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June 23

Patreon Update Hints At Massive Overhaul

Finance, Patreon

A new Patreon update hints at more major changes to the creator economy platform.

Patreon, which is a platform for content creators to monetize their audience by providing exclusive access to content, has steadily rolled out new updates since raising more than $155 million in 2021. But the company's newest update suggests a fairly big expansion of the platform's core offering.

How Patreon Works

Patreon started when YouTuber Jack Conte realized his band was missing a major opportunity to give their fans more content — and get their support in return. There have been plenty of Patreon updates over the years, but the core functionality has always been about providing your biggest fans with a way to support you financially and giving them whatever perks you want to offer in exchange. 

Originally, Patreon operated on a "pay-per-piece-of-content" model. Now it's much more common to see patrons pay every month for access to all of the content. For creators, there's a limited "free" tier, but it's more common to use a revenue share tier. In those cases, Patreon takes a percentage of a creator's revenue (typically 8 percent, though some users were grandfathered in at 5 percent while other, more established creators can opt for 12 percent to have a more hands-on experience).

There are some really key reasons to use Patreon. For starters, it's a pretty intuitive platform that saves users a lot of time on their "fan club," so to speak. They also handle all the payment processing and tax implications. Plus, it's a trusted platform that a lot of users already know about, so they may be more likely to immediately join your Patreon if they're a member of another one.

However, there have also been a lot of features that creators have been clamoring for, whether it's the ability to host videos directly on the platform (instead of just providing links) or selling more types of content. And that's exactly where the new Patreon update is headed. 

A Sneak Peak Into The New Patreon Update

Patreon recently sent some of its OG and highest earning creators an email about signing up for early access to their brand new profiles. The company has also been onboarding people into its new feature allowing users to directly upload and share video on the platform (instead of having to use links from places like YouTube and Vimeo). 

But once a user signs up to be on the waitlist, Patreon then directs them to a bold new page with a fairly dramatic headline: "Introducing a new Patreon for a new era of creative control." 

So what's the big deal? 

Well, this new Patreon update allows anybody to join a creator's community for free. That means users can start to get a taste of Patreon without committing anything financially — yet.

The update is an evolution of Patreon's "free trial" experiment where creators were able to offer some people access to a membership tier for a limited free time. But now Patreon is in effect acting much more like a typical social media platform. The promise that fans will get updates directly from the creators they follow with no worries about algorithms burying posts etc. 

If this means more users can get a chronological feed of all the users they follow (paid and unpaid), it could be the exact answer to what social media users have been clamoring for since Twitter and Instagram abandoned the chronological feed years ago. The company also promises new ways to share your feed and grow your community.

But that's not all. 

Patreon will also allow creators to sell individual products to anybody, whether they're a paid member of your community or not. To be clear, that's only digital goods (for now). But still, that means anything that can be downloaded can be sold. Patreon will take 5% of those sales (while still taking its separate monthly membership fees). 

Given Patreon's rapid development over recent years, we expect even more updates to new features soon. 

Is This Really A Game Changer?

Patreon has been serious about incorporating creator feedback. The company has been on a mission for the past few years to gather as much data from both creators and fans in order to build exactly what's needed. While there are still some key things we'd love to see from Patreon (especially related to ecommerce tracking), this is a really big step in a few key ways.

Patreon has always felt a little bit like a separate community. It's kind of been one of those places you need to go "all-in" on as a creator. But it has also been traditionally pretty hard to grow your community. Of course, the trade off here is that the community is very loyal and if somebody is already a member of one Patreon page, they're very likely to be a member of another, too. 

This leads to some reliability in terms of support, but also frustrating roadblocks to growth. With Patreon's newest updates, people outside the traditional community suddenly have an easy entry point into participating. And with the ability to sell individual digital assets, Patreon is opening up its platform into the ecommerce space more than ever before. 

If this moves brings a flood of new users to the platform and makes Patreon feel more like a place you check every day (opposed to every time you get an email from a creator), it just might position Patreon to compete with some of the most-used platforms by content creators.


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