If you haven't encountered this kind of thing before, the basic idea is that independent creators of all types can try to create a community of Patrons who support them on a monthly or per-creation basis. Patreon is the most well-known site for this. Creators can use this platform to become more independent (or less beholden to more traditional income sources) if they're successful, and Patrons can help their favorite creators stay solvent (and therefore more creative). But it's not just a one-way street — creators also tend to offer their Patrons various perks, based on their level of support.
Well, that's a question with a complicated answer. I'll try to explain:
- I have been working a day job for about as long as I've been knitting. The day job has become more and more part-time to ensure that I'm able to support the time requirements of the knitting work, while still offering me the possibility of health insurance. I have resisted going full-time with my knitting career to ensure that I keep a regular (if diminished) salary and benefits.
- The rise of Covid-19 and the increasing likelihood that many people will continue to work from home for the next year or more due to the inadequacy of this country's response to the virus means that it will be far less safe for me to travel to work as we approach the winter. I do not have a car nor even a driver's license, and I will not likely be able to get either before the critical time. I bicycle to and from work, and (pre-Covid) I took the train there when biking was impractical.
- In order to test the waters to see whether it might be possible to rely on the income my knitting career brings in, I need to figure out how to increase that income. Going full-time normally would mean a distinct change in relationship between me and my knitting work. Right now, I am free to do the work I want to do, and to turn down contracts for things I'm not interested in or don't have time for. If I did not have the support of a second job, it would be harder to avoid taking on extra work (full disclosure: my wife also has a job which pays better than mine, but I want to make sure I pull my weight — and the future of her job is unknown as well).
- If I am able to build a community of Patrons who guarantee me a regular monthly income, I may be able to leave my day job and still do my knitting work on my own terms.
- Aside from the purely monetary aspect, I have been trying to figure out how to offer advanced technique videos without simply giving them away for free on Youtube. Patreon allows me to offer these videos to people who support me at a particular level (or above). This fits into a wider video presence upgrade I'm planning on, which I just wrote a blog post about.
Simply go to my Patreon page and select a tier. The amounts, by the way, are simply minimums — if you're feeling generous, you could pay $10 for the $5 tier, or $20 for the $15 tier, or whatever. Just make sure you select a tier if you want the perks associated with that tier. By the way, Patrons of higher tiers also get the perks from the lower tiers — so the benefits are cumulative.
Right now, there are three tiers, named after the progression of double-knitting technique over the years. All of the tiers get access to Patron-only posts (usually creative updates not shared publicly), a discount on existing physical and/or digital books and patterns, and of course my undying gratitude for your support of my creative pursuits.
- The Slip-stitch tier gets free digital access to any pattern or book that comes out during your patronage. I am also giving away the Wuxing collection to Patrons just so they have something immediately accessible — and because the next few patterns I'll be releasing will likely be part of that collection anyway.
- The Modern tier gets the above perk, plus access to a growing library of advanced double-knitting technique videos.
- The Extreme tier gets all of the above, plus access to my Zoom “office hours” — one-on-one scheduled visits where I'll help you through whatever double-knitting trouble you're having — and also copies of any new physical books or patterns I print during your patronage.
As I get more Patrons, options to offer other kinds of perks will open to me — and I may think of other perks to offer as well. One way or the other, I am committed to keeping things interesting for my Patrons.
While nursing a new Patreon is certainly time-consuming, I still intend to release new patterns in the traditional way, to continue teaching workshops by Zoom (and eventually, in person again), to get more free videos up on my Youtube channel, and to get my new Fallingblog podcast under way. If anything, it's my hope that the Patreon will be a catalyst for me to become more present, not less.
Probably, but that's not entirely the point of a Patreon. The basic idea is that you're becoming a Patron of my art, enabling me to be more freely creative by helping to provide me with a regular income, not a piecemeal one. Patrons also get content that I don't post anywhere else, or content that comes out on Patreon well before it comes out anywhere else. But not everyone wants the perks I'm offering, or may want to pick and choose patterns, or wait for the videos to come out in some other form, etc. I'm happy for your support in whatever form it takes.