I Need To Rant – Upcoming Changes to Patreon

This post is not the norm here, but as a creator and a supporter on Patreon, I feel pretty strongly about this. This week, Patreon announced an upcoming change that I feel is the end of it’s use for a small creator like me. This change is set to go live on the 18th, and if they don’t chose to revert it by then, I will be looking at other options for supporting the show.

Email Sent to Creators

Wednesday morning, Patreon sent out an email to creators to let us know about an upcoming change to their payment systems. On the surface, it sounded like a great thing for creators. They were going to start giving us 95% of the money collected from pledges. Our Patreon doesn’t bring in a lot right now, only $9 a month. However, we only see about 80% of that. Where this took a turn for me, was how they were increasing the payout to us. Instead of taking the processing fees from us, the creators, they want to charge it to supporters. They say it is so that we get an amount closer to what our Patrons think they are pledging us, but they’ve gone about it in the worst way possible. Here’s the text of the email so you can draw your own conclusions.

Dear creator,

In order to continue our mission of funding the creative class, we’re always looking for ways to do what’s best for you – creators.

With that, we’re writing to tell you of a change we’re making so that all Patreon creators take home exactly 95% of every pledge, with no additional fees.

Aside from Patreon’s existing 5% fee, you may notice that your income on Patreon varies because of processing fees every month. Your patrons may not even be aware that you actually take home a lower percentage of their intended pledges because of it. Our goal is to make your paycheck as predictable as possible, so we’re restructuring how these fees are paid.

A new service fee of 2.9% + $0.35 will be paid by patrons for each individual pledge starting on December 18th. This streamlines fees for both creators and patrons to ensure that you pay no more than 5%.

Fee change visual explanation
Here’s what you can expect:

  • On December 18th, we’ll apply the fee for patrons and notify them of this change.
  • We’re also sending an email to all patrons tomorrow, December 7th, to share the information about this upcoming change.
  • We ran experiments to understand patrons’ potential reactions and we found that many patrons were happy knowing that this change will send more money to creators.
  • If you’d like to chat about this change with your patrons, we’ve provided verbiage in our FAQ here.
We want you to know that we approach every change with a creator-first mindset, aiming to help you grow your business and grow with your patrons. By standardizing Patreon’s fees, we’re ensuring that creators like you can get paid to continue creating high quality content.

Your patrons will have an email in their inbox with all of this information tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to learn more or have any questions for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out here or visit our FAQ.

See you on the internet,
The Patreon team

Email Sent to Patrons

I’m not only a creator on Patreon, but I am (potentially was now…) a supporter for many other creators as well. Interestingly enough, the email tied to my creator account never got the Patron email even though I support many other creators on that account. Thankfully, I still support someone on my personal account and received the Patron email there. I plan to break down these emails more below, but there was one part I really wanted to highlight first. “This means creators actually take home a lower percentage of your pledge than you may realize.” I don’t understand why Patreon felt the need to put this line in here other than to guilt Patrons into being okay this change. If it really mattered to a creator, they would mention it and possibly have tiers set up to mitigate it. Here’s the text from the creator email:

Dear patron,

Your support is truly changing the lives of creators around the world. You give creators a reliable paycheck that enables them to do their best work. Thank you thank you thank you.

In order to continue our mission of funding the creative class, we’re always looking for ways to do what’s best for our creators. With that, we’re writing to tell you of a change we’re making so that all Patreon creators take home exactly 95% of every pledge, with no additional fees.

Aside from Patreon’s existing 5% fee, a creator’s income on Patreon varies because of processing fees every month. They can lose anywhere from 7-15% of their earnings to these fees. This means creators actually take home a lower percentage of your pledge than you may realize. Our goal is to make creators’ paychecks as predictable as possible, so we’re restructuring how these fees are paid.

Starting December 18th, we will apply a new service fee of 2.9% + $0.35 that patrons will pay for each individual pledge. This service fee helps keep Patreon up and running.

We want you to know that we approach every change with thoughtfulness for creators and patrons. By standardizing Patreon’s fees, we’re ensuring that creators get paid to continue creating high quality content. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please visit our FAQhere.

Sincerely,
The Patreon team

Why Am I So Opposed To This Change?

There are quite a few reasons I am against this change, but the largest one to me is that this is already showing to hurt smaller creators. What this change is doing is destroying the $1 tier that many smaller creators rely on. I am one of them. A peak behind the curtain is that most of the pledges on our Patreon are from the members of the show. One of us pledges $5 per month, and the rest all pledge $1. This was done as an easy way for us to contribute to the shows growth and I was able to keep the funds in the Patreon account until I needed them for something on the podcast. With this change, each $1 pledge is increased to roughly $1.38. The amount a support will be charged for a $1 pledge is going up nearly 40% so that I can take home $.95. Now what’s interesting about that is, there’s over $.40 that is being charged to a $1 supporter that I will never see. That is MORE than the money I wasn’t seeing that was charged to a supporter previously.

As a creator, I feel bad because I feel like Patreon is now forcing me to fuck over my supporters and my patrons over fees I was totally fine with paying on my end. Also, in favor of making it easier for me to predict what I will earn through Patreon, they’ve made it harder on the supporters. I doesn’t make business sense to confuse the people who are paying your bills. When a person pledges $1 to me, I want that to be the amount that THEY are charged when the time comes. If I feel I am not getting enough money after fees out of that, I wont make it an option. I don’t think Patreon really grasps that. We knew about the fees. Sure, they could have been more transparent on our end about how the fees worked and told us what we would end up with at the end of the month, but if the fees were hurting us, we could have always increased the pledge amounts.

Where things really fall apart though, is on the supporter side of things, especially for people like me who give a small amount to a lot of people. Some more behind the curtain looks. I have a few podcasts and a few musicians I support on Patreon. Some at only $1, some as much as $5. The Glass Cannon Podcast, Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech), Tabletop Audio, Adrian von Ziegler, Jamie Brace, Vindsvept, and Dungeons and Randomness all get a pledge amount from me. The new system means I am charged 2.9%+$.35 for EACH of those 7 creators. Even at only a dollar each, what was a simple $7/mo to support some of the projects I love is jumping to roughly $9.66/mo. By comparison, if I only backed ONE of these creators for the full $7/mo, I would end up charged $7.56/mo. Still an increase, but not nearly as large, and it illustrates that point that the people most hurt by this are the supporters who give a lot of people a little bit of money. And this is being passed on to the creators and backfiring to hurt creators who have relied on people like me who will throw them a dollar a month to many people to show them support. This is also ruining one of the greatest boons I found with Patreon. Once you had you pledges figured out, you knew exactly how much you were going to be charged, and it was always going to be one charge at the beginning of the month.

Unfortunately, it seems that Patreon is currently choosing to remain silent on the issue, even though there has been a massive outcry from Creators and Patrons alike. Patrons like me are cutting back pledges because the increase is insane. And Creators like me are hemorrhaging pledges faster than they ever have as a result. Personally, I can’t allow my friends to be charged like this and will be finding any other option if this change goes live. Below are a few links to a few places I have seen people on both sides wanting this whole thing to be undone.

I feel like out of the many ways Patreon could have handled this, ranging from doing nothing at all to even adding the 3% fee but keeping all transactions together so there is only one $.35 transaction fee, they have chosen the worst.

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