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.