Pay-up-front suggestion

After having all my content scraped a second time by a site-which-shall-not-be-named, I switched over to pay-up-front.

So far, it’s working fine with four new patrons. <3

With the first of the month coming up, I’m a little nervous. Everyone here knows the problems:

  • Creators have to charge full-price up-front for it to work like a proper paywall and deter thieves.

  • The system can’t pro-rate the initial charge (I mean, technically it could) but pro-rating just means thieves would sign up on the last day of the month, pay 1/30th the fee and then scrape all the content. The price wouldn’t function like a proper deterrent.

  • Rolling renewal dates (charging on the monthly anniversary of whenever the patron signs up) would increase everyone’s credit card costs (creators’ and Patreon’s) - and as we saw in December, that’s a hot mess. The secret of lower CC costs is batching as many transactions as possible on the first of the month.

  • The first three points lead to the big problem: Any new patrons who sign up toward the end of the month can feel like they’re getting double-billed at the start.

My suggestion: pro-rate the second charge.

In this case, if there’s a $10-tier paywall and a new patron signs up on the 15th, charge them the $10 up front and then $5 (the pro-rated amount) on the first of the next month. Then continue full-price charges on the first of each subsequent month.

Then, when Patreon sends the patron a confirmation e-mail, they let the patron know what to expect. “Thanks for becoming a patron of Steve Conley. You have been charged $10 and on the first of the next month you will be charged a lower, pro-rated amount of $5.00. You will be billed the full price for each month you remain a patron thereafter, etc…”

This way, it’s fair and doesn’t penalize patrons who join us late in the month (or worse, some smart patrons - and all our patrons are smart - might wait until the first of the month to get the most value. And if they wait, they may not sign up at all.

Just a thought.

— Steve

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That idea has come up before.

It would have to be optional, though. I give people the same rewards each month whether they sign up on the 1st or 31st. I don’t want these levels pro-rated, because I can’t pro-rate the reward. They might get double-billed for a late-month enrollment, but they get double-rewarded too.

There’s an argument to be made for pro-rating my higher tiers, which consist of more patronage and less stuff-getting. But I would only consider that if I could pro-rate some tiers but not others, which is asking for a decent amount of complexity.


I’m glad the idea’s come up before. (I couldn’t find it with a search - sorry for the duplication).

An opt-in makes sense. That’s a fair point an I hadn’t considered some way of doubling the rewards for back-to-back charges.

I had a backer jump in at the $25 level in the middle of the month and I’m fearing a negative reaction. I would definitely pro-rate it if I could.

– Steve

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hi @steve, thanks so much for the suggestion. I’m happy to hear charge-up-front is working well for you, but there’s always ways we can improve it. I do recognize that patrons who join near the end of the month can feel like they are being charged twice, and I believe we’ve added more in-product communication to try and limit the shock a patron might feel around that. Let me run this by the payments team to see what they think!

You may have seen this, I’ll link this help article as it has a lot of helpful scenarios in there for anyone who might be confused about charge up front.

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Thanks Mindy! I appreciate it. The new month started and the new supporters all seemed good with the new bill. :slight_smile:

Thanks again! – Steve

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excellent! so happy to hear that :slight_smile: