Update: After an overwhelmingly negative response from creators and patrons, Patreon rescinded its decision to raise fees on Monday, saying they planned to look at different fee structures in the future. I’ll update this post with more information if and when that happens. In the meantime, the fee increase is off.
As you may have read over the last few days, Patreon—the billing system that I and many other artists and writers use to enable readers to support our work financially recently implemented some changes in how they do their billing. Under the new system, Patreon will charge patrons a 35-cent fee per transaction plus 2.9 percent of your monthly donation which means that if you’re a monthly donor, your annual transaction fee will now work out to $4.25 a year, plus 2.9 percent of whatever you contribute. Previously, the monthly fee was 5 percent. You can do the math, but the upshot is that donors who contribute on the higher end of the scale (say, $10 or $20 a month) will now pay lower annual transaction fees, and donors who contribute on the lower end of the scale (say, $1 or $2 a month) will pay higher annual transaction fees. I also pay a 5 percent fee on each transaction from Patreon.
Some of the backlash to this move has come from creators like me, who depend on monthly donations not to fund our entire lives, but to supplement a number of income sources that range from (in my case) freelance work and consulting to (in other people’s cases) part- and full-time jobs. It’s true that some people make a full-time living from Patreon and no other sources, but for most creative types (and scrappy journalists trying to make a living outside the sometimes limiting, and always precarious, world of full-time jobs at traditional media companies), it’s part of a portfolio of stuff we do to make ends meet.
Currently, after my own Patreon transaction fees are taken out, contributions from readers provide me with about $25,000 in income a year, which, because I’m self-employed, is taxed each year at a rate of about 30 percent. This is a significant source of income for me. When I say that The C Is for Crank would not exist without reader contributions, I mean that quite literally: I make my living as a freelance journalist and consultant (for example, I still do some communications work for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, where I worked as an employee from 2015 to 2017.) I truly appreciate your contributions and I could not do this work without them.
That said, for those who no longer wish to contribute through Patreon, I wanted to highlight another option for monthly (or one-time) giving: The C Is for Crank has a Paypal account! To make a one-time contribution, just enter the amount you would like to give in the form provided; to make a recurring gift, just click the box beside the words “Make this a monthly contribution.”
There is no fee for you to contribute through Paypal; however, if your contribution is closer to the dollar-a-month end of the spectrum, know that I pay a 2.9 percent fee plus a flat 30 cent fee for each transaction (so if you give a dollar a month, I will only receive 67 cents of that amount after I pay the mandatory fees. If you give $5 a month, I will receive $4.55 of your $5 contribution and Paypal will get the rest.)
Basically, with Patreon, you’ll pay a bit more to contribute and I get to keep a higher percentage of your contribution, and with Paypal, you pay nothing to contribute but I get a smaller percentage (sometimes a significantly smaller percentage) of your contribution.
I wish there was a perfect billing system that let you contribute without paying fees and that let me keep 100% of your contributions, but there isn’t, so it’s your choice between two options that are flawed in different ways. Just know that however and whatever you choose to contribute, it really helps. Whether it’s a dollar or 20 dollars a month, your contributions are what make this blog possible, and I truly appreciate anything you can give.