Thank you for sharing this, Mindy. Patreon has meant so much to so many of us, there’s always fear that the party will be over (or is already over), that Patreon will/has sold out, that “no one makes a living on Patreon” so it’s all a sham, etc. That fear is something that seems to flare up on the Interwebs every few months in the circles I float around in.
In general, I think these kind of debates, when people approach them with good will and open ears, can be useful. I certainly hope this will be as well. What Patreon is doing is revolutionary. What Patreon does for creators, how the staff offers value, how to succeed with this platform—these are things that can be difficult to explain to even those creators who use Patreon. And so the more transparency around it, the better.
But regardless of what the future holds, what I do know is that every Patreon staff member I have met has been fully committed to my success, both financially and as a creative. I live in San Francisco, and when I first started, I was invited to lunch with the Patreon team when it was, like, 20 people. Last week, I went to an meet-up hosted by Patreon at the Wicked Grounds cafe where eight staff members showed up for the (no more than) fifteen creators who signed up for it. Every staff member eager to talk to every one of us about how we could have more success doing what we’re doing.
This was a meetup for Adult Creators, mind you. When every other big technology company seems eager to turn their backs on those who aren’t making all-ages art (looking at you Tumblr…), the staff’s commitment to my worth as an artist felt completely heartfelt to me over four years ago, and I don’t see any difference today.
Should we be vigilant and hold Patreon accountable to the high standards it sets for itself? Yes. Does Patreon make mistakes, sometimes goofy mistakes, especially when trying to communicate its plans? Oh, yes.
But a contract is only as good as the people who sign it. Ultimately, the success of any job, any business service, comes down to people. And if there’s one thing I believe, it’s that the staff who work for Patreon and the culture that surrounds them there really care about us as creators and as people. I have felt their sincere passion firsthand in pretty much every direct interaction I’ve had with them.
And that consistent experience goes a long way toward quelling any fear I have about Patreon going over to the dark side. Or, when they stumble, not finding their way to the light again.