What Killed My Growth On Patreon - Breaking Through The Plateau

I recently created a video about how my channel has grown (or not grown) over the last few years. I had a huge burst of growth followed by a year-long plateau and so you may be interested to hear how I’m breaking through that. I’ll also share what I did that may have caused the plateau.

Here’s the video on YouTube if anyone is interested: https://youtu.be/ODi8G2EZJJQ

I’d like to hear from others how you have overcome your own plateaus in growth on Patreon.


Really interesting to hear from another creator, thanks! I’m growing slowly and am trying to be mindful of making big changes in case it results in a plateau, while ensuring I don’t go overboard with what I’m offering.


It’s a delicate balance for sure!


@aaronrutten thank you for the video overview on why your community plateaued. My experience has been as follows:

  • My first year on Patreon (Nov 2017 to Oct 2018), I experienced rapid growth, going from 2 to over 600 patrons.

  • My community peaked at 823 patrons in Dec 2018. That year I had an amazing Christmas as I pulled in just a few dollars shy of $7K in pledges. However, in my second year on Patreon (Nov 2018 to Oct 2019), my patrons steadily declined, dropping to 500 patrons.

  • Now, going into my 3rd year on Patreon, I’ve plateaued to 475-480 patrons over the past 3 or 4 months. I attract a few patrons, which is great, and then I lose the same amount, which is not so great.

My issue is less about rewards and tiers, and more about whether patrons are getting an emotional experience through the content I publish.

In my first year on Patreon, I released a writing prompt every week that patrons used to unpack their unconscious biases. They’d journal through the prompts offline, post their reaction in the comments, and I’d respond. At one point, I just couldn’t keep up with the number of comments - they were so many. For higher tiers, I offered a monthly gathering over Zoom to go deeper. I also offered a weekly patron-only audio podcast. Lots of content.

In March 2019, I published the last prompt, killed the audio podcast, and stopped offering the monthly gathering over Zoom. I was just plain exhausted and also felt I was repeating myself across the different media. I went from a predictable weekly publishing calendar (prompts on Fridays, podcast on Mondays, essays on Tue / Wed / Thu) to publishing essays 1-2 times per month, and only when I felt like it.

Offering content for patrons to read doesn’t keep them around (at least that’s my theory); offering content that allow patrons to have an emotional experience seems to be the trick in raising patron numbers. Of course, marketing helps too, but I’m focusing on what can be done to retain the patrons I already have.

Now, here I am in March 2020, and I’m finding my focus again. I’m going back to releasing writing prompts again on a predictable schedule, but this time, using video content to introduce the prompt. I’m moving from writing to documentary filmmaking and I’m eager to see how my community grows as a result of the renewed focus. The first 52 prompts I published in the community between Oct 2017 and Mar 2019 are being put into a book and I’m trying to figure out how to do a special offer around that.

Ultimately, I know that whoever loves me and my work will stick around, no matter what I offer. And I also want to provide an experience to patrons to thank them for their continued support, so I can grow my community back up to 800+ and more.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts @lrhall and @aaronrutten. I found them so helpful! There’s a balance between offering regular predictable content and avoiding burnout.

I’ve been fairly plateaued for about 2 years, I think mostly because I didn’t have many patron-exclusive offerings and I wasn’t vocal about promoting my page. Hopeful to be more mindful about those two things going forward.


Hi, @irhall,

Thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like you are doing really well and experiencing one of the not-so-bad plateaus. Your story gets me thinking about whether or not I am providing emotional value in my own offerings. I tend to think of what I offer as more of a utility, but perhaps I should be promoting the emotional benefits as well. I agree that emotional bond is a strong force that creates long-term patrons.

I do art critiques and a monthly art challenge, but those are very underutilized. I’ll have to think on this, but I really appreciate you sharing your experience in detail. Have a great day!

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Agreed, @sciencemom, promotion definitely helps. I try to mention Patreon wherever I can without being too spammy about it. Looks like your quarantine live streams are doing really really well!


You’re onto something with the emotional value thing. I don’t think I was providing much emotional value early on with my patronage. Once I began to add it, patronage went up. Your patrons want to see you do well, and will support you thru hellfire if you allow them to.

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I’ve been on a plateau for a long time with mine, it seems stuck around 145-160 and just keeps fluctuating between them. I’m concerned about losing patrons during this time (and have lost a few) but have managed to keep it above 1k for a couple of months. I DREAM about the numbers you guys have but I don’t offer tutorials so I think that restricts me a bit (and have no desire to do so!).
I’ve been really lax in the last month since the covid thing has bashed me with anxiety but starting to feel better now and hey… so much time to make art… just don’t feel the mojo right now. Going to look into your video thank you aaron!