I love and loathe the beginning of each month for THIS reason

Gosh, I LOVE getting my payout from Patreon at the beginning of the month. LOVE IT! But the beginning of each new month also raises my anxiety due to all the declines.

From around the 30th of the previous month until the 5th day of the new month, I can’t even look at my community on Patreon. My heart breaks as I see the numbers drop. I lose 3% of my patrons every month due to credit cards that decline.

I try to prep myself by taking a calculator and subtracting the 3% from my current list of patrons so when I pop back in on the 5th, I’m not surprised. But it does little to release my anxiety. I spend all month attracting new patrons only to lose as many when the new month arrives.

So, I want to make it clear that I’m talking about patrons with credit cards that decline, NOT patrons who decide to delete their pledge.

Strategies on how you deal with this? Do you email patrons one by one whose cards have declined? Has that worked? Are you trying something else? Does the drop in patron numbers not bother you? If so, what’s your strategy? I know that Patreon tries emailing the patron a few times, so outside of that, do you try something else?

While I welcome advice such as breathing, meditating, unattaching from the outcome, journaling through my fears, I do all those things (my community is all about expressive writing). I’m looking for tips outside of what I’m already doing.

12 Likes

At some point you need to turn away from the constant number-watching and just let things happen. At this point, I’ve stopped caring about dropping numbers on the 1st.
Why?
Because it happens. Every. Single. Month.

Patreon talks about creators having uncertainty in their income being the largest creator of stress. I find that’s only a problem if you’re constantly watching your numbers - just like an unpaid bill on the fridge, staring you in the face every morning is also a major cause of stress.

Fans will be fans because they like you for being you. If you’re attracting fans based on what you’re able to give them in return for their money, I’d say those are not true fans.
I myself prefer to be patient, and let those who want to support me, to do-so without pressure on myself to provide them with a ‘thing’ because they decided to support me.

People have troubles all the time keeping up with monthly payments. Now that every durn service on the internet has, or is implementing some sort of subscription fee, I don’t find it at all surprising that every month beginning starts with a pile of declines.

I think you need to stop stressing out over the inevitable.

7 Likes

When someone’s payment declines, I send them a patreon PM detailing that this has happened, remind them to check thier payment info and make sure it’s up to date as patreon will try again and link them to faq on declines. I let them know that if they have
any questions or concerns, to feel free to ask me and say thank you for thier support.

Not everyone responds but some do and it does help those paying attention. (I used to remove folks by the 5th if thier payment hadn’t gone through but I can’t do that now since there is no remove button and blocking sends misleading emails for just simple removals.
Luckily lately people eventually process by the 5th but it’s a problem when they don’t. Can only poke people so many times.

6 Likes

When is the best time to email patrons who were declined? After the 5th when Patreon has finished processing all the payments?

It’s exhausting having to repeatedly contact people about that, and it’s especially disheartening when it happens over and over again with the same patrons. Every time I contact my patrons about it, I always feel like I’m annoying them. I’m glad that Patreon also takes action on behalf of us to contact declined patrons but honestly I would rather not deal with this at all.

2 Likes

I suggest contacting them on the 4th or 5th to give them time to correct on their own if it’s a lot of people- or make a post saying there has been a handful of declines to encourage people to check. Sometimes they just don’t notice and patreon’s emails go into spam or are drowned out.

I share a discord with some other creators and we all post updates during processing to let people know when everyone has processed. If there were declines we’ll usually private message immediately (some patrons prefer to be notified asap!) or a general ‘Hey- some of y’all declined- please check your payments!’ Message if it’s a handful of people (to avoid singling out people while not having to dm/pm a lot of people.)

The last two payment cycles have been surprisingly smooth for myself and other creators I know- so hopefully that’s a good sign for future processing days!

1 Like

I suggest having a “payment declined” email template that can politely invite the patron to update the card.

this was spoken about on another thread as an absolute bonus for capturing those patrons who might otherwise forget about their recurring cost. It could still have some patrons who let it be, but I would imagine many more would take the action to update the card info or make the undesired choice to delete the pledge. As they delete the pledge, there is an exit survey which could provide insights to use with future revisions of your Patreon that others will appreciate all the more.

4 Likes

Then don’t contact anyone at all.
With consistent declines, it’s often because the payment hasn’t coincided with that particular Patron’s payday. That’s what happens most often with almost every single one of my declines.
Given enough time, they usually sort themselves out. With a decline consistently for 3 months or more is when I become concerned and start messaging folks.

Thing is, your Patrons paying you is low on their priority list. Patrons just don’t care as much about the monthly payment to me vs. their Netflix payment - I know which one they’ll choose. The fact that anyone fixes their declines at all is good enough for me. Even if it does take them another month to do-so. I just don’t sweat these sorts of things. Have an understanding of where a person’s Patronage to you is on their priority list will help relieve that stress.

4 Likes

If I already have a good relationship with the patron who has had the declined payment, I will message them outside of the Patreon platform to let them know that it has happened. Usually they are completely unaware, and sometimes the message Patreon has sent has gone to spam or been left unread.

If I don’t already have a relationship with them, I will wait until mid-month to see if they have sorted it out. If not, I will send a Patreon message to them. Usually though, the only people I don’t have a relationship with are only paying a small amount each month so I don’t pursue it if I can’t get in contact.

It’s the nature of taking payments that some will always be declined. It happens on every payment processor’s system. If you know it’s usually around 5% then this is good, as at least you can prepare for it.

Learn to expect it, then set aside a few hours on a certain day each month to get in contact with any patrons you need to. If you roll it into your routine then it won’t bother you as much.

3 Likes

This is an ongoing challenge for me too. I love the advice in the comments. Thanks everyone!!

1 Like

I usually message in the first instance, after 3 days. I know most of my patrons personally or online already, so I feel comfortable with that.

I also decided not to put all my eggs in one basket and be dependent on Patreon paying my rent, as I previously did. I developed a subscription signup for students to study closely with me on a mentoring program called poetry dōjō and 5 signed up. I’m already earning the same as my Patreon income from this, within 24 hours of setting it up. So now I have these two income streams, plus an income from writing for a popular online newsletter. I aim to introduce two further streams, a subscription newsletter once the dōjō is up and running fully and I’m in the swing of things, and then a print series in my shop.

I went full commerce subscription on my SquareSpace site, investing 25% of my Patreon income, to set up subscriptions, and within 24 hours it equalled my Patreon income. I believe it’s important that we treat this as a business, and don’t rely on a singular source. I’m self employed and depended entirely on Patreon from February 2017 until yesterday. Now it’s around 40% of my overall income (gross).

Being professional pays off. Leaps and bounds. Go for it dear friends. Reinvest part of your Patreon income in developing additional streams of income.

I love Patreon dearly, and it serves a clear purpose to my fans, students, patrons and other supporters. But if I depend on it totally and it goes down in one way or another, I’m in dire straits, and that’s not good business, nor is it good household management.

I now promote my Patreon as access to Andō, the director’s cut, as a way to see my personal notebooks, process, behind the scenes etc. It works.

Good luck everyone on your Patreon adventures, we are such a diverse community here!

4 Likes

@Ando Thanks for these great insights and suggestions. Can you share your website as I’m interested to see how you’ve structured the subscription portion? I am grateful for Patreon but have found that some of those who are interested in my content are more comfortable with - wow, can this be? - an Old School approach. That is, via a blog. If sharing website isn’t allowed here, please advise how I might reach out to you. Again, thanks for your perspective. Really helpful.

3 Likes

I messaged you Casey.

I have found that there are still many people who are staying outside of Patreon, who write, saying they wish to support me, but this is not the way for them. Some send donations and gifts (you’ll see why when you visit my website).

I see a future where my Patreon builds for longer form behind the scenes (director’s cuts) and hidden works, with my main work being presented on my journal. I miss my journal.

But Patreon is feeding me, and housing me, just, and I’m clear it works for some, at a certain level. But bearing in mind I’m having to bring my people here specially, from my website and social media, it doesn’t exactly make sense, unless I use it well, in a unique way. I’m looking for that way.

Hope we can continue our helpful conversation!

Andō.

2 Likes

Thanks to each creator who chimed in. I want to especially thank @Temrin @Nekomata @Prevail @TeamJemjie for the suggestion re: the decline payment email. I really like that idea and I shall implement it going foward.

Most of all, thank you @Ando for the reality check around not putting all of one’s eggs in a single basket. When I got honest with myself, it all comes down to my fear of losing my consistent cashflow. My Patreon earnings cover my rent, utilities, and business expenses, with a bit left over that I save in a separate account to fund my documentary. To go from inconsistent income as a digital marketer to consistent income as an independent writer is so freeing. I don’t want to lose that freedom.

Two months ago, I launched a licensed program because a few of my patrons wanted permission to use my content in their workshops and coaching sessions. I’m happy about this new income stream as it has taken the worry off of only relying on the income that comes through Patreon.

I’m also working on an additional subscription model for another program that patrons have been asking for. I’ll be launching that in June 2017.

Like @casey, I’d love to see your website so I can see how you’re structured your additional subscription model. Can you share with me as well, Ando?

3 Likes

The declines drive me crazy. Two steps forward, one step back, etc. What about charging new subscribers $1 (or maybe 1-cent) when they sign up just to verify they’re using a working payment method? The dollar can be deducted from their end-of-the-month billing. At the very least, this should stop scammers from trying to sneak in the door.

2 Likes

I just send a message saying their card was declined and to update it. After a few days it will go through and I can send them rewards.

2 Likes

At the beginning of each month, the decline is 15%. I do not panic, because I know that half of these patrons will return within a month. Approximately 8% of patrons unsubscribe, this is normal, this is natural. Also, the growth of new patrons exceeds the outflow of old ones.

I also have income on other sites. My income exceeds my expenses. I sleep well, as each month happens about the same.

3 Likes

My lowest tier is now $5 (up from $3) to curb those who want to pay, then cancel on the same day just to gain access to my content. And I don’t allow any rewards if someone chooses the Custom Pledge and does $4 or less.

Also, I changed my community to Charge-Up-Front about 8-months ago so that when people join my community, their payment method if validated right away.

1 Like

Yes, I email each of them, and mention that their card was declined on Patreon this month and ask them if they are okay. Usually they tell me they got a new card, and then they update it. I wish there were a better way, but this is the only effective means I have found!

2 Likes