Can we talk? I feel like you don’t understand me, what I’m doing, what my goals are, and how best to support me in those things the way you say you want to.
I use your service because I am a professional creator. I am a creative person who wants to make money by doing my creative thing and getting paid by patrons for it. The promise of Patreon.com was always to facilitate doing that.
Because of that, though, what I do NOT want, is to have to spend any time, whatsoever, on managing my relationship to Patreon.
I don’t think you appreciate this. Every time you roll out a feature – even a good, desirable, well-functioning feature! – that disrupts my workflow, you cost me hours, and even days, of lost labor, and consequently lost earnings. Every second I have to spend on relearning a new user interface, rejiggering how I work, updating my text and image assets to match your latest redesign, is a second I’m not spending creating, not spending communicating with my patrons, and not spending on doing the administrative work around running a creative business. Every time you change how Patreon works for creators, it comes out of my hide. And it comes out of the hides of every one of us.
It is NOT COST FREE to us when you change things. I really need you to understand that.
I appreciate that you want to make this site better. I appreciate that you may be under pressure from investors to “Do Something!” to try to drive adoption and profitability.
But you can’t get more honey from the bees by stirring the hive with a stick. You really, really can’t.
And it’s bad enough when you change something unambiguously for the better. When you change things for what seem to be superficial reasons, or accidentally remove relied-upon functionality, or have fundamental policy changes, or roll out features that are buggy and not ready for prime time, it causes you enormous loss of goodwill and confidence, because now we are losing hours or days of work to accommodating changes we resent and disapprove of.
I’m writing this to you now because in the very same period, you rolled out both the Income Tax change – which is totally understandable why you needed to do that! – and the user interface change to the Patron Manager, which is causing a huge number of complaints about disrupted workflows. I am really angry about how much time I’ve had to spend in the last two months on managing my Patreon account in ways which have absolutely nothing to do with serving my patrons or advancing my art.
The thing I am coming to realize I most want out of Patreon is platform stability. I want Patreon to stop constantly changing things in ways which force me to have to drop everything and respond, to learn a new interface, develop a new workflow, check your implementation for bugs, against a deadline I didn’t pick and cannot change.
I suspect you think that creators are all whiners who just don’t like change because they’re just whiners. Actually, creators don’t like change – in their payment and content delivery platform – because they are creators! When you realize what a blow it is to us when you change things, you can see why we might as a population be really change averse. It’s not that we can’t see the brilliance of your vision. It’s because no matter how wonderful the change, we pay for it in lost labor and lost patronage. Every time.
And to be clear, when you roll out new features that are purely additional to extant functionality, which force no adoption but invite it on one’s own timetable, that’s great. The problem, though, it is seems Patreon almost never does that. Changes are replacements – changing from the trad server-side site architecture to an AJAXy responsive confection, the whole pledge unbundling fiasco, the logo change, the forthcoming change in the Patron Manager system, etc.
Please stop. Please slow way, WAY down. Please focus on burning down the bug list, rather than endless redesigns and rolling out new features all the time.
I know that’s not what you want to hear. I know that bug fixing is way less sexy to investors and way less fun for developers than feature development. I know that you are grasping for a sense of control over the fate of this crazy enterprise where somehow artists – artists! – are a viable business model for anyone, ever.
But leaving us alone to do the things that get all of us, ultimately including you, Patreon, paid, is how the bacon gets brought home. Disrupting our work does not make that happen more. It makes it happen less.
Patreon creator since Oct 2014
P.S. This has approximately always been a “pain point” for dealing with Patreon, but under the present global circumstances, where a lot of us are juggling anvils, now is exceptionally bad for unnecessary additional work to be imposed on your creators. A lot of us have way less slack in our systems than we did, and are already stretched to a breaking point. Have some mercy.