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Operating a Enterprise as a Creator: 4 Issues I Realized at PatreCon 2016


After I bought to PatreCon—Patreon’s first annual convention for creators—I’d hit a wall in my profession. My novel trilogy had simply been rejected by publishers. Not as a result of it wasn’t good, however as a result of virtually nobody wished to commit till all three volumes have been completed. Which meant I’d simply spent three years writing without spending a dime, and was two extra years of doing the identical.

I arrived at PatreCon feeling fairly helpless.

The primary night time of the convention, we bought a tour of Patreon headquarters. As quickly as we began strolling round, I felt higher, although I couldn’t say precisely why. I simply felt like I’d come to a protected house. My fellow creators have been heat, humorous, and whip-smart. Over wine, we tried to guess one another’s specialties (and failed miserably): there was a resplendent cosplayer, a world-traveling troubadour, and even a stop-motion filmmaker who knitted his characters out of yarn. The constructing itself resembled a palatial treehouse, with artwork on each wall. In a single mural, there was a cartoon fox lending an umbrella to a different cartoon fox with the caption: Put Creators First.

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In speaking to different creators, I spotted that everybody had tales like mine. Everybody had hit a wall—realizing that even when they have been gifted, labored onerous, and did every part “proper,” the sport was rigged towards them. The truth is, that’s how musician Jack Conte got here up with Patreon within the first place: he’d as soon as spent $10,000 of his personal cash constructing a set for a music video, solely to see a meager $200 in advert income from YouTube.

My fellow creators have been wellsprings of concepts and experiences. And in the course of the convention, by means of many a workshop, discuss, and quiet dialog, I scribbled down 4 issues I needed to keep in mind.

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…and I believed I knew this one already! However I spotted I’m barely getting began. There are such a lot of Advertising 101 ways that I’d by no means even thought-about. Do you know that most individuals should see one thing on social media six occasions earlier than they click on on it? I didn’t. Or that the stuff you will have mendacity round your studio are issues folks can pay for? I didn’t. Or that short-term promotions can drive large gross sales? I didn’t. And it’s humorous I didn’t, as a result of these methods are employed round me all day, day by day—coupons on the grocery retailer, pledge drives on public radio, reductions at my favourite on-line gown store. Why did I feel they didn’t apply to me?

However I’ve internalized considered one of society’s core prejudices towards artists: that we aren’t “actual”—and due to this fact aren’t deserving of cash—except we’re backed by a Large Identify (a label, writer, gallery, journal) that takes care of promoting for us. Like so many artist myths, this one is deeply harmful, and I’ve to un-learn it.

How, why, and for whom the artwork will get made is inseparable from what will get made. My novel will probably be essentially completely different now as a result of the writing of it’s funded by 400+ patrons as a substitute of by a Large Writer. I can’t say precisely how. However I can say that my patrons are with me as a result of they like my work precisely because it already is: daring, bizarre, experimental. In order that’s what it’ll proceed to be.

The truth is, it means precisely the other: that you just’re giving your self permission to be the precise artist you wish to be. Generally, after I inform fellow artists they’ve to think about themselves as businesspeople, they give the impression of being actually uncomfortable. And I get that. After I hear “enterprise,” I nonetheless consider a faceless particular person with a briefcase. However enterprise is simply one other automobile for creativity. And furthermore–

At PatreCon, I used to be surrounded by artists who have been self-made, self-driven, and couldn’t care much less whether or not a Large Identify backed them except they might provide higher phrases than they have been already providing themselves. This was an enormous epiphany for me: that regardless that I used to be “established,” I couldn’t rely on companies working on antiquated fashions to pay my wage, and I couldn’t await alternatives to fall in my lap. I might all the time should make my very own wage. I might all the time should make my very own alternatives.


Leaving PatreCon, I had little doubt I had witnessed the way forward for artwork. However of extra quick use to me personally—and, I hope, for all creators there—I spotted that I didn’t have to attend for anybody else to resolve my future. I bought to resolve it, plan it, and do it. After I left PatreCon, I didn’t really feel helpless anymore. I felt fearless.

To be taught extra about PatreCon and keep up to date on our 2017 convention, head right here

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