You may have heard about upcoming changes to Patreon's fee structure. If you haven't, I speak on it briefly here. A lot of people--creators and patrons alike--are unhappy with the proposed changes. I don't really like them either. I've reached out to Patreon with my feedback, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. (But be respectful!)
I don't want to dwell too much on the negative though. Instead I've been investigating alternatives, and one idea in particular seems promising. But I want to hear your input. I invite you to pick this idea apart, tell me what you like and what you don't like. Whether you are a current or past supporter on Patreon, or even if you've never pledged on Patreon, I want your feedback!
My idea is to create The Aww, Feathers! Sketchbook Club on Gumroad! Like patreon, this would be a subscription service, through which you would receive access to exclusive Aww, Feathers! themed artwork!
How would I join?
The subscription would be through gumroad, which is the site I currently use for the Aww, Feathers! Store.
What would I get for joining?
Those who join would receive access to an exclusive online sketchbook where I'll be posting refined sketches; at least one per week. If you're already familiar with the sketches I've been posting on Patreon, these will be better quality. More deliberate, refined, and possibly cleaned up and inked. They may be sketches of characters from Aww, Feathers! or something different just for practice.
Everyone who subscribes would also be given access to the discord channel where I post early drafts of comic pages.
How much would it cost?
I haven't nailed down all the pricing details yet, but I think I have a basic idea. The base price would be $2 per month. However, there is also the option to pay every 3, 6, or 12 months, and discounts would be available to those who choose to subscribe for longer durations at a time. (I'm considering a discount of up to 50% for those who subscribe for a year; that would be only $1 per month!)
Gumroad provides the option to let customers pay more than the base price. Those who pay certain amounts above the base price would unlock extra perks.
Oooh, what kind of perks?
Those who pay extra would be able to submit suggestions/requests that would be drawn from on a regular basis. They can even include sketches of your own characters if you wish. Those who pay a bit more may pick one of the sketches to be sent the original physical copy. And there may be other "tiered" rewards as well.
What are the benefits to using Gumroad over Patreon?
The most immediate benefit is that, unlike Patreon's recently announced fee changes, customers are not charged a processing fee on top of the posted price. In addition, as mentioned before, Gumroad has flexible pricing options, including the option to pay once every 3, 6, or 12 months instead of every month, which allows me to pass on some savings to you. Finally, using Gumroad provides an opportunity to have the sketchbook club subscription and other items for sale in the same location.
Are there any drawbacks?
The biggest drawback I can see is missing out on the community and discussions that Patreon provided. I hope to mitigate that by encouraging greater participation in our discord server.
In addition, because Gumroad charges a processing fee for each payment instead of grouping multiple payments together (like Patreon's old model), I would need to charge a bit more to stay profitable. I will, however, offer discounts to those who choose to pledge for multiple months instead of just one month at a time.
Finally, Gumroad's system for choosing different "tiers," or levels, isn't currently as robust as Patreon's. If you ever want to change your funding level, you will need to cancel your current subscription, and then resubscribe with a different amount. Also, to choose a certain reward tier, you will need to just make sure you enter the correct amount when checking out. To help with that, I'll make sure the necessary prices are clearly posted.
I want to hear from you. Would you be interested in trying out something like this? What questions or suggestions do you have? Feel free to leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback. I want to work together to come up with a solution that can help support Aww, Feathers! financially while also benefiting those who choose to support it!