Since I first discovered them at age twelve, I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of webcomics. Before the past few decades, publishers had been gatekeepers of the comic market. Artists needed to have their work physically printed in order to share it with the world, and few had the time, money, or knowledge to do it themselves. Getting your comic distributed to an audience meant giving the publisher a voice in your content and (usually) signing away ownership of your work. But with the introduction of the World Wide Web, anyone with internet access suddenly had a low-cost medium for self-publication. It was amazing. People were posting work completely unhindered by an editor, and they were giving it away for free.
Webcomics have developed rapidly in a decade and a half, but artists have continued to struggle with making money off of their work. Distribution of content has gotten easier through forums, RSS feeds, and social media sharing, but selling merchandise online has been the only way for creators to monetize their work.
Patreon has finally offered an alternative.
Similar to Kickstarter, Patreon provides an opportunity for creators to seek out funding for a project. However, instead of raising a large sum of money for one single project, creators on Patreon collect a small donation from each “patron” every time they complete a small project.
Patreon uses a “name your own price” model that seems to work well in this context. Patrons donate a minimum of $1 but can commit to more if they feel the artists deserves greater compensation. It also prevents abuse that has concerned Kickstarter users in the past, as patrons can back out at any time. This keeps creators from taking a huge sum of money and not following through on delivery.
Many webcomic artists have been making a steady living off of the income they earn on Patreon, but its potential for crowdfunding can be useful to anyone with a little creativity. Musicians, filmmakers, writers, podcasters, and even comedians are making a living by simply asking people to pay them what they think they’re worth.
I encourage you to give the site a look. If you’re a content creator yourself, it might just be a golden goose.