Qn: Can you give us an introduction on what you do, and how Patreon helps you?
I have a philosophy themed webcomic called Existential Comics which features historical philosophers doing ridiculous things, with the occasional serious comic thrown in. Patreon allows me to receive an income from direct donations on a recurring basis from my fans.
Qn: You've over 440 patrons already. How did you manage to reach that number? Or get people to support you?
The main way I got people to support me was by creating a comic about what I'm doing, why you should support me, and why you should support art in general. That took the place of one of my comics on the one year anniversary of the comic - it can be found here: https://existentialcomics.com/patreon, so it was on the homepage of my website for one week, and was read by about 80,000 people. That means roughly 0.5% of people who read the comic ended up supporting me. That might seem low, but I believe I have a higher patron to viewer ratio than most other webcomics. I also put a link on my site under each comic.
Qn: Do you know your Patreon supporters or where they come from? Are they your regular readers or did they discover you through Patreon?
All the patrons are certainly regular readers. I would not count on any internal traffic from people browsing Patreon. I don't think very many people use Patreon to browse (I've never received any referral traffic from them), and even if they did, people will only generally support artists that they've been following for a while.
Qn: Do you give or what extra incentives to your Patreon supporters?
I give some incentives, although I think that in general most people become patrons to me and other webcomics just to show their support, and to help ensure that the artist will keep producing content.
I do suggest having as many rewards tiers as you can though, even if you think the rewards aren't really worth much. I've noticed that almost everyone pledges an amount that is exactly equal to one of the tiers, so I think there is a psychological benefit to having tiers, in addition to the incentives offered by each tier.
Qn: What do you like or dislike about Patreon?
I've had a few minor complaints with the functionality, but nothing major. The best thing is does is give a channel for fans to feel like they are directly helping to make the comic, and it gives me an easy way to communicate with those fans.
Qn: What tips do you have for those looking to use Patreon?
Take your time and look at other artists who have been successful who are similar to you, and have around the same number of fans, and see how they laid out their page and rewards. Most of the patrons will probably come in the first couple weeks, so try to make as big of a splash with your launch as possible, and have everything set up the best that you can right away.
Qn: Do you think Patreon is or can be a viable source of income for artists, as compared to other revenue sources such as selling advertising, merchandise?
I make a bit more on average from Patreon than from ads right now (I still don't have merchandise), so I think it can be a very significant source of revenue compared to other channels. You even see some artists removing ads from their site as a reward tier after they get enough pledges from Patreon.
At the very least, it is becoming a very large part of the monetization strategy for many webcomics, to complement ads and merchandise.
Paypal donations buttons and stuff like that never seemed to be able to achieve the level of sustained income that Patreon can generate for a lot of people. A few of the very popular artists are even making enough to live on their Patreon donations alone, which is really cool. I think a lot of artists would prefer that, instead of having to deal with ads and merchandise, if it was possible.