Hi! I’m Tali and if you don’t already know me, I’m a Canadian cosplayer with about 10 years of experience and maybe 5 of those actually taking it seriously.
Sure I might not be the most popular or highest grossing cosplayer out there but I’m confident in at least one of my approaches.
Over years I’ve had the privilege of having one of the best content marketing mad scientists at my side, constantly drilling strategy and processes into my head til I could soak in no more! I’ve learnt so much but one of the most important lessons I ever learnt from him was the importance of building content on your own platform. By this I mean having a homebase that you have complete 100% control over at all times. I understand this is likely not possible right now so we’ll get as close as we possibly can. Owning your domain and what’s within it.
The problem with Patreon
Just recently Patreon announced it would be cracking down on “adult material” mostly directed at private cam shows, sexual services and pornographic material. I’m still unsure of how this will affect the NSFW cosplay community (if at all) but it should come as no surprise that Patreon would begin to restrict the type of content produced on their platform as they grow in size. It’s one thing to be angry about Patreon gaining so much popularity from these producers then essentially turn their back on those same people but guess what, it wasn’t their platform in the first place and Patreon has every right to restrict it.
So why do countless content producers choose to use Patreon as their home base of operations? The thing they count on for monthly income? If it disappeared tomorrow every single Patreon and their “steady incomes” would vanish along with it-- this is not sustainable. As we’ve seen with the recent Youtube “Adpoclypse”, a platform will change and it might/very likely will not change the way you want it. This is a trend.
All this and not to mention that I understand the fees are ridiculous-- anyone that can confirm this would be greatly appreciated.
In my opinion, the only thing that sets Patreon at any advantage is that it is really a one stop shop for content marketing. Email blasts are cake, updates are easy, patreon pages look aesthetically pleasing, and it’s easy to use. Unfortunately if it’s easy it’s usually not the right thing to do and not to mention all the essential skills you aren’t learning (cosplay isn’t forever sorry but use it to learn some new skills).
Okay I get it-- how do I build it though?
So we’re in agreement? If you’ve reached this far you realize that Patreon crowdfunding is not the same as selling a product/subscription (even if that product is lewd photos of yourself). So how do we fix it? How do we build a monthly product that can be easily sustained, bring in just as much money (maybe more due to less overhead fees) AND it’s totally controlled by you? Well that’s my main point today, let me show you exactly how I approached this problem and maybe you can use it or maybe you can find an even better way. I’m certainly not the first to use this idea but I don’t see a lot of people in cosplay doing it.
Build a membership site
Personally I use Squarespace as my website host, I love it-- it’s easy to use, effective and the most important feature-- built in locked pages and built in store. My main goal? If you come to my site, you shouldn’t have to leave it for anything I do.
First things first, I have a public blog and a membership section with a locked blog. Each month the password changes and all current members receive the new password in an email, along with a coupon code and some minor updates. It’s honestly that simple. All my content is locked behind a paywall that I created using Squarespace’s private blog feature. My members simply log in with the monthly password and they can scroll through all my updates which include galleries, videos, write ups and progress that never ever disappears unless I delete it. I see it as already more value than disappearing monthly content via Patreon.
Where does the money come in?
Okay well, first of all, hold your horses. We’ve got ourselves a private blog but really no product yet right? This is where my version of Patreon comes in. This is the only part of my membership site that exists on another platform. Personally I use Gumroad.com, it’s great. Gumroad is a creators payment processing and email platform that allows you to charge for a single product or a subscription/membership service. The way my personal site works I use the subscription option because none of my content is actually located on Gumroad, it’s just a payment process for me.
Gumroad collects payments each month and is directly linked to your bank account. No paypal, no stripe, no nonsense involved. It’s pays bi-weekly and even better has great built in analytics to see where your traffic is coming from and what outlets are sending the highest converting traffic.
I can’t say enough good things about this platform and I’m absolutely not being paid by them, I’m paying them a $10/month usage fee and 3.5% + $0.30 (USD) fee on every sale. There is a free option but the sale fee is 8.5% + $0.30 (USD), still better than Patreon I believe.
So each month, usually on the 1st, I change my blog password and send the new passphrase to all my current customers (a filter option within Gumroad) and the cycle continues! All my content exists on my site, my money isn’t going through any other channel than a totally separate monthly charging system where what I’m doing to make it isn’t even a question (if I were doing lewds at all). Oh I almost forgot the best part! NO PLEDGES. This isn’t a honor based system, this is a product. If someone buys the subscription they have paid for the product (in this case a membership to my private blog). There is no cancelling before the card can be charged, which is essentially stealing from the artist. Yes people will cancel their memberships but it will not be refunded for the time they have purchased. I’ve had plenty of people think that cancelling right after purchase will get their money back, it doesn’t.
It’s all pretty simple honestly and while I can’t take credit for finding Gumroad, it only took a little bit of creative problem solving to change the entire way I approach paywall content.
The only downsides to Gumroad? You have to send email blasts yourself, you have to learn workflows, and you have to learn to set up a social posting schedule (which is an entirely different article that I'd like to get too eventually) to get people to see it but honestly, these are really important skills that you shouldn't be missing out on-- literally career building skills. It's a little more work but well worth in IMHO.
Speaking of which, if you’d like to read more of my content marketing strats (will be making a weekly effort to write more of this type of stuff there) or just interested in my work, you can check out everything I’ve done in my membership section at www.talixoxo.com/membersarea ;)
Curious about something in particular? Let me know and I’ll answer it the best I can. Thanks for reading! Now go out there and own your content!