Now your full audience can engage with you on Patreon

By Brian Keller

In this episode, find out how you can use Patreon’s tools to strengthen relationships with your community, reliably reach your fans, and build a sustainable business.

For creator and product manager, Ashley Tuccero, Patreon is a platform for all creators, at every stage of their journey. She is the co-founder of Women in Product at Patreon and works across the platform in strengthening creator-member relationships and ensuring insight tools are allowing creators to make the most of their online presence.

In this episode of Backstage with Patreon, Ashley Tuccero, introduces the free membership tool that let’s creators to connect with their audience on all levels and grow audience engagement. To sign up for early access to these features, go to

Subscribe to Backstage with Patreon on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or directly via RSS. We’re on Twitter @PatreonPodcast. Join the discussion about the episode in the Patreon Creator Community Discord.


Brian Keller:
Hello creators. You are backstage with Patreon where we open the curtain on how to build a thriving business on Patreon. I'm Brian Keller from the Creator Success Team, and today's guest is Ashley Tuccero, a product manager at Patreon, working on creator tools and co-founder of Women in Product at Patreon.

She's also worked in product across creator and small business companies like Etsy, Squarespace, and Vimeo, and she's been at the center of making Patreon's core features, posting fan relationships and insight tools available to new creators without setting up paid membership and for existing creators to bring more of their fans to Patreon.

And we're excited about how this will help creators strengthen their fan relationships and grow their creative businesses. So let's get started with Ashley Tuccero on Backstage with Patreon, and she's actually an author and podcaster in spirituality herself. So Ashley, how has your direct experience as a creator really informed some of the things that you've been working on and building at Patreon?

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah. First of all, thank you so. So much for having me, Brian. Really delighted to be here and connecting with my fellow creators right now. As you mentioned, I am an author and a podcaster focusing on spirituality. And I know from what I experienced, especially around the time that I launched my first book, that it can feel sometimes like Big Tech is kind of playing this cruel joke on you as a creator.

Where on the one hand, it feels like the only way to get discovered these days and to really. Grow an audience that's engaged with your work, is by turning to ad supported platforms, you know, social media or YouTube or what have you. But then the value of that audience can just vanish overnight, it seems. And for me, just to speak from my own personal experience for a second.

In the lead up to publishing my first book, I built a highly engaged audience from scratch on Instagram. And I remember at the time I was looking at, you know, different engagement metrics on third party tools and comparing what I was doing to the work of my peers. And by all accounts, from everything that I was tracking, I was really crushing it, which was great but then when I wanted to promote something, To this audience that

I had grown, something that was really important to me, like my book launch. I struggled to reach 1% of that audience at that time. And now what I hear from creators who are more active than me is regardless of what platform they're using, they feel like they're lucky to reach one to 5% of their audience.

So that's become kind of normalized within the industry. And I think that this has probably gotten a lot more acute over the course of the past year or two. I know I hear from creators who built their audience on Twitter who are now experiencing pretty extreme anxiety about the future of that platform or creators who, like me, were really focused on Instagram, who, you know, haven't really been able to cope with the pivot into reels. And I don't mean to pick on those platforms by any means. I think that this is more or less a universal problem within the creator economy. But the general principle here is that when you build an audience on an ad supported platform, you don't own that audience.

The platform owns that audience. And there may be a time when you, as a creator and that platform, when you're not 100% aligned in terms of what you want to do with that audience. And so as a creator it is an existential risk really, and, and something that is really important to address, hopefully early on in your creative career.

Brian Keller:
Yeah. And let's start connecting that to what Patreon is doing. And traditionally, Patreon has been all about monthly paid membership where you're getting content and community from a creator and, and part of that for a price that you're paying there that's pretty different than what you're talking about in, in reaching your audience and building those earlier stage connections. How do these things start to fit together now?

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah, it's a great question and I think at the end of it, What Patreon is doing right now is expanding beyond paid membership. It's becoming a way for you as a creator to connect directly with your fans where there's not necessarily a monthly payment involved. So in other words, we've taken the same great tools that creators can use today for running a paid membership and started making them available to a wider segment of creators for free.

So now you can start a Patreon page. You can post content to it and your fans can come join that page. But you don't have to commit to producing specific benefits every month or specific bonus content each month for those fans, and it's free for both you and your fans to use. So then when you're ready to start selling, you have all the tools that you need on the same platform that you're using as both your home on the web and your audience manager.

So now you can start a Patreon page. You can post content to it and your fans can come join that page. But you don't have to commit to producing specific benefits every month or specific bonus content each month for those fans, and it's free for both you and your fans to use. So then when you're ready to start selling, you have all the tools that you need on the same platform that you're using as both your home on the web and your audience manager.

So in the past, you would need to kind of duct tape together a bunch of different products to get them to all work together holistically. You'd have to take maybe WordPress for your website and MailChimp for a mailing list and maybe, you know, WooCommerce if you wanted to start selling products. And now you can get all of that from one single platform that was specifically built for creators and with our unique needs in mind.

Brian Keller:
And so what are you hoping that a creator that's a little bit earlier in their journey of building their creative business are gonna now think about Patreon are gonna start to use Patreon in that different way?

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah. What's really exciting about this is that now it becomes possible for creators to get started using Patreon much earlier in their journey than they could have in the past, and. We know that for emerging creators, that commitment to producing paid content every single month, like, oh, in addition to my regular podcast that I'm running now, I need to worry about two bonus episodes, and if I don't produce them, I'm going to feel really guilty because these people are paying me for that content.

That's a really big commitment to make upfront, and what I think we're going to start seeing now is. This generation of creators who are gonna be able to start using Patreon much earlier in their creative careers before they're ready to start scaling their content production in that way, in order to connect directly with their fans, potentially even before they have something to sell, or before they even know for sure that they want to start a paid membership or start selling digital products, for example.

Brian Keller:
Yeah. And what's different than when a creator is on Patreon building their audience in this way and, and when they do make a post on Patreon trying to get it to their audience, how's that different than posting on the other social networks?

Ashley Tuccero:
It's a great question. What we really care about at Patreon is that direct relationship between a creator and their fans. The principles that we have as it relates to that direct relationship have to do with two sides. There's the side of where does content consumption happen?

Does it happen in an algorithmically ranked feed where creators are competing against each other? And competing against companies and brands and friends and family for their fans, time and attention, or does it happen in the creator's own world, in their page, in their own community, where their fans are immersed in their content and in that community of like-minded individuals who have all gathered around a particular topic or passion or what have you.

And then on the other side, there's who owns the data and how can the creator action that data? So in a. Platform, which is primarily ad supported and where the relationship is owned by the platform as opposed to by the creator. They can't do everything that they want with that data. So you can't export it or share it across integrations or use it the way that any other business built on any other platform would want to be able to use their customer data.

And on Patreon, when you develop a relationship with a fan, when your fan says, “I wanna connect directly with you”, all of the data associated with that relationship is something that you own and that you are able to action appropriately. So we're going to start seeing, I think, a lot more opportunities for creators to connect directly with their fans, sending targeted messages that are really relevant to that particular relationship or that particular fan's demographic in the coming months.

Brian Keller:
And let's also talk about what this experience looks like for an existing creator on Patreon. So who's already doing paid membership, already posting and building content there. What does this new ability on Patreon allow them to do in terms of bringing more fans into their community?

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah, we're not just building for new creators, of course. Although it is really exciting to think about people who are going to be using Patreon earlier in their journey. We've thought a lot about creators who are already using paid membership today and how they can benefit from these tools. So if there's anybody listening right now who is already on Patreon, there's many reasons why I think you might be interested in joining our beta waitlist and, and being one of the first creators to get access to these tools.

Really, the core idea here is that connecting directly with your fans on Patreon will ultimately make them more likely to join your paid membership. Today only a small percentage of the logged out traffic that comes to creator pages on Patreon actually converts. Or in other words, most of the people who visit your creator page, they don't just become paid members instantly.

Most of them disappear, and then you have no way of knowing who they were or reaching out to them again, in the future, and this is not unique to Patreon, by the way, this is standard for any online store or sales page. There's just a lot more people who want to come and see what's going on than who are actually ready to take out their wallet and make a purchase immediately in that moment.

So the new version of the Creator page that we've built gives these people who, again, are the vast majority of the people who come to your page, it gives them an option to join your community before they're ready to join a paid membership tier. And ultimately, what that means is rather than disappearing into the ether forever, they've established a relationship with you now.

And some of those relationships will eventually evolve to the point where, That person is now ready to join your paid membership. So we've really designed the whole experience to optimize for making sure that more of the traffic that's coming to will remain connected with a creator in some way by giving them a way to join your community without having to join a paid membership tier.

We've also done a lot of work to really improve the experience of signing up for Patreon as a fan. So we've built out a whole new and very secure signup and login experience that actually enables fans to join Patreon without having to come up with a password. And then remember that password, which is often a blocker.

You know, somebody who might be ready to join today might see that password field and think forget this. I'm going to go do something else now. So we're really excited to be delivering that experience to fans and making it easier than ever for them to get started using Patreon. And once they join, We have started to integrate really thoughtful invitations for somebody who's just joined the community and who hasn't yet upgraded to a paid membership.

Really thoughtful invitations for them to consider joining the paid membership. And we've done a really good job, I think, of striking the right balance between. Delivering those invitations, those reminders, and then not feeling spammy. So it's a really nice kind of balanced experience, which we will continue to test and iterate on and optimize in order to make sure that it's as performing as possible for creators who are using paid membership.

Brian Keller:
So for existing creators, they have some folks that are following them. That kind of dynamic on, on Patreon. Talk a little bit about how this new model is different and, and how it's more beneficial for creators to nurture that audience.

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah, so we will, of course, Not have two features that feel almost the exact same on Patreon. We're going to be rolling the follow feature into this new suite of tools. So if you're using follows today, you have a lot of followers on Patreon. Your followers will remain with you. They're going to stay connected with you.

They're going to start appearing in your insights and your audience, relationship manager as free members, and you'll still remain connected with them. Their experience will be the exact same. They will still get an update an email notification every time you post public content, but for new fans who come to your page for the first time, they will see this new experience.

They will get the new signup flow and for those paid members. Who actually cancel their paid membership. We will also give them the option to opt in at the time of paid membership cancellation to remain a member of the community for free. So rather than losing those paid members forever, they will have the option to remain connected with you, and hopefully that's going to lead to instances where they come back and upgrade to a paid membership again in the future.

"We've taken the same great tools that creators can use today for running a paid membership and started making them available to a wider segment of creators for free."

Brian Keller:
It really shows that at every stage of your fans' relationship with you, the chance to bring them on board with Paton and the new features here, it gives you a better chance to convert them, strengthen the relationship with them, keep them as a bigger member of your community, including on paid tier here.

Well, so this has been a long process to build out these new features and a big evolution of what Patreon really represents. How have we been involving creators in this process and getting their feedback and customizing to their specific business models?

Ashley Tuccero:
Well, we launched the first version of this experience to an Alpha program at the start of May, and we invited 120 creators to participate in that Alpha program. We had a healthy mix of creators in the program in terms of how big their audience was and what types of content they create, and so on and so forth.

But most of them were already actively using Patreon for paid membership at the time. And since then we've been monitoring their metrics in terms of how their traffic has increased and how their audience on Patreon has grown since they joined the Alpha Group. And we've also been listening to their feedback throughout the process.

So we've been hearing from them about what works, what doesn't work, what they like to use the feature for, and what they'd like to change about these tools. And that's been an incredible learning process. I know the team has really enjoyed watching. Each one of these creators and how their usage of our tools has evolved over the course of the past month.

And then also hearing directly from them about what they've liked and what they haven't liked and what they would want to change in the future. And another aspect of it that we have just started looking into is, we've just designed dashboards that allow us to see. Which creators have had the largest increase to say traffic to their page once they started using these new tools or which creators grew their community the quickest relative to the size of their paid membership over the past couple of weeks.

And what we're going to start doing is more targeted outreach with those creators, checking out their pages, seeing what they're doing, learning from them directly about what has made them so successful at using these tools. And then hopefully those insights will be able to roll into some case studies and educational content so that other creators who want to get started using these tools will have some inspiration and some patterns that they know will work well for them.

Brian Keller:
Yeah. And do we have any suggestions for creators that are getting started in, in adding this additional ability to join their membership outside of the paid tiers based on some, some of what we've seen from this alpha and early testing phase about how does a creator make both of those things work well together?

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah. Well, I have to say both as a creator myself and as a product manager who thinks about this a lot. First, let your creativity guide you. You know, treat it like any other creative project and you know, if there's something that really calls to you and you think is going to work really well for the type of content that you produce or the community that you've grown, who your fans are and so on and so forth, really follow that intuition.

And I personally would love to learn from you. But if you are struggling to come up with ideas and you want an easy starting point, I think probably the most common use case that we've seen so far is basically using these tools as a replacement. For a newsletter or a mailing list. And one thing that I have learned from talking to a lot of creators, both in interviews for Patreon, you know, user interviews where I'm learning about the, the state of the creator economy and also just, you know, going to creative events in New York City and meeting creative people is that it can be really hard to grow a mailing list. And I, I know a lot of people who, you know, they get started with MailChimp and they never quite managed to take it off the ground, and so doing something like a monthly newsletter through your Patreon is a really easy way to get fans to join and to keep them up to date on what's going on in your world.

And then eventually to give them a reason to upgrade to paid membership if you're using that feature. But I've also seen a couple of creators in this alpha group who have started doing something really interesting, which is taking content from their paid membership back catalog. So, you know, maybe content from a year or two ago that is, it's still great content, but it's from a while back and, you know, it's part of this massive back catalog that people get access to when they join the paid membership.

And I've seen some creators start taking that content and make, you know, maybe four or five posts from that back catalog available for free now. And when you have a big enough back catalog that doesn't water down the value of your paid membership, it's actually a really clever way to give your fans an incentive to join your free community, A taste of what they'll get if they upgrade to paid membership. So, I think this is a really smart way for creators to approach using these tools in a way that optimizes for both connecting directly with your audience and also continuing to grow your paid membership.

Brian Keller:
And that's been one of the suggestions my team has been making to creators. They often have a lot of great material that could work well with both their paid members and their wider audience on Patreon. And some of the same messages are great to reinforce for both audiences. If you're able to talk about what you've built and made and created through the support of your paid members, that's great recognition for the folks in those tiers.

But also a great message to your wider audience about what they could be a part of and what it means to be part of the paid side that they're doing there. Well, so that's exciting stuff that creators can get started with right away here. What are some of the things that your team is still building over the next, let's say, six months to keep expanding on these kind of capabilities for creators?

Ashley Tuccero:
Yeah, we have no shortage of ideas for different tools. That would make this an even better experience for creators and their fans alike. But at the end of the day, we're going to build what creators need, and the only way for us to. Figure that out is really to get as many people trying these tools as possible and then learning from them.

So we are super excited to be sharing these tools with creators via a waitlist today. I would love for as many people as possible to join that waitlist to get access to these features as early as possible. And then over the next six months, We are just going to be listening to your feedback, so that we can continue to make these tools better and better.

Brian Keller:
Awesome. Well, that's a great place to wrap us up here. So to recap, we talked about the just needs of creators in the creator economy, the challenges using social platforms and other content platforms. Your material is only reaching one to 5% of your audience in many cases. And now Patreon has evolved to help creators build their audience and connect with them in deeper ways in these direct fan relationships.

Early on in that creator journey, there amazing stat about most of the people visiting your creator page are not gonna convert to your paid membership that's just the reality of what's happening there. And now you have new ways to have a connection with them. Be able to, to meet with them, have access to their contact info.

It's really these different ways of engaging with your fans at different parts of their lifecycle, getting them to upgrade at different points as well as to try to recover them if they actually cancel and still have an ongoing relationship with them. For creators that are getting started with this new ability to use Patreon, let your creativity guide you.

I love that message that you had there, but think about how you could use it as a newsletter, how you could leverage your back catalog and messages to your paid members as well as your wider audience there. Hang on. As you said, creators should get started on a waitlist here. It's at coming soon, dot

It’s super easy to get signed up. We'll get people in as soon as we can. There. Also, people can join our Creator Community Discord. That's a great place to share feedback and help us keep building the product and making it great for creators. So Ashley, thanks so much for telling our creators a little bit more about the new functionality on Patreon, on Backstage with Patreon.

Ashley Tuccero:
Great. Thank you again for having me, Brian.

Brian Keller:
Tune in next week to Backstage with Patreon. Well, and we'll continue exploring how creators can incorporate the new Patreon features for bringing your wider audience into membership. Our guest is Danny O’Dwyer, the founder of No Clip, the prolific independent studio making video game documentaries funded by their Patreon members.

He's embraced this expanded approach to membership and will share what he's learned so far about incorporating it into benefits and audience messaging.
To catch every episode of Backstage With Patreon, follow or subscribe in your podcast app and leave us a review. We also have transcripts available at You are growing as a creator by listening to the show, so why not share the insights from this episode with another creator on Patreon or who's running a creative business?

We'd love to have you as an active collaborator with Backstage with Patreon. We are on Twitter at Patreon podcast and in the Patreon Creator community on Discord. Follow the link in the episode notes and you can get answers to your follow-up questions directly from the guests and weigh in on what topics we'll be covering. Next, editing by Tyler Morrisette. I'm Brian Keller. See you next time backstage.

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