Patreon

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Originally posted on twitter

Hello! It looks like @patreon is up to it again, so I’d like to offer a thread illustrating why and how I went about leaving the platform in 2017 as an artist who wasn’t quite making nothing, but wasn’t quite making a living either.

Like many, though skeptical of the ‘we love creators sooo much’ PR, I had hope for 2013 patreon, rabidly encouraging my creator friends to join, giving countless hours of free labor to patreon as bug reports, and supporting hopeful adopters looking for advice.

In advising, I warned of the platform; a bug that would wipe out hours of work on post that took them months to fix, financially disruptive payout problems, lack of stable features including a glitchy mobile site, no image support, and taking over 2yrs to offer a mobile app.

Though hopeful for improvement, I was contradicting myself when I sang @patreon’s praises. At my most successful I was paying a company I didn’t trust $50/mo. to be chained to a buggy, inconsistent blog service, devoid of basicass features, that I absolutely hated using.

Further distrust grew as only outlying success stories made the mystical patreon front page while the needs of their largest cohort – piddly little unknowns like me – were ignored in favor of pet features, inaccessible parties, smarmy group photos, and kissing celebrity ass.

Of the ~65 patrons I had over 4 years, 2 found me randomly on the site. I had built my community up slowly, in one-on-one conversations with longtime fans, most of whom had to make a new patreon account to support me there, and most of whom could only give a few bucks.

The numbers eventually betrayed the bullshit revolution rhetoric, proving that 98% of patreon creators don’t see enough to transcend the federal poverty line, which is far less than it takes to “live” in many areas – https://theoutline.com/post/2571/no-one-makes-a-living-on-patreon

But the #patreoneffect of gaslighting vulnerable hordes of impoverished artists had worked on me. Their way hadn’t grown my support pool, and presenting myself through their lala-brand stifled my creativity, yet I still thought I had to continue putting up with them to ‘make’ it.

When patreon was hacked in 2015 due to their negligence, a leap was still too scary, even with web skills and a following. But when they changed fee structure (at the expense of creators like me) in 2017, I joined the mass exodus (which reversed the decision 6 days later)

Since then, more patreon creators have loudly withdrawn their support of the platform; over political bias, increasing censorship of adult content, or just getting fed the fuck up, with many looking for another corporate frying pan to jump into after already being set on fire.

I have reasons to warn against trusting emerging patreon-killers, the least of which is my honest belief that patreon did try not to be shit at first; a profound contrast to ambulance-chasing disaster pop-ups like facebooks. But I’ve already backstoried too long; to the point! ->

I credit the writeup ‘Better than Patreon’ by @ameschright for finally inspiring me to cut my @patreon losses and do something different, in part because of how utterly awesome witnessing Audrey’s self-alignment was for me, coming out of all that frustration. They’re pretty cool!

Through @ameschright’s @patreon piece I became aware of @moonclerk, which allows individuals to process one-time and recurring daily, weekly, monthly, yearly payments, and have access to their own stripe account (which – surprise! – patreon doesn’t allow you to do!)

Bringing in $1999 in a month, @moonclerk will take just under .08% ($15), compared to patreons 5% ($99.95) before @stripe’s processing fees. At $2000, the ratio is still 1.5%($30) via a sliding-scale monthly fee structure of $15/$0-$2k, $30/$2k-$4k, $50/$4k-$7.5k, etc.

In 1.5yrs with @moonclerk, not a single payout has been late or failed. For me, it was worth investing a few bucks before reaching my 5% break-even point of $300/mo. for the immediate piece of mind I got leaving patreon. My sustainers now choose what day of the month to pay, too!

With @moonclerk taking care of the money, I changed my content approach from grinding my teeth in frustration fighting with patreons $50/mo. garbage platform, to offering a monthly supporter mailer through @mailchimp, for free, that I archive on a @wordpress blog, also for free.

One thing I learned attempting to contort to patreon’s version of how to make a living as an artist on their platform (which, again, 98% don’t) was that I hate and officially reject caste systems, and felt shit when my work was inaccessible to lower-paying supporters.

I also vehemently disliked that there was no way to grandfather in-kind donors in, no auth tokens to share protected posts, and though I ‘technically’ own the 4 years of content currently composting in my patreon graveyard, there is no feature to export it.

In terms of patron rewards, it made sense for me to simply cut the oppressive class act and get rid of them. My patrons never much cared about them, often refused reward levels when signing up, and didn’t respond to periodic requests for reward feedback over the years anyway.

Instead of rewards, and perhaps I should again mention the context of this working for me in part because I am NOT a creator with thousands of patrons, I keep track of my peeps, know a bit about them, and offer perks/art/tickets to fans directly, or as an entire group.

That rewards thing was more a @Kickstarter jam anyway, and it’s worked for the two successful kickstarters I’ve done for specific longer-term projects, it didn’t work for my recurring monthly tip jar, and manufacturing reward tiers no one wanted was mostly a stressy waste.

Though it was a transition that took some faith and effort, spreading myself around has had the added bonus of my content/contact list being archived in multiple places in case of a @myspace-level, 12-year wide fuckup, which for patreon, seems it’s probably only a matter of time.

One point of my joining patreon was to subvert some of the oppressive neoliberal shitshow we call an economy to STOP doing shit I hated to make a buck. Patreon didn’t, and foundationally couldn’t, deliver the anti-capitalist artists utopia of my dreams. And how dare they, really.

But @patreon did shift the Overton Window, incepting many creators with the idea (& a place to experiment with the idea) that hey, maybe it IS ok to ask for money to make this silly shit. Maybe it IS worthwhile and deserving of support. That idea was, ultimately, also why I left.

I’ll end this massive thread with a nudge over to my support page, as both an example, and an invitation: http://neevita.net/support and I encourage you, dear reader, if you feel similarly about being on patreon as I did, to consider other options.