We want and need your input on billing

Hi creators,

We want to address the confusion around billing started by our recent blog post. Our intention was to transparently give creators an early look at changes we’re thinking through. The impact was a lot of confusion and frustration. We’re sorry.

Any changes to billing are still in the early stages of discovery. We are doing heaps of research and testing to make sure this is the right move and create a tool that will work for creators, without disrupting their benefits.

So many creators have shared their thoughts on Twitter, the community Discord, and right here in the forum. We want to be able to consolidate this feedback into one place and have a dedicated thread to share updates. Moving forward, please share all of your thoughts and ideas regarding Annual Billing here.

We also put together a product survey about billing you can fill out for the product team here:

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Collecting previous feedback threads so those of you who have already shared don’t need to repeat yourself. Will add threads as I go:

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i’m going to try and sum up the input that i’ve seen floating around from multiple creators, myself included:

don’t fuck with billing.

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It’s a shame to see that you’re responding to this because you got called out for it. From what I’ve seen, communication and transparency with your users has been non-existent. You push changes that, from an outsider’s perspective, nobody really asked for, then proceed to do damage control to act like the “good guys.” It’s not enough that there have been issues plaguing the site for years that you STILL have not addressed. I don’t know what your definitions of “transparency” and “communication” are but this is clearly not it. My advice to the Patreon team: do better, actually listen to feedback, don’t mess with billing.

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Most artists do monthly rewards. If people don’t get charged at the start of the month but random over the month, the problem would be that people can steal content.
If I join at 30. January. I would want the content from January. But if I’m rebilled at the 28. February, I would get the whole content from February without paying if I leave before it.
Our only solution would be that content can’t be posted publicly anymore and only cloud links can be send out one month later.
For us this would be the moment we would stop with Patreon and rely on Gumroad fully.

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Do not do anniversary billing.

Don’t.

The end.

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I asked my patrons on my discord how they would feel about this billing change if it were implemented for them. The resounding response was negative and that they would rather follow me to another platform that charges once per month.

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Short version: Don’t do it.

Long version: I’ve expressed in several ways with great nuance over the years why anniversary billing would be bad, and I will not waste any more of my time giving you opportunities to pay lip service to me and my peers until you make significant commitments to not fucking us and communicating clearly what changes you are contemplating and implementing. Thanks. Don’t do it.

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Aside from the hassle it’d create for me as a creator with sending out my monthly rewards, nevermind managing my budget and book-keeping, imagining pledging to other creators and getting charged several times a month is not appealing to me, and from what I’ve seen others think the same.

I want to say that it’s increasingly tiring and frustrating to see Patreon constantly mess about with minor issues and changing billing and payment terms while citing “improved experience for patrons”, yet it has been literal years of suggestions from us creators to you on how you can improve our patrons experiences with the site and nothing have been adressed - something as minor as easily browsing our Patreon feeds to find their rewards is a hassle. The lack of communication feels unprofessional at best, downright malicious at worst.

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As a visual artist, I have several popular tiers where I offer mailed, physical rewards. Currently, I send those out once billing at the start of the month is completed. With a staggered billing system, I do not know how I could efficiently send out mailed rewards to Patrons. It would be much more time consuming to have to send them throughout the month as each Patron is billed. I would probably need to discontinue mailed rewards or leave the platform.

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No. Anniversary. Billing.

Not only is this a pain in the rear for anyone trying to budget - and trust me, I know I’m not the only creator that is trying to balance my budget right now - but it is just begging to become a problem. I understand that the two that we have right now (monthly and up-front) are less than perfect, but good LORD why would you think that this would be a good idea? Is it to get more payments through processing? Because I sure as hell can’t see this going well for patrons or creators, considering that you’ll go from watching your bank account for a short chunk of the month to all month.

I have to run this as a careful consideration. I have to manage my rewards very carefully to ensure that I don’t overwork myself or overextend my promises of support to my patrons. That is only possible through the fact that they all get processed at the same time and I know what they’re owed. Having payments come in through various chunks like this would also be problematic, as it means I can’t budget around having x-amount of payments at a specific time of month. I would have to wait and hope that they all came in on time.

Do not change this. Or if you do, do not force this on everyone. I cannot see this being helpful in the slightest.

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“Don’t fix it if it’s not broken”

I’m shocked to read this, as it goes against the monthly reward cycles that I’ve seen all other creators I know have been using… and well, I use it myself. This leaves a huge door for people to pay a month to get two months of rewards and would require overhead work on the side of creators, an overhead work that is not needed now, and that might still not be necessary in other alternative platforms.

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Don’t do this. It would be horrible for patrons and creators alike.

From the patron side of things, it’s needlessly complicated and messy. If you pledge to multiple creators, why would you want to be charged multiple times a month? I doubt anyone is ACTUALLY confused by the way things are now–being charged monthly, at the start of the month, is pretty obvious, and most things work that way. It’s not a new concept.

From the creator side, it’s even worse. It messes with people’s income. Can you imagine being drip-fed your paycheck over the course of a month? What other job would have the audacity to pay you like that? It also complicates things for creators who send out monthly rewards and things like that…

I’m begging the Patreon team to stop coming up with these ridiculous ideas that only benefit company shareholders and hurt the people actually trying to use the platform. It really sucks to have to get online every couple years and yell at Patreon to not implement a change that would destroy the website.

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The very simple solution to this problem is

DO NOT DO IT

I have not seen a single person who is in favor of this. The issue you are trying to ‘solve’ The whole “double billing” thing is a problem of people not reading the very clear information presented to them when they sign up as a patron of someone. It states very clearly if you will be charged that day and then states very clearly when the next billing cycle is. If your problem is that people are creating tickets that this is a problem that’s not an issue with the billing procedure. That’s a problem with reading comprehension.

Simple solution. Move the “Next Charge Date” info box above where you click to confirm your subscription. If people still don’t read, well I suggest an automated system to deal with those tickets that says “Read Better”

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Just don’t do this anniversary billing thing, please. It will be confusing both for creators and patrons: the former will have a total mess with their monthly rewards, especially if it’s something that need to be shipped, and the latter will forget when they must pay which creator. It’s better to have some money saved up for one date, than to be billed on seemingly random days of the month and keep enough money on your account all the time.

Instead, just give new patrons BIG RED WARNING, if they’re going to pledge within a week till the end of month. And give them option to automatically pledge on the 1st day of next month if they don’t want to be “double-charged”, or to pledge right now if they’re okay with that and want to get benefits specific for this month.
Problem solved.

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The way you underestimate creators and patrons is apalling. I clearly state how the upfront billing works in my description and so far I haven’t had any complaints. My patrons know to pause or quit before the end of the month so it’s all good. Please don’t enforce anniversary billing, it will do more harm than good.

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I get that some people REALLY want anniversary billing, but it is going to screw over a lot of people too. The very first line in our introduction is a disclaimer that we bill up front. The only time we have ever had anyone complain about it, we just refunded them for their first month. I am not super worried about people stealing content, because I post everything publicly eventually anyway. I am on really friendly terms with many of my Patreon supporters, none of them want this, it just muddies the water too much. True, I have less than 100 people, and patreon is not my main source of income, but if it works, leave it alone. Hell, if you have to change it, make it an option, like the up front billing (especially since you have made it so that once someone does up front billing, they can’t change back). This really feels like pulling the rug out from under people since it now becomes an “Oh, well, just create a new account and transfer all your stuff over there” which is a logistics nightmare, and I would rather just switch to subscribestar if that is going to your solution.

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Survey link is ready to go. I’ve added it to the original post, but you can also find it here:

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Don’t do it. Please. This will kill my Patreon, and because of the pandemic it is pretty much my ONLY income at the moment, and even at that, it’s not enough to make up for the store I lost due to my country not shipping reliably internationally at the moment.

Currently, I do not use pay up front because of the reward system I set, and I use monthly for a REASON. If I wanted another option, I’d chose another option, but I need it to be monthly, or it changes not only my whole system but makes me have to individually track 300+ patrons and their reward status. I am one person, I physically cannot do that, especially with my time and money situation.

Sometimes it feels like you guys don’t think about creators below a certain intake or popularity level, and it really makes us feel like we’re not worth much when you drop things on us like this. It might be worth working on your relationship with creators rather than coming up with new ideas like this and dropping them on us out of the blue and giving us all heart attacks over loss of in come IN A PANDEMIC. The system is already tenuous at best, it feels like, and when you pull stuff like this, and ESPECIALLY when you announce it to the public, it can lose us patrons who pull out before anything changes (like the last time). I would like to go at least one year without a threat to my income, because that’s what these always turn out to be.

Please reconsider this decision. And consider the more instances like this, the more people will look for other options that don’t pull things over on us. Thanks for listening and I hope you hear all the voices begging for this to not happen.

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