Looking back at 2020 and looking ahead to 2021: Community Edition

Hey everyone –

Below is an early look at a blog post that our Product team is publishing later this week about our 2021 plans. There are some extra resources I’ve added for the community that won’t show up in the public post. But first, I want to say thank you for your recent reminders about how important it is for us to communicate regularly and transparently with you about Patreon’s product development. Sharing this 2020 recap and look ahead at 2021 is just one way we are planning to connect better.

And, in case y’all haven’t heard the super exciting news yet, we are in an exciting and transitional moment: we’ve hired a new Chief Product Officer who will be joining the team in early February – Julian Gutman! Julian is currently the Head of Product for the Home experience of Instagram, where he is responsible for the Instagram Feed, Stories, Ranking, Video, Profile and Interactions. Julian will need some time to get onboarded but he’s already in the loop of much of the product feedback.

Until then, I’ve been engaging in active conversation with my colleagues on the Executive, Product, and Support teams, to name a few, about how we might improve the flow of information between our team and our creators about the Patreon product.

Thanks again for all your feedback and patience. See a special community edition of next week’s blog post below:


Looking back: in 2020 we…

Opened up to our global community

We rolled out support for Euro and GBP, and enabled both creators and patrons to choose their preferred currency. We also added support for 4 new languages: German, French, Spanish and Italian, allowing hundreds of thousands of creators and patrons to use Patreon in their native language. See our community announcements below:

Made hassle-free merch available to more creators

Creators who charge monthly now have access to Merch for Membership: our solution for getting exclusive merch out to patrons as part of their membership, without any of the hassle for creators. Patreon takes care of tracking eligibility, production, global shipping, and support.

Introduced Annual Membership, with a discount!

Who doesn’t love a discount? This year we launched Annual Membership, one of the most requested features from creators and patrons alike. Eligible Creators can enable the feature and set a custom discount on a whole year of membership in their settings. Annual membership is a great way to get new patrons: 35% of annual pledges actually come from new members, and the discount has allowed creators to offer compelling promotions to their audience.

Improved tools for running your membership

We made improvements to the Patron Relationship Manager to help you keep track of your communications with patrons and fulfill benefits quickly and easily. You now have access to customizable columns, time-saving shortcuts including “New” and “Cancelled,” Saved Filters to track recurring benefits, and more.

Took a big step forward for our Podcast community, with Acast

This year we launched our partnership with Acast, the world’s largest podcast network. Our integration enables podcasters to deliver secure, patron-only RSS feeds to patrons who can listen on their app of choice. Using it will give you access to advanced listener analytics through Acast, and seamlessly convert listeners to patrons to grow your membership. Learn more here.


In 2021, we’re looking to…

Improving the patron experience

Over the years, we’ve learned that one of the best ways to serve our creators is to ensure your patrons are happy. So in 2021, we’re focusing on improving the patron experience. We understand that thousands of you rely on Patreon to sustain your creative business and connect with your audience, and we take that seriously. The reliability of the mobile and desktop platform is a fundamental pillar of the patron experience, and we will continue to invest in it. And while Patreon needs to be dependable, we also want it to be a more engaging experience for your patrons by making it fun and easier to use.

Growing our global community

We will continue making Patreon a welcoming place for creators and patrons across the globe, so we’ll continue adding new languages, currencies, and payment methods throughout the year.

Making it easier for you to manage membership

While the Patron Relationship Manager helps you manage your audience, its real value is facilitating this direct connection with your patrons that makes your membership meaningful to them. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to manage your critical tasks quickly, so you can get back to creating and connecting with patrons. In 2021 we’ll work on making things easier to manage on the go - streamlining benefit tracking and delivery, and making vital patron details more easily accessible as you interact with them across posts and messages.

Helping patrons discover more of what they love

We know that as a creator, you put a lot of work into growing your audience and your creative business. When we ask you what you want more help with, growing your audience is the #1 request. When we ask patrons what they want, many of them say they’d like a better way to discover more creators on Patreon. We also know that patrons who pledge to more than one creator tend to stick around longer. We believe that by helping patrons find more creators they love, we can help you grow your business and improve patrons’ overall experience on Patreon. But we don’t want to build a system that recommends content in the same way that the big platforms do. We don’t need more algorithms that reward click-bait, superficial engagement and sensationalist content. We want to build features that allow creators to recommend other creators, and amplify the connections that already exist between communities that share interests. We want to do all of this in a way that respects you and the communities you’ve built. We’ll start by improving search so that anyone looking for a specific creator has a better chance of landing on their page, and start to add more ways to search by topic or genre. Then we’ll start testing ways to get community-curated recommendations to patrons and build features around what works best.


We have a long way to go but we’re excited to dive into this new year by doubling our efforts to make Patreon even better for you and your patrons.

5 Likes

I’m excited about the ability to recommend other creators in some official capacity because right now I do this by having banners in my about section which now gets lost because of the automated cropping if it’s “too long” ( :angry: ) but I’m rather concerned that your primary focus is the patron experience when the creator experience and the basic platform that creators need to be able to function on the platform, still needs much work, as per all the complaints here and the discord have had over the years about really basic needs not being filled. I really hope that you will take time to focus on those things… (like needing a very simply remove button that doesn’t send a nasty block email to someone who doesn’t deserve it!)

:grimacing: Crossing fingers and hoping hard.

4 Likes

I was about to come in here and say this too.

This is like, the exact opposite of what we’ve all been saying here.

But yeah, fingers crossed. I appreciate the post at least.

7 Likes

:point_up::point_up::point_up:This!!!

2 Likes

I agree with this sentiment.

I have to say I’m a little devastated that there are very basic functions I can’t perform on the go with the Patreon app. :sweat_smile: It would really help me serve my Patrons better as well as help me to be a much more efficient Creator. Giving the app more - even just basic functions - would really help a lot of us.

So I’m nervous, but following along.

3 Likes

why would my patrons be happy if i, the person creating the content that makes your money, am pissed off. you guys are still aiming at the wrong targets.

5 Likes

This once again reinforces what I’ve said for months now - Patreon does not understand that WE are their customers, and that patrons are OUR customers. Until they understand that we are their customers, their focus will be wrong.

10 Likes

Glad to see that better discoverability is on your list! Trying to drive off-Patreon traffic to our pages is super slow so we really need more ways to help those that are already on Patreon find more creators to support as they are more likely to actually support an artist.

1 Like

please focus on US, the creators and the platform WE use to make YOU money, before you focus on the patrons.

i’ve got my fingers crossed that patreon starts communicating with us like it promises.

4 Likes

I think the implementation of alternative payout methods for creators that could help them save money must be a priority No1!
PayPal does robs us with their currency exchange fee but we have to use it since we have no choice and Patreon seems doesn’t care.

Will the discovery features be extended to creators who have marked their page as adult?

I’d say that’s unlikely. The payment processors are all VERY wary of adult content, and by, in effect, paywalling it, Patreon stays safe from Paypal and the CC companies blacklisting them.

Is there any news on when Annual Payments will be able to roll out to creators on Pay Up Front/Monthly settings? I’d love to be able to offer it, I think my readers would really like the idea, but it’s not showing for me yet.

1 Like

When Jack and team had a chat with us about the discoverability stuff they were looking at my very first question was whether or not adult pages would be able to be a part of this and they very boldly and clearly said yes. I am still doubtful, but it sounded like something that had been considered and they were confident in.

2 Likes

I don’t buy it for the same reasons they used when they first cracked-down on adult content, then relented slightly. As I’ve pointed out, their policies on ‘objectionable’ content contain glaring inconsistencies and contradictions, and those haven’t been resolved

Remember, PayPal does not permit its service to be used for adult content of any kind.

What is PayPal’s policy on transactions that involve sexually oriented goods and services?

We don’t permit PayPal account holders to buy or sell:

Sexually oriented digital goods or content delivered through a digital medium. Downloadable pictures or videos and website subscriptions are examples of digital goods.

Now, that might be open to interpretation, but it reads to me as if PayPal can’t be used to by subscriptions to ‘adult’ digital media. See also the recent actions against large on-line porn sites that recently had their merchant services revoked.

It’s better for Patreon (and arguably for adult creators) to not surface adult materials or make them discoverable.

Did you intentionally leave the mention of anniversary billing out of this “community edition”?

Simplifying billing

Continuing the theme of keeping patrons happy, in 2021 we’re also tackling one of the biggest areas of confusion for patrons; understanding why and when they’re charged.

Right now, patrons of charge up front creators are billed immediately when they first sign up, and thereafter on the 1st of each month, leaving some patrons feeling like they’ve been wrongly double charged. As a result, we see fewer patrons signing up toward the end of the month, and increased cancellations at the beginning of the month.

This year we’re moving towards anniversary billing, where patrons’ renewal date each month will be the same date they joined. This will help increase conversion and retention and reduce pressure around the 1st of the month, giving you the freedom and flexibility to promote your membership on your schedule.

We’re working on introducing this model carefully through in-depth research and a pilot test with a handful of selected creators. We recognize that this may mean change for some of you — we don’t take that lightly and we’re dedicated to taking your feedback on board. We’ll be sharing regular updates with you all as we make progress to ensure you have plenty of notice and time to prepare ahead of any changes.

8 Likes

I was missing that too in this post here. I was very excited to read about it in the official blog post.
I would love to be part of the pilot test! I know my followers will love this and I will end up losing less patrons.

1 Like

I realize some would welcome this change. Good for you. As a monthly CUF creator this would kill my campaign, though.

Also the impact of the additional payment processing fees might be greater than the monthly dip (which is not caused by double charges - fyi). The correlation between the monthly dip and CUF double charges does not exist. The common denominator is the billing date. Just like there is a strong positive correlation between ice cream sales and homicide rates. When ice cream sales rise, so does homicide. So does this mean ice cream causes us to commit violent crime? Of course not. The common denominator in this case is the “summer”, the two variables are completely unrelated to one another.

I have 2 physical rewards tiers for which I have to make substantial investments each month, if my earnings are not available in the first week - this would delay my workflow and it is no longer sustainable for me.

Please take this into account, and make anniversary billing optional.

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This is exactly what happened last time. It made it so most patrons who supported several people, had to narrow it down to one or two people at most (before they switched charging those extra fees to creators), which then destroyed the 1, 2, and even 3$ tiers.

Collectively we likely lost thousands of dollars the day this was implemented last time. Patrons were dropping like flies, people had to shut down their pages, it was trending on Twitter for days.

Do we really want to do this…AGAIN?

3 Likes

Let me put what other people are saying into a different context:

Meetup.com has adopted a similar model - focusing on the people who sign up rather than the direct users (the organizers). As a result, both organizers and members are wary of the service (including me).

I’m also rather surprised that you weren’t up-front with these changes with us, the creators. It reminds me of the time that you switched processing fees over to Patreon supporters without our (or their) input, only to switch back when you were confronted over it.

I’m all for an annual subscription if a patron wishes it, but I really wish you had consulted with your direct users (the creators who gain monetarily) than simply announce this with little (if any) fanfare.

Gordon
Chicago Doctor Who Meetup