Dec 7, 2017 | news

Regarding Patreon

As you probably know by now, Patreon has announced that it’s making a substantial change to how it processes your pledges. In short, they’re sticking you with the processing fees for each pledge you make, so if you’re backing someone at $1, you’ll be charged around $1.37. And that’s per pledge, not in aggregate, so if you’re backing multiple people, you’ll be hit with multiple fees—even though Patreon only runs the transaction once, in aggregate.

This is 100% not okay, for at least a couple of reasons (there are more reasons, but these are the most important ones to us):

First and foremost, transaction fees are a cost of doing business. If we’re taking money from you—be it here, on PayPal, or on a standalone storefront—transaction fees are our problem, not yours. It’s up to us to bake those costs into the final price we’re charging you. Anything else just gets confusing and smells like a bait-and-switch. And that’s not how we roll.

Secondly, when you break it down, it looks like1 Patreon may be double/triple/quadruple dipping here: they’re charging transaction fees on each individual pledge, as if they were running your card once for every pledge you make, even though they’re actually running your card only once, in order to charge you for your pledges in aggregate. That’s gross, and it’s dishonest.

Patreon is framing these changes as benefiting creators, but that’s total bullshit: even if we were okay with it, the fact of the matter is that the amount of money we will see because of this change is not as big as the amount of money Patreon stands to make on each ‘transaction fee.’

In one fell swoop, Patreon has gone from a platform that people use to support their creators directly, into yet another exploitative middleman.

The outcry from this move has been more or less unanimous from what we can see, so time will tell if Patreon follows through with this. But even if they walk this back, the writing is on the wall: Patreon’s priority seems to be to make themselves look nice and profitable to their investors, so that they can either sell or go public. This does not align with our values, at all. We’re in this for the long haul, and we’re in this for you, our readers and creators.

Suffice it to say that it’s time to diversify Fireside’s revenue streams. Luckily this was already in the works, but we’re not quite ready to pull the trigger.

In the meantime, we’re sitting here watching some of you delete your pledges. I’m not gonna lie, that hurts. That’s money that we use to pay our authors, artists, and editors, and it’s money that we were counting on in order to bring you the many awesome things we wanted to do next year. But it’s also completely understandable, so if that’s what you need to do, please do so with our best wishes.

If you do decide to delete your pledge, but still want to support Fireside, please consider subscribing directly to our ebooks on our site, or if you’d rather wait and see what else we come up with, please sign up for our newsletter, so that we can let you know when we set up other funding avenues.

Even though this is completely out of our control, I apologize for this situation. There’s nothing worse than a bait-and-switch, and that’s what this feels like from a patron’s perspective. You agreed to pay us one amount when you decided to support us, and now Patreon has unilaterally decided to charge you more. That’s not how we treat our supporters, and we’re absolutely chagrined and mortified to be placed in this position.

As always, thanks for reading, and double-thanks if you decide to stick with us.

  1. I say ‘looks like,’ because it’s unclear. This could be wrong, but that’s what it looks like right now. Patreon has done a real shitty job of communicating this stuff clearly. 

© 2017 Pablo Defendini

About the author

Pablo Defendini

Pablo Defendini is a designer and developer for hire, with a focus on editorial design for digital media. He helped launch, before moving on to work for companies that sit in the overlap between publishing and technology, like Open Road Media and O’Reilly. Pablo was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, lives in New York City, and works with people all over the world.