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

November 9, 2018

My opinion on the ethical use of Patreon

As someone who is curious about all things related to marketing, promoting and advertising, I was curious about Patreon. When it first appeared, the best description I've found is that it's kinda like crowd funding, but that's not really what it is. And then I saw it kind of like a donation jar, or a tip jar, but that's not it either. Some people have seen it as a way to "get rich quick" or as an additional revenue stream along with advertising. I disagree with all of this.

I've been on Patreon for about two years, with what has become the passion of my life, historic Phoenix, Arizona. I collect old photos and give them away on the internet, I store them on my server, I optimize them in Photoshop, I do super high definition images, some of which takes me a very long time to weave together in high-res. Mostly all it costs me is my time, but of course I need to pay for the software, the server, and of course a computer, electricity, doggy treats for my dachshund. The list goes on and on, and I'm happy to pay for it. But it's not my business, I'm not "running the numbers" or calculating the bottom line, concerned with number of sales versus inventory. I would do it even if no one else in the world didn't care. But people do. And that gets me closer to understanding what Patreon is all about.

I'm not a charity case. I'm not standing on a street corner with a sign that says "Will explore historic Phoenix for food". I will do it anyway. And while I treat my Patreon patrons with the same respect that I would treat any customer, that's not who they are - they're my team. And that comes much closer to what I'm discovering Patreon is. These people are my posse, my teammates, my fellow travelers. They're the people who would take me to the Chuckbox, and some do, and talk about Phoenix history with me. They would buy me a coffee cup that says "Space Age Restaurant" from Gila Bend (well, I already have one of those).

1960s Postcard for the Space Age Lodge, Gila Bend, Arizona.

So if you're doing something that people might be attracted to, just for its own sake, you belong on Patreon. And there are a lot of incredible people there - people who would rather not behave commercially, or who don't want to rely on (ugh!) ad revenue. Of course there are people who will get it terribly wrong, and people who will simply disagree with me. But I like what I've discovered, and I like my patrons on Patreon.

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