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The creator economy can't rely on Patreon.

  • The creator economy's dependence on platforms like Patreon is unsustainable, leading to burnout and loss of creative freedom for many creators.
  • Despite the allure of direct patronage models, such as Patreon and Substack, the average conversion rate from follower to paying fan is low (around 5%), making it challenging to build a sustainable income solely from organic user payments.
  • The oversaturation of content creators in today's market makes it difficult for individual creators to stand out and attract a paying audience, especially when free alternatives are readily available.
  • Creators should adopt a diversified approach to income generation, combining audience monetization with other revenue streams like advertising, freelancing, grants, and merchandising to mitigate the risks of relying solely on consumer support.

Discussion (4)

drdeception profile image

One thing that often goes undiscussed is that relying solely on direct audience subscriptions can cause creative burnout. You feel because you have paying viewers that the show ‘must go on’, because after all people are paying you.

If you ran an ad-supporter business, or occasionally took ad sponsors, you don’t have nearly as much of an obligation to your audience. You can choose to not post or produce for awhile, and not accept ad sponsors for some time.

firesquid profile image
Jeremy Beckler

That is true, but sponsorships are far more fickle and elusive (unless you have some sort of retainer deal or something major built out contractually).

You may find that you are more stressed financially due to the unknowns around being paid/ how much you will be paid / when you will be paid. You will be constantly chasing your next sponsor. You may even bend your content more than you are comfortable with due to the large lump sum of money.

maven64 profile image

If you are at the point of having users pay for something, my suggestion would be to make it something that 1) scales well and 2) doesnt create a golden handcuff situation. Promising some sort of output for the rest of your life is a surefire way that you set yourself up for some sort of guilt, or worse, when you need a break.

ha_ruh profile image
Hannah Ruth

I once made an analysis of around 10 artists I follow who have a big audience on some platform and then also a Patreon and it definitely didn't seem worth the amount of work they put in it, very little people subscribe and when they do it's usually for $5 or $10 a month because people don't charge more. Maybe in other areas it's different though.