Why I Left Patreon

February 02, 2020

As some of you will already be aware, I am no longer using Patreon to run my membership. I have now moved to my own membership site called ‘Mysterious Corner’

I thought, since I have already had quite a few people asking, that I would make a blog post about the why’s and then follow that up with HOW I did it in another blog post. 

What IS Patreon?

I realise that some reading this might not even be aware of it, or know what it is. It is a platform that was created to allow artists, musicians, cosplayers, vloggers, podcasters etc… any creatives, a means for their fans to support their work. For me I used it as a subscription for those who love what I do, to come and see a little behind the scenes in my studio. Patreon was launched in 2013 but I didn’t try it until 2015 (unsuccessfully) and then started again properly in February 2016. 

In exchange for using their site, they take a percentage of what each creator makes. Creators are able to offer different tiers and options to their fans. It is an amazing platform and has become a familiar name which is very useful if people are a bit windy about joining a membership, if they recognise a name, they feel more comfortable with using it. 

It was started by musician Jack Conte and has now become a billion dollar business.

If it’s so great, why did you leave?

Patreon has made it possible for me (and very importantly my patrons have made it possible for me through Patreon) to become more and more independent as an artist to the point where now, I am able to pick and choose any client work or not take any at all. I exist through running my website, selling prints and originals and making books via Kickstarter and up till recently through my Patreon membership. I will always be grateful for the existence of Patreon but in the last 18 months/2 years it has been increasingly frustrating to use, not just as a creator, but as a patron of other creators. 

Creators have been asking Patreon via their creator support forums for various things for the whole five years I have been using it. These requests are often very basic things that one would think would have been priority – for example; a great messaging system, a comprehensive discovery page, a better way to let patrons search through old work (it is still infinite scroll), a search so that patrons can search through all posts etc. There is a very long list! Almost every request of this kind over the past few years has been met with ‘thank you we heard your request and we will share this with our team’  – and then it’s been crickets. 

Their customer service was SO GOOD when they started. I could send a message asking for help and I’d have a reply from a human being within 24hrs. I am not able to do that now. It is a huge behemoth and that is great for the company, but not for me! 

Some reasons why I decided to leave:

  • Difficult user experience as a creator 
  • Hard to navigate for patrons
  • Difficult to use messaging system
  • No control over how my page looks (they kept changing the landing page)
  • No control over how my patrons are taxed (since Patreon is USA based)
  • Changes made that don’t seem to help while ignoring requests for changes that would from creators
  • No way to easily look through old posts for patrons still, just infinite scroll
  • Percentage of my income goes to Patreon
  • Terrible customer service 
  • So SLOW and buggy

I think I can stop there, you get the idea.

I have left so that I can have total control over my membership and how it looks and while there are things I won’t be able to do with mine (no mobile app, fiddly back-end stuff for me to do as the owner of it amongst other things), I thought it was now or never! While many of my patrons won’t be following me to my new membership, I am glad that I have made the change, it is really great not having to deal with a third party in order to run the membership side of my business. 

Should you avoid Patreon?

Short answer, no. Patreon, if you treat it like a simple tip jar isn’t a bad option and there are many creators who are using it to great success and making a huge income there. I just wanted to do my own thing. However I would say that you need to look into the MANY options out there now who are starting to compete with them. There isn’t anything out there that is exactly the same as Patreon but there are many that are very close. Patreon makes things easier in some ways (especially if you’re starting out or you don’t want to deal with building your own website) as they deal with all the backend stuff for you, so keep these things in mind if you are thinking of doing what I’ve done. 

I will be making another post about how I built my new membership soon. 

Moving to this new website has been stressful and has been very time consuming¬†(but hopefully won’t continue to be!) because of set up and re-learning a new platform (WordPress) but I am very excited to see how I can grow my membership under my own steam. Watch this space!

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