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Monday, January 13, 2020

Patreon preview & request for feedback


For years I've gotten a consistent stream of requests for a Patreon page, PayPal "tip jar," or other means of directly, tangibly supporting my work, and I've always pushed the idea away.  All that time, family & friends have tried to reason with me and explain why I should work past this holdup.  A lot of what they've argued makes perfect sense, but at the end of the day, there's always been a single point I've returned to: I didn't need the extra support, thus I couldn't bring myself to accept it.  Even through numerous YouTube maladies, I've always resolved to do whatever I can to keep my involvement in this hobby and contributions to this community self-sufficient through normal, reasonable ad placements.

Days into 2020, everything changed. The latest batch of YouTube changes utterly decimated residual ad income from nearly a decade of past work.  I finally accept that I need to decouple my ability to financially support my channels from YouTube's ever-shifting willingness to allow just that.

Simultaneously, in the past few days I've gotten a ton of new (and sometimes impassioned) suggestions that I set up Patreon, so I've dedicated some serious time into giving it a go. Please have a look at this preview of what I've come up with so far:


None of it actually works yet because it's only to get your feedback. This is about the 30th major edit I've done with input from a very small group of people very close to me, but now I need to hear from you.  What do you think overall?  What do you think of the different levels I've suggested?  Do the dollar amounts seem reasonable for the rewards?  Is there anything glaringly missing?  Does any reward in particular excite you?

One thing that Patreon itself as well as a lot of other smart people around the 'net have insisted on is the importance of creators knowing their productive capabilities and not over-committing.  It's dangerously easy to design rewards so time-consuming that instead of encouraging & helping me to continue doing what you all already like, they'd take significant time & energy away and force a significant cut to my regular content.  I've kept this in mind and balanced it against a desire to provide real added value for people who want to support me with real pledges.

You'll notice a couple mentions of "live" sessions and that's an entire world of possibilities I'm going to explore more thoroughly in a separate, dedicated effort.  For now, though, please let me know what you think of the Patreon preview!

57 comments:

  1. I'd be quite happy joining up as Azure. I'd probably be OK with Gray but I'd sooner you had a bit more payment. Would the prices be comparable in the UK?
    Best of luck to you Jang, I check in daily to your channel. Hope you find a way around this.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! They use absolutely current exchange rates, but there are also "conversion" fees, so I'd expect the net GBP number to end up very similar to the USD quote. In the Euro zone the amount charged is higher than the USD number by, from what I've seen, around 20%.

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  2. I will definitely be going for an Azure if you make this final, maybe even a copper (not sure yet). But this will most likely depend on the total cost as Patreon charges 23% in taxes as I live in the Euro zone.

    Source on the taxes: https://support.patreon.com/hc/en-us/articles/205259549-VAT-Value-Added-Tax-on-Patreon

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  3. The Azure level seems to low to be offering an hour chat. The volume of folks that would potentially support at that level would reduce the interaction to little significance. What seems better would be Azure level gains access to the Slack/Discord, but Copper and above get the chat. With perhaps a monthly longer chat for Azure members.

    Tan also seems like too much commitment on your part for the cost. If left there definitely limit the number of supporters at that level (maybe it is and not viewable on preview).

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    1. I appreciate this feedback and agree that I should make some adjustments.

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    2. I'm leary of a pure supporter exclusive option you now have in tan, maybe just a windowed. Least say it's a set that you're on the fence about. You just decided probably not but a tan supporter asks for it exclusive. A few months later a related set comes out that you're really jazzed for (maybe because of your interaction with the first set) and now you can't release the original set?

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  4. I think your suggestions are very good and reasonable. I would even go up to 'Metallic Tan' (☺️), maybe around 10-12$? Would'nt need the ♥️s... Maybe some special New-Jang-City-content once in a while..?

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    1. Thanks for having a look and sharing your thoughts. I'm definitely open to including supporter-exclusive looks at the city if that's what people want! I won't be able to increase the amount of building work that I do, though, as my schedule is already pretty full almost all of the time.

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  5. I would 100% make a pateron account just for this - been subscribed for years and would love a way to support, especially with the recent Everything Happening.

    I remember you once saying in future you might have to rethink your (IMO very principled) stance on not taking free sets from lego, is that also likely to change?

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm still not planning to sign up for the free LEGO set program. I'm less opposed to it than I once was, but I'd much rather keep my distance for several reasons, not just the principle of it.

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  6. Hey Jang,

    All of the tiers look great, but it gets quite expensive as you progress with the condition of better "awards" behind each one. So, even with the price increase, in my opinion, it would be worth it to check the higher tiers at least once or twice. The only problem with this would be to ask yourself: "How many people will sign-up for tan, gold or silver once, cancel the subscription and never enroll in the lower tiers?" Not that everyone would do so, but the pessimist in me wants to conclude a lot of people will do that, with the Mando being a great example of this.
    I am glad you have listened to everyone that is close to you and have began the process of setting up a Patreon page, I will definitely be subscribing once its up and running!

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    1. I very much appreciate this thoughtful feedback and will consider it as I make tweaks, especially in the middle range.

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  7. Hi Jang,
    your idea of giving us the possibility to send a minifigure alter ego to New Jang City is fabulous! I´m intrigued by the idea immediately. If you could e-mail a photo of her/him in your city ... just dreaming ... I don´t want to cost you lots and lots of time. As I personally don´t care about my name beeing listed or mentioned, I would go for silver asap. I don´t want to interfere in any way - you are doing a great job and I have watched many of your videos in the last four years for fun. I consider your feedback policy to be very good and totally adequate as it is now.
    Since you have an international audience, you might need to give your future patreons more information about the process and the payment from abroad.
    All the best!
    Ennasus

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I'm not ready to commit to personalized, individual follow-up with citizen minifig placements, but the figures will be put in visible places on sidewalks & such, so you'd definitely see your person in some city videos. Depending upon how the levels and numbers of supporters turn out, I *may* also do either Instagram or Patreon-exclusive photo posts showing new citizens.

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    2. Hi Jang, I agree with Ennasus. I was going to suggest the photo as well. Of all the levels, the two things that appeal to me are a) putting my own minifigure in the city and b) going for tan level one time so I get my name in your city :). But I would ideally want a digital image of my minifig in the city, though. Glad you are doing this. You will be the first I support on Patreon. Just signed up for their site.
      Best, Vicky

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  8. I like this bit: "Participate in supporter-only polls & comment threads". I would love to be able to vote on what sets to review next, polls to help out with new directions, and focused comment threads. I think that's maintainable long term even as you get more patrons. And we can feel like we're contributing and our opinions are heard and valued while not putting extra burden on you.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback as always! Giving supporters a say in determining at least some of their rewards was one of the first things I considered when I opened up to the Patreon idea, and I wanted to be sure to offer it to a large percentage of patrons.

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  9. I'd start with Azure and eventually adjust based on level of support you get/need. BTW you just made me to sign up with Patreon ;)
    Good luck, I really enjoy your channel.

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  10. I love the idea of being able to send in sig-figs to place in your city, however, I am concerned that this could potentially detract from the city. I watch your channel specifically for the city/moc's, and I think the experience would be tainted (at least for me) if I saw a ton of random sig figs scattered through the city that don't really fit with the city theme (ie. super man hanging from a crane, tiger girl riding on the roof of a train ...etc.).

    I think it may be better to offer the ability to place any figure anywhere in your steam punk city or allow the option to have realistic city figures in your main city. Allowing suggestions for placement is great, but I think you should have the final say on where they go (in the event a suggestion does not fit with the scene). Also, specifically introducing the new citizens within their respective scenes would be an added bonus.

    Just my 2 cents!

    -Zach

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    1. You make some great points that I hadn't much considered. I'll have to give this some more thought. Silver citizens could use weird figures that look somewhat out of place too, but as I had things initially described, Gold class was far & away the bigger risk. Honestly, I want people to be able to have some real fun with this and I want to give them some real freedom & control if they're going to support at a higher level. However, you're right, it shouldn't be to the significant detriment of what I already do or have done, that many people (including myself) already enjoy.

      I will try to think up some better options.

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  11. I will most definitely support your Patreon although I'm not sure yet for which level: Copper, Silver or Gold. I might even consider supporting you with Tan for one or more months. For me personal the rewards linked to the levels are just additional benefits. The real reward for me is that you can continue to make your excellent videos and share your honest opinion about our great hobby!

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  12. I would absolutely sign up for your Patreon, most likely at the Gray level as the rewards currently are. What would make me pay little more (and I think Patreon supports this) is if I could support specific kinds of videos, so for me, I'd pay more per city update or MOC video as those are my favourite videos of yours.

    Any kind of Patreon only videos would also be very tempting (but not early access), as it is I watch everything you upload, it would be tough knowing there was even more I could be getting for just a few euro more.

    One little suggestion, is that the colours for the lower tiers could be more fun ... silver, gold and tan make sense for the premium level but for some reason I'd be more tempted to be a "medium azure" supported than boring old azure, and I'd find a trans-neon-orange hard to resist moreso than copper (but maybe it's just me that really enjoys when you tell us the specific colour of bricks!)

    Good luck with it Jang, I really hope it works out for you. I'm off to sign up for Patreon in preparation :)

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. I like the idea of people being able to support only the things they like the most, but given how many different micro-niches I cover, I don't think it's a feasible model. Patreon-only content, including in video form, will definitely be built out more in the future based on supporters' direct feedback.

      I'm still tweaking colors and appreciate the feedback. The last setup before what I first showed here had more complex (and LEGO-aligned) names, but it got a little silly & hard to follow.

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  13. I would sign up for Azure level. But I think you should consider bumping that level up to $5. That would be comparable to what I get from other Patreons at that level.

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  14. Dear Jang,
    It looks pretty good! The different levels are great. I find Copper and Gold a little bit weak though. In my opinion, gold brings not so much more than silver, viz. the "monthly Gold-class appreciation video" seems not very appealing to me (unless it's a Gnaj-Video ?), so as the "contributor list", but it's probably just me...
    Your work is the reward, so I think that symbolic and humourous Patreon-rewards are good, so as exclusive contents. Live sessions, if managable for you, sounds also pretty cool. A possible reward (for Gold?) could also be the right to give you a suggestion for a live build session of the kind you make with the 10402 set (was it 10402?).
    (And there is a typo in the 1$ description "with without"...)
    All the best!
    Olivier

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    1. Thanks for the specific feedback and correction. I will make some more adjustments!

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  15. Great plans. I would participate at the Silver level most likely. Maybe even a month or two at Tan. I really enjoy your videos.

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  16. Will definitely be going copper, I don't have any specific feedback on how the tiers are setup, I just wanted to show my support. Thanks for everything you do Jang!

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  17. Hello Jang,
    Long time viewer here, always appreciated what you do and your honesty and integrity. That the recent YouTube changes have hit you this hard is very unfair, but alas, that is the world we live in I suppose.

    I would love to support you somehow, for doing the great job that you do, but know that I cannot in good conscience support Patreon and never will, as they are against the fundamental right of free speech and have shown time and time again that they are very politically biased. So even though I am in the minority here, I would urge you to find an alternative solution to this.

    When it comes to the levels, I also don't like the way that it enables viewers to "sway" your choice of reviews, maybe get a review just for themselves altogether without it going on YouTube. This means you needing to put in time and work into something potentially only one person will get to see. The place a figure in your site thing is also, as others have mentioned, open to some people getting very odd and distracting figures placed in your city. The monument might be a fine solution, as it is a separate thing in your city, and a sort of appreciation to your supporter, but it is confined to that one thing in that one spot.

    Please think about this long and hard. You have stayed independent of Lego sponsorships and the like for so long, for the sake of integrity. Don't loose that integrity now by letting yourself be influenced by individual fans instead. The monument as a high tier thing, and the access to the weekly chat should be very much sufficient in my mind. Just my two cents. Thank you very much for all that you do and have done for the Lego community.

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  18. Hi, the dollar amounts don't show up? it doesn't do anything except make the picture of your home page larger. just received the e-mail so no idea if I'm too late or missed out. regardless I understand why youtube has to do this but they could easily add a prove your age section. Best of luck and I will hopefully be watching new reviews shortly!

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  19. My perspective on this is that I would gladly send you the cost of a Lego set that you reviewed and saved me from buying, but I am much more likely to want to send an annual payment rather than a monthly one due to the way my disposable income works (it's not consistent). Does Patreon allow for this?

    The level of support I could provide would basically be determined by my circumstances. I'm certainly not motivated by getting my name in the videos etc, I think the sigfig in the city is a really neat touch but I can't currently see that tier option on my iPad (show more levels seems to be a dead link for me).

    The biggest motivator for me would definitely be the opportunity to vote for sets for review (would this be limited to sets you already purchased or would you take votes before purchasing from a particular wave?).

    I'm also curious if the purebuild channels will continue. Are they still a viable revenue stream in the new era?

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  20. I am glad to see you are going with/ considering patreon and now I understand why you haven't before. As someone else said, I think the second tier could be $5.00. That said, you have mentioned in the past that a lot of your viewers are teenagers and they do have less cash so you may get more $3.00 level subscribers. Also, I can see how the colour names for levels could get really silly and confusing, but I think using grey for the $1.00 level is not very appealing. (Although that could be a Star Wars thing I am missing?) I thought perhaps using something like azure for the first level and medium azure for the next level might be more appealing to some subscribers. The idea of sending in sig figs is golden:) I agree with your stance on not getting free sets. It's just challenging to be critical of gifts no matter the reason they were gifted to you. Would you be comfortable with contacting Lego about the potential to buy sets early? If you could be on an early personalized purchasing program with them, it may save you time and stress, although I could see how that may still be uncomfortable for a reviewer. I will be getting a patreon account and becoming a second tier support...long term...and I am grateful for the opportunity to support you and your work. Wish I could do more really. Glad to hear you've got a team around you!

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  21. Seems good, I think you've underpriced it. I'd suggest $1/$4/$10. The group chat idea is great if there are 100 guests, and meh if there are 1000 guests, since the value is in personal connection.

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  22. I’m a UK viewer and its a crazy situation. I love your channels and would be quite happy to go for the $7 option per month. Hope things get resolved for you soon. Good luck

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  23. Hi,

    as others have mentioned, I think the weekly live char for copper level might be a bit overwhelming- there's probably a lot of people willing to pay that much, and if you ended up in a chat with all of them, that would just be too much. So either you should keep that for a higher tier, or you should limit the number of people who can participate.

    Another thing that I didn't really see anyone mention, as far as Tan level is concerned... "Also, you and only you can choose whether this content gets published on YouTube or is delivered exclusively to you.". I think there should be, at the very least, some kind of expiration date on this.
    Otherwise, you risk getting in a situation, for example, that someone requests a private review of a set that ends up being extremely popular, and would bring a lot of traffic to your channel and pages, but you're unable to ever post the review publicly because you promised it would be private. Despite that person paying $100 monthly, it might not be the best business decision, and it would surely leave a lot of other supporters disappointed.

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  24. I was already thinking a few months ago, when the potential financial effects of the COPPA settlement were discussed that your channel would be the one, I would create a patreon account for. I would probably go for the Azure option.

    Regarding the rewards:
    - I'm not sure about linking of comments. This should be based on what comments you like and not on who paid for it. I think for the lower levels, there is not really a reward needed, as people want to support your channel for what it is and to let other people participate.
    - Does "New YANG city" refer to the actual city on the tables or can it also refer to the different worlds under the tables? Maybe that should be stated.
    - I like the idea of the monument, because its a special place in the city and unlike the minifigs it does not limit you in the way you can design the scenes in the city. Maybe the monument could also have smaller less prominent elements for supporters of lower levels, e.g., the name initials printed to the side of a 1x2 plate that is put into a wall?
    - How does your "viewer designed district" under the tables fit into all of this? Doesn't this have some potential?

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  25. I assume, you are not the type of MOC designer who builds digitally first, e.g., using stud.io, or are you? I was thinking that access to building instructions of your MOCs would be an interesting reward. If you already had digital models of your MOCs, that would be easy to do.

    (In general, I can really recommend digital building. I've achieved great results, e.g., for GBC in stud.io that I would have never achieved in the same timespan by designing with physical bricks only.)

    I would be interested to, e.g., build one of your care designs to place it into my city. If I could show my support for the channel by purchasing it instead of just building it by the information from a video it would make it even better.

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  26. If you do open a Patreon Page I will pretty immediatly join for Azure level (or pretty much everything up to $6). I have to use my income wisely if I want to be able to get some material stuff for one of my hobbies from time to time, but there is no other Lego channel that I enjoy as much as yours (not even close). I really hope you find a way to resolve your current YouTube dilemma and if this is it, I will gladly participate.

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  27. So happy you are considering this. Can't wait to see it launch so I can start supporting you. One suggestion I'd make would be to consider corporate sponsorship opportunities within the Patreon-- not huge corporate sponsorship type things, but opportunities for small LEGO-associated companies who follow your work to be able to support you as a business. I know you're probably worried about losing objectivity but you have such integrity that I don't think it would be a concern. You make some of the highest-quality content available anywhere, so we all want to see you succeed beyond even what you were able to earn under the old YouTube revenue system. Keep up the great work and keep us posted when the Patreon officially launches!

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  28. I would gladly contribute, but it would be better for me if there was a one-time or annual option.

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    1. I think you could sign up for one month at a higher level (tan?) and then drop. Not sure though as I'm new to this. It's something to look into. Cheers!

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  29. This is pretty good as a starting point, but you definitely don't want to make additional work for yourself if the income does not justify it/detracts from the core concept of your channels.

    My only constructive suggestion is to not have exclusive video content for the higher tiers. If money were no object but you wanted suggestions from the viewers then you would likely still end up reviewing sets that you weren't personally interested in but they would then be watchable by all. Time zones alone mean I am unlikely to be able to participate in a live session unless you or I stay up really late or get up super early but being able to view them later whatever tier initially chosen might tip me into upping from Azure to Copper to be able to join in when schedules did permit.

    Early access for Patrons could also backfire if the peak interest in a set happens while the review is off grid for the majority.

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  30. I'm a Youtuber and a fan good job jang!

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  31. Hi, I really like the idea of direct support to continue your great work. However, I also do have some concerns. As it has been pointed out by others, time zone differences could make it almost impossible for some people to join for certain things they contribute. Living in Switzerland that might be still ok but what about people having even more hours in between? I have participated in several kickstarter projects. One thing I noticed which in my opinion is not a fair: people start to think they own part of your content and can actively decide how it should move forward, asking for specific things etc. Not sure how much you can stay away from such things.
    I really like your city updates as well as part of your reviews, i.e I like city related stuff but I am really not into Star Wars. I would appreciate if you have specific channels focusing on different areas which can be supported by $1/3/5 (whatever you think is ok for you) independently. Dont get me wrong, I really like your uploads and enjoy them but I do not need to get behind this. There is no added value for me for chats/minifigs etc. but I would like to support you in what you are doing and I enjoy the most. Patreon is new to me, so I have no idea if something like this could even be implemente.

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  32. Hey Jang, Hope you are doing well. I'm happy to see you are open to Patreon as a slight form of income. Some others in the comments have made some good points. I would be wary with letting people influence your content. I predict that a surprising amount of people will choose the Tan plan, and the supporters will end up choosing much of the content. While this might not effect the viewers, I do think that it will influence your mental state and will detract you from reviewing and building what you really want to build. The last thing you want is for Patreon to become overwhelming and deter from YouTube. While I'm not sure where, I do think that parts could be cut just for simplicity sake. Another fear is people getting upset because of reasons that you might not have touched on in the tier description. I think that simplifying and cutting some features will prevent headache in the future. While I might not be in a financial state to support at the moment, you always have my view and my like. Have a good one!

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  33. Personally I think I would go for the Silver level.

    One thing that you might be able to factor into your rewards, if you were interested, might be fan-requested videos based on conversations from the group chat you propose.

    It might sound silly, but often I hear you talk about cleaning the second-hand pieces you purchase, or elements of your collection that we don't get to see but I would personally find fascinating.

    Offering 1 Patreon-voted video a month might be quite an enticing reward for people who want slightly more niche content from you (but which you yourself also find interesting).

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  34. I think it is a great idea. I would probably sign up as a silver member. So cool to be part of New Jang city. For me your videos help me through tough times and I am happy to pay for that. But I would be happy to pay the price even without more reward than you just continuing to make videos as you have.

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  35. Hey Jang, I would add to what have already been said above, that weekly live-chat seems a little bit too much. The reason is that I think most of your subscribers want you to just continue doing what you have been doing up to this point. And the level of support should be largely dictated by the person's income level and the willingness to support your main thing - they should not be impulse buyers of the rewards you are listing (and then cancelling) like city minifigs and stuff. I mean it's good to have some perks for people supporting you, but they shouldn't shift the focus from the main thing - supporting your work rather than buying a place for their minifig in your city. Live chat - is a good thing - you can just stream live on Youtube every couple of months for everybody - that's what a lot of youtubers successfully do (if that's allowed by this new COPPA stuff) with chat and everything. I don't think it's a good idea to make a commitment of weekly live-chat with patreons :) Not because of $7-tier and potentially huge amount of people and questions - but because it will take a lot of time every week from what we love you for - making great videos about Lego. Just my 2c.

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  36. Hi Jang, I love that you're joining Patreon and can't wait for you to begin posting content again! I would support you at the Copper or Silver level, and probably once at the Tan level. In all honesty, I'd like to get a brick with my name in the city, and a sig fig in the city, and your videos going again, and that's it. I don't care about any of the other benefits. I don't need to pick which sets you should review - you're better at that than I am - that's why I'm supporting YOU. All the best, Vicky

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  37. My 11 year old son is so inspired by you. These all look great and we will support you in any level we can afford each monthly. This is very reasonable. Please keep it up, things will work out great for you!

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  38. Hi,

    Just some thoughts on the preview as of Jan. 20, 2020 (I'm new to Patreon).

    1. Perhaps consider pricing some levels slightly higher so that they hit a sweet spot on both a monthly and *annual* basis, e.g. Azure at $4--$48/yr or Copper at $8--$96/year. $12/yr shouldn't make much of a difference to most patrons committing to support in the long run.

    2. I'm sure you've quantified this, but allowing unlimited length passive questions/comments for the *as-yet-untested* weekly live chat at Copper may end up being a huge time sink--and beginning limits at Copper is IMHO emphatically NOT the answer. Limits may make sense at the higher levels where there is either a physical deliverable or just super-rarity. Sounds trite but better to exceed expectations as you're starting off than risk the other way around: folks will dislike any perceived decrease to a promised perk, while adding a new perk--once you have a better idea of how it will pan out--will provide an incentive to upgrade.

    3. For the gold supporter vid submissions, I'd also make it clear that edit = condense and not concatenate.

    4. "Continuous" sounds better than "contiguous", IMO. And exactly what color is the "metallic tan" brick, assuming it's unmodified? The 50th anniversary metallic gold?

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  39. My high functioning autistic son absolutely loves your work. You have become a major part of his life. I think the azure account looks good for a level of support to you. My feeling is that I would like to give support to you but the biggest reward will be knowing that the support helps produce content so many others can also enjoy it. Therefore I would suggest that any payback to subscribers that involves you expending any of your time was reserved for some sort of ultra expensive level.

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  40. Hi Jang,

    Just checked out your Patreon preview. They all look really reasonable to me. Over the years, your utube channel is my go to place when I am on the fence on a particular set. Your in depth review enables me to make a final decision.

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  41. it would be interesting to have a tier that we can ask a question a month and get a reply

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