How do you deal with first of the month drop off?

Hi everyone,

I’ve had the chance to chat with some of you, but for the ones who don’t know me, my name is Matt St. John — I write a bunch of the articles on the Patreon blog.

Mindy and I were talking in the office the other day, and she told me about something that she hears about in the community a lot. She referred to it as, “the Dip,” which sounds more like a monster in Stranger Things than a creator finance issue.

For those who aren’t familiar with “the Dip,” it refers to the time at the beginning of the month when creators get their payout from Patreon. While payout is exciting, it’s also super nerve-racking for many.

I’d like to write about this on the Patreon blog (and for the community to be a part of that process). So I have two questions for you about “the dip,” which is otherwise known as first of the month drop off.

  • What info would you like to see in a blog about this?
  • What have you found useful in dealing with “the dip.” The advice can be about how you manage your emotions around the first of the month, or it can be business tips — up to you!

Thanks, and looking forward to your responses!

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As far as info, I think seeing tips on how to decrease it would be what I’m most interested in.

In terms of how I deal with it and tips:

  1. I know it’s coming. I know it’s not something I’ve done wrong and I know it happens to pretty much everyone. It can be tempting to complain to Patrons or try to guilt them into staying, but instead I incentivize them to stay with things like my polls on what galleries I plan to post next month, teasers for upcoming content, etc. And if they go, they go.

As an 18+ creator especially, I tend to see a pretty big drop. I average about 90 Patrons during the month and drop down to 70 or less at the “dip”.

  1. During the month, most of my posts are focused around releasing galleries, bundles of selfies, and vlogs. But at the beginning of the month I focus more on individual photos (usually teasers for upcoming goodies) and I’ll make a post at the beginning thanking them for staying and rounding up some updates. It’s positive for me as well as fun to give a glimpse into what is coming up.

  2. I’m a model/photographer and I also do videos. Towards the end of each month, I make sure to shoot some content and then I can get excited about sharing that as soon as the new month starts. It keeps me from feeling frantic to get stuff done at the beginning of the month when I have a lot of other stuff going on. Plus, it feeds into the teasers for #2

  3. Another thing I do that helps with all of the ups and downs of having a Patreon in general is talking to other Creators in the Discord. It’s such a constructive positive place. :purple_heart: Talking about things is really helpful to me and I’ve gotten so many good ideas from there as well as being constantly reminded that I’m not alone.

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I tend to stay away from my stats page so I don’t feel anxious about something that is out of my control, and focus instead on getting hyped for the month’s content I’m going to be putting up! I think it’s important for creators to realize it’s not just them, that it’s a common phenomenon, and that numbers tend to normalize as the month progresses.

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Thanks for sharing your story! Tons of good stuff in this post.

  1. I know it’s coming. I know it’s not something I’ve done wrong and I know it happens to pretty much everyone. It can be tempting to complain to Patrons or try to guilt them into staying, but instead I incentivize them to stay with things like my polls on what galleries I plan to post next month, teasers for upcoming content, etc. And if they go, they go.

Have you seen any positive results for incentivizing your patrons by teasing next month’s content? This seems like a good strategy.

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Honestly, I can’t really say for sure if I have results or not. I’m sure it’s had no negative effect because I’d notice that, but positive is more difficult to track. I do think my Patrons tend to stick around longer than I’ve heard they do on average, especially for 18+ creators. Obviously I have some who just do one month, but if I can get them to stay for a second month, they usually hang around unless they have a financial issue or something (which I know because they usually tell me before the downgrade or cancel). I do get decent interaction on those posts, though. And for me it’s more about keeping myself in the right mindset and keeping the posts coming. I think that does have a positive effect. :slightly_smiling_face:

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It is nerve-wracking because I work so hard (Patreon and day job are both full-time for me) and I still depend on every pledge to cover rent. I’m checking and managing details daily on a schedule (I can’t “stay away,” though that’s good advice), so I’m pretty bad about “not seeing” the Dip over the first week and becoming anxious about it, even after 4 years of doing this.

I have a mental mantra combined from my brother’s advice about worry, who is a counselor, and the book “Freakonomics”, which had a fascinating “in the wild” social experiment performed with bagels: “Take one, leave a dollar”–entirely on the honor system and unmonitored. The Bagel Man kept a very accurate spreadsheet of bagels vs. dollars for long enough to see real human trends. He came up with a number: about 85% of people will pay for what they could take for free if they know it’s paying vs. stealing.

That’s highly accurate for what I’ve been seeing. It’s not really “stealing” for me (I’m a writer, I send stories, or I don’t send stories based on paid pledges, they don’t serve themselves), but the rate of declines each month is about that same number. 10-15%. It’s such a broad “human” number that I can only accept it as “this is how people are.”

I can’t stop the thoughts/fears from coming, but I can “let them out” again and be compassionate with myself for the slip. These worries come but don’t have to stay and, for me, recalling the Freakonomics Bagels story reminds me to open the backdoor and let them pass through.

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So the fact that your decline percentages are similar to the bagel statistics helps you frame your mindset around compassion instead of worry? That’s very cool, thanks for sharing!

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What comes, comes.

When I had my first major drop off I nearly freaked out. 33 percent of patrons had left, and I had no idea why. I was about to cancel Patreon forever. That huge loss in patrons (and income) just got the best of me.

I asked the remaining patrons what they thought I had done wrong. The answer was that I hadn’t done anything wrong. Content as usual.

Many came back later, and when I had the next major drop (from 138 to 88 patrons) I just sucked it up. People leave for different reasons. No money, content doesn’t seem right for them, new credit card that has not been accepted by the system.

Since we have no influence in what happens in patron’s mind I take it as it comes. Sometimes more earnings, sometimes less. That’s life. Accept and carry on. But most of all, NEVER stop doing what I love to do.

Those who love the same stuff will stay long. Others are only short visitors, so what. They come and go. I don’t care. I don’t depend on Patreon, I have a full time day job.

Patreon is my second full time day job, good side money. If it’s more income, good. If it’s less income, also good. In the past declines scared me, leaving patrons scared me.

Today I look at what I’ve got, and not on what I’ve lost. It’s easier to see it that way. There’s only one thing that pisses me off - when a leaving patron uses the survey and chooses “The creator didn’t engage like expected”.

I’m working my ass off to provide content for all my patrons to enjoy. So, if someone uses this phrase in a survey - instant block. Go away, don’t come back, go f yourself. Period.

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Love this.

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As far as dealing with the business side of it I do two things. On the day before the end of the month I make a post notifying patrons that their payments may be declined; talking about the overseas charge and how banks may view the payment as fraudulent and that they may have to check with their bank if it happens. Then, after all payments have been processed for the month, I look through my patrons list, select each one marked “declined” and send them all a message notifying they’ve been declined and will have to correct it to view my content going forward.

I usually lose around 30 patrons to The Dip and throughout the month all but 9 or so will come back/fix their payment.

As far as emotionally, it can be stressful. It’s not fun seeing all your progress for the month disappear overnight, but remember that most of them are not actually gone. One thing that helps me is to keep an eye on the notifications tab, specifically the number showing how many patrons you’ve had come in for the month (the +/- number at the top of the page comparing it to last months numbers). What I usually see is that the number on my main page has gone down 20 patrons, but in the notifications tab it only says “-3 patrons”, meaning of those 20 only 3 of them actually deleted their pledges, the other 17 were auto-declines and MOST of them do tend to come back. Don’t get too discouraged; again, it is stressful to see those numbers drop, but those numbers aren’t final and you will get some back.

This business is a roller coaster; you will have good days and you will have bad days. Don’t let those bad days get the better of you. Keep doing what you love and if you put your heart and effort into it then people will come.

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  1. Cuss under my breath.

  2. Check my patron manager, to see if there are declines. Remember to keep an eye on them, and maybe email later in the week, to help get it fixed.

  3. Try not to panic or take it personally if someone has ended their pledge.

  4. Use the dip as a reminder to mention that I’m on Patreon in that day’s social media posts, because it’s easy to add “hey, if you’d like to see more work like this, follow me on Patreon” to any post.

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Thanks everyone who shared their experiences with the dip! The dip is no joke, and seems like a difficult thing to manage both from an emotional and a business standpoint. But I’m hearing a lot of cool ideas on how to navigate it successfully and I’m excited to write a post that can help creators do that.

@lisavollrath, @ToH, @suzuki.shinji, @Etaski, @asmodrawscomics, @dekilah I may mention some of the advice you gave in this blog post. Is that alright with y’all?

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Wow, so auto-declines make up most of “the dip” for you — that’s good to know. I will definitely include something in this blog post around auto-declines, since it seems like a lot of creators on this thread are saying the same thing. Thanks for your response!

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That seems like a good idea from a business standpoint — to try to pushback against “the dip” with promotion. Have you had any luck mitigating the dip with this strategy? Thanks for sharing!

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Sure, that’s fine if you want to include some of my insight for the blog. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yup, no problem. Use whatever tip you find in my comment.

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I’m good with that :+1:

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Yes, I’m fine with you using what I wrote in a blog post. Thanks for asking.

I feel like it never hurts to give an extra mention, because I tend to forget to promote my page, thinking everyone who follows me already knows about it. I do tend to pick up replacements for the lost patrons pretty quickly, so maybe less promotion is a good thing for my followers.

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Awesome, thanks so much everyone! I think creators are really going to benefit from your wisdom. :slight_smile:

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Personally I never look at my stats and avoid looking at the counter when I go to post haha. It just stirs up so much anxiety. I know it will happen, I know it does to everyone, I know I can’t stop it, but it doesn’t stop the sense of dread and failure.

So what I do is I offer patreon exclusive merch and make my requests for art patreon only. In January of this year I was at 176 and now I am at 312 since I started doing the exclusive things. I don’t expect it to last, but I figured if I keep up with the exclusives it will help bring more in or make people consider staying longer. I get a lot of messages from patrons saying they’ve always been meaning to sign up, but just either wasn’t at the financial security yet or one of my exclusives finally made them do it.

I’m not sure how easy it is to sign up, but is there a video or something I can link to people just “Look how easy it is to sign up!” It’s be nice to link to people in case it comes up. A lot of potential patrons say this never used patreon, area afraid to, are worried about linking their info, etc. So I try to comfort them and walk them through any issues. I think a lot of it is procrastinating too since a lot tell me “ive been meaning too but never took the time” etc

But anyway I deal with it by just not looking and working harder to offer patreon exclusive and engaging with my supporters as much as I can.

It is neat though to see the numbers come back to “normal” ahaha ^^;; I think you just have to realize it’s going to happen, but if you want, make a post and try and engage with your community. No one knows better than the people supporting you on what you can do more or better.

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