Should you learn how to sell art on Patreon? Five things to consider first.

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Are you someone who wants to find out how to sell art on Patreon? That’s good! But there’s a few things to think about first. This article is less about “How to sell art on Patreon” and more “Is patreon the right decision”.

I did write an article about a few things that you need if you want to sell things on Patreon. You can read it here. This article is kind of the flip side of that article.

Before you start thinking about how to sell art on Patreon, take a moment to critically consider a few things that might stop you from having a good time. Bear in mind, I’m not trying to outright convince you that Patreon is bad. What I want you to do is think about some things that you might not have considered before you jump it. Maybe the time isn’t right, or maybe you should start a patreon anyway, just with tempered expectations.

Your audience does not want to buy what you sell on Patreon.

This doesn’t mean that your work is bad, it’s just a matter of you have not found an audience that is interested in buying things from you. There is a line that divides the kind of people that will gladly take what you’re giving them for free, and the kind of people that want to give you money for your work. As a general rule, it is a small percentage of people who encounter your work who will want to give you any money for it. And that’s not a bad thing. You yourself are not interested in giving your money to every single artist you encounter over time.

This is going to largely be a matter of continuing to work until you have gained attention from enough of the right people. At some point people will start asking you for things. That’s how you know you’re ready to start selling.

You do not have any worthwhile art or products to sell.

You have a decent body of work, and a decent audience around you, but there’s not much that you can actually sell.

If you want to sell things on Patreon, you need to have an idea of good things to sell. I wrote an article about this too. If you don’t have something good to sell, it might not be a good idea to open up a Patreon. A Ko-fi or PayPal donations might be a better fit if you just need a way to open up the channel of reciprocity between you and your audience if you don’t have something to sell, and don’t really have a good idea of what you can or even want to sell.

It’s your business. Do what’s right for you.

You do not have solid skills.

Please understand, this subject is not a denigration of you as a person or as an artist. But you have to live with the reality that in order for someone to give up their money, your work has to be worth more to them to own than the money it cost them to buy it.

If your visual art skills are not up to par, and you have no solid message or idea attached to your work empowering it, you do not have a right to ask someone else to give up their money for your work. It’s just that simple. They have to pay for food and rent just the same as you, and everything else is after they’ve made the decision of what is or isn’t important to them.

You may just need to spend more time working on your art skills, or find a way that you can deliver something good with the skills you already have. Perhaps you have strong writing skills with a message that your art can carry for you at any skill level? Maybe you have a gift for self-contained pieces of art representing interesting relatable ideas that make people happy. Investigate this lead. Find out what resonates with people and how your art can vibe with that.

Your work is controversial.

This is not to say that controversy is all bad. The world is a healthier place when people know how to hold uncomfortable ideas and wrestle with them. The problem with that is that controversial subject matter becomes something that not all public platforms are okay hosting. Granted, some services have clear and inconsistent biases that are not fair, but unfortunately short of a massive lawsuit, you on your own cannot change those policies. One way or another you have to play by the rules of any service you decide you want to sell things for you. You didn’t build the platform, so you have to have at least a little respect for the owner’s principles. That brings me to my final point:

Patreon is just not the right service for you at all.

Patreon is a good service on paper. It enables people to do the things they care about with the help of people who enjoy their work. That’s a very good thing! But it has also done some things while developing their service that do not do very many favors for both the sellers and subscribers. More than once Patreon has made fees, billing, or policy changes that have scared subscribers away from sellers, or sellers away from subscribers. It’s kind of a mess, but again, if you choose to say on Patreon, you simply have to live with that.

You have options, however. You can go with another subscription platform, you can process subscriptions through PayPal, or you can even assemble a subscription-based service on a website you’ve built yourself! It takes some work and investment on your part, but the more things you do yourself, the more control you have over the money you make, the kinds of content you can host, and what you can offer to your subscribers.

It’s okay if you still want to sell art on Patreon though.

These are just things to consider. It’s your life and your business. Don’t be afraid to try things! In fact, feel free to pick up the first part of my series on how to sell art on Patreon right here.

If you have some questions after reading this, though, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to get in touch. It would be an honor to help you however I can.

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