Patreon has been teasing a major shift for both creators and fans for a while now. In addition to slowly rolling out new features over the past few years, the company has fairly consistently let users know big things were coming.
Now, Patreon has re-launched, calling it the biggest day in Patreon's history on the company's social media accounts. So where did this shift come from and what exactly is new?
Where Patreon Started And How They Got Here
Patreon, as the name suggests, started as an homage to the concept of "patronage." Many of the most influential and beloved artists and inventors throughout history — from Leonardo da DaVinci to William Shakespeare to Wolfgang Mozart — were able to create thanks to different members of society essentially paying for their needs.
The original Patreon launched in 2013 after developer Sam Yam and YouTuber Jack Conte had the idea for a site that would let fans directly support creators in order to keep creating. It originally started somewhat simple, with a "pay per piece of content" model, but eventually evolved into a site where patrons could subscribe on a recurring monthly basis and creators could decide what they wanted to give those fans. (In some cases creators make tiers where people can pay whatever they want with no expectation of anything in return).
The site really ballooned in popularity amid the pandemic, when a lot of people realized just how fragile the content creator ecosystem can be without in-person performance as part of the equation. Around that time, Patreon also launched a massive creator survey to better understand the needs of its now diverse creator base totaling more than a quarter of a million content creators.
Then, the changes started coming.
The New Patreon's Style
Let's start with the interesting but less important news here. In addition to a major revamp of the platform, Patreon also did a brand refresh. It's not the first time the company has done this, mind you. But the new branding seems like it may be a first of its kind, at least for a company this well-known in the creator space.
For starters, the Patreon logo is different, particularly in that it's kind of always different. What do we mean? Well, it's not a single static image. It's a constantly morphing logo that ultimately resembles a P-shaped blob when it settles into its new state. According to Patreon, the premise is simple. Original branding thought and guidelines are based in old-school 20th century retail concepts, but Patreon is not an old-school 20th century retailer.
"Our goal is not to be defined by a shape or a color, but rather by a visual language — one as diverse and expressive as the creators it represents," Patreon says. "By designing a fluid brand native to the digital screen, we’ve created new opportunities that just aren’t possible with print: animation, interactivity, contextual adaptation, and color transformation."
Basically, that means while there is an all-black, static state "P" as a favicon-style logo, the actual logo constantly shifts around with no clear set colors or shape. Likewise, the company's typography floats in and out of a traditional state.
It's not really that important for users to know, but it's definitely an interesting concept and one we can tell embodies the company's approach to its ethos.
The New Patreon's Features
Alright, here's where things get really interesting. Last year, Patreon introduced direct video uploads to the platform — something that made so much sense for a lot of creators but took so long to implement. Before this, if you wanted to share video privately with patrons, you either needed to use an unlisted YouTube link (which is not private at all) or have a separate paid Vimeo account. Well, not anymore.
And not long ago, Patreon introduced a more direct eCommerce option for creators. Basically, they could sell one-off digital products to anybody (even if they're not a member of the Patreon). It made it easier to offer exclusive digital files, like sheet music, guides, custom images, or whatever else you can think of. The fact that Patreon allowed non-patrons to purchase from creators really was the first big step at opening the umbrella of what Patreon does.
Now, the commerce portion of Patreon (dubbed Shop) is open to all creators. Patreon also introduced a feed that is more like a traditional social media feed where people can see your posts even if they don't yet subscribe to you financially. The big difference here is that there's no algorithm, which means anybody who follows you is guaranteed to see what you post when they're scrolling through the app.
The company also launched "Chats," which is a more intuitive way for your community to have conversations with each other. Along with chats comes redesigned member profiles, which allow for a more social media-like experience between creators and their communities. This is a feature that a ton of content creators have been turning to Discord for.
Lastly, Patreon has completely overhauled the mobile app. This again goes in line with the shift towards making the app feel more like an ideal, algorithm-less social media platform for content creators and people who, well, love content.
So Is The New Patreon An All-In-One Solution?
That remains to be seen, but probably not. There's just really not any singular platform that can satisfy all the needs of a content creator. After all, Patreon is not a "top of funnel" tool. There is intentionally very little discoverability. It's a place you send people who love what you do and want more of it — with a very real opportunity to get their recurring financial support.
But if you've been considering Patreon and haven't jumped in yet, there's really never been a better time to try. It might not fit everybody's needs. There are plenty of alternatives, from monetized Discords to Shopify to completely DIY sites.
But one thing is clear: Patreon listens to creators. This new update is the result of years worth of talking to their biggest and smallest content creators and trying to truly understand the problem Patreon is solving for them.
Probably the best way to dive in and learn more is to join Patreon as a regular fan and go join some feeds for free. Get a sense of the layout and vibe of the app, and then decide if it could possibly be a big piece of your financial puzzle as a content creator.