Is Patreon an Effective Crowdsourcing Tool?

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As I wrote in an earlier blog, I’m currently producing a web-series, and as we head towards our first day of shooting next week, the cost to run a high quality set continues to increase. Early on in the producing phase, my partner and I agreed that Patreon would be our best bet, as we both supported creators we liked through the platform before and we enjoyed the perk system. After making our own account though, and having tried to fund our project through the platform, I can honestly say that Patreon might be the worst of the crowd-funding platforms if you’re planning to use the money to produce content in a timely manner.

While Patreon has it’s charm and success stories, the actual platform in practice is somewhat annoying. In order to protect donors, creators only get to deposit money from their accounts at the first of every month, allowing people who donate to pull their money at any point before deposit. This means that if a creator projects to earn a certain amount and budgets for that, and then the day before earning access to that money the largest donor pulls out, they’re suddenly in a huge problem. While this seem like an incentive for donors to trust the platform, that would require the service to actually be easy to use and make sense to new users. Unfortunately, Patreon is skewed to a way younger audience, meaning that it’s not user friendly at all to people who don’t live online all the time. Look up user reviews, and you’ll see criticism after criticism of older audiences complaining that the interface and language used makes it way too hard to use and donate, even if you really wanted to. A final gripe that I have is that users can only donate as much as the highest perk available is. So for example, if a creator sets their highest perk to be $50 per donor, a generous donor has no option but to donate a max of $50, no more. For a really cool project, this is annoying as modest estimations can actually hurt you, in an already difficult to explain platform due to the seemingly obligatory monthly payment system.

I feel bad hating on Patreon because I still use it to support certain creators I really enjoy, like Colin Moriarty and his channel Colin’s Last Stand. The fact of the matter is that for a weekly YouTube creator, Patreon might be perfect as it gives monthly funds to keep the lights on and help pay off any equipment needed. For a bigger project like the one I’m creating though, the need for expedient payments, transparency, ease of use, and unlimited donation amounts really makes Patreon the worst possible system to use. If you want the aid of older generations or need the money quick, it seems the GoFundMe and Paypal are still the best options these days, as Patreon and Kickstarter both skew young and unfortunately aren’t the most convenient platforms, which is the last thing you want when funding a project.

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