Patreon itself can be found here https://www.patreon.com
The site doesn't look like much unless you know who or what you're looking for. And if you DO start digging you get the idea that Patreon is just for musicians and artists. BUT there are a number of authors on Patreon (I will be using SFF authors for this article because they are the ones I'm most familiar with.)
So: Let's begin. Below is Mary Robinette Kowal.
Kowal is a fantasy author and has a considerable backlist of successful books. One of the key ingredients if you ARE thinking of starting an author Patreon, is being published. The authors making the most money on Patreon are those with name recognition. But if you have a fan following, and/or a mailing list you can tap, then Patreon could be a good income boost.
Now, Let's break the page down.
240 is the number of people who give Kowal money on a monthly basis. Below you can see her stated goal of $2,000 a month.
Now, one of the things that Patreon does is let you set TIERS for patron rewards. Reward tiers start at $1. That's the least that a patron can pay per month.
What do your patrons receive for their financial support? A good friend of mine told me that the patrons are supporting YOU. You should ask for more money than you think you should. Otherwise, they can just buy a book. That's not the point. Patrons are there for the unique things you can offer them!
As an author you have a lot to offer!
First off, let's look at some of Kowal's reward tiers.
You can see what the $1.00 patrons receive. And of course you want to give ever better rewards for higher tiers.
The highest tier is $25 and for that you get a Live-stream writing class with the author. You can offer all sort of rewards!
You update your Patreon by creating blog posts. You can upload files which your patrons can download. OR just make the post readable. You also determine which tier levels can see which posts.
Above, you can see that Kowal is offering chapters of books and works in progress. Readers and fans will be able to see your works in progress before anyone else and get a special peek into your creative process. You can conduct polls, host giveaways, and you can even require a mailing address at certain tiers if you want to mail items to your patrons.
Don't let my stats scare you! But this is the sort of thing that only the user gets to see :) Other people DO get comments and things.
But now you have a good overview of Patreon! Check out the site and see if you too want to try it out! Just remember: as much as Patreon likes to tout the people actually making a living off the site, those people are FEW and far between. Anything better than zero is a win!