Well, I tried Patreon for a while and, frankly I have only myself to blame for not seeing what was obvious from the beginning. Patreon is a great platform if you are an established artist with a wide support base and lots of followers. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a nice support base and lots of followers you immediately vanish into the back of the bus. Here’s what I mean. Patreon claims to have over 50,000 creators on its site and over a million patrons. I’m sure that’s true. I’m also sure it’s almost completely unverifiable. Why? because, unless you are in the top twenty of one of the Patreon categories, or you are selected for special review there is NO way I could find to see who is a Patreon Creator. Now I estimate that Patreon has about 600 slots for the top twenty in each of their categories (although some people appear multiple times so it’s probably a bit less.) The also have another 20 slots that they rotate as someone new and interesting to watch. But, do the math. The people in the top slots aren’t going to move. Out of 50,000 only about 1,000 are ever visible on the site. and of those about 240 are going to be visible for one month or less.
Now being promoted by Patreon could possibly generate a lot of revenue for you. However, if you do not make their top 20, the only way to get visibility is thru your own advertising. Unlike Kickstarter and other similar fund raising platforms, I cannot pick an area I’m interested in an see ALL the creators in that area. There are no online message boards where I can get information on other creators either. I can only see the top 20.
So, if I do all the advertising, if I do all the marketing, if I create all the interest to go to a Patreon website and make the top 20 – then I get the privilege of letting Patreon collect money for me and they take a cut. (A cut besides the services they use to actually process the money that is.) And, they will chase people who don’t pay.
But, here’s the thing. I don’t want those people. The ones who don’t pay – and I don’t want you to chase them. If they want to pay me – fine. If they change their minds – fine. I don’t need a bunch of disgruntled people who have been hounded for a payment saying bad things about me. I don’t need them getting on social media to berate my work in revenge. I write novels. I tell stories that are meant to entertain. If you like a story, buy it. If you don’t like my writing, don’t buy it. That’s fair.
I like the idea of Patreon. I think that there is a place for patronage in the arts. But, I don’t like being walled away until I’m popular enough to make your top 20 list so I can emerge from obscurity to make you money now that I’m “good enough”. To those in their top twenty groups – congratulations. I’m sure you worked hard to earn that spot and the way the system is set up you will be very hard to dislodge from it. To those who haven’t managed to get there don’t feel bad. Maybe Patreon will wake up and make all the creator’s work available for people to see like Kickstarter and other platforms.
I just don’t have time to wait around for it.