I’ll explain why I said no to Patreon and yes to my own membership website.
What is Patreon? Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that enables fans (or patrons) to pay and support creatives and content makers for their work. In exchange for their patronage, creators offer fans unique benefits they want, like additional access, exclusivity, and engaging experiences.
Patreon has it’s uses, and there certainly are many creatives who make some amount of earnings from it. The general consensus although, is few actually make a living from it. You get out of it, what you put into it.
However, you have to play by their rules. Creators are bound to the subscription model that they offer to their fans and cannot change it afterwards. If Patreon does not like your view of the world, that can lead to you being banned. Patreon censors it’s creators.
Payment can also be an issue. In July 2018, began denying patron’s payments and even flagging some as fraudulent. Earlier that year they caused a good deal of drama with additional fees they started to charge. As things currently stand, Patreon takes a 5% commission on fans payments to creators and then there is the 5% transaction fee, a total of 10%. Let’s not forget, if your payout is through PayPal, they also take a cut.
So what about alternatives?
Trawling through the internet and building a comparison between competitors takes time. In the end, I compared 11 other competitors to Patreon. In the end, none were really better than the others, either on fees or censorship issues. As I am a figurative artist, nudes often appear in my work, so censorship is a top issue.
This then led me to research what options existed for me to manage my own membership subscriptions. At first I looked at what the likes of PayPal had as a standalone payment system, especially with regards to re-occurring payments. This opened the question of integrating this into my WordPress website, which naturally leads to exploring plugin options. This is as a big of a rabbit hole to lose yourself in as researching Patreon competitors.
Do It Yourself
Eventually, however, I found my solution. I now have a subscription based membership website which also integrates with MailChimp. Now I feel in control, from beginning to end, all data that comes into my site, is mine with no third party standing in between as a gangster extorting money so that I can continue to do business. I can expand in any direction I want with no body telling me what I can and cannot do.
I think many of us have fallen into the easy and comfortable traps that the big tech companies have laid for us. We’ll make it easy for you to give all of your data to us, but with the catch, it is no longer yours, and access to it is on their terms. We are in times where there are whispers on the internet about earlier times, the indy days of the internet, where everybody had their own site and we networked making our own connections, and how good it would be to relive it.
I see it happening, drop by drop. Decentralize, is a catch phrase I’m seeing more often. The world of Blockchains and Crypto champion this already, but it is still really to catch on with the mass of internet users. Thus there is a way to go yet.
At least I’ve found my freedom.