[00:00:07] BS: Hey, I’m Britt Skrabanek and you’re listening to Love Your Enthusiasm, a podcast that continually inspires you to make space for the thing you love to do most.
With us on the show today is Kate McCulley, better known as Adventurous Kate, as she is the publisher of adventurouskate.com. In this episode, Kate shares her experience as a travel blogger, who has made some major pivots to adapt to the times and continue pursuing her passion. Kate shares her wealth of knowledge about changing life directions, including pro tips on launching a successful Patreon as a creative solopreneur. She also shares several incredible stories, including surviving a shipwreck in Indonesia. Yeah, true story.
In case you missed last week’s announcement, the Love Your Enthusiasm newsletter is now going out monthly instead of weekly. Less email is a good thing for most of us. Going forward, I am bringing you a monthly roundup of the latest episodes. Subscribe to the newsletter on loveyourenthusiasm.com and subscribe on your favorite listening app, if you must know as soon as an episode releases.
Ready for adventures with Adventurous Kate? Off we go.
[00:01:30] BS: Welcome to the show, Kate.
[00:01:31] KM: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:01:32] BS: I’m excited to talk to you. Oh, my goodness. You’re in Prague right now, right?
[00:01:38] KM: Yes. I just moved to Prague.
[00:01:40] BS: How are things going for you over there, especially having moved during 2020 with all the insanity?
[00:01:48] KM: Well, it took me a long time to actually get here. I was actually supposed to move to Prague in May 2020. They didn’t open up to me as a partner of a Czech permanent resident until late September. I spent a few months just hanging out in Europe and just waiting for them to open, waiting for them to open. I’m just so glad that I’m here now, that I have a right to be here, that I have a Visa, all that good stuff.
[00:02:10] BS: That’s awesome. I am actually half Czech, hence the last name, Skrabanek, which you might have some of those running around your area.
[00:02:15] KM: Oh, no kidding. So cool.
[00:02:19] BS: Yeah, yeah. My name always confuses the hell out of people. You know, I always tell them that it rhymes with bubonic. If you want to think of me, think of bubonic plague, because Skrabanek sounds like bubonic plague. That always helps people remember.
[00:02:34] KM: Well, have you actually been to the motherland?
[00:02:35] BS: I have. Yeah. It was about a billion years ago. It was when I was studying abroad and college. I think that was 2000, or. Yeah, 2004.
[00:02:48] KM: That was the year that I studied abroad. That was the first time I went to Prague as well. I got to tell you, it’s changed a lot since then.
[00:02:57] BS: What are the main things that have changed, if you were to wrap it up in three major changes?
[00:03:05] KM: Overall, the dining scene. Back in the day, there wasn’t a lot of international food back then. These days, there is exquisite international food, such good Asian food, Indian food, tons and tons of Vietnamese. We have so many Vietnamese people here. Just the food scene has exploded. It just feels like back in the day when we first visited in 2004, Prague was very much a place that a lot of people went to go partying on the cheap. While there still are some people who did that, these days, there’s a lot more high-end stuff here, which is really nice. It’s more refined, that kind of thing.
[00:03:41] BS: That is so interesting, because I remember the food being pretty bad when I was there, or it wasn’t my thing. I don’t want to say it was bad. At the time, I wasn’t eating pork, which made it really difficult to know well, one, to eat anything and two, to know what the hell anything was. I would go and stand at a food cart stand and mind you, I had no money because I was in college. I was trying to find the cheapest things possible. All the things on the menu looked exactly the same. It was goulash, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.
I was like, I’m going to subway, which was right down the street. I was horrible. I didn’t know what to do, so I was eating just subway sandwiches way more than I should have. It was a shame. I’ll have to go back and try the food now.
[00:04:26] KM: I get it. Honestly, Czech food isn’t great. None of the expats are here for Czech food. It’s something you have twice a year when you’re really hungry and really cold and need to warm up.
[00:04:35] BS: Oh, yeah.
[00:04:36] KM: That’s about it. Yeah.
[00:04:39] BS: What else has changed besides the food scene?
[00:04:41] KM: Well, just how refined everything is, like cocktail bars. Instead of having all of these super cheap beer bars, you can go to these really high-end cocktail bars these days. There are a lot of much nicer hotels. Also, since 2004, Airbnb has changed Prague a lot the way it has changed lots of other cities. A lot of people are traveling to cities in Europe, because they want to stay in a neighborhood and feel very much part of the neighborhood.
One interesting thing about Prague is that there aren’t a lot of hotels in the cool neighborhoods. This is a way for people to stay there and actually feel they’re part of the community. I live in a neighborhood called Karlin, which is very cool. It’s so convenient getting to the center of town, but it also has a lot of cool neighborhood restaurants and cafes, that kind of thing. It’s definitely easier to get into local life than it was back in the day.
[00:05:32] BS: Awesome. I imagine that you’ve told this story a 100 times, but I have to know about this shipwreck situation that you mentioned, because I haven’t read about this. I know you’ve written about it, but I wanted to hear the story from you live, since I have the opportunity.
[00:05:48] KM: Yep, that was my claim to fame for quite a long time. Way back in 2011, I was traveling through Southeast Asia. I wanted to go to Komodo Island in Indonesia. There was this company called Perama, that did this boat tour from the Island of Lombok, goes to a couple of islands, goes to Komodo Island and comes back. It takes about five days altogether. Because I was a baby travel blogger at the time, I convinced them to give it to me for free in exchange for a post about the experience, a link, all that good stuff.
On the second night, it was very rainy. We were on the edge of rainy season, and the boat went down in the middle of the night, just off the shore of Komodo Island. We basically woke up at 2 a.m., they were like, “Everybody, gets your life jackets on.” I’m like, “Oh, my God.” Got our life jackets on, got our stuff together. The boat started actually sinking. We had to jump off it and swim to shore. This wasn’t washing up on sand. This was washing up on volcanic rock. It was very rough.
Then we had to spend about half an hour climbing the rocks. Then there was a nearby German dive boat that heard that we were in trouble, so they sent out a dinghy to pick us up. We went on the boat and we stayed there till morning. I think I fell asleep in a linen closet on top of a bunch of blankets. Oh, also, we had a 10-month-old baby onboard. Her father, I was 26 at the time, her father was exactly my age 26. He took a scarf and he wrapped it around her middle and wrapped it to his wrist and jumped in holding her above his head. It was just so wild.
Anyway, eventually the Indonesian Coast Guard equivalent came to pick us up. We found out that the crew had robbed us, adding insult to injury, but I understand it. They were about to lose the best job they ever had. I can understand it. As awful as it was. Yeah, that was it. We all got our money back, including me, even though I never paid for it in the first place. For years, Lonely Planet referred to a well-documented March 2011 shipwreck. That was me.
[00:07:55] BS: Well, you’re the first person I’ve ever met that’s been in a shipwreck. That’s wild, dude. Especially for it to happen – that’s your worst nightmare is that’s going to happen in the middle of the night, I feel like too, because then it’s just going to be that much darker and scarier when something like that happens.
[00:08:11] KM: Well, since that happened, I’ve given a lot of people advice about this. I tell them two things. Number one, if you want to go to Komodo Island, do a day trip from the town of Lobo and Bacho and Flores. It’s much better to do as a day trip. You don’t have to worry about night sailing or anything like that. My other tip is not to take boats at night in the developing world. You know, it’s a pretty simple rule. It works for everywhere in the developing world. Just don’t take boats at night.
[00:08:36] BS: Yeah, that’s a good tip.
[00:08:37] KM: They could see during the day.
[00:08:41] BS: Well, it’s hard to follow up that conversation, but we’re going to. A mutual friend of ours is Jessica Korteman, who I have had on the show and I’ve known her for about eight years through blogging. She was actually episode one of Love Your Enthusiasm. She kicked this whole thing off.
[00:09:01] KM: Oh, wow.
[00:09:02] BS: Yeah. She introduced us. It was interesting, because she called you the queen of the pivot. A lot of that has to do with 2020, of course, and the impact that that had on everyone, especially you being in the travel industry. How have you changed with the times to keep pursuing your passions, Kate? I think that would be really great for our listeners to hear.
[00:09:28] KM: Well, honestly, like you said, I’m in the travel industry and it was COVID overall. Travel ground to a halt around the world. It became clear pretty quickly that I needed to do something else, or I wasn’t going to be able to survive this. A lot of people didn’t survive this. It hurt me especially hard, because I don’t have a ton of content about the US. A lot of bloggers who write about the US were doing really well on road trips and all that. I didn’t really have a lot of that as backup. My stuff is pretty much International.
I knew, I had to act quickly. I did act quickly. I did have a big audience, who loved my work. That was a very big benefit. I figured, if I could introduce products that my audience would like to buy from me directly, that would make a huge, huge difference and offset all of the income that came in from strangers who came across my site randomly.
The first thing that I did was I offered consulting calls. Just 45 minutes consulting. 75 bucks. Called it one on one with Adventurous Kate. So many of my readers were really interested in buying those. I started doing travelers night-in, which was a couple times a week. We would meet up at around 8:00 on East Coast time. We would just get together and talk about different travel questions. They would often have themes, like Europe, or road tripping, stuff like that. It was a nice way to bring travelers together.
The big one, the one that has done very well, for me the absolute best and has performed outstandingly well is Patreon. Patreon is a platform where you get to create – it’s for people who already have an existing audience, you create exclusive content for people who want to pay for it on a monthly basis, or a per creation basis, every time you deliver something new. Basically, I have over a 180 of my readers who have signed up for my Patreon. They pay a minimum minimum of $6 per month. Some of them pay $25 per month. They get some exclusive content and extra rewards.
I ended up doing a lot of research before I started my Patreon. I knew a lot about it. I decided I was going to create a Patreon course. I now have a course that teaches other creatives how to start a Patreon and start that beautiful secure income stream, regular income coming in every single month. The course is called Earn Like an Artist. It teaches you everything you need to know how to create a Patreon that actually makes good money and earns long-term.
[00:11:56] BS: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about doing a Patreon myself as a creative. I think it’s great that you’re helping other creatives navigate these waters, because it can be very challenging to figure out where to start, especially if you – well, even if you haven’t decided to pivot, maybe you’re just going to expand upon something that you’re already doing. I can speak from my personal experience of running a blog for eight years.
I mean, I will just honestly say, I haven’t made any money from that blog and haven’t tried to monetize it. There are ways to do that through a service like Patreon now, which is really cool. Because you don’t just have to litter ads all over your website in order to make money. There is a much more thoughtful way of doing that now with services like this. I think it’s really cool that you’re helping creatives with this avenue, because a lot of times, creative people are just not getting paid for the beautiful work that they’re doing. I personally think that we should.
[00:13:01] KM: Exactly. For selfish reasons, I am a hardcore consumer of content. I want to see good content out there. That’s one reason why I support so many different artists on Patreon, who I’d love to give money to every month. I just want there to be better work out there. Because I come from the blogging world, especially in the blogging world, the main way to make money is to appeal to the widest audience possible. To draw in the maximum number of strangers. Inevitably, your content gets diluted. This is a way that you’re able to do well with the audience that you have, that already exists, who love you, who want you to be the best you can be, who want more of your best content. It gives you so much creative freedom. I think Patreon tends to work best for people who are already personal, who have a good relationship with their audience.
[00:13:56] BS: Yeah, I totally agree. I definitely fall into the camp of appealing to a very small audience. Even after blogging for eight years, I think I only have 1,200 followers or something at this point.
[00:14:10] KM: That’s still really good.
[00:14:11] BS: It is. It’s so funny, because I was so disappointed with myself for so many years, because of the numbers, how we get really caught up in that idea of thinking that you need to have tens of thousands of subscribers or whatever. What’s more important is that you have loyal followers and fans, instead of having, like you said, casting this really wide net, where you have thousands or tens of thousands of people who really aren’t vested in what you’re doing. You have the numbers to show that you’re casting that wide net, or that people are following you, but it doesn’t mean that they’re engaged.
[00:14:49] KM: Yeah, absolutely. This is capitalizing on the people who love you the most. It’s weird example. I remember back in the day when Burger King introduced this crazy breakfast sandwich that was meat on top of meat on top of meat. They pointed out that something like 20% of their consumers are the hardcore fast food eaters who eat there several times a week, but they drive 80% of the purchases. They were like, “All right. I’m going to make something that appeals to those people.”
[00:15:20] BS: It’s crazy. It’s just crazy in general. If I think about back when I started blogging, even in 2012 and where blogging as today. Now getting into podcasting and now podcasting is really starting to take off. I mean, there’s a lot of noise. There is more noise than ever before.
Yeah. I mean, I think being authentic and giving people just quality and really, really personal and passionate pieces of content, that’s what really sets well with people today. It’s like, people have higher expectations of content as well.
[00:15:55] KM: Yeah, definitely.
[00:15:56] BS: Well, I do have to ask you, Kate. Would you do it all over again, if you had to? Would you pivot, if you had to again?
[00:16:04] KM: Absolutely. I mean, as we’re having this conversation, the travel industry has not yet recovered from COVID. I would be seriously missing a lot of income, if I hadn’t done all this. I think, in particular, Patreon, my personal Patreon, one thing that it has done that I really didn’t expect was that it just nourished me emotionally. It let me build so many more relationships with my readers that I didn’t have before. I know so many of them better. I look forward to speaking with them and just knowing that they’re there and I have their support, it means the world. I didn’t even know I need that when I started it.
[00:16:43] BS: The community is so important. I have said that about a million times on this podcast, to the point where the listeners might be sick of hearing about it. However, having that community there, it makes all the difference. I have, I swear, I’ve got at least 10 to 20 other bloggers that I’ve met and been friends with for the past eight years on speed dial, if I need anything. I’ve never met most of these people. If I need something, and they feel the same way about me, if they need something, some support, we will offer that to each other. That’s a pretty unbeatable thing.
[00:17:17] KM: Yeah, the community is just amazing.
[00:17:20] BS: Kate, I’d love to talk a little bit more about your creative process. I know that more than anything, creating is what drives you forward. How do you jump into a new creative project after you have made a substantial pivot?
[00:17:34] KM: You know, I feel that the hardest thing about starting a new creative project, or actually any creative project is just starting. Sometimes you really have to just throw yourself in and know the perfect is the enemy of good and just do it. You know what? If you do something wrong, just fix it along the way. That’s something that I’ve really struggled with, because I do tend to be a perfectionist about some kinds of my work, particularly my writing. I won’t look something go up, unless I am perfectly happy with it. Sometimes you just have to launch into it and just see how it goes.
[00:18:10] BS: Agreed. I think a lot of times when we’re starting something new, especially something unfamiliar, you can get very caught up in it not being perfect right out the gates. I’m with you. You can figure things out later. Yeah, sure, you’re going to cringe, potentially, when you look back at some of the early work that you’re doing.
[00:18:30] KM: Oh, yeah.
[00:18:31] BS: I mean, but that’s a sign that you’ve grown. That’s a sign that you have raised the quality levels with whatever it is you’re doing. That’s also a good thing.
[00:18:40] KM: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:18:42] BS: Okay, let’s talk about inspiration, because I know, travel inspiration is really important for you. It is for a lot of us. That’s been interesting trying to figure out where to find that inspiration as travel has become more limited. Even when you’re struggling with inspiration, what is something that always triggers the love you have for your enthusiasm?
[00:19:06] KM: Well, there’s something that is at the core of all of the work that I do. At the end of the day, it’s always about helping women. Everything that I do is about helping women travel the world on their own safely, or helping women create Patreons that are in the money long-term, or helping them with their travel blogs. It is literally all about helping women. I think that’s one reason why my blog has been as successful as it’s been over the years. Because every single piece I write is from the point of view of how can I help someone when I write this? What are people’s struggles? What do people really need to know? How can I reassure them?
Especially, because I read about solo female travel in particular, I spend a lot of time showing women how some destinations are a lot safer than they think they are and how they can stay safe while they travel. You see, that’s what the core is. Just thinking about helping people and that will always, always help motivate me to create more good work.
[00:20:03] BS: Did you always plan on focusing on helping women, or is that something that evolved over time?
[00:20:09] KM: That is just one of those things that I feel has always been there. I can’t really tell you how that began, but that just exists. Like, there’s so many groups for example, on Facebook that I’m part of that are just for women only, whether it’s finance groups, or blogging groups, or gossip groups. That’s because so often online, men talk over us, or dismiss our concerns. These are safe spaces we have, where we can actually be real and help each other and know that somebody is not going to hijack our very genuine worries. I think it is related to that. We really have our own space as women that we need.
[00:20:49] BS: Yeah, I love it. The whole women supporting women movement, which we are both a part of, I’m such a huge fan of it. I’m so happy to see that those hashtags are just ballooning. It’s being used so much more and people are really using their voices and connecting with each other and trying to give back to each other. Because I think about some of my experiences when I was younger, and just how women could be competitive with each other, or maybe not trust each other. A lot of those unknowns that we used to have that I think and I hope are being broken down as we continue to share information with each other and communicate and support each other.
[00:21:32] KM: I feel that it’s important to create work that you’re proud of. Create work that you’re proud of and you don’t have to worry about what anybody else does, ever.
[00:21:42] BS: Okay. Kate, let’s talk about your childhood. I’m like a therapist. I’m just kidding. How did your childish curiosities eventually turn into the enthusiasm you love today?
[00:21:56] KM: Well, I have a post that I would love for you to link to in the show notes. It’s called how I became a successful travel blogger. It is a long life story, just talking about all the little things over time that added up. I was a kid who was obsessed with writing, obsessed with performing, obsessed with travel and obsessed with technology. Even though I didn’t travel much as a kid, I would always make a beeline for the 900s at the library, because they were the books about different countries.
Over time, I spent my life cultivating those interests. In 1999, I think I was creating Backstreet Boys fan sites on Angel Fire. That turned into building the websites that I have today. I had those interests. I nurtured them. I stayed up to date on technology. That absolutely grew into what I am today.
[00:22:47] BS: You mentioned that you used to perform. Let’s hear about that.
[00:22:51] KM: Yeah. Well, you know, I’m just a pure kid grownup. What a lot people don’t know is that I am a classically trained concert pianist. I actually studied at Boston Conservatory when I was in high school. Being a performer, really, it teaches you how to react to other people. It allows you to perceive yourself in a way that other people perceive you. I think that has really informed a lot of how I write, how I blog, how I create content, so that I’m creating something that I know is going to be more appealing to people.
[00:23:20] BS: I totally get it. We share that in common. I wasn’t a pianist, but I was a dancer my whole life. I always think about that relation between performing in front of people and then how I’ve used those skills that I’ve learned, not to mention the artistry and the choreography and the things that go into creating dance and movement are actually not that different for writing for me. Yeah, there’s definitely a relation there. I always find it interesting to hear about what people did when they were younger, even if you’re not doing it now, but it’s still something that stays with you.
[00:23:55] KM: Yeah, absolutely. For me, that informs so much of what I do as a creator, my history of performing.
[00:24:01] BS: Kate, have you ever not shared something you created? How did you decide that that was the right thing to do?
[00:24:10] KM: Well, when I was in college, I said that my dream job would be to blog about my life. This was back in 2006 or so. Of course, everybody would laugh when I said that, because there was no way to make money with a blog back then, unless you got a book deal, or got a TV deal. That was essentially it. I’ve been blogging about myself for a very, very long time since 2002, when I was 18, and new college student.
When I started I had absolutely no filter. I would talk about the girls in the dorm who were fighting with each other and who was sucking up with whom. I definitely have quite a bit more of a filter these days. You have to create boundaries that are healthy. For me, one thing that I don’t write about at all is finances. I’m comfortable with my money and nobody else needs to know anything about it.
Money so often opens a can of worms. However money you have will always seem like too much to someone and too little someone else, so I don’t talk about that. Relationship stuff, I have a boyfriend who I live with here in Prague. We’ve been together about a year and a half. In the past, I’ve been very open about some relationships and those relationships ended. It really makes you be a lot more sensitive. I do talk about my boyfriend, but a little bit more of a distance, but a bit less personal. He pops up every now and then, but not all the time.
Family stuff, I keep that private. Of course, occasionally there is sensitive moments in my travels, way back when I started traveling 10 years ago. I get to see what the refugee scene was like in Bangkok, particularly the Sri Lankan and Somali refugees. At that time, I’m not quite up to date on what the current refugee situation is. Essentially, when you arrive and are refugee, you’re existing on the margins of society. You’re not really acknowledged. You don’t get government services or anything like that. You are essentially living like a ghost, no way to make money or anything like that, until your case comes up, and the UN takes you on and all that stuff.
It was just absolute heartbreaking stuff. You had families of eight living in one room, and you’re giving all the money. You had to help them. All these people could not be identified publicly, anything like that. It ended up just being so tough that I couldn’t write about it. It was too emotional, too difficult. It also would have been too hairy with reading about their identities and all that.
[00:26:47] BS: Yeah. I studied International Studies in college. It was political science and history and anthropology, focused quite a bit on refugees as well, and volunteered with the International Rescue Committee in Dallas for a while. Yeah, very familiar. It’s such a mess. You just really feel for these people, with just having – it’s almost like, they lose their identity when they lose their home. They end up in limbo for sometimes years. It’s really heartbreaking. I’m with you. It’s not something that I’ve been able to write about, even with my studies, I never felt comfortable being able to really understand enough about these situations to talk about it, not to mention how sad it was.
Also, I was going to relate to your no filter with writing, because that used to be me too. I have also gotten more of a filter, especially when it comes to talking about your personal life and your personal stories and the people who are in those stories, whether they are the relationships you’re in, or your loved ones. It can be very easy to hurt people’s feelings, even if you’re not meaning to. It’s only because even if your life is an open book, it doesn’t mean that other people’s lives are open books. That’s something that I learned the hard way, just with, some family members, and even my husband as well, where they just prefer to keep their lives private. Whenever you’re sharing that information with the world, it’s very public space. It can be a source of tension, for sure.
Like you, I have also changed my ways and there’s so many things to talk about. You don’t necessarily need to go there. You can still keep the conversation personal and authentic without involving some of those people.
[00:28:51] KM: You know, recently, I did a blog post about how we’re going to be redecorating our Prague apartment. I say redecorating, but I actually mean decorating for the first time, because my boyfriend has lived here 10 years and he’s never really done any decoration at all. This place is a bachelor pad. It’s not dirty at all. He’s an awesome cook and the place is super clean and all that. He never really decorated. There are Apple boxes all over the place.
[00:29:21] BS: Did you say Apple boxes?
[00:29:23] KM: Oh, yeah. Apple boxes. Apple computer boxes.
[00:29:25] BS: Oh, okay. I was like, are we talking about the fruit or the computer?
[00:29:33] KM: Yeah. I did a post about that recently. The whole time I was like, “Okay, this is what I’m saying. Is this okay? This is what I’m saying. Is this okay?” Because I wanted to be sensitive to him and I didn’t want it to come off like, he had this house that wasn’t very great. Because it is a great place and he’s done good stuff. He’s just a guy who hasn’t really ever been into decor at all.
[00:29:57] BS: Yeah. That’s really cool that you’re like, “Okay, let’s walk through this piece together and get you to sign off on this.”
[00:30:05] KM: Exactly. Yes.
[00:30:07] BS: Yeah. I know even a before and after like that, you don’t want that to be misconstrued, like you said, where it makes him feel bad, because before the apartment was plain and didn’t have a lot going on. Now look at it now that you’re here.
[00:30:22] KM: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
[00:30:24] BS: Well, let’s get back into the Patreon conversation, because I know you’re super passionate about that. I also know that this is very relevant to a lot of the listeners who are creative entrepreneurs, or who have side hustles and whatnot, and also had to pivot in 2020. What are three things you know now about Patreon that you wish you had known early on?
[00:30:49] KM: Well, I’m going to start with the craziest one, which is hard to believe for a lot of people. Here it is. A lot of your patrons will not care about your content at all. They won’t read it at all. It won’t make a difference whether they become a patron or not. They’ll still be a patron. They just want to support you, because they like you.
[00:31:09] BS: Hmm, that’s interesting. I hadn’t even thought about that. That’s also a big boost, I think, for people too, because that would be one of your big fears is the things that you’re creating, are people going to respond? Are they going to like it? You’re saying, they just want to support you and they may or may not actually consume any of the content that you’re putting out there.
[00:31:30] KM: Yeah, for a lot of people, it is a very, very easy sell. The easiest sell I’ve ever done. A lot of Patreon creators, myself included, spent all this time creating the absolute perfect thing and how to sell it and this is the way you should do it and I’m creating bonuses, and you should really like it. A lot of people are just like, “Kate, I like you. I’m sorry that COVID is happening and your finances are haywire. I want to support you. I’m totally cool giving you 6 bucks a month.” The second thing that, well, I won’t say I wish I had known, because I did – like I said, I did a crapload of research before I launched my own Patreon. Here’s one very big thing. I think that people shouldn’t stress about the prices that they put on here, and absolutely not have any tiers below $5 per month, because there are a lot of people who put a $1 tier on, because they want to be nice.
It turns out that the vast majority of your patrons are going to subscribe to whatever the cheapest tier is. I actually have this in my course. I have all of these prices set up saying, if you have three tiers and they are $1, $5 and $10, as opposed to $5, $10 and $25, what the difference is if you have a 100 people and 85% signed up for the lowest tier? It’s a difference of making 600 bucks a month, versus making a 100 bucks a month. It’s such a huge difference.
[00:32:58] BS: I’m happy to hear that you’re sharing this information and also, in your course, because this can be a real kicker for people is trying to figure out pricing for something that they’re unfamiliar with. Also, it goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning of the conversations as creatives are very often just not being paid what they’re worth. You really need to get paid what you’re worth, and people will pay it.
I have an example of having self-published novels on Amazon. I’ve done three so far and I’m about to do a fourth one. How low the pricing is on my books, because that’s what was recommended for indie authors. During that time, that was when all the self-publishing scene was really taking off back in 2012, 2014. There are a lot of authors that were giving away their books for free, or 99 cents left and right. The problem with that is that then when other artists and other authors are trying to charge $299 for their book, for their e-book, $399, then people don’t want to pay for it, because there’s all this other content that’s free or 99 cents.
It just causes this weird sense of expectations for the people who are going to buy the books as well, because they’re like, “Well, I’ve got this content over here that’s cheaper. Why are you charging this much?” I think as artists and creatives, if we can all just band together and have a little bit higher minimum, that’s the price of a cup of coffee for God’s sake, that we’re going to help each other.
[00:34:39] KM: Well, one thing that it’s easier to do this on Patreon is because you are harvesting fans that you already have. You’ve already done the hard part, which is turning them into fans. Now you’re just seeing if they want to pay a little extra for the extra stuff. Another thing on the price stressing, Patreon says that the sweet spot that has the highest retention rate is between $5 and $8. It’s not $3, it is definitely not $1. It is between $5 and $8. There are times when I’m sitting here, looking at the prices being like, “Are they going to be mad if I do $6 instead of $5? Oh, would I be the worst if I did $6 instead of $5?” No, no one’s going to care. They’re never even going to know that $5 was a possibility if you just started at $6 and keep it at $6.
[00:35:22] BS: Totally. Okay, what’s the next one?
[00:35:26] KM: The third one is, it’s okay that if you change the rewards that you offer, because it’s hard to know exactly what your patrons are going to want when you introduce a new reward. Sometimes you get it wrong, and it’s totally fine changing. Evolving is a sign of intelligence. You know, for example, I say that if you’re a blogger, offer one extra blog post per month on Patreon. If you’re a podcaster, one extra podcast. If you’re a YouTuber, one extra video, etc., etc., etc.
It’s pretty easy. People know what they’re getting. That’s what I’m doing on my own. I create one long-form essay per month, plus some shorter ones thrown in there. For a higher tier I said, once a month, we will have a group call with someone interesting for the travel world. The first one I did was hugely popular, had 40 people on it. The second one had two people on it. Turns out, month after month, people just weren’t showing up and I was like, “All right, it’s clear, this is something that people don’t want.”
I made an announcement to everyone. “Hey, guys. I’m not going to be doing these calls anymore. If you’re on the $10 tier, fill out this survey about the kinds of books or TV shows you like and I will give you a custom book, or TV recommendation.” A lot of people really enjoy those and I got to recommend some under the radar things that people don’t really like. I like that for me, because it’s just a one-time thing you do. It’s not habitual.
[00:36:45] BS: Yeah, that’s cool. That’s fun, because it’s just recommendation. That’s pretty easy content for you.
[00:36:50] KM: Yeah. Definitely.
[00:36:53] BS: Great. Well, I love all the recommendations, because I do think that you are doing some really creative things on Patreon. It is an example for people to check out. Also, I love that you even said just starting simple with that extra episode, or extra blog, just an extra something of whatever it is that you’re already doing, because people know what to expect.
[00:37:20] KM: So many people burn themselves out with way too many Patreon rewards, or stuff that is very time consuming to fulfill, or something that is logistically difficult to do.
[00:37:31] BS: Yep, as we all know, content creation takes time and energy. It’s very easy to get burnt out, so you definitely want to keep it as simple as possible.
[00:37:43] KM: Not everyone is going to join your Patreon and not everyone’s going to be able to afford to join your Patreon. You can’t neglect your existing audience. You have to keep nurturing them too.
[00:37:51] BS: Also, a good tip. Okay, Kate, so self-doubt, I’m assuming it’s happened to you. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to a lot of people. What techniques have you used to move past moments of self-doubt?
[00:38:03] KM: Well, I think I’m a pretty damn confident person more than a lot of people. Yeah, and so probably not as much as other people. I do have self-doubts occasionally. Meditation does help me get into a better place. Something that really helped me was finding meditation that was more positive. Like when COVID hit, I signed up for the calm meditation app. I noticed later on, all of those – it’s very negative. It’s all about alleviating negative feelings. It’s all about anti-stress, or to feel less angry, or to feel less anxiety. There are a lot of ways that you can do meditation and actually do it in a more positive way.
I really like the insight timer app, which is free, and has meditations for just about anything you can imagine. There was one day that I said, before I launched my Patreon course, I want to do a meditation about trust, because I want my customers and my audience to feel they can trust me. I want to have the trust in my existing audience that they will end up going through and actually making the purchase.
That was just something really wonderful to meditate on. Sometimes I’ll meditate on something like patience, instead of something that I can do that’s actually positive, instead of something that’s just producing the negative feelings. I feel a lot of people don’t realize that meditation can be like that, that it doesn’t have to be about getting yourself into a low stress zone. It can be taking you from a very good level of lack of stress, and moving into something even better.
[00:39:41] BS: I’m so happy that you brought up negative meditation. Like, seriously. Thank you for talking about this, because this is a thought I’ve had all year. I don’t know if you know or not, but I’m a longtime Yogi. I have a yoga teaching certification and all that. I noticed that especially this year, of course, and 2020, which was actually when we are recording this, so I’m still in that this year mode. 2020, it all became very reactive, like all of the wellness things that we were trying to do became reactive to the times. Then these guided meditations that other people were providing and then jumped on that bandwagon.
The problem with that too, is that you’re trying to maybe disconnect from the negativity and the distractions of the times. Then it was like, I felt sometimes I was doing a guided meditation, it was too much of a reminder of what was going on. I just wanted to step away from it. That’s why I was meditating. Then like you said too, is stress management and all of these other things that these other topics that are continually brought up in meditations as well. It’s like, well, what if I’m having a good day? I don’t necessarily want to just meditate on something that will cause me anxiety when I don’t have any at the moment.
I love your idea to just focus on something positive, whether it’s your family or your community, or something that you did, where you’re giving yourself a high-five during a meditation. I mean, there’s so many other things that we can think about. It doesn’t have to always be about mitigating stress and anxiety.
[00:41:26] KM: Since you’re a yogi, you know what it’s like to get yoga stoned and leaving your session just feeling, like a feeling of ecstasy. I feel that positive meditation does that for me as well, in a way that – I like to use the word reactive. It’s very different in a way that reactive meditations never ever did that for me. Focusing on something positive on a way that I can better myself, on a way that I can be at the next level, that makes me feel really awesome.
[00:41:59] BS: I love that we have that conversation, because I’m sure – meditation is just everyone’s talking about it. Everyone’s doing it. There’s not really a right and a wrong way to do meditation and people get really caught up in that. I do think, calling out negative meditation was brilliant, because it is something to consider and know that there are so many ways, so many beautiful ways that you can meditate that have nothing to do with focusing on overcoming these challenges and these bad things all the time. It’s a great time to just celebrate beautiful moments and successes, too.
[00:42:35] KM: I find it funny that I ended up paying for an annual subscription for a negative meditation app. The one that I really like that’s positive is free. That would insight timer, of course. I’m recommending that to everyone. It’s such a good app.
[00:42:48] BS: Okay, cool. Yeah, I will link to that in the show notes, so we can encourage people to have positive meditations. Great. Kate, as we wrap things up here, if you met someone who needed to make a substantial pivot to keep following their passion, what would you say to support them?
[00:43:09] KM: I would say that you should focus on the core of what you do. How can you fulfill that in another way? What I said for me, the core of what I do is helping people and particularly, helping women. That is something that is so incredibly broad. You go with that and you’ll be like, “All right, how can I help women in a different way?” There are so many things you can do.
[00:43:31] BS: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Kate. Can you let the listeners know how they can stay in touch with you, stay connected and find more info?
[00:43:39] KM: Yes. If you were looking for the blog, my site, all that stuff, it is adventurouskate.com. On social media, I am Adventures Kate on pretty much every platform that exists. If you’re looking for the Patreon course, it’s called Earn Like an Artist and it’s at earnlikeanartist.com. The course isn’t open all the time. It’s only open for a few weeks a year. If you’re interested, get on the mailing list. It’s right at earnlikeanartist.com and you’ll find out plenty of information when it’s going to be available next.
[00:44:09] BS: Perfect. Kate, I loved our conversation. I loved hearing about the pivots that you made. So creative and courageous. Thank you.
[00:44:18] KM: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you again for having me.
[00:44:26] BS: Quick shout out to Tired Mama, who was kind enough to leave the following review on Apple Podcasts. “The encouragement to discover myself more was what drew me to this podcast. It feels like an honest look into ourselves and how we can connect with others’ experiences. It has empowering messages and a real down-to-earth flow of thought.” Thank you, Tired Mama. I really appreciate it. I’m blushing over here.
If you’re wondering about the best way to support this show at this stage, this is it my friends. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts for Love Your Enthusiasm. It seriously makes a difference. Thank you. Thank you. Until next time.