In this day and age, marketing yourself as a content creator has become both easier and harder. On one hand, you don’t need to go out to county fairs, street corners, or make deals with coffee shops to sell your work—you can easily just tweet things out, find online marketplaces, and optimize your SEO. There’s a lot of tricks to marketing yourself without actually leaving your house. It’s a lot less about hiring people to advertise for you, and a lot more of a DIY mentality.
At the same time, marketing has become more complex in some ways. There are multitudes of skills you have to learn in order to effectively become your own creator, boss, and marketing manager. On a basic level, you have to know to properly utilize SEO, find marketing channels, and make connections with others in your field. As the realm of social media and sharing sites has grown, so have the options for getting in touch with others and building a fan base. The newest ones even have groups or private servers that allow you to build a community of individuals around your product or the subject you’re interested in.
That’s exactly what Patreon does. It’s a package designed to combine some of the marketing you need with a stripped down website, money management, and community tools. The drawback? They take $0.05 off the dollar for everything plus processing fees. For the most part, I got back about 80% of what was donated.
Honestly, that’s not a bad deal for a site that takes care of pretty much everything you need for marketing content creation, but here’s the thing that drove me up the wall: it’s yet another page I have to build with words, graphics, and a video in order to take full advantage of it. I’ve already invested into making a website and populating it with graphics and a good layout. I’ve populated my YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and I’ve even meticulously set up a Discord server to build a community and my fan base. That said, I already have a decent platform for marketing myself.
The second major point of contention is that posting things on Patreon feels like yet another thing to do. Whenever I write an article or publish a video, I’ll post it on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Discord with varying titles and wording (because we don’t want to look like a machine, that’s important). Posting something to Patreon is just more work. Patreon can be useful for collecting a “portfolio” of sorts, but since I already have a website that I post all my work to, another portfolio seems unnecessary.
Finally—and this is the one that finally turned me off to the idea of Patreon—why am I giving up 20% of my income to Patreon? Although I do make feeble amounts of money, that’s still a pretty high percentage to lose to this service. Why don’t I just have a link directly to my PayPal? Why are people going to donate through Patreon over Paypal? The biggest difference to me is that Patreon focuses on a recurring income over time, but it’s particularly awful for one-time donations, and that’s a large majority of what I get. I know few people who are willing to give up $3/mo versus just handing over $10 directly, and I feel like the gaming/esports industry is built on one-time donations as well. Sure, it’s a little less consistent, but it seems like the work of going through the process of making a Patreon account, signing up for one month, and remembering to cancel the subscription later is more of a deterrent than anything.
(I can’t charge per item because I publish something like 1-3 items every day. I would drain the hell out of people’s wallets, even at $1 per item).
So you see, I’ve already got all of the necessary parts of successful content marketing at my disposal without Patreon: a portfolio to show off my work, a community of followers, and revenue channels. I respect what it does for many other content creators, and maybe in the future if I need more consistent income, I might look back in that direction…but for now, I think I’m better off without it.