PatreCon. A place for established creators to speak honestly and intimately about every aspect of existing as a Capitol P Person on the internet, and getting paid while doing it.

I found my people in the corner, other figures in the Audio Drama world. Creators, writers and actors of shows like Ars Paradoxica, The Far Meridian, Tides, Bright Sessions and Wolf 359. I exchanged hugs and set down the donuts. They had so much to tell me. There was a guy who made a suit that plays music based on your movement. There was a woman who’s making a podcast reviewing all of English apocalyptic fiction in chronological order. Zach Valenti is typing notes on this wild retro-future keyboard.

The donuts start to work their magic. A stranger eyes them. You gesture to the open box. They come over and introduce themselves, followed by the go to question of the weekend. “What do you create?” This happens again and again. Ice broken. You’re ready to dig in to the Con.

Between panels, workshops, and talking with other creators there was a lot to take in over the weekend, so I’d like to share my biggest takeaways with you, and after that, there’s a link at the bottom to Patreon’s YouTube channel that has over seven hours of video content from the conference.

“Your 1,000 most hardcore fans”.

A popular topic of conversation from a panel the day before. The idea is that in a world of several billion people there are 1,000 fans who would pay you $100 a year to create what you wanted to create; you just need to find them.

For people who don’t want to do the math, that will net you $100,000 a year, a seemingly unattainable amount of money… until you start breaking it down.

On an individual level $100 a year is just over $8 a month. And most creators don’t need $100,000 a year. Could you find 500 of your biggest fans? 250? I’ve always assumed I’d need to reach a small countries worth of people to make any kind of creative living. Now I’m focusing on reaching that one fan at a time and providing them with attractive Patreon perks to stick around.

“Let people give you money. Don’t limit yourselves.”

Hanging out with other creators doing completely different work and reaching completely different fan bases definitely stretched my idea of support potential. It’s not up to you to decide what other people spend their money on. And if they want to give some of that money to you? You should let them. Patrons were giving one guy I met $5,000 to write a daily fiction story online. A YouTuber I met makes 2-3 no frills videos a month and has thousands of Patrons. I’m not saying that you’ll make a solid living off of Patreon. I am saying that there are no rules, and there might be a lot more people out there who will happily throw you a few bucks a month if they like what your doing. Let them.

“Be true to yourself. Niche is good.”

Sounds a bit cliche but it’s the best thing you can do to build a dedicated fan base. I follow my favorite creators works no matter what they’re making. A book? I’ll read it. A video? I’ll watch it. A podcast? I’m already listening. You’re not going to get that kind of following if you’re constantly chasing what you think will be successful instead of making the thing that you really want to make. The creators I met at PatreCon were passionate about the often very niche thing they were making. Your values come through in all of your work, your fans will identify with those values and the hardcore fans will follow your lead.

“Pay attention to the cost/benefit of what you’re offering”

Creating a thing is a lot of work. Adding more to that thing could lead to burn out, and it might not even be helping you that much. Are your Patreon rewards sustainable? Do they get in the way of making your main thing? Are they attracting new Patrons?

What about merchandise? I really want to make enamel pins for my show, but the minimum order costs hundreds of dollars. Am I reliably going to sell all of those pins and make my money back? I have a great idea for a shirt but that art for it will cost me $90. Am I confident that I will be able to sell enough shirts to cover the costs of making them?

Some people like paying for signal boosts on platforms like Instagram or Facebook. How many people are you reaching with that boost? How many of those people are likely to turn in to fans? Is there a better way you can spend that money?

One size does not fit all, an effective strategy for you will likely differ from your peers. It’s good to check in every few months to make sure you and your Patrons are getting the most out of your relationship.

“You have value. Your work has value.”

My musician friends are often baffled by the kind of support people can pull independently via something like Patreon. In the words of my roommate, you grow up thinking that you don’t have any value until a Label picks you up and decides you’re worth investing in. It took attending PatreCon to shake him out of this mindset. And it’s a difficult thing to shake. Later on in the Con he commiserate with Jack Conte, a musician and the founder of Patreon. Jack shook his head and said “Yeah. I hate that”.

A screenwriter doesn’t need to wait for a show to pick them up. An actor doesn’t need to wait for a Director to cast them. And a musician doesn’t need to wait for a label. We’re living in a time where you can build a direct relationship with your audience and where that audience can support you. It’s not easy, but the power is yours. You just need to figure out how to reach them.

The convention ended with a great big party, the perfect way to spend time with the people we had met over the weekend. The question of “what do you create?” persisted at the open bar and between sessions at the photo booth, but now the conversation went beyond that: how are we going to apply what we’ve learned? So while creators piled into the Karaoke room to belt Bohemian Rhapsody, I walked away with a lot of changes in mind for my own Patreon.

 

I hope that this overview has given you some food for thought for your project, and if you need some more convincing, or just want to watch some really insightful and motivating video, then check out their video contributions of the conference on YouTube!

In Ink #1

Welcome to the first issue of ‘In Ink’, a supplement to Podern Times. Here we will be taking a look at some of the posts that have been published by podcasters, or about podcasting in general.

In Ink

Issue 1

 

Welcome to the first issue of ‘In Ink’, a supplement to Podern Times. Here we will be taking a look at some of the posts that have been published by podcasters, or about podcasting in general.

inhale1080-718

‘Inhale’ is the beautiful tale of reluctant superhero Tammy Tracer, a ten part stand alone audio drama series from writer and creator Rick Coste. (Behemoth, Pixie, Bryar Lane to name a few.)

Just over a year later, we now have the pleasure of an ongoing fictional journal from Tammy. I would suggest listening to the audio drama podcast first however, we wouldn’t want you to trip over any spoilers now would we. If you’ve already had the pleasure of listening to it then please feel free to breathe in this inspiring new creation.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Rick and asked him about this new direction.

It actually stems from the need to continue writing.  Over the last few months I’ve focused my attention on finishing some long held book ideas I’ve had.  A couple are now in the hands of my agent and, while they are being reviewed and shopped around, I felt it was a good time to try something new.”

I really wanted to continue Tammy Tracer’s story but I also wanted to do so outside of the audio drama medium.”

 

If that wasn’t amazing enough, Rick has also released another fictional journal, this time for a completely new character, Kira. ‘Kira’s Journey’ follows the thoughts of an AI (Accidental Intelligence as Rick puts it) from the moment of consciousness, through her escape, and into the exploration of the larger world. Could we be looking at the inception of a new audio drama?

I just want to see where her story takes her as she explores what it means to ‘not’ be human.  There’s quite a few directions I could go with it but my main desire is for her to be able to do so in her own way.”

You can find all of Rick’s wonderful tales over at modernaudiodrama.com


 

Elsewhere on Planet Pod

A review of Sarah Werner’s sci-fi epic ‘Girl In Space’ from The Fantasy Inn.

The latest Bello articles tell us to take a break from listening to podcasts, and then recommend ten shows to listen to.

 


Do you have a companion blog for your podcast? Do you write about podcasting? Would you like to reach new readers through this publication? Just email us a link to your latest blog post and we’ll share it here.

News Desk #2

w/e Sept. 23rd 2018.

This Weeks Playlist

What's The Frequency?

With the first season of What’s the Frequency? coming to a close last week I decided it was time to venture down this rabbit hole. I listened to episode one back last year when it was first released, and quickly realized this wasn’t going to be your average thoroughfare. I was hooked! But with episodes being released once a month I decided to sit back and wait for season 1 to end, and then go on a binge. What a wait! And what a show! Review coming soon. If I can just find the words… the words… the… words…

1994 podcast

1994 is the brand new from Thoreau Smiley the creator of Attention Hellmart Shoppers! As expected this is a laugh a minute road trip/ coming-of-age extravaganza that doesn’t disappoint. I highly recommend subbing to this show! Again as above, we bump into James Oliva. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if he appears in our next pod.

Serial podcast

Serial season three. So yes it’s back and I listened… Finally! Hailing from England I had been up waiting, like all day, and then two turn up at the same time. So that’s what you guys call justice?! Wow! Words just fail me. Impartiality much? Rather than just one off reports and stories, I hope that this season will, as it progresses, shine a bright light on the system and somehow kick start a reformation. Though I’m not holding my breath ‘Merica.

I’ve not really been interested in the docurama genre, but I must admit I enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to more. Now subscribed and deciding to explore the genre a little more. I found this little listicle over at Discover Pods that I thought might be of interest. While we wait for episode 3, What are your favorite shows? Let me know down below.


In The News

So the big movers and shakers of the industry are still at it, getting rid of unwanted podcast production that is. Last week it was Panoply, this week it’s Buzzfeed. On Wednesday they announced they were cutting back to focus on video.

This week Apple released a ‘best practice’ toolkit for marketing your podcast, which to be perfectly honest is not really that helpful to anyone but the greenest of the green. All it gives is a handful of info bites of things to consider such as creating a brief, and making sure your website is designed for mobile. All important things of course but where is the follow up content? Nothing… zero… zip… well there are a couple of links to completely unrelated shows The Nod and Anna Faris Is Unqualified.

In Other news

Podtrac release the top 20 podcasts in the US for August. NYT The Daily, This American Life and Joe Rogan have the top three slots.

Hollywood Seeking Foothold in Podcast Industry

EU approves controversial Copyright Directive, including internet ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’

From Podcast To Broadcast–New Podetize Platform Makes It Easy To Shine


Articles

Who Killed Julie?

This weekend sees the release of Who Killed Julie? (Sunday 23rd.) This docudrama style show differs from the likes of Serial in one small way. It’s contemporary fiction. I had the opportunity last week to listen to the entire series and you can read what I thought about it here.


Further Reading

Want to join a Podcast Brunch Club? It’s like a book club but for podcasts.

Earbuds Podcast Collective Halloween Spooks suggested playlist.

Do you write blog posts about podcasting? Maybe you’re a podcaster that would like to promote your latest blog post/ newsletter/ transcript for the latest episode. Well here at Podern Times we would love to share your work and help grow your audience. Just email me a link.


If you are enjoying our content then please consider supporting it with a coffee, (it will stop me falling asleep at the keyboard at least). Click the image below to make a donation now.

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News Desk #1

w/e Sept. 16 2018

This Weeks Playlist

Mirrors Podcast

This week saw the launch of Mirrors, a brand new audio drama podcast from Zoom Doom Stories, creator of Spines. Starring Lucy Pearce (Passage), Sarah Hemmi, and Jamie Killen (author/ producer), with a special guest appearance from Sarah Rhea Werner (Girl In Space).

Mirrors is the story of one haunting told by three different people, over three different centuries, and will be released fortnightly so be sure to subscribe.

The Internet 3.0 podcast

I remember when I was a child my father brought home an Atari VCS. Almost every kid on my street came by to check out this new alien thing, and we’d play Space Invaders and Pac-Man all day. Then at school they started new classes called “Computer Studies” where we learned to program in Basic and Ceefax. I remember the launch of Windows (yes, I’m old lol) and floppy discs when they were floppy!

Since then things have moved on in leaps and bounds, to the point we are now talking about Internet 3.0 and how technology will shape the future. Now you can get your geek on with this amazing new podcast from Zac Valenti and Blockstack. Here you can find some great interviews with the movers and shakers that are shaping our technological future.

I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of listening to the as yet unreleased audio drama podcast ‘Who Killed Julie?’ in its entirety. I sent the critical feedback to the creators this week, so you can expect a review to grace these pages in the next couple of weeks.

If you have a new podcast that you want some feedback on, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


In The News

Panoply

Panoply to stop creating new podcasts

The big news this week has to be Panoply’s decision to stop developing new podcasts, and get rid of their editorial staff. Now the company will be focusing solely(?) on its hosting platform Megaphone.

This news came hand-in-hand with the news that Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor in chief of Slate Group (owners of Panoply), has decided to leave the company.

“After 22 years, there’s no good moment to leave, but you start to feel like it’s now or never if you’re ever going to”

The podcast world was notably confused, seeing as Panoply had just last week announced a slate of new podcasts at IAB Podcast Up Front.

 

Stitcher

Have you updated your website’s Stitcher logo yet?

What about the app on your iOS? (Don’t worry Android users, the app will soon be updated there.)

“Stitcher has a new look and feel. A bit more modern, a bit bolder. Representative of the continuing evolution of podcasting, yet still harkening back to our roots.”

Here are the Press releases from Stitcher and Midroll, their sister company.

Women are driving podcast growth

New research released this week suggests growth in podcast listening for women has increased by 20 percent to 5.5 hours a week [per unit if available?]. Car entertainment systems and smart speakers also see significant rises in podcast listening.

Read more here.

In Other News

Guardian to release new Daily News podcast

Twitter launch an audio only Periscope

iHeartMedia buys Stuff Media


This week’s articles

In A Word... Serenity

This week I asked Jamie Killen of Spines and Mirrors audio dramas to paint me a picture using just 1000 words.


If you are enjoying our content then please consider supporting it with a coffee, (it will stop me falling asleep at the keyboard at least). Click the image below to make a donation now.

Ko-Fi

Welcome To Podern Times

It feels very strange that I’m here again, especially as this is the first ever post from Podern Times, and yet it feels remarkably familiar. Like that favorite jumper you love to wear on those cold winter nights, curled up in front of the television watching Groundhog Day over and over and over, until you finally realise that you haven’t been watching Bill Murray repeat the same day ad nauseum, but you’ve actually been watching Ghostbusters. Then you realise your favorite jumper is actually a dalmatian onesie, and your owner is yelling at you to get down off the couch you “bad doggy!”

Okay, I’m starting again!

Are You Sure? Is the latest episode from Welcome To Night Vale (133), and since its launch on the weekend (September 1st) I’ve downloaded and listened to it so much it has driven me mad!

“Why?” I hear you ask, if you are not one of their regular listeners. “I know it’s good, but why would you download the same episode multiple times?” you will also say. Well it’s all due to ‘dynamic insertion’, you know, the way they put advertising on podcasts these days. It turns out those crazy cats at Night Vale have used this technology to give the episode three different endings… or have they?

These endings are added purely at random, so unfortunately I’ve had to listen to this episode all week, but to date I have only heard two different endings. This has turned me into a cold hollow shell shivering in the corner, pleading with my family to give me back my favorite jumper so that I can curl up and watch a rerun of Bill Murray as Garfield. Apparently I’m not allowed to watch this either because I “bark at the cat on the TV all night long!” And why do they not take me to the dog park anymore???

If you have listened to all three, please let me know. Please… my nerves are shot!


 

You Me and the Big C

My condolences go out to the family and friends of Rachel Bland, host of ‘You, Me and the Big C’ who died age 40 on Wednesday.

Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2016, and had since worked tirelessly to raise awareness, and remove the stigma attached to cancer. She began with her blog ‘Big C. Little Me.’ documenting her journey through treatment, and then on to co-host the podcast with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon.

A tweet on her official account was posted on Wednesday morning saying: “Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family. We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support. You’ll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie”.

The podcast deals with all the big questions you would expect, mental health, chemotherapy, alternative and complementary therapies, doctors, money, family, and death, in a frank and funny way. If you haven’t listened already, then download this amazing show now, and recommend it to everyone; especially those people who will say ‘what’s a podcast?’


Serial Podcast

After two and a half years Serial returns for season three on the 20th of September. They take a look at the criminal justice system and the litany of charges thrown at it by reformers. Where season one looked at one extraordinary case, season three spends a year in one courtroom, Cleveland Ohio, looking at many ordinary cases, and the problems they faced.

Check out the link above to hear the trailer, or follow this link for an interview with Sarah Koenig and Emmanuel Dzotsi over at Clevescene.


Audio Verse Awards

It’s that time of year again peeps! The Audio Verse Awards are taking your nominations now! All eligible productions that have “aired” between October 1st, 2017 and September 30th, 2018 are up for consideration.

The Audio Verse Awards are an annual awards show dedicated to celebrating the best in free audio drama around the world. It started as a thread on Audio Drama Talk, ballooned to a Facebook group, then shrunk to a dedicated group who sat down and helped make the Audio Verse Awards a reality in 2013.


 

Spotify

On Wednesday (September 5th), Turner Podcast Network announced that they would be launching their entire portfolio of over 60 shows on Spotify. This comes only a month after the Swedish music streaming giant announced a deal with the BBC for users in the UK. I have heard however that BBC podcasts have been appearing on Spotify in the US and other countries outside the UK.

This is hot off the back of them teaming up with NPR back in May, so it’s safe to say that Spotify are serious about taking the scalp of iTunes. Let’s hope they now take a more serious approach with the indie podcast world than they have in the past.


In other news:

Lime Link posts a video highlighting how the iTunes podcast chart is being manipulated.

Brands are set to double their spending on podcast advertising.

Science proves what we already knew, that audio is more emotionally engaging than film.

Well that’s it for now. If you enjoyed it please share it with your friends, if you didn’t then share it with your enemies.

If you have any podcast news you would like to share with the community, then give us a shout, or maybe send an email, (probably the better option).

Are you a podcast blogger? Would you like to be? We are looking to create a small team of full/part time writers. We are always looking to take on guest writers and feature the work of those in the industry. If you would like to contribute, drop us a line, we are more than happy to chat about the best way we can promote you and your work.


If you are enjoying our content then please consider supporting it with a coffee, (it will stop me falling asleep at the keyboard at least). Click the image below to make a donation now.

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