Probably a more controversial Musing in this post, I talk about my feelings on Patreon and if it’s a great platform or simply a way of gatekeeping the hobby.
For those of you who have never encountered Patreon before, in simple terms it’s a website platform which allows content creators to offer content behind a subscription based paywall. Creators are able to create varying levels or tiers of subscription and control what each level gains access to. When you pay your monthly subscription you gain access to all of the content. I am simplifying this a little, but my experience is that most content creators stick to the same pay up front plan (there are others they can chose).
There’s a number of things that a content creator tends to offer on their Patreon:
- “This month only” in the form of a download, raffle or giveaway
- A simple subscription system to provide a few pennies for creating content
- Discord chat or other way of contacting the creator
- Early release content (often videos)
- Exclusive Patreon only content (normally tutorials and videos)
Now in principal, Patreon is a fantastic platform, if you have a bit of spare money, you’re able to support your favourite content creator(s), ask them questions and maybe even get some useful stuff to boot.
That all sounds very positive, helping content creators out financially has to be a good thing, right? Well yes, but at the same time no. Due to it’s format, when you unsubscribe from a Patreon you lose access to all of the content (at the end of the period anyway) – that’s right, you could have passed hundreds of dollars to one content creator, but one month you’re a little strapped for cash, unsubscribe and you’ve nothing to show for it. You do gain all the content back when you subscribe again, but you’ve been dropped faster than a tramp on chips.
Your Patreon subscription is also subject to the relevant tax – so you may find your $5 subscription costs you more than that $5 and yes, being a US business you’re charged in dollars at whatever the exchange rate is at the point of payment.
One thing that subscribers have no control over, is the quality or volume of content being created for the Patreon. I’ve heard of instances where Patreon subscribers received sub-par or zero content for a number of months – maybe the creator has things happening in their real life or simply decides to abandon it. Subscribers would be faced with unsubscribing and losing access to older higher quality content or continuing to pay for a pretty poor offering. It’s not a good situation to be in for either party.
What I do find frustrating is when content creators who would previously explain how they did things and create free tutorials, creates a Patreon and suddenly everything they post on social media contains the phrase “you can find how to do this on my Patreon” as if they’re some magical teacher with a Rocky Montage that will turn you into the next Slayer Sword winner.
That’s not to say that I think people should provide content for free – far from it. Having done a handful of YouTube videos and written articles such as this, I know the amount of time it takes to create ‘content’ and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for some to look into gaining some kind of of financial reward for the time you’ve used.
What does trigger my rage is to see “it’s in my Patreon” as a response when somebody has asked a simple question like “did you wet blend that” or “what colours did you use”. There’s no other way of putting it, this response is gatekeeping. The person questioning isn’t asking for a thirty minute video or one-to-one tuition, – a short sentence or photograph would answer that question and you’d be giving something back to the community that has supported you previously. Putting a business hat on too, this kind of interaction can often be really beneficial and open up the possibility that maybe they will sign up to your Patreon or give you a Kofi donation.
I do completely understand how this sometimes comes about, being asked “what red did you use for that” by multiple people when you actually answered it on one of the first comments on an Instagram post is beyond annoying (I’ve been here myself). A simple “paints are in an earlier comment” is far more friendly than pasting a link to a paywall – you can even have it saved on a clipboard for doing this quickly. Even better would be “paints are in an earlier comment, but I’ve a full tutorial on Patreon”, only a handful of extra words but is helpful and potentially upselling your services.
So that’s the end of my rumblings on Patreon! I personally don’t think it’s a particularly fantastic platform, but it currently the only realistic option out there for providing a paid subscription model to creators without a lot of hassle. I will add a caveat that this article wasn’t written as a response to any one person or creator. It’s a musing that has been buzzing around my head for a while and I felt it was worth talking about.
I also currently don’t have any intention on creating a Patreon, which may colour my opinions. I’m fortunate in that I do this blog and all my social media posts without the need to make money from it, and intend to try and keep things available for free. There are also some amazing content creators out there who produce both free and Patreon/paid content without doing any of the items that I’ve said above – you’re ace and I salute you!
As ever this is only my opinions, I would love to read some of yours in the comments! Are you a content creator and disagree with me? Do you think I’m bang on the money?