Winter Sunlight

More Kismet stuff

When I (re)launch Kismet, I'm also going to launch a funding page on patreon.com, which is basically a crowdfunding platform that allows people to pledge/pay a certain small amount that's either due monthly or per work funded; mine would be monthly.

I want to make it clear that I do NOT expect people to pay to read the comic, or feel guilty if they can't/don't want to. Kismet will always be online for free. Actually, one of the things I'm struggling with, as I set up my funding donation levels, is rewarding people for paying me while not setting up a tiered hierarchy of readers, with an inner circle of paying readers and an outer circle of free ones. I don't want that! I want everyone to be able to enjoy the comic while also paying if, and ONLY if, they can afford it and want to, and not feel like they're missing out on some sort of inner circle of preferred readers if they can't or don't want to pay.

I'd love some input on setting up my funding levels, though.

Right now I have it set up like this:


Donation levels
(the amounts are dollars per month)

$1 - The most basic funding level - you get to read pages a week early and get access to a locked discussion/blog area.

(The locked blog idea is probably the aspect of the whole thing that I feel the weirdest about -- see above re: not wanting to create two tiers of readers -- but Patreon is basically set up for this, so it's a super easy perk that I can offer without really having to do much work except post to it occasionally.)

$5 - Same as above, plus extra goodies once or twice a year, whatever I come up with: wallpapers, an envelope with bookmarks or minicomics dropped in the mail, a custom sketch, a letter written to you by a Kismet character, etc. (This wouldn't be unique for everybody; it's just that, like once a year I'd make a wallpaper for all the $5 donation people, or mail everyone some bookmarks or buttons, etc.)

$15 - Same as $5 level plus free copies of all the print versions of the comic that I come out with during this time. I'm planning on collecting Sun-Cutter in printed "issues" about every 36-40 pages. These will be full color, which means they won't be even remotely economical to sell (they'll probably retail around $12-15 each -- for 40 pages; I don't expect many people to buy them). At the rate of one page per week, there'll be 1-2 issues a year, but this will go up if I double up to 2 or more pages a week (see Milestone Goals for more on that).

I would love to offer the bottom perk for less, partly because $10/month is a lovely flat rate and I think it would be much easier to get people to sign up for it that way, but I'm also going to be eating shipping costs on that one (including overseas), and I don't want to end up not doing more than just breaking even for what's probably going to be a fair bit of extra work.

Patreon's how-to for creators suggests focusing on the $1, $3, and $5 donation levels, because that's where most people spend their money. Right now I don't have a $3 donation level at all, which is leaving me a bit stumped because ... I can't think what to offer for it? Or, at least, I don't have a good idea for separating out the $3 and $5 levels, even though I agree that having an intermediate level between the two will probably be a good idea, at least to start.

Once I launch, I'll get a much better idea of what people are actually willing to pay for, and what they're not.


Milestone goals

Okay, here's the other thing about Patreon. If you look at my Patreon page (which I think you should be able to see, even though I haven't launched it yet; DON'T PLEDGE ANYTHING YET) you'll see "Milestone Goals" over at the side. These take effect when pledges reach a certain level -- monthly, in my case.

I have ABSOLUTELY no idea how many pledges I'll actually get; I don't expect very many, especially not to start, although obviously it would be lovely to be surprised by a sudden influx of money. If I DO get a bunch of unexpected pledges, I don't want to accidentally bury myself in work by setting up a bunch of low-level donation goals. I want one goal that's relatively easy to meet with some fundraising effort on my part; $100/month seems do-able, though I don't have anything set up for that goal yet.

Right now I have:

$200+/month - add an extra page of updates per week

$400+/month - draw and post 4 pages of a side comic in the Kismetverse

$500+/month - add another extra update page per week (total of 3)

See, here's where I'm getting stuck between realism and optimism. Frankly I'll be pleased and gratified if I make anything at all when I'm first starting out, especially since I'm only updating with 1 page per week, and that's not a great schedule for a long-form story comic. Two pages a week would be better (that was the old update schedule for Hunter's Moon) but considering I've already paused it twice because I couldn't keep up with it, I am afraid of overloading, crashing and burning, especially since I'm juggling a bunch of different creative stuff right now. If the comic DOES make some money, it'll be a lot easier to shove aside my other projects and bump it up to a top priority, doing 2, maybe 3 or 4 pages a week. But I suspect I'm going to need more than 1 page a week to actually get enough readership to make enough money to feel that I can justify pushing aside projects I can make more money at -- catch-22!

(I'd like to point out that I'm not doing it for the money. I did it for a decade making no money at all, and once I start Sun-Cutter up again, I'm committed to finishing it even if the Patreon thing completely bombs. That said, being able to do what I love and get paid for it is obviously the dream, and certainly if it does turn out to be something I can make money on, that'll make it easier to prioritize the comic above my other projects ....)

So yeah, the current milestone goals are pushed towards what I consider the extremely high end of what I realistically might be able to make -- I doubt if I'll make even the bottom one ... but I would also like to have the 2-page-a-week goal within reach. Maybe move it down to $100/month?


Thoughts?

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Hmm... that's a tough one. I thing concerning the perks you may not even need perks, at least not right away. Because I imagine that people would be more than happy to donate a dollar to help support the story. Maybe the perks could be offered later on, or perhaps offered for the higher donations to encourage people to donate a higher amount.

Would it be possible to wait on the milestone goals and implement them later once you know where things are going?
*nods* This is good advice, and I got pretty similar advice on the DW side (wait and see; don't necessarily need to offer perks right away). I realized that I was mostly thinking about attracting donations from strangers, but mostly I think the only people reading the comic in the beginning will be people I already know, so I should probably be thinking along those lines instead.
The other people who have been doing Patreon that I've seen (...for fanfiction, which tbh weirds me out a bit) have been offering what are basically dvd extras as perks. So, you'll see this one other scene that didn't make it in, you'll get extra stories, etc. For you, maybe you could do extra sketches of characters? Drabbles? And all the normal plotline stuff is still posted for free online, so it's not really creating a separate tier of readers so much...
For fanfic huh? ..... ummmmm. More power to 'em I guess, but ... yeah.

That's a good idea with the DVD extra stuff, though! One of the DW commenters said that she follows an artist who offers production sketches as a donation perk. I really like the idea in both cases, because mostly it'd be stuff I have around anyway (I have SO MANY old fragments of scripts that never made it into the finished version ...) so it wouldn't be a whole lot of extra work on my part, but it'd be a nice thank-you for subscribers.
A cameo as a rather higher level reward... has been added since I last looked at it? (It's been like six hours since I started this comment, so it totally might have changed since then...)

My concern (and it's a general one), is that someone COULD pledge for one month at any of the higher levels, reap the rewards, cancel their pledge and skip off with a great deal. Maybe give a minimum number of months before they'd get a cameo? Would someone be able to claim that you owed them for 'back issues' of the free print copies from your wording? Sign up just for the mini-commission, then discontinue? Just a little caution there. You'd hope no one would be that way, but best to cover your bases with a disclaimer or some kind of note. Maybe they get the mini-commission on their one-year anniversary?

Other than those concerns, these look like tempting perks.

Yeah, I was working on it again, and changed some things, swapped around rewards, etc. Which I'll probably keep doing right up to the launch date, I suspect. :P

But yeah, people skipping out after getting rewards is definitely a valid concern. I think I'm not THAT worried about it when I'm just starting out; I might wait to implement anti-cheating measures until someone actually does cheat, if that makes any sense? (Considering that the actual monetary value of most of the awards is low, it wouldn't hurt me too much if I end up giving out a cameo or two that I probably shouldn't have, as long as I nip it in the bud if it actually does turn out to be a problem) But yeah, that's a valid point, and it's also a good point about free back issues -- I honestly hadn't even THOUGHT of that issue, and the wording IS pretty ambiguous, so now I need to figure out exactly how to avoid that (and what would be the fairest way to handle it ... if I even go that route with that donation level).

Augh, so many things to think about!

Thank you so much for the feedback, though; it's helpful!