This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Common misunderstanding of Patreon

If you've never heard of Patreon, that's not surprising. It's been around for a few years, but really hasn't got much exposure. And since it's a brand-new idea, it confuses people who think that they already know what it is. So, I'd like to say that there are several misunderstood things about Patreon, but there's only one: it's not a pay site.

That being said, real money is being exchanged there. If you're going "huh?" I don't blame you, it took me a long time to wrap my little head around it, and I think I'm finally there. I'll tell you what I know, but it may take a point of view that's different from what most people have (possibly you).

Patreon is a donation site that allows someone, like you, to donate on a monthly basis to encourage your favorite creative person. It could be someone who draws, it could be someone who makes videos, anything. And here's the important part - you're paying for something you could get free. The name "Patreon" is a combination of two words - patron and eon, meaning someone who supports the arts, and does so over time.

So if you're the kind of person who would consider it stupid to pay for something when they don't have to, then relax, you're among the majority. Most of the people walking past someone playing the violin in the street don't throw money in the hat, even if they sit and listen. Many people will even shout out suggestions for the artist to play, and then just walk away without even a thank you. That's the simplest way to look at a setup for a donation to the arts.

I've been a commercial artist all of my life, and I charge for what I do, just the same as the kid who mows your lawn. I give a price, I do the job, and I get the money. That's pretty straight-forward. But last year I decided to try to understand Patreon, and it meant giving stuff away, and then asking for money.

I can't recommend doing Patreon if you're interested in selling your product. There are many ways to sell your product, doing what's called a "pay site". The most famous one is eBay. Or you can sell your stuff on Etsy, or a thousand other places. You create, ask for money, get it, and then ship the product. You will need a way to accept payments, process returns, deal with complaints. And if that's what makes sense to you, stay with it.

However if the idea of supporting an artist to encourage them to continue creating their art appeals to you, then you understand Patreon. Because it's not a "pay site". And based on the confusing comments I read on the web all of the time, the people who are trying to use it as a pay site are getting all confuzzled.

My Patreon page has nothing to do with my commercial art - it's about my hobby, which is collecting old photos of Phoenix and writing about it in my blog. It's something I do for the pure love of it, and I would like to do more of it, and less commercial stuff. Unfortunately, it costs me money to do this (not that I'm complaining) because I need software, an up-to-date computer, that sort of thing. And so my nice patrons on Patreon aren't paying for anything, or being charged for anything, they're donating to me because they like my stuff, and want to see more of it.

If all of this makes sense to you, I'm glad. If not, I understand, and I really can't explain it any better. I hope this helps.