patreon difficulties

So one of the real problems people are having with Patreon is that it’s non-intuitive. Maybe this is partly because my project, crowdfunding a book one chapter at a time, is not actually an ideal one to run via Patreon, but there are definitely problems that go beyond that.

Kickstarter is easy. Kickstarter you give $X and you get #Y in return. One shot and it’s done.

Patreon sets a price-per-creation and then asks for many small donations to achieve that price-per-creation. It’s intended to cater to a totally different platform than Kickstarter, and I think it’s a good, necessary, *viable* platform in the crowdfunding pantheon. It’s just not a well-explained one.

People have been trained up to Kickstarter, where it’s one big donation for one big project. Patreon wants its creators to offer many smaller projects, with each project’s delivery being supplied once the creator-set price-per-creation is reached. A creator might provide a song, a chapter, a gaming adventure, a drawing, a poem, a painting, as her project, and might deliver one project a month or might deliver ten.

The FAQs do not explain this well enough. I spent almost an entire day frowning hard at the FAQs and Evil Hat’s Patreon project before I started to understand what the site wanted, and I’m not *dumb*, guys. It just is not well explained. The videos are charming, but almost totally useless.

Creation vs Activity
As a creator it took me ten tries to figure out how to mark a post as a Creation rather than in the default of Activity. As it turns out, there’s a box to check at the bottom the post page, but the fact that you go to the Creation page and it says there “You haven’t posted any Creations yet!” and offers a big button to make a post *implies* that your post made from that location is going to automatically fall under Creations.
Note: this has been updated. There’s now a big + button to make Actual Creations. However:

Once I *did* figure out how to make a post a Creation instead of an Activity, it appears that there’s no way to go back to the Activity posts and find the box to click to make it a Creation, which means reposting all of it, which is a pain in the tuckus.

Furthermore, posts marked as Creations *also show up* in Activities. This is totally counterintuitive as far as I’m concerned. It means there’s no real point in splitting the two of them out, because if Activities is meant to let patrons easily find, say, my (or other patrons’) commentary about the project, they’ve got to sift through all the Creations to find that information.

Donation Difficulties
The donation process has gotten even less intuitive recently. When I began this campaign, I didn’t set any ‘reward’ levels. After a few weeks, at someone’s recommendation, I set a one-click “$1 reward’ level that let you just click that and donate a dollar per chapter. However, it still seemed to let people put in, say, $.20 per chapter if that was what they wanted to do.

Now, however, it seems to have changed so that it will either let you select $1 or No Reward. If a patron wants to only donate $.20 per chapter, she now has to select $1, then make sure to set her *own* donation limit at $1/m so that if I post up to 5 chapters it will only take $.20 for each chapter. But there is no indication of needing to do this before you get to the setting-your-own-limit stage; it just looks like you either have to pay $1/chapter or get no reward at all.

It literally took five emails back and forth with Patreon for me to understand what they’d done there, and I think it’s idiotic.

I have it set up so that all patrons get to read when I post. However. Again, however.

The past few months I’ve been getting in the region of $600 per month, depending on how many chapters I’ve posted. Accordingly, for May I expected around $450, because I only managed to post 3 chapters. But I got paid this morning and it was only $150ish.

I have emailed Patreon and await their answer, but the only thing I can figure out is that because I set the chapters I posted to ‘all patrons’ instead of $1+ patrons, something has…gotten dropped. Or gone wrong. Or something. I honestly don’t know. But *I* have not changed anything, and I’ve gone back and checked and made sure that *my* settings weren’t messed up, that they are in fact set the same way for the more recent chapters as the older ones, and they are.

It was clear, last time I looked at the pending payments from the Patreon account, that there was $15 or $17 or so that was from patrons who’d pledged, say, $.05/chapter and whose payment wasn’t set to trigger until it reached (say) $1. It looked very much like there was this little bit of money working its way toward reaching the tipping point from those patrons, which made sense to me.

However, it wasn’t anything like $150 in waiting-for-tipping-point money, and since I posted 3 chapters which each should have triggered a minimum of $150 in donations (the site itself keeps track of how much has been donated, and if it falls below $150, which is my minimum threshhold, it will announce that this milestone has no longer been reached and it has to wait until it breaks $150 again before the system starts up again), I have no idea why I only received $150 for last month’s 3 chapters.

It’s possible I’m *badly* mis-understanding something here, and I’m willing to accept that that *is* a possibility. But I am, and have been, trying really hard to understand exactly how this works all along, and I keep running into roadblocks. At this stage I’m incredibly frustrated and annoyed, and I’m feeling strongly that this has been a near-total disaster in terms of a crowdfunding experiment. I know not everyone has had such aggravating experiences, so I really don’t know if it’s me/the project, but I’m pretty close to throwing in the towel here.

I will say that Patreon’s customer support has been exemplary and they’ve answered all of my questions promptly and responded to some of my commentary by implementing changes. So I admire and thank them for that, at least. I just wish the entire thing was running more smoothly for me.

2 Comments


  1. Caty : I thought it was strange, because I knew that you had posted more than one chapter in May – but Patreon only charged me for one chapter this month. So I paid $25 this month, but if you posted 3 chapters, than it should have charged me $75. Better check on that again.


  2. I was going to say the same thing I was only charged once. I have really enjoyed reading the chapters so I hope it works out

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