Drip vs. Patreon vs. Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo vs. Shopify: A Choice for Ongoing Content Creators

7 December 2017

Every year I release 100 blog entries and 100 videos (more, now that I’ve been filming crowdfunding videos too). That amounts to about 5-7 hours a week writing this crowdfunding/entrepreneurship blog, filming content for my game design YouTube channel, and replying to comments/questions about this type of content on the respective platforms and social media.

It’s a labor of love. It really is. I love processing information in written form, I love sharing my insights, mistakes, and observations with others (hopefully helping other creators), and I love seeing what people think in the polls and comments.

This is hard to say, but I’ve always struggled with the idea of asking my readers/viewers to directly support the blog/channel. But I must admit that when I’m in your shoes, I genuinely like the opportunity to support the creators whose content I regularly consume. I like pledging a few dollars to Watch It Played, Gaming with Edo, The Secret Cabal, and many others–it’s a way for me to express my gratitude for the immense value I gain from them. So it’s started to strike me as odd that I don’t provide you with the same opportunity to show your support for my blog or YouTube channel.

So I’ve started to brainstorm some possibilities for a campaign of some sort in 2018 to specifically support the written and video content I already create. That is, it’s not about making more content on top of the 2 blog entries and 2 videos I create each week, nor is it about selling promos or anything tangible. I might offer a more expensive limited reward for me to publicly dissect your live Kickstarter campaign as a post on my blog, but otherwise supporters would not get anything (other than the 100 blog entries and 100 videos I currently create each year).

There are a number of different platforms that could serve this purpose. Here’s a summary of each of these sites from a backer perspective:

  • Drip: Support a creator on an ongoing basis (during or after an initial “founding period”) for the variety of projects they create.
  • Patreon: Support a creator on an ongoing basis (per time period or per piece of content created).
  • Kickstarter: Support a creator during a set funding period that covers the next year or “season.”
  • Indiegogo: Support a creator during and/or after a set funding period that covers the next year or “season.”
  • Shopify: A flexible e-commerce platform that can be integrated into any website. It’s typically used for buying merchandise.

Drip is a new site now run by Kickstarter, and I’ve written in the past about my admiration of Patreon. Their ongoing funding models fit well with the weekly content I create. Update: A few people in the comments mentioned Podpledge, which is kind of a hybrid between Kickstarter and Patreon, and ko-fi, a virtual tip jar.

However, there’s a big problem with ongoing subscriptions that I’ve discovered as a Patreon supporter: If you ever decide to cancel your pledge to a creator, it comes across as a timely rejection. Like, say that you’ve been pledging your support to a podcast for a few years. At some point you realize that you haven’t listened to the podcast in months, and you’d rather have the $2/month ($24/year) to support a podcast you’re more interested in now. If you cancel your pledge, the creator gets a notification saying, “Jamey in St. Louis has canceled their support of your podcast.” It comes across as an active rejection of their hard work, even if it’s not a big deal to you. This isn’t good for the creator-backer relationship.

Update: I learned that Patreon just recently added a change to their payment structure that results in higher fees to patrons. Read more about it here.

So what about Kickstarter and Indiegogo? I think they’re both fine, particularly with the “fund the next year/season” format that many content creators use. It’s also nice that the 3,673 people who follow me on Kickstarter will get a notification if I launch a project there. The problem is, I think there’s the strong perception that Kickstarter is about making something new and tangible, which is quite the opposite of supporting ongoing content. As for choose Kickstarter over Indiegogo, I have a few articles about that here and here.

There’s also Shopify, which would translate into a page hosted on my website. This would give me lots of control–I could have a focused funding period and then allow for additional pledges on an ongoing basis. It’s fairly low-tech, though, as there wouldn’t be any official funding tracker or countdown.

So, pros and cons for each platform, both for me and for anyone who creates ongoing content. What do you think? I’ll post a poll below.


31 Comments on “Drip vs. Patreon vs. Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo vs. Shopify: A Choice for Ongoing Content Creators

  1. Also consider PayPal which allows for one-time (i.e. Annual), monthly, or every x month, payments. I don’t know if Shopify can be set up as a subscription-type payment.

  2. I think Kickstarter is being used more for this model – Rahdo does it annually for his podcast as does the “Watch it Played” YouTube channel.

    Fyi I heard today that patreon just changed their funding model and it’s costing backers more to contribute. Creators seen unhappy.

  3. With Patreon having just now changed the way they charge patrons, and the amount (with a 35 cent surcharge per pledge), I think it will drop in popularity, at least for a while.

  4. Came in here to echo that Patreon was probably the best model, but the new fee structure is making it unattractive, as I imagine you will want to see lots of small pledge backers, not large monthly pledges. Waiting to see how bad the backlash it’s, but I’m likely dropping Patreon completely and will find other methods (probably PayPal) to fund individuals I care about.

  5. I voted for Drip, because for continuing content like yours, I prefer a monthly donation because I feel it fits the model best. KS/IndieGoGo, seasons seem better for the “seasons” where you can get larger rewards, but I still prefer continual payments.

    I excluded Patreon because with their new pledge structure, it is a cash grab (in my opinion). Even though they will be aggregating my payments throughout the month, I will be paying the service fee for each “transaction”. This is exemplified if the creator fundraises per video (because multiple videos in a single month will each have a service fee). Since many of my donations are only a few dollars a month, this is a large percentage change to how much I am paying, but creators do not see a proportional increase in pay. I am seriously evaluating how I will continue to support on Patreon, if at all.

    1. Lon. From my understandings instead of the content creators getting the credit card fees taken out of of there earnings that cost will just get transferred to the backer instead so that creators will get the pledge amount minus the 5% fee for patreon. I do think that the “service” fee is a cash grab though and is the big reason that Im not to keen on the new pledge system.

      – Cody Thompson

      1. Yes, Cody you are absolutely correct, that content creators will not have the transaction fees taken out of their earnings, but rather I am paying for it.

        But, when I look at my numbers, this doesn’t work out too well. My $3 donations will see a very different valuation now. Before, the content creator got 85-93% of my money (from https://blog.patreon.com/updating-patreons-fee-structure/).

        Under the new structure, my $3 donation now costs me $3.44. The creator gets $2.85 (after the 5% transaction fee). So, now the creator only gets 83% of my money. Worse case before was they got 85% of my money.

        Seth below did say that large pledges, this may become better for the creators, but most of my patreon pledges are $5 or less. Also, that 85% is the worse case, so larger pledges had lower transaction fees before, so even then, those pledges may not be better in the new system.

        Another comment from Seth is this is per transaction, so for the channels I back per video, it makes it even worse (because the transaction fees for Patreon behind the scenes are done once a month, but they charge me multiple service fees for that single transaction).

        The main reason they seem to be making the change (from Patreon link above) is so that they start charging people right when content comes out (but this is a creator option). When they do this, they can’t aggregate the transactions together and give lower fees. But, they are charging this higher fee not just for “on-demand” charges but also their older style charges.

        Overall, I think they handled it very poorly. My $1 and $2 pledges are going to be even worse for content creators. I likely will just see if I can send them money via paypal. That way they will see more money and I’ll still be supporting them.

        1. Hey Lon, So I’m still not quite seeing how your are coming up with that the creator only gets 83% when after patreon fees they get 95% from the graphic that you linked? Am I missing something?

          But yes I dont agree with the per pledge service fee and the backer handling the credit fee is debatable. I just hope it doesnt run everyone out of patreon since its such a good resource for creators.

          But with the new payment structure the creators will get more money if everyone doesnt pull there pledges. But patreon set it up to be much more profitable for them as well.

          – Cody Thompson

          1. The percentages they reference (85-93% before and 95% after) are in reference to the amount the patron “pledges”. That percentage IGNORES the service fee! So, before for a $1 pledge, the creator got about 85 to 93 cents. Now, for a $1 pledge, they get 95 cents. If you look off to the right side of the after graphic, you can see there is the new “service fee” which they make look like a very small bar. For a $1 pledge, that amounts to 38 cents! So, the patron now is paying $1.38 for the creator to get 95 cents. So, yes, the creator now “sees” 95% of the pledge amount, but they don’t realize that patrons are now paying large percentages into service fees.

            Now, I chose a dollar because it made math easy, but anywhere in the 2-5 dollar range, that service fee is pretty large compared to your overall pledge. $5 is (according to the stuff they publish) the absolute lowest amount where the new system gives the same amount as the old system. Because a $5 pledge (worse case before) would give them 85%. Now, my $5 pledge becomes $5.50 and they get 95% of the $5 or $4.75. This equates to 86% of my money being pledged going to the creator. Remember, this is the best case break even point (if a creator was getting 90% of pledges before the break even is now about $10 for a pledge).

            That graphic is at best an example of bad design and at worse is them trying to be misleading by stating percentages without including the service fee. Most creators will be hurt by this. Smarter Every Day (https://www.patreon.com/smartereveryday/posts) stopped their patreon because he lost 50+ backers (about 1.6%) in just a day. Add in the fact that patrons at $5 or under will also be giving him less money, and this is bad.

            Sorry for the long post, but people need to understand that this is very poorly structured for patrons that give less than $60 a year to a creator ($5 a month per my above best case break even point). If you give $5 or less (assuming worse case fees in the before case) a month to a creator, they will see a lower percentage of your TOTAL pledge (including service fee) than they would have before. They will get a higher dollar amount come January, but at the expense of their patrons giving Patreon a disproportional amount of money in service fees.

  6. With your Kickstarter presence, experience, and expertise, from my perspective it seems Kickstarter would be your best bet. I think if you put together a solid campaign on Kickstarter, it may make you more interested in preparing by improving your already solid blog and video content, which is good for everyone.

    It could also serve as a spotlight to allow more creators to feel like they can succeed and even flourish with Kickstarter as a platform for this type of content!

  7. I hadn’t heard about the Patreon fee change until today, but yeah — seems like a bold (and likely bad) move. By my calculations, the new fees will hurt creators on pledges less than $5, but it might actually mean more money for them on pledges greater than $5. But the whole point of crowdfunding is many people pledging small amounts of money. I suspect a large proportion of patrons support several creators for a buck or 2 each, not a single patron for $10/month.

    Also, since the fees are PER PLEDGE, it really kills the “pay per post” model. I suppose one could optimistically describe it as an encouragement to make a single, annual donation to your favorite creators rather than regular small donations, but that’s the opposite of the original business model, and it removes the benefit of what Patreon does over what Kickstarter does!

  8. My favorite for content creators like you is patreon. They just changed there funding model though so we will see how that changes their popularity. Backers pay more now to cover credit card fees and such. If that doesnt reduce the popularity it would be my platform of choice.

    The big deciding factor for me is it will bring a content creator more money in the long run (in my opinion) and thats the point of backing a persons content in the first place. Take the Gaming with Edo season 4 kickstarter that did well. He raised $4714 with a min. pledge of $5 with 208 backers. If only those 208 backers would do a patreon for just $1 that would bring him $2496 in a year. But exactly half those backers backed at $20-$300. And thats just for people that knew about the kickstarter. I somehow missed it so have no way to back him. If he had a patreon I and his other 2100 subscribers would have a chance to back him for at least $1. If he could get the same amount of people that supported his kickstarter to support a patreon at an average pledge price of $5 he would be able to raise $12,000 for his 4th season. While not all at once that would be nearly 3 times the amount to continue to do what he loves.

    Now everyone has there reasons for what they do and he has expressed in his videos before that he chose kickstarter because of his familiarity with it. But as a fan I would prefer to see a patreon so that he can raise more money. Because thats why I would support him in the first place. Get rid of the stress of money and people can really shine through in there work.

    – Cody Thompson

      1. Sure. We used Podpledge in 2015 right as it was getting off the ground. The main reason was because it was the only one that allowed people to donate how want (one time or recurring). There were a couple growing pain issues in the beginning,but by the end of the year we had no issues with it. We are looking to run another campaign in 2018. While Podpledge may be small, we liked the options it gives, they have good customer support and, due to the new Patreon fees, it is better for the backers.

  9. Hi Jamey,

    Your blog is timely as literally today Patreon changed their payment terms to ones that are not favorable to small monthly pledges. That’s how I have support two podcasters for a couple of years. I admit though I prefer that method just the same, because I like to “set and forget” even though I don’t listen anymore. I would do the same for you, as your blog is immeasurably valuable. I’d more than likely support a kickstarter by you as well, oddly enough it is easier psychologically for me to sign up for sending you a dollar a month than it is a $12 backing on Kickstarter, even though they are equivalent. I think the value-add for me in using Patreon is that I don’t have to pay attention. I setup my support for you and I get a note each month letting me know it went through. In that regard it is stress-free, and if I am not paying attention I don’t accidentally miss a campaign.

  10. Thank you all for the feedback so far (and the update about Patreon, which I wasn’t aware of–I’ve added it to the post). This is really helpful! I hadn’t heard about Podpledge, but I’ll add it to the post and poll too.

  11. There are a lot of subscriptions in the world, a lot of them allow you to set your frequency of payment. Monthly/quarterly/Yearly. As in the Patreon case, there is a fixed fee for each transaction, wouldn’t it be nice if they offered some alternatives? Like bimonthly/quarterly? So instead of paying the fixed fee each month, you only pay the fixed part every other or third month.

    If their statement “This was never (and still isn’t) about making more money for Patreon as a company. ” is right they would be interested as well to lower the extra costs involved with all the small transactions.

    So instead of paying $1 each month, you pay $3 dollar every third month.

    1. The problem with patreon is you’re not just paying the fixed fee per month, but per thing you’re pledging for. A lot of creators have pledges on a per-creation basis. One person I follow writes articles, so I pledge $1/article, or 4 $1 pledges monthly. Every one of those pledges gets a $.38 fee now, so instead I’m paying $5.52/month instead of $4/month. If they aggregated it, of course this wouldn’t be as big of an issue, but the system as it stands is awful.

  12. Jamey,

    I have to say that I learned as much from the other contributors here in the comments as I did from your post, especially as it relates to Patreon for which I’m active supporter to quite a few podcasts, including Blue Peg, Pink Peg.

    Any content you create wold have an immense backing due in larg part to the access folks have to you and the transparency you display in everythi8ng you’ve done in the board game design space. You’ve been exceptionally forthcoming in your blogs, FB posts, etc and while some may simply view the campaign as a way to monetize what you’re already doing, I would offer that what you do now is your full-time profession and it’s not beyond reason to seek some level of compensation for your time and talent.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  13. Patreon has worked well for our podcast over the last ~year, both as a creator and supporter. It’s just so easy if you want it to be, like we do. Or it has features that allow you to be very involved with different pledge levels and updates if you choose.

  14. I like Patreon. I support The Gaming Gang (https://thegaminggang.com/) monthly on there and I’d never even think about canceling it. As a supporter, I get a notice by e-mail each month that I’m supporting them (Patreon debited my card and let me know). As a publisher, I’m not really in the same realm as ongoing content creators but I know it has to be a lot of hard work. I like Jeff and what he does. As a business owner, I know there are ongoing expenses and it’s not automatic to cover them. I think Patreon is a great way for the geek culture press (and podcasters, etc.) to help cover those expenses they incur. If they have people consuming their content, it’s reasonable to ask for $1 per month to support them. $12 per year? I spend about that on two drinks of Starbucks Coffee… I can find $12.

    One other thing Jeff does in particular is some monthly giveaways to the Patreon supporters. TGG gets a lot of games to review, so, it makes sense to give them away to those supporting their content creation… I thought that’s a cool way to say thanks.

    Best,
    Byron

    1. I really liked Patreon model, supported a lot (for my modest means) of creators with it… but the new fee structure is killing it, it is an obviously greedy move as they’re charging a fixed fee per pledge (even when the pledge is per content produced…). Obviously this hurts the smaller pledges but that’s exactly where their advantage was : the fact that since pledges from patreon and transfers to creators were aggregated the small donations didn’t get eaten up by fees !

      For instance your 1$ pledge per month will cost you 1.38$ and the creator will only see 95cents of that so only a small percentage of your donation will go to the intended recipient. I don’t begrudge their percentage to Patreon, they need it to support their current infrastructure and eventual improvements but the fixed fee per pledge is slimy and unacceptable to me. I’ve already deleted my small pledges and I’m thinking about quitting Patreon altogether (ideally I would find alternative ways to support the creators I actually donate to through Patreon).

  15. You could use WooCommerce + Subscriptions to setup your own subscription and do it right on this site (no subdomain like Shopify). Built right into WordPress so it would be pretty easy to do. And no fees other than ($200 a year for Subscriptions itself).

    Happy to chat more about WooCommerce since I helped build it. :)

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