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A heads-up to my Patreons

You should hear this from me before you hear it from them (via an email you’ll receive tomorrow). I’ll also be posting this on my Patreon page.

As of December 18, Patreon will be adding a surcharge of 2.9% plus $0.35 to your monthly pledge. I realize this isn’t what you signed up for and that it will seriously change the picture, especially for some of you $1 or $2 patrons. I’ll understand completely if you withdraw your pledges.

This isn’t actually a new fee, believe it or not. Previously, we Patreon creators have been charged a 5% flat fee plus various not-entirely-comprehensible processing fees, a higher percentage on small pledges than large ones. After this change, we creators will receive a full 95% of all pledges, and the mysterious fees will be shifted to you.

Like so:

They present this as a positive change, because creators will receive more of each pledge and our monthly paycheck will be more predictable. And (so they say), “We ran experiments to understand patrons’ potential reactions and we found that many patrons were happy knowing that this change will send more money to creators.”

They don’t reveal how much is “many” and whether that attitude prevailed among both small and large patrons.

I apologize to you all. I wouldn’t have chosen this change, especially so soon after you all signed up. But there it is.


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 6, 2017 12:15 pm

    Ah, the beloved “fee.” An idea stolen from government and their banks. They never met a fee they didn’t love. All protesting to the contrary notwithstanding.

    So, is this going to cost the donors more? I can’t really tell. If not, I’m confused.

    It’s ok… actually, I’m getting used to being confused. 🙂

  2. Claire
    Claire December 6, 2017 12:23 pm

    “So, is this going to cost the donors more? I can’t really tell. If not, I’m confused.”

    Yes, a patron who paid $1 last month will pay ~ $1.38 in January.

    A patron who paid $2 last month will pay ~ $2.41 in January.

    One who paid $5 last month will pay ~ $5.50 in January, assuming I’ve properly managed all the high-level math. 😉

    And so on. The changes are obviously most significant for the smallest subscribers. Their fees have always been the highest, percentagewise. But that percentage previously came out of my payout, which I was fine with. Now it will be added to what they have to pay.

    Although Patreon spins this as a boon to creators, I suspect the real motive is to drive away small patrons, whose contributions require just as much processing but bring less income to Patreon. I think Patreon is a wonderful service for creators and they’re entitled to make money, of course. The fees aren’t unreasonable. I just think that (as with Amazon’s reasons for nerfing its commissions), they’re spinning this in a disingenuous way.

  3. Paul Joat
    Paul Joat December 6, 2017 1:27 pm

    Hopefully they charge the fee once for all payments made in a month, I have a few $1 payments setup, $0.35 on each of them would mean I would need to drop some of them.

  4. Claire
    Claire December 6, 2017 2:08 pm

    I’m very much afraid they intend to impose that charge per payment to each individual creator. When Patreon sends your email, I believe they’ll also send you a link to a FAQ. The FAQ not only explains the policy, but tells how to cancel payments.

    It’s a shame, because being able to support the arts for just a dollar or two a month was one of Patreon’s big drawing points.

  5. coloradohermit
    coloradohermit December 6, 2017 3:48 pm

    I suppose that they do have to pay web hosting and keep the lights on, but fees annoy me on general principle. At least you’d be getting more of the money intended for you and the fees don’t really add much to the annual total. A $5 donor ends up paying $60 for the year with the additional fee adding just $6. That’s doable.

    But, I’m toying with the idea of just sending a donation to your Paypal instead and making it a recurring monthly payment. No fees that I’m aware of to decrease money intended for you. That seems like an alternative to consider. Is this a terrible idea?

  6. Claire
    Claire December 6, 2017 4:05 pm

    No, not at all a terrible idea, coloradohermit. A very nice idea.

    But if you want to do that, please hold off a bit. The PayPal button I’ve been using all these years does charge me fees. There’s now a “” button that can be set up for recurring payments, and I just signed up for that. Unfortunately, the graphic reveals my location to all the world (not that it’s actually such a gigantic secret any more) and PayPal hasn’t yet given me working instructions on how to persuade the feature to use some null address.

    I’ll try to have that fixed and set up by the first of the year. So hold that thought!

  7. Shel
    Shel December 6, 2017 5:11 pm

    I had thought about making a modest donation via the matching funds offer at the Cabal, but that now would mean Silver would have to pay a bunch of fees.

  8. Claire
    Claire December 6, 2017 5:43 pm

    Actually, Silver’s contribution is so large that his fees will be minimal by comparison. It would also be perfectly okay if he or anyone else making sizeable contributions wanted to reduce their subscriptions to get them back where they were before the fees were added.

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 7, 2017 5:22 am

    Meh… I think I’ll just slip a little cash into an envelop once in a while and be done with all the automatic stuff. I have no burning desire to finance Patreon, and no desire whatsoever to have anything to do with Pay-pal, since they are thieves and liars.

  10. Laird
    Laird December 7, 2017 8:24 am

    I’m curious as to why MamaLiberty calls PayPal “thieves and liars”. I’ve never had any problem with them. Did you have some bad experience?

  11. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 7, 2017 12:54 pm

    Yes, Laird. Long ago I tried to use PayPal a few times. There was a problem, and they simply kept my money, would never admit that it was their mistake. The amount wasn’t large, and I don’t even remember the particulars, but I never got my money. Then, at least for a while, they decided not to participate in any exchange that involved a gun (and maybe ammunition, parts, I don’t remember), so I was even more disinclined to give them my business. There are plenty of alternatives. 🙂

  12. Mike
    Mike December 9, 2017 2:05 pm

    Once upon a time I had a PayPal account until it was hacked. Once burned, twice shy as they say. Today when I online shop if I can’t use my trusty old low limit charge card I don’t shop.

    As far as Patreons move goes, there are alternatives to this service.

    With Kickstarter, they don’t use PayPal. I’ve helped fund 15 projects via Kickstarter and I’ve found to be a very reputable company. Two of the projects failed and in those cases the money I had invested was quickly refunded with no questions or drama.

  13. Claire
    Claire December 9, 2017 4:35 pm

    Thanks, Mike. Drip looks interesting. unfortunately at the moment it’s by invitation only. Even more unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to load on Firefox even after I allowed scripts. That’s not a good sign.

  14. Mike
    Mike December 10, 2017 1:33 pm

    Hey Claire,

    I had the same issue with loading it the first time. The problem is the site doesn’t like Privacy Badger. If you turn that off the link should work. As for the invite they’re only in the beta testing stage. If you put yourself on their mailing list, they will let you know when they are ready for all. Or, if you want drop me an email and I’ll do it then let you know.

  15. Claire
    Claire December 10, 2017 4:40 pm

    I don’t have Privacy Badger. Maybe it also doesn’t like uBlock Origin, which I do have. If it doesn’t like so many things, it might be hard for the privacy-loving audience around here to make use of it. But I’ll definitely look into it further.

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