I’m frustrated. Your messaging is inconsistent and damaging to creator growth: are you a discovery platform, or aren’t you? You have this convoluted post giving vague reasons (and inaccurate diagrams) as to why Patreon shouldn’t help creators reach more patrons looking for relevant content, and then go ahead and launch these social media campaigns (#MadeWithPatrons) designed to draw more attention to these same creators using your own social network reach. You using our hard work to advertise your platform is all well and good, but if it also gets us more patrons, aren’t you behaving like — gasp — a discovery platform? I can feel my community’s integrity slipping away already!
Listen. I get that you’re trying, but you desperately need help from new perspectives. The bottom line is that it’s painfully obvious that you’re trying to avoid working on something that prevents you from introducing new creators to patrons. I have gotten so many new patrons from fellow creators who’ve sent them my way, and I’ve done the same for several others. It’s a successful relationship that’s helped us all and has helped us make successful Patreon campaigns. Let’s also not forget that you also benefit when we succeed: when we make a living, you do too. If you’re so concerned about Patreon behaving like a discovery platform and damaging the creator/patron relationship somehow, then let creators turn off their discoverability if they feel as though it negatively impacts their relationships. Spoiler alert: they won’t.
Look at Twitch: you see entire channels filled with people talking in chat. Some are new visitors while others are there every day. That’s a good thing. People who don’t fit into the culture the streamer establishes invariably choose to leave. The ones that like it choose to stay. That’s how communities are built. But the fact remains that the people who choose to stay never would have found the streamer’s channel if Twitch wasn’t also a discovery platform.
The fact that Patreon raised $60m this year in venture capital this year but still hasn’t hired out a bespoke, professional User Experience studio to solve its problems is as baffling as it is worrying. The site runs like a bad Wordpress theme and has so many painful gaps in its feature list that it makes me genuinely concerned about Patreon’s future. Any UX studio would agree that discoverability is important for your and for your creators’ success. All that I want is to be seen by new people on your site: people whose wallets are already open because they support content creators. That’s what everyone wants here. It shouldn’t be my responsibility to advertise for other creators: it’s theirs, and it should be yours too. Again, you benefit from our successes. Act like it.
Your eschewing of responsibility regarding creator discoverability is the tip of an iceberg. It’s simply not okay. I’ve made my way without your help finding patrons, but there are so, so many who haven’t. I have a background in design and marketing that have given me what I need to create a successful platform, but there are thousands of people out there on your platform who make good work but don’t know how to reach new people. Why are you intentionally ignoring them? Kickstarter suggests new projects for me to back all the time: why not Patreon?