How to Start a Patreon for Art and Create a Career You Love

how to start a patreon for art

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Not sure how to start a Patreon for art or if it’s even worth it? You’ll be happy to know it’s very much worth the investment…as long as you’re willing to commit all the way!

A Patreon is like a garden – when you tend to it consistently and correctly, you can yield some pretty impressive fruit along the line. The thing is, you’ll have to wait a little while before you start seeing results.

As someone who’s thinking of starting a Patreon, I’ll share what I’ve learned below so you can create a Patreon page that can start making money.

Is a Patreon Worth the Effort?

Will you actually make any money joining the Patreon community? The short answer is a resounding yes – Patreon is a reliable source of main and side income for thousands of artists.

If you’re worried you won’t possibly find anyone who wants to invest in your dream, consider these recent statistics. Did you know nearly 230,000 creators on Patreon have at least one patron? Considering nearly half of all members are just starting out, you definitely have a chance to build an audience of your own.

is a patreon worth the effort?
(Image Source)

Patreon is especially viable as a source of income for visual artists in the following categories:

  • Working from home partially or all of the time
  • Living with a mental and/or physical disability
  • Needing diverse income as a form of financial security
  • Weary of the traditional nine-to-five job
  • Needing help supporting their original projects

From creating exclusive content to inventing unique Patreon rewards, there are many ways to secure an invested audience. Let’s take a look at how to create an artist’s Patreon.

How to Create Your Patreon Account

The first few steps of your journey are some of the hardest, so let’s make things easier. Below is a step-by-step on creating a Patreon account that covers all the money-making and audience-attracting basics.

how to create your patreon account

Sign Up for Your Free Patreon Account

Just for clarity’s sake, let’s specify exactly how Patreon works. This platform is basically an online subscription to a creator or group of creators, not unlike subscribing to a magazine.

People can pledge – or subscribe – a certain amount of money to each creator per month in exchange for different rewards. These different rewards are on a tier system designed by the creator so that people can enjoy all sorts of perks in exchange for their consistent donations.

However, some people are happy to donate without receiving anything in return – they just want to support their favorite creator. You can basically think of this tier as a consistent tip jar. These tiers are usually very low, such as $1 or $2 per month.

When creating your Patreon, you’ll be prompted to enter your name (which you can change later). You also can choose the age restrictions if you’ll have content that involves nudity, blood, or cursing:

Create an Informative and Engaging Patreon Profile

create an informative and engaging patreon profile

Your next step is to put together a Patreon profile, which is similar to a profile you’d make for a social media account. You’ll have the option to fill out an About Me section as well as submit a photo of yourself (or an online logo).

Below is the About Me profile of Bennett White, the creator of the well-known essayist video series Anime Abandon. This well-done profile has a brief snippet explaining what his Patreon does and why, as well as a more detailed video where he introduces himself.

You’ll note he also breaks down a few of the perks immediately so visitors can know where their money could go. When you consider the average human attention span is roughly eight seconds, this profile is a strong example of capturing people’s interest quickly.

Pick Your Custom URL

pick your custom URL

It’s fine if your About Me page needs a few brainstorming sessions, so putting down the essentials is a great transition into this next section. Your custom URL will help potential patrons find your page, as well as one other benefit.

Custom URLs are also useful when linking your Patreon to other social media accounts. The consistency of a custom URL goes a long way in making your Patreon look more professional. The last thing you want is people getting confused about what they’re clicking on.

Choose Your Preferred Payment Settings

Your preferred Patreon payment settings are crucial to getting your money on time. Since your patrons could be located around the world, you can choose different currency types.

Patreon has an extensive list of currencies they accept, though you will have a small fee whenever a different currency is converted into your preferred choice.

Want to be as accessible as possible to a wide audience? Patreon allows you to choose from different payment providers such as:

  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Apple Pay

Patreon also accepts common payment methods such as:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • Discover

Craft Engaging and Diverse Membership Options

craft engaging and diverse membership options

Your Patreon subscribers have different budgets and interests. When you craft unique and diverse membership options, you increase your chances of appealing to your visitors.

Patreon artists regularly get creative with the tier lists they offer to keep people engaged. One of the most common methods is to offer lower-cost tiers and higher-cost tiers so people can stay within their budget. Another popular method is to offer up some free content on another site, and then use Patreon for exclusive or limited-edition benefits.

The above example is from Michelle the Painter, a traditional painter who offers various perks such as high-resolution art, art contests, Facebook groups, and classes.

Keep in mind that free accounts are only allowed one membership tier (which is fine when you’re just starting out). If you want to create multiple membership tiers, you need to subscribe to their Pro or Premium Patreon accounts.

how to set up a patreon

A feature I appreciate on Patreon is how consistently they help you factor in costs. Each plan comes with an estimated amount of how much it will impact your regular Patreon income, no matter the amount.

Consider Adding on Merchandise or Additional Payment Methods

consider adding on merchandise

Are you thinking up other ways you can make money outside of membership tiers? Patreon offers a merchandise option for their Pro and Premium plans to save you a little work.

While many artists enjoy using print-on-demand sites, others may find jumping from platform to platform difficult. Patreon offers an assortment of classic merchandise options to help you make a little extra money – they handle all the production and shipping costs. They also recommend each product for certain tiers so you can make a profit after all the costs are calculated.

how to create a patreon

You don’t have to stop there! You can also get a Ko-Fi account for people who don’t want a monthly Patreon subscription and would rather leave a one-time tip.

Add on Patreon Goals for Dedicated Members

Once you’ve put together the details like currency preferences and an About Me section, it’s time to wrap things up with Patreon goals. These goals are long-term aspirations you’re trying to reach over a set amount of time.

This goal could be anything from a long-term sculpting project to publishing your first novel. KidChan (also known as cyanparade) is a digital artist and designer who has several lifetime Patreon goals such as an indie game, an art book, and online courses:

add on patreon goals for dedicated members

5 Lucrative Ideas for Art-Focused Patreons

Below are some popular, lucrative ideas you can consider when starting your Patreon. That said, these are just ideas – it’s important to do some reading and study what other artists are doing to expand your horizons.


Do you enjoy talking about industry news or sharing your thoughts on a recent animated show? Consider starting a podcast for a specific membership tier, whether as your focus or as a side addition.

Podcasts have boomed in popularity due to their ease of access and diversity of subject matter. A recent study saw nearly half of all American respondents listening to a podcast in the last month.

Your Patreon podcast can be completely exclusive or you can share snippets on social media to entice patrons.


Art Requests

Do you enjoy doing spontaneous illustrations or designs? You may enjoy adding art requests to one of your Patreon tier lists – many artists make good money doing custom art for long-time fans.

You can boost this perk with additional incentives such as providing a livestream of the art request or adding vocal commentary. You can also repurpose the custom art with an intro video and some artistic analysis to supplement, say, a YouTube channel. These are just a few ideas – your Patreon is a personal journey, so I highly encourage you to get creative!

As a freelance digital artist or content creator, you still get to set the terms of your work. You can restrict usage rights or ask a patron on a higher tier to sign a brief contract before doing custom art.


Exclusive live-streams are another popular perk, especially for audience members who prefer online content to television. Many people love watching their favorite artists craft Patreon work or chat with them in one-on-one sessions.

Those aren’t the only livestream ideas you can consider. You can also bring on guest artists for sketching rounds or offer one-on-one portfolio reviews for long-time members.

Artist Workshops

artist worshops

Let’s take things a step further with the educational aspect of this membership platform. Your Patreon could be a wonderful source of educational knowledge or inspiration for some of your artistic patrons.

Some artists will have dedicated tiers for online workshops, live figure drawing, or Q&A sessions. Sometimes they offer early access to live paintings that won’t be released until later on their YouTube channel or social media. When crafting different tiers, it’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of your patrons – what would get people excited to support you?

Unique Products and Discounts

What other content categories can you consider for your Patreon? Unique, limited-edition products or special discounts can be the final nudge someone needs to become a patron.

Need a starting example to get the creative juices flowing? A clever way to incentivize people to subscribe is to offer a few prints on a website, and then keep more unique and limited-edition prints on a subscription tier. These could be hand-signed giclee prints, first dibs on originals, or discounts on unique merch like a coffee table or blanket.

If you need more inspiration, see if your favorite creators are also Patreon artists. Even if you don’t have the money to donate, you can check out their pages and see how they’re approaching the platform.

Make sure to have a high-quality, mobile-optimized portfolio in case someone would rather support you outside of Patreon.

5 Must-Have Tips for a Beginner Patreon

tips for beginner patreon

If you don’t have an existing audience, never fear. Your art career has time to blossom, particularly in the digital age where resources are more readily available than ever.

Don’t Expect to Make a Lot of Money Immediately

Remember: your Patreon is a garden. Just like you wouldn’t expect some cherry tomatoes or apples to grow immediately, don’t expect to make a lot of money right off the bat.

While some visual artists are able to make a pretty penny from an already existing social media audience, artists just starting out will take more time. However, there’s a silver lining to this cloud – every new patron that signs on is a huge victory.

You don’t need thousands of patrons to make a decent amount of money. If just fifty people pledged $5 a month, that’d be $250. If a hundred people did the same, that’d be $500. When you break things down, Patreon’s brilliance is in the ‘less is more’ approach.

don't expect to make a lot of money immediately

Be Mindful of Your Pricing Tiers

Your pricing tiers should be flexible enough to meet many people halfway. Some people won’t be able to pledge more than $1 or $3, while others may be interested in $20 or $40.

This step will require some trial and error as you get comfortable with the online platform. You may find your audience gravitates to certain tier benefits over others. Likewise, you may be pleasantly surprised at what people will pay for.

Remember That a Little Consistency Goes a Long way

Consistency is the name of the game on the Patreon membership platform. You’re basically offering a subscription service, after all, and people want to know what to expect.

While it may be challenging to generate a consistent amount of work for your Patreon, you can still find a rhythm that suits you. Some artists prefer to update once per month, while others update a few times per week. In fact, I recommend trying a few different timespans until you find what works best.

There’s a whole world of possibilities when you use Patreon, so don’t feel obligated to copy everyone else’s pace – as long as you’re consistent, you’re on the right track.

a little consistency goes a long way

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment a Little

Classic Patreon offerings and experimentation are key to a successful venture. You never know what unique spin or angle could make your Patreon stand out, even if it’s something small.

Some of the most common offerings I see from Patreon artists are livestreams, high-quality art downloads, custom requests, limited-edition merchandise, and Q&A sessions.

If you want to get a little experimental, you can also add some different ideas to make your channel stand out. These ideas could be a unique Patreon good not found on your website or a  behind-the-scenes documentary for higher-tier patrons – you name it!

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel as a visual artist – sometimes a few simple offerings are more than enough to get people interested.

Have a Tip Jar Alongside Your Patreon

I touched on this earlier, but the wisdom of not putting all your eggs in one basket can’t be overstated. Having multiple ways of making money is how you transform your monthly income into sustainable income.

You can link to PayPal, Ko-Fi, or any number of online payment platforms for people to tip. Some people don’t have the interest or money for a membership price but are happy to toss you a little appreciation once in a while.

Patreon takes consistency to a whole new level, so make sure to link to these tip jars throughout your online presence. Your About Me page, social accounts, and website are just a few places to place a tip jar link.

Your Patreon Could Be the Ticket to a Career You Love

your patreon could be the ticket to a career you love

If you’re eager to quit your full-time job – or at least have a little extra financial security – your Patreon could be the answer. These days, it’s never been easier to make money online doing work you love.

Don’t sell yourself short – your own work could have an audience just raring to support you if they only knew about you! With a little dedication, you can use your Patreon as a way to supplement your monthly income or pay for your new project.

As you’re brewing up ideas for content categories, check out our guide on print-on-demand sites.

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