Ideas on bettering patron billing



As the top of the 12 months approaches, we’re getting ready to provide creators a preview of some main product upgrades we’re planning for 2022. However first, as a part of our dedication to constructing Patreon with creators and speaking constantly and transparently, we’d wish to share a deep dive into our ongoing explorations of patron billing.

There aren’t any modifications rolling out anytime quickly, however we need to provide you with some perception into this subject and present how we’re enthusiastic about future plans.

TL;DR

Here’s a abstract of the details, however hold studying to the top of the publish if you would like all the small print.

  • Our present first-of-the-month billing mannequin is a supply of confusion and frustration for a lot of creators and patrons. We’ve been exploring methods to enhance it.
  • It’s the highest reason for assist tickets every month. For creators utilizing Cost up Entrance, patrons who enroll late within the month really feel they’ve been wrongly double charged once they’re charged once more on the primary.
  • We’re gearing as much as check a possible answer with a couple of creators who’ve opted in. The answer we’re testing is a hybrid of the most effective issues about our present mannequin with some new options. (See extra particulars beneath.)
  • We’re within the early levels and need to hold you within the loop. We’ll share what we study and make enhancements earlier than inviting extra creators to check the brand new billing mannequin.
  • Assuming the testing goes nicely, the subsequent step could be to make this new billing mannequin non-compulsory in 2022. We’ll even be working with creators on discovering options to challenges which may stop them from opting in.

For the brief model, watch the video:

For the nitty gritty particulars, learn on…

We all know that our present first-of-the-month patron billing mannequin has been a supply of frustration for each creators and patrons. It’s hurting patron retention and belief, and we need to enhance that.

The issues we’d like to resolve

Billing-related points (particularly confusion with first-of-the-month renewals) are the highest reason for patron and creator assist requests to our assist crew. For creators utilizing Cost up Entrance, patrons who enroll late within the month don’t perceive why they’re being charged once more on the primary. They count on Patreon to work like different subscriptions they’re used to that renew month-to-month on the identical date they signed up.

We see tons of of complaints about this each month from patrons. Listed here are just some examples:

“I used to be overcharged $4. I purchased the membership on September twenty ninth, and as anybody would count on, this could’ve been legitimate for an entire month, until October twenty ninth. Nevertheless, I used to be charged once more on October 1st. It doesn’t make sense to be charged $4 for under 3 days.”

“If I bought a month-to-month membership and acquired it at present on Oct 12 why am I being charged once more on Nov 1 and never Nov 12??”

“The entire thing of being charged for all the month no matter what day within the month you subscribe is absolute BS.”

Creators usually inform us they don’t promote their Patreon the second half of each month to avoid wasting patrons the frustration of feeling double-charged. However this implies dropping out on alternatives to develop their neighborhood. And we see the proof in our information, as patron signups development downward towards the top of the month.

“[Patreon] is my major enterprise, however I actually solely market it inside the first 6 or 7 days of the month. If we might promote 30 days a month, we’d be capable of develop a lot quicker.”
– Dana Alexa

We additionally see extra cancelations than normal within the first week of each month, when patrons who signed up late the month get charged once more on the primary. Creators have pissed off patrons reaching out instantly for refunds and lose earnings and invaluable time they may in any other case spend creating.

“The best way the system works now’s such a ache. I supply refunds to patrons that be a part of on the finish of the month now, as a result of the system is simply not truthful for them.”
– Floortje from Artwork with Flo

As well as, our present billing mannequin makes it very tough for us to supply options like gifting and trial memberships, which creators have been requesting for years.

How creator suggestions is shaping our considering

To discover a path ahead, we’ve been gathering and weighing suggestions and researching options. We learn by means of assist tickets and feedback on our discussion board, our official creator neighborhood Discord, Twitter, and Reddit. We did in-depth interviews with quite a lot of creators about how they run their memberships and ship advantages to study extra concerning the impacts of any potential billing change. We additionally examined completely different billing approaches and checkout flows with patrons and potential patrons.

In our seek for options, we explored anniversary billing, the place renewals occur on the identical day of the month you signed up. However that alone doesn’t clear up all the challenges with billing — and it presents some new ones.

First, we need to make it possible for patrons who assist a number of creators will solely obtain one invoice monthly — not a number of payments all through the month —to make budgeting simpler and to cut back cost charges for creators. We additionally need to make sure that creators can proceed receiving one regular cost on the identical time every month, as they do now.

And we all know that some creators on Patreon have programs for delivering advantages that depend on first-of-the-month billing, together with many visible artists, pin-of-the-month golf equipment or 3D mannequin printers. A change to billing would require them to make substantial modifications to their companies that they’re nervous might trigger them to lose revenue. We’re going to spend time with these creators working by means of their challenges to see if we may help clear up them.

A brand new billing mannequin and the way it will work

Primarily based on creator suggestions, we’ve began designing a hybrid billing mannequin that we imagine may very well be a path ahead. The challenge is within the analysis and testing levels and we’re nonetheless removed from rolling it out. We’re going to check it with a small group of creators earlier than the subsequent step of an opt-in section for all creators.

Sooner or later, if you happen to have been to decide into this mannequin, right here’s how it will work:

  • Nothing would change to your present patrons. They’d proceed to be billed on the primary of every month.
  • Patrons who’re subscribing to their first creator on Patreon would renew on the identical day of the month they signed up.
  • Patrons of present creators, who subscribe to a brand new creator, would have all fees mixed into one month-to-month invoice on the day of their oldest present subscription.
  • Creators would nonetheless be capable of withdraw one month-to-month auto-payout, like all the time.
  • There could be no improve in cost processing charges and no further charges.

We’re exploring choices for prorating/discounting when a patron subscribes to a number of creators, and mixing their payments causes their renewal date to come back up earlier than they’ve had a full month. We all know that prorating for partial months will work nicely for some creators, and never others, so we’re going to check this additional and discuss to extra creators earlier than we determine on the most effective path.

What’s subsequent?

We’re gearing as much as check drive an early model of hybrid billing in a pilot program with a handful of creators who’re excited to attempt it with us. Right here’s what they must say:

“It is a dream come true. I believe we’ve begged for this function for the final 5 years on Patreon and would completely love love like to be part of testing it!!”
– Andy from Fantasy Footballers

“… hybrid billing merely means patrons truly get a full month, eradicating this whole quandary of late-month new subs and moved subs, and the variance of worth that comes together with that… there’s actually no motive for us to not take part, because it solely helps our viewers in each conceivable method.”
– Colin from Final Stand Media

“We get round 40 or 50 complaints each month from patrons who enroll in direction of the top of the month after which get charged once more on the primary, so we’re actually trying ahead to an answer to this downside, and are completely happy to be a part of the pilot check.”
– Rick from Blind Wave

We need to begin with a really small group so we will check, study, and work out any points that come up earlier than we invite extra creators into the combination. The aim of the pilot is to see whether or not a hybrid billing mannequin can clear up one of many high patron ache factors, which results in higher patron satisfaction and retention. If it does, the subsequent step could be to make it non-compulsory in 2022.

As we check and study, we’re protecting in thoughts creators who depend on first-of-the-month billing to ship advantages. We are going to work with these creators to know what improved instruments and assets they’d have to make this mannequin work.

Relaxation assured, nothing is altering anytime quickly, and we’re not going to hurry something that impacts all creators. We’re going to go away ample time to work with creators on an answer collectively.

Study extra and get entangled

We are going to hold you within the loop as we proceed to check and study. Right here’s how one can study extra and get entangled:

If in case you have extra questions, see this FAQ.

If you wish to be a part of the dialog about this subject with different creators and the Patreon employees who’re engaged on billing, see this channel in our creator neighborhood Discord. The channel will likely be open for Q&A till 2pm EST on November 23, 2021, when it will likely be closed.

In case you’re interested by being a part of the pilot, enroll to be notified once we’re opening it to extra creators.

In case you’re a creator who at the moment depends on first-of-the-month billing to ship advantages, enroll right here if you happen to’d wish to be concerned in serving to us enhance profit supply instruments.

If in case you have ideas on patron billing you need to share with us, tell us right here.

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