An autopsy of my time with Patreon
Released on: 2022-09-02

TL;DR I’ve had a really good time with Patreon, and I hope to return. But for now I need to give it a break while I build more momentum, reset expectations for scheduling and bonus material, and take the time to put out material that I’m truely proud of. In this article, I’ll dive deeper into why things need to change, and what I’m doing about it.

Pretty much all of my videos reference my Patreon page, and views continue to trickle in. If I simply removed all of the links without saying anything; that would lead to speculation that would almost certainly become unhealthy. Therefore I have created this blog post, and this video:

My approach

My starting point

My wife and I have budgeted 2 years for getting this started. This came after 4 intensely difficult years, and this heavily influenced my criteria for how I wanted to proceed:

With this in mind, I decided to try Patreon early on to see how close to a sustainable living I could get.

Death by a thousand compromises

There were 3 primary influences that lead to the direction that I actually went in:

Over time, I ended up in a very different place to what I originally intended.

What I actually ended up doing

When I set up my Patreon page, I had to define a few things to set expectations. The relevant things for this conversation are:

I wasn’t happy with the quality of the bonus material for my first episode (My office), so it became a higher priority on my subsequent projects. This lead to me spending much more time on the bonus material than I originally expected. This massively contributed to filling up the time budget.

I have a long list of really cool projects that I want to be working on, but haven’t been doing so yet. I was barely meeting getting out a new project every 1.5 months, let alone every month. And this was with me doing small projects… I wasn’t even trying to do the more meaningful projects that would take longer.

A revisit of the criteria

So let’s take that picture, and apply it the criteria I laid out earlier. Did I succeed?:

Money

General costs

Getting this out of the way quickly because it’s simple:

There are a few costs here and there like the video hosting on Vimeo for patreon bonus material, and the occasional item like the mini keyboard for the phone hacks episode.

Nothing huge so far, but they are there.

Taxes and other official costs

Normally, when self-employed, there are various taxes and fees that you just have to deal with. The taxes are usually a percentage of what you earn, while the fees are usually one-off things, often once a year, if there are any.

In the region where I’m living, there is a fee that is around €300 every month, no matter how much you are earning. This, by itself, before taking in to account and taxes, or one-off costs, is about 5 times what I’m earning (it’s early days). To help new businesses get started, there is a discount for this fee for about the first year. But this discount does not apply for me, now (this is a longer story.)

Bringing it all together

It’s true that, at any moment, I could blow up and suddenly everything would be great. And given enough time, that’s likely to happen. But whether that is next week, next year, or a few years away, I don’t know. In the mean time I’m racking up dept/burning through savings at an alarming rate. This is not sustainable.

And then bringing in my current state: I’m stressed, not keeping up, and not working on the stuff that I’m really interested in.

I’m paying money to be stressed out. This has to change.

Notice that these are all problems that I’ve created for myself? The beauty of being self employed is that I also have the autonomy to change direction to fix them with low friction.

Changes I’m making now

I’m

This will give me the space to get things done at a pace that makes sense. To be more creative, and learn more along the way. It’ll give me more time to give it the appropriate level of promotion.

And when I get enough of a following, I can look at bringing back income streams like Patreon at that time.

So let’s take this picture, and apply it the criteria I laid out earlier. Did I succeed?:

What I’d do differently if/when I return to Patreon

Why not ____?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been chatting with various friends and family. And I’ve been learning how to articulate what needs to change, and why. There have been several really good suggestions along the way that don’t totally fit with what I’m trying to do at the moment, but are likely to come up in subsequent conversations. So let’s cover a few of those now:

Thank you

I have a lot to be grateful for:

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