👋 Request for creator feedback on an upcoming launch: Tiers with itemized benefits + Fulfillment Mgr!

Hello, everyone! I’m Buster Benson, a new product manager at Patreon. I am super excited to have such a vibrant community of creators to participate in, and look forward to getting to know you all better over the coming weeks and months. I’ll do a more formal intro in the future, but for the moment I have a specific ask to make of you!

I’m looking for creators who have reward tiers that require manual work to fulfill. Things like remembering to follow people on social networks, remembering to send new patrons links to download, remembering to send some kind of physical good to creators in certain tiers, etc. Basically, if you need to keep track of who gets what, and when, then we’re launching something that might be able to help you (we’re calling it the Fulfillment Manager, and it works off of another new feature that lets you itemize the benefits you offer in tiers)… and I’d love your feedback!

If this sounds like you, can you share the following in a comment on this thread?

  • What do you offer to patrons that requires tracking?
  • What is the process that you use to make sure your patrons get what you’ve offered?
  • How well (or alternatively, poorly) does this process work for you?
  • How do you think about pricing your tiers in order to make the process worth it to you?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and get any feature built for you to help make this easier to do, what would you wish for?

Alternatively, if this doesn’t sound like you, I still have a couple questions for you:

  • Is there anything that you would like to offer patrons but feel like the amount of work required to fulfill it is prohibitive? If so, can you think of any ways that we could simplify the process that would make this easy enough that you could then offer it?

And, regardless of which of the above scenarios apply to you: do you have any general feedback, questions, concerns, or fears about us introducing a new feature like this? Send me your candid thoughts, whatever they are!

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Hi Buster! Great questions!

In my higher tiers I offer physical goods (twice and four times a year respectively). I also have a Patron Milestone system: when a patron reaches certain amounts of cumulative support, they get something from me of increasing value.

I use the notes in the PRM to write down what I sent and for which milestone. I don’t have many patrons so otherwise it’s laid back, I may not get things out sharply on time but eventually they get there.

It works, but it’s patchy. I have my patron notes in the PRM, but these can only be viewed individually, and I have to keep my private notes on rewards (which includes my own guidelines for what to send, inventory of what I have in stock to send, etc) on a desktop app. Being able to have it all in one page and see everything at a glance would be handy.

Pricing tiers took a lot of thinking and then trial and error, and I don’t think you ever get at a final arrangement that will work forever. I’m always tweaking a little. Again, this works because I don’t have too many patrons, but if I had a sudden surge of them, I would have to rethink it all again to make sure I can manage.

An enhanced PRM where I could include general private notes and also have a better overview of what has been sent, including the ability to flag up something as a reminder, check completed stuff that can be hidden (but be shown again if needed), and also write down what I need to send in the future, with some kind of optional reminder function. It would make it much easier to organize.

[quote]• Is there anything that you would like to offer patrons but feel like the amount of work required to fulfill it is prohibitive? If so, can you think of any ways that we could simplify the process that would make this easy enough that you could then offer it?
[/quote]

I would like to be able to easily offer discounts in my shops to my patrons, by tier. Currently the only way to do that is for me to write a patron-only post with discount codes, but that gets buried, people can’t find it again, and if I have to write a different one for each tier, people in higher tiers will be bombarded with a confusing range of codes. Since they are widely different shops (Etsy, Artfinder, Teachable) I’m not even hoping for integration with Patreon, but what would be great would be some kind of widget that is always there, maybe in a banner form at the top of my posts, that says something like “Access your discounts” (better yet if the creator can set the text). When a patron clicks on it they access the info relevant to their tier in a little pop-up (on my side I would write one for each tier or groups of tiers, and be able to easily keep them updated). This way they would know where to go when to look up that info, and also presumably would be reminded of it whenever they look at my page, which could bring some purchases my way. For anyone not a patron the pop-up would encourage them to pledge in order to enjoy the discounts (or whatever – for other creators it could be secret links, or the password of the month, anything).

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Hello!

We make games, and right now out Patreon offers a cumulative lifetime reward scheme on top of the “soft” rewards in our pledge tiers: http://www.patreon.com/puppygames

Right now, to manage this, I have to download the Patreons CSV every month, run the CSV through a program I’ve written, and that contacts my server to retrieve Steam keys, and then I have to message everyone who’s got a new key or two and say “Hey, go here to get your Steam keys according to our lifetime rewards scheme etc.” Needless to say it’s totally onerous.

If we could have a magic wand, it’d be to specifically be able to set cumulative reward tiers (in addition to the ordinary Patreon tiers), and have patrons notified automatically when they have reached these tiers with a markup template of our choosing containing some sort of templateable fields that we could use to hit a custom URL on our site, eg. http://www.puppygames.net/patreon/lifetime.php?email=x@y.com&pledged=40.0&authkey=abcdef1234

The trickiest part is the authkey, which would have to be a privately signed DSA signature for the email and lifetime pledge amount. At Puppygames we’d have the corresponding public key over on our server so we could verify the request.

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I make artwork and at the start of the month I bundle everything my Patrons have been seeing in the feed for that month into compressed files, upload them to Dropbox and then send them out in links to their specific tiers. It’s been working just fine for me so far and prevents the bots from stealing the links that would be displayed in my feed if I posted them there. It’s cut down a lot on people releasing my content for free without my consent.

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That’s a clever strategy! If you had a magic wand, how would you change this to save you time and energy?

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This is super useful, thank you! So, if there were a way to automatically message patrons when they reached a certain lifetime pledge threshold, that included an authkey that only you could generate or validate?

Would it work if you sent the email with a generic link but then required them to authenticate their Patreon account in order to retrieve Steam keys from you?

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Thank you for taking the time to share all of this excellent feedback! I like that idea about an easy way to retrieve links and discount codes. Would you prefer that this be a special page that everyone accessed or would it be okay if people got a templated private message (or email) at the appropriate time with the links?

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I really feel it’s better that it be a special page that can be easy to find on the creator’s profile. There have been many requests for a sticky post of some kind and that’s the general idea, though I realize I requested something less simple to implement. Why a page rather than email:

  • If it’s an email, that means people have to receive a new one every time there is a change. Confusing for them and inhibiting for me.
  • What do you do with an email that contains information you want to save, but not to use right now? Only the very organized will save it in a special folder or copy the info to their notes. I’m organized, but 100% I would let it sit in my inbox forever and completely forget about it and then struggle to find it on the day I do want to access the codes. And if the creator updated their codes every month, I’d need to remember to delete older ones or end up with piles of them sitting there,which is the more likely outcome. FAR BETTER to know that when I want to find the most updated info on my perks, I will find it on that creator’s profile and the onus is not on me to manage this info.
  • If it’s sent by email to patrons, we lose the teaser potential of a page that is sitting there but not revealing its secrets to anyone else.
  • If it were a page, perhaps we could control when it becomes accessible to a backer? Asking for more magic there, but given the ongoing conundrum of people pledging then cancelling before payment, it could be a way to counter that abuse.

I’m not opposed to people getting one email about this upon signing up as a backer: but that doesn’t require a new feature, we can use our thank you message for that. It’s not tier-specific but that’s not an issue: again, due to the issue above I wouldn’t want to give away high tier codes upon sign up – but I might say “here’s 10% off for now, and after your first month you’ll be able to always find up-to-date codes on my profile page.”

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Thank you for this clarification. Here is how I’m now interpreting your feedback. A solution should:

  1. Not have to be resend a new email or post whenever something changes or is added.
  2. Be linked from the creator page, so patrons don’t have to be super organized.
  3. Potentially exist in a preview/teaser state for people who aren’t yet patrons.
  4. Allow for some additional logic to prevent accessing content before payment happens.

I agree that email isn’t the right answer for all of this… other than perhaps as a way to notify patrons where the page is, how to find it again, and maybe notifications when it changes.

If the above is correct I think I see a couple different ways to solve for that (I’m still new at Patreon and building up my understanding of all the different nuances and problems here). I think these problems are all things we could and should solve. There are also some ways to solve this with integrations… I’m curious if you or other creators have explored that route and found ways to link to “patron-only” pages on Wordpress or other community or content products.

If not, how open are you to the idea of creating a Wordpress blog that’s used entirely as an extension of your Patreon page? You could link pages and posts to specific tiers (directly from reward descriptions even), which then get unlocked by reward tier. I can write a quick how-to if that’s interesting at all.

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I ended up writing this up to try to explain how Wordpress could potentially be a solution to some of the feedback in this thread: How to set up a Wordpress blog to be a patron-only companion site linked to your tiers Let me know if it’s useful or not!

Make myself rich so I could hire an assistant to do that for me XD

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I send digital files from DriveThruRPG.com (one of the OneBookShelf family of sites) after the monthly payments have gone through. New patrons for the month always get a few files, but which ones differ based on tier. Then all paying patrons get an additional file for the month. On some months, patrons of a certain tier and above get an additional file.

I have a spreadsheet of patrons at each tier and their DriveThruRPG account names, with an additional sheet of which tiers get which files.

It’s a massive pain to handle, mainly because DriveThruRPG requires me to do it one file/e-mail address at a time for certain sets (depending on which program they’re in in DTRPG). So I might have to click through the screen to send a link more than 200 times, pasting in a different e-mail every time. Some of the sets were created under different DriveThruRPG accounts, so I may have to switch accounts in the middle too.

It’s also frustrating that in the last couple months Patreon switched from processing my patrons midday on the 1st to super-late night on the 1st or early on the 2nd. That means I really can’t send out rewards until the second (because I’m not willing to stay awake waiting for payment processing), though people expect their rewards on the first.

It would be amazing if Patreon had OneBookShelf integration, such that I could just configure which tiers get which digital rewards each month, and it would happen for each person as soon as they paid. WAAAY less work for me, more immediate rewards for my patrons. Win-win!

(But it would need to handle setting up account integration such that my Patreon account is able to send files owned by different DriveThruRPG accounts. Either I could log in to DTRPG several times during this setup, or I could name the accounts/files and DTRPG could prompt each account owner to accept it.)

P.S. they are ZIP files containing STL models for 3D printing

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Woah, Aaron, this sounds intense! I feel your pain. Would you be open to having a quick call sometime this week so I can understand that better and see if either our upcoming Fulfillment Mgr release, API V2 release, or some combination of the two could save you a ton of time every month.

I’m open to it provided I can figure it out! I’m very interested in the WP plugin but haven’t dared install it yet because I’m not a techie, and my WP.org site uses a custom made theme. So I have no idea if that would mess with it, and I have yet to sit down and make a special effort to understand the process. My website is a portfolio site mostly but with an attached blog that I’m currently under-using, so I would love to integrate that with Patreon. Thanks for writing out an explanation!

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I’d be happy to have a call. You can mail me at ammulder@alumni.princeton.edu to set up a time.

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Joumana, yeah, it should work and I’m happy to help you figure it out! If you run into any technical trouble with Wordpress and plugins, we can also help there (the developer for the plugin is very responsive to questions over at patreondevelopers.com). I think creating a single page mapped to each tier, locked to patrons of that tier, and linking to it from your reward text, could potentially help address many of the points you brought up previously. But it would be great to confirm if that’s true or not.

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All of my rewards require manual work to fulfill, mostly preparing and posting songs, videos, and podcasts. A Fulfllment Manager that tracked what I shared and reminded me of what items were needed would be nice… not a game-changer, but a useful tool. The part of the process that I think needs the most attention would be better metrics on how my patrons are accessing my posts.

That is to say, the tracking that would be most useful to me would be better metrics of how many people listen to songs, watch videos, stream my podcast, etc. The current system is like driving blind. As a contrast, I’ve curated and shared some Soundcloud streams on my Patreon page, and I can see clearly how many people listened, and on what days, which allows me to clearly track engagement and shelf-life. I’d love a feature that gave me a clean graphic view of the metrics of how my patrons engage with my posts.

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I agree that that would be useful! Do you want clicks most or are views just as important? Have you explored putting links behind link shorteners at all? It’s not ideal but could help fill this gap until we are able to get to it.

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I think we all want to have better metrics of both views and clicks!! If I get 2 clicks on a post, I really need to know whether that’s 2 clicks out of 6 views or out of 600! I agree with @ralphcovert that currently we have no idea how much outreach our posts have.

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I’m not sure what a “link behind a link shortener” is, so I guess not!

Better metrics on how many of my patrons view/listen a link will help me both better understand my reach, and frankly provide me the oxygen of knowing they’re even paying attention! Right now the only way I can tell if a post even went live properly is if I get a comment. Folks will tell me in person how ,much they liked this or that, but like I said I feel like I’m flying blind.

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