Hiding earnings?

Does anyone have insights on hiding earnings? I have noticed some famous authors such as Sam Harris have their earnings hidden, but the number of patrons visible.

Currently I have 648 patrons and $3,667 per month. Do you think that hiding earnings would help or hurt?

I’m not crazy about this idea. People are free to do what they want, of course, but I object to it and find it harmful on several grounds:

  1. This site is specifically about financial support, and to my mind that needs to go with transparency. Hiding earnings is too close to denial of the fact money is involved, and denial never ends well. It’s not healthy for this community to start being coy about the patronage itself. I’m very uncomfortable asking people for money but I have to own up to the fact this is what it’s about, and owe it to my patrons to be completely transparent about it. If I’m making an embarrassingly small amount, well, I just have to grow up and own with that instead of trying to hide the fact. That’s having a professional work ethic.

  2. If a potential patron is after the rewards, or is a big fan of a creator, they won’t care how much they’re earning. But as a patron myself, I have a very small budget to allocate to creators, and it will without fail go to people who I feel could use the support. So I need to see how creators are doing.

  3. As a creator, when I started out, it was ESSENTIAL for me to see how fellow artists were doing before I even signed up for an account. If I hadn’t been able to see that some painters were making a good income on Patreon, I would not have invested my time into creating an account. If I had not been able to study the pages of artists who were doing well, vs. artists who were not doing well, to see what they were doing respectively (how they present themselves, and the rewards offered, and whether that translated into a good following or not), I would not have had any idea what to do.

In your particular case I don’t see how it could hurt or help you as you’re doing really well regardless. But I think it’s detrimental to the larger community.

20 Likes

Thank you. Those are valuable insights.

2 Likes

Agreed that I err on the side of transparency, but having seen some of the sh&t people give you when you make over a certain amount of money, I get it. Between all my various jobs: day job, patreon, freelancing, novel writing,I hit the $100k mark two years back and a couple people lost their shit about it. Like, what, artists should be starving? Do they realize I’m working * all the time* for that? There are no golfing weekends are beach cabanas. It’s 14 hour days every day. But they see the money, not the work.

I know folks need to do what they need to do.

Kameron

5 Likes

I have a mixed opinion on this, but I’m not going to nag any artist for either doing it or not doing it. It’s their business and their choice and it doesn’t bother me one way or another. I kept my earnings out for people to see in the beginning, and then began to hide them when I noticed a slump in sign ups. For artists this can be a matter of business, if that’s what we’re using Patreon for instead of donations. I hoped people might see the number of patrons I had and focus on that instead of the money coming in

I’m a writer, and currently I have about 194 Patrons, sometimes it goes over 200 and sometimes under. A lot of people have an idea that an artist shouldn’t make money off their art. Whether it’s a jealousy thing or not, I don’t know, but I figured I would test out hiding my earnings for a little bit just in case new people were coming in and seeing that I was pulling in roughly $800 per month and wondering why they should bother signing up because I might be “earning enough”

It’s kind of like the person above me said. At some point, when people see the number, they won’t be so willing to join and might actually be angry and dissuade other people from joining the party.

The slump in sign ups I have is still there, so I think I might have gone through all my true fans, for now, but if after a certain amount of time I can think of a reason to put the earnings out there again, I might do it again and see how it goes.

Mandy

8 Likes

When I started I showed earnings as that’s how I set up my goals. I decided this year to go toward community based and now goals are based on number of patrons. In this way the patrons are more important than the amount they’re able to give each month. They can get an idea of what I’m doin’ with the money by looking at the goals as opposed to the $ amount. I also regularly post pictures of art supplies their pledges have helped provide. But it’s not important for them to know an exact amount made and what I do with every dollar. They are giving you money so you can do your art and so long as the art is done, it’s not really important how you make that happen.

There is a level of transparency that invites people to judge. I think there is a point where people think “this person doesn’t need anymore $” and it could potentially impede growth. I don’t know your personal budget and you shouldn’t feel obligated to justify earning more. I could get by just fine on $1000/month, but someone else might have a higher cost of living, medical bills, student loan debt, or maybe they just have more expensive tastes than I do and want to live at a higher level. It’s honestly not my business to know how much someone else makes or how they allocate their earnings. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty that you went out to a nice dinner and treated your friends or bought your mom a new car or went on a trip to Europe. The deal is: give me $1 and I will make art, give me $5 and I will make art. It’s not about letting society judge where your max earning should be for what you create. And if you find that your growth is stagnating, it might be time to consider hiding that amount.

That aside, as a creator, I love seeing what other creators are making, but that’s purely academic. I like to look and see what they’re doing that I’m not so I can improve. But again, it’s not necessary. I can always look at their number of patrons and make a monetary guess at what they’re making per patron or how much it would be for me if I had that number of patrons. It inspires me to know there are creators making a living and some making a very good living. That’s all I really need to know.

11 Likes

I’ve had this discussion elsewhere with folks and I know that I am in the minority but my opinion is that I prefer it when people show earnings. I’m all for helping the underdog and emerging artists. If I have an extra $5 to spend I’m going to pass it along to the person earning less. For me it’s not a matter of “X-Artist is earning $900 so they don’t need anymore!” so much as “A-Artist is only earning $90 so I’ll pass along my support to them.” If I can’t tell what an artist is already earning on Patreon then I’m almost always going to give it to the person who’s income I can see.

5 Likes

What I started to wonder this past months is that maybe the amount displayed for what the Creator is making may be misleading for some users.
I would be worried that some potential supporters get scared when they see the big number and they may think that is what they would have to pay.
That amount is very prominent and eye catching, visitors only need a few seconds to close your Patreon page and that may be one reason for it.

Let me know what are your thoughts about this

Thanks

I think it can work either way. If they’re making a lot, people might think that’s enough money for that person and not pledge or if they’re not making much at all it might devalue the art to them. The instant impression might be, they aren’t making much so therefore it’s not worth much. I think people do tend to make a quick decision on whether they might support or not.

Personally, I wanted the number of patrons to be more important than the amount each one was contributing.

2 Likes

Hey!

So my oppinion is quite quick and firm in this.
It’s better to don’t show such a thing, because many people would get envy and jealous, and it can impact on their decission later on what reward to choose or not.

So I always rather to keep the money terms to myself, not letting random people to know how am I being supported, and letting always people decide which kind of reward they want, without the social pressure or influence on choosing one or another.

But mainly, because I’ve found envy an jealousy a major problem in a lot of cultures. So, in my oppinion there’s no counter here. Always hidden.

Cheers.

PS: Also, I don’t see the point of any curious dude taking a look at how much I earn. I’d rather have that private. It’s private in all jobs in the world, why not here?

5 Likes

… because it is not. And in some “cultures” that sentiment might (I think rightfully so) raise an eyebrow or two :wink:

Actually, to me the amount some “creator” around here makes is the best indicator for whether she is doing a good job or not. Sure, you cannot judge a crook by its lover, but the appreciation, expressed in “modern times love” (aka “money”) someone gets sometimes can help deciding if you - that is me - want to support her, too.

Marc

2 Likes

…Well, it is, because you can set it private.

I don’t really care if someone raise an eyebrow or two, the fact is, this should allow you some privacy. Not everyone wants that everyone can see how much you’re earning, and that should be always respected. The only thing someone could want to see how much you’re earning on Patreon is mainly because morbid curiosity, they don’t have better lifes or better experiences or better rewards by seeing how much money you’re making on Patreon! So, no point to show them, whatever brows are raised.

2 Likes

See … suddenly you sound like a reasonable guy, giving others the option of their own opinion. I appreciate that.

Claiming that your culture and your worldview are universal was what rubbed me the wrong way. The way you put it now, that you are completely uninterested in what other people think and that you expect others to respect you (not necessarily the other way around, I assume) sounds at least honest.

:slight_smile:

Marc

I think it also depends on the type of content you make. I usually like transparency, but I think there are completely legit reasons to hide earnings after a certain point.

Then again on a failed page of mine, someone arrogant said I was obligated to make a sequel to a 14 minute animation I had made a year prior because I was making an AMAZING $200 a month on patreon (as if $200 a month is even remotely enough to fund a short film).

I feel like more users underestimate living expenses and costs than understand the limitations of what a creator can do with what they make. But, at the same time I’d rather attract people who do understand that even $2000 a month isn’t a whole lot in the grand scheme of things (bonus points if they’re aware of how harsh taxes can be). I feel like displaying attracts the latter, while hiding reduces the odds of the prior.

3 Likes

Good statement!

While I understand your reasoning (avoiding discussions with stupid people), I sometimes think that such experiences tell us a lot about the people we would like to get support from.

It is amazing that people are willing to spend money for creators they probably don’t know personally and most likely never will meet.

But because they don’t know you, there is this anonymity in between you. People can not know how much money a creator makes, even if they see the earnings on Patreon. Maybe that’s just the icing on the cake, maybe the 5000 Dollar a month people make on Patreon are just for beer, because those creators make millions on Youtube already. Maybe those 200 Dollar are just parking dimes for you.
Note: I am not saying this is a sound position to take. I am just trying to paint a picture: The same way the supporters/backers/patrons don’t know the creators they support, those creators don’t know anything about their supporters.

An incident like the one you describe does give you a glimpse into how those people think. You may not like it, I wouldn’t either. But it is an insight that we usually don’t get, so there is some value in it.

On the web there are various depictions of what the production of a movie costs. It could help linking to one of those to give an estimate of what costs even a short movie might need. I do work at the edge of the movie industry, I have a pretty good idea of what time- and money investment is required there, yet, I can feel some sympathy with 5-6 years old, uneducated kids of street gang members for whom 200 Dollar are “the mother of all richness”.

What I am saying is - I fully agree that one should not put too much effort into explaining simple things to people who don’t want to learn in the first place. Waste of time. However, understanding that those people may still be supporting you, there might be a compromise to find - maybe create a simple drawing that explains the cost structure for what those people cry for.
After all, the loud and stinky ones may be annoying, but taking the oportunity to explain something to those who don’t rip their mouth open but may feel like they don’t get what they pay for, might be a win:win:win for all.

Just a thought. As always.

Marc

Hi,

I really like the answer from @Zedrin and while I agree that it’s always best to be patient and stay calm with trolls and annoying people who “just don’t get it”, and even offer an explanation, if it seems worth it, I am still quite baffled that people come to a “patronage” portal expecting to actually receive something in return. I think (and I see myself like that too), that if you are a patron to the arts that’s what you are. You cannot be a customer demanding your rights. You give, you donate, because you like this artist/creator and want him to continue making this for everyone. Not for YOU.

Of course there are extreme points where certain artist account seems non-responsive, or is really slow with updates that don’t give any insight into what this artist is up to, and of course every person has the right to choose where to put their money for support. But, those demands, with an argument of payment… I personally just don’t understand this kind of mindset. You support or you don’t support. Give well-meaning feedback. But that’s it. Period. Patron is not a customer. Patreon is not a shopping mall.

Also another thing - about anonymity: If you are not up there with 1000 of patrons, creator probably knows many of her patrons: some are friends, some are connections via social networks, some are acquaintances… there’s often some information that defines that person giving $1. And I think a good creator, in these times, should connect with each and everyone in a meaningful personal way, if possible. This is the only way to use the revolutionary/disruptive potential of internet and patronage/membership/subscription platforms like Patreon.

just my 2 cents, of course.

4 Likes

Just for grins, I decided to make my earnings private last month. After several months of being at a patron plateau, I picked up six new ones while the earnings were private.

Could be that taking the focus off the number of dollars, and putting it on the number of people willing to support me, helped that along. Could be that I tried some other new things last month, and picked up patrons from places where my work was new to the community.

Couldn’t hurt to try it, for those who already have patronage, and want to change things up.

3 Likes

And I think a good creator, in these times, should connect with each and everyone in a meaningful personal way, if possible.

Totally agree. Building relationships is a far better long-term plan than aiming for maximum “user acquisition”, as someone put it, which I found tremendously offensive and beside the point.

As for idiots, well it’s a personal stance, but I don’t want their money. I’m not starving yet: if they have no respect, they can take a hike.

4 Likes

I don’t know if this is the right section to share it in but my feeling is yes!

Which of you have hidden your income now that that is possible and who has stayed with showing income? When it first appeared I thought that it would be good to hide it as ‘why should anyone know my income’ right? I mean, we don’t tend to tell people what we earn in the day to day of life (well, I don’t anyway!).

I’ve been wondering though whether switching back to money goals might be more helpful for fans to see what it’s doing. For instance for me in future to get more video making equipment (at the moment all i have is my smartphone). I just think that a lot of people might be put off by seeing the amount I’m earning (which isn’t huge at the moment) and think ‘oh well she doesn’t need any more’ if I was doing well at some point.

What are your thoughts and what are the stats on these things? I’d love to know!

4 Likes

I’d thoroughly recommend showing your income, Emily. Like you, I went through a period of deliberation and turned it off briefly at the start as somebody jokingly said to me, “You’re doing really well, so you won’t be needing my help!”

I felt that in jest there was truth, so I hid the info. But then almost immediately, two of my Patrons got in touch to say that they really enjoyed seeing my growing success and didn’t like that my income was hidden.

Then I thought about how I perceive other people’s pages and — to be blunt — I don’t like it when the income’s hidden at all and I feel I would only pledge on a Creator’s page if I can see their existing income from other Patrons.

Their openness gives me the confidence I need to make my commitment. And it’s really helpful/encouraging to see how many Patrons have pledged at each Tier.

All my other feelings about it are covered pretty well by @joumana in her post above:

I say “show your income”, Emily. Hide nothing and keep it all transparent. It gives people utter confidence and they get excited by joining a happening party.

— Jack

4 Likes