One Year on Patreon – Pros and Cons

In early 2014, I detailed the strengths and weaknesses I observed as a magazine and podcast publisher using Patreon. Since that post is still receiving a fair amount of traffic, I thought it only fair to write up a new pros and cons list that better reflects where Patreon is today.

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What is Patreon?

Patreon is a cross between subscriptions and Kickstarter. Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon doesn’t focus on a one-time project. It’s aimed at fundraising for long-term projects that include recurring creations, like issues of a magazine or episodes of a podcast. In our case, your Patreon pledge is a per-issue contribution to the magazine.

Clarkesworld’s Status on Patreon

Clarkesworld Magazine has had a Patreon page for a little over a year now. At this time, we have $662 in monthly pledges from a total of 177 patrons. We successfully unlocked our first goal of $500, which allowed us to add a story to every other issue. The next goal is at $750. We have never been one of their featured sites.

Clarkesworld has an online readership of over 35,000 and a monthly podcast listenership that is over 9,000. The percentage of readers/listeners actively supporting us through Patreon or other avenues (ebook subscriptions, PayPal donations, Joyride, etc.) is disappointingly small, but this is not a reflection on Patreon or any of the other services we use. Part of the problem is marketing, but the big challenge is convincing people to support what they can get for free. We’re not alone in this. Talk to PBS sometime. What this means is that we still have a large number of potential supporters.

Patreon Cons – Updated

1. Discoverability – While they’ve fixed searching and added tags, category tags are very broad and it when you view the category, it appears to only list featured creators. Personally, I’d love to see them implement strong categorization similar to what Kickstarter has done with their DISCOVER button and make it a breeze to find projects I’m interested in. (Go play there and see for yourself.) It might also be fun to have the ability to nominate people to be featured. Right now that’s a bit of a black box.

2. Payment Processing – My prior problem as a monthly content creator went away when I discovered the MONTHLY CAMPAIGN checkbox on the edit my campaign page. Now I don’t need to worry about whether or not pledges come in after I’ve posted new content. Patreon now matches our schedule.

I didn’t mention it last time, but there is one problem in this category. I’m not sure why, but it can take days to process a pledge. Maybe it’s a volume thing, but I’ve never had any other monthly service not be able to bulk process charges in a few hours. Just for clarity here, I’m not nitpicking about declined charges. Those happen and they’ve been good about trying to get those situations straightened out. They’ve also been very clear in stating the processing time. This won’t be a problem for many people, but in our case, we have a subscription reward tier and those have to go out on the first… which is the same day they process charges.

3. New – This was bound to fix itself if everything was going well. Patron is now processing over one million in pledges every month. There are still a lot of people who are unfamiliar with them, but they’ve also received fifteen million in funding from investors, so expect their visibility to continue to grow.

Patreon Pros – Updated

1. Support and Service – I’ve had to use it less often than in the past (which is a testament to their design), but their support staff are top-notch and easy to work with. I don’t know many who do it better. In fact, I should probably ask them about the above payment processing problem. (I can’t imagine that they don’t already know and are working on it. That’s what I’ve come to expect from them.)

2. Growing Community – I don’t know if our experience had anything to do with it, but I now see a number of my colleagues using Patreon and a few of our supporters supporting them (and vice versa). That’s great for all of us and I expect to see more and more people launching Patreon pages in the years ahead.

3. We’re Getting Paid – While it might take a few days to process the payments, everything runs smoothly and they’ve even added a direct deposit option. Patreon is now an important part of our business model.

4. Opportunity – A year later, I still feel like we’re in the early days of something big. Being in early has certainly had benefits for us and I’m sure those coming in now will have similar experiences assuming they don’t assume Patreon to be a magic money box.

Closing Thoughts

After a year, I am still very pleased with Patreon and continue to recommend it to people. While I continue to have some issues with the service, it has built a strong foundation and they appear to have the intelligence, staffing, and resources to grow into something even more impressive. Listen to them talk sometime. It can be quite motivating.

In the meantime, I have to learn to become better at marketing. I can’t expect them to shoulder the discoverability problems on their own. We have a large audience of people that aren’t currently supporting us. That’s on me. Patreon is one of the tools in my kit, but I still have to learn to use it more effectively.

That said:
Visit patreon.com/clarkesworld and sign up to become one of Clarkesworld’s patrons today!

December 2014 Issue of Clarkesworld

The December 2014 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine is now available. You can get the issue:

or help us pay the bills by purchasing Clarkesworld with a subscription at:

DECEMBER 2014 – ISSUE #99

FICTION

“Fatima’s Wound” by Kali Wallace
“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon” by Tom Crosshill
“Now Dress Me in My Finest Suit and Lay Me in My Casket” by M. Bennardo
“No Vera There” by Dominica Phetteplace
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele
“The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter” by Alastair Reynolds
“Tongtong’s Summer” by Xia Jia

NONFICTION

Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction by Ken Liu
In Civilized Society: A Conversation with Kameron Hurley by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Another Word: Endings by Daniel Abraham
Editors Desk: Giant Heads by Neil Clarke

PODCAST

This month’s stories will be released in audio form over the course of the month. Read by Kate Baker.

COVER ART

The Magpie God by Lake Hurwitz


If you enjoy what we do, please consider supporting us by spreading the word about our subscription options or Patreon account on Facebook, Twitter or your blog. Your subscriptions make everything we do possible.

Thanks!

Science Fiction Novella Recommendations

Care to recommend some science fiction novellas published in the last 15 years?

My 2014 Philcon Schedule

I’ll be at Philcon this weekend. They just posted the schedule, so here’s where I’ll be:

Fri 7:00 PM in Plaza III (Three)—Setting Up a Crowdfunding Project (1826)
Panelist discuss what worked, what didn’t and why. How can you promote one to make sure it is a success?Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Rob Balder, Neil Clarke, Gil Cnaan, Alex Shvartsman, Alyce Wilson

Fri 8:00 PM in Plaza V (Five)—Local Small Press Magazines (1895)
Philadelphia and its environs is host to a number of small press magazines like SPACE AND TIME, CLARKESWORLD and PHOBOS. Come and hear what their editors have to say about running them and what sort of stories they’ve looking for.
Hildy Silverman (mod), Neil Clarke, Bernie Mojzes

Sat 10:00 AM in Autograph Table—Autographs – Neil Clarke, Alex Shvartsman (2022)
Alex Shvartsman (mod), Neil Clarke

Sun 2:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three—Crowd-funding as a Publishing Strategy (1743)
How successful is it? What is the impact of crowd-funding on publishing in general
Rob Balder (mod), Kyle Cassidy, Neil Clarke, Gary McGath

World Fantasy Award Winner

After three prior World Fantasy Award nominations, I had grown accustomed to sitting in the back of the room and staying there as the winners were declared. No stress. We knew we wouldn’t have to get on stage… “Magazines never win.” I’m eating those words today.

2014 World Fantasy Award Winner: Special Award Non-Professional
Kate Baker, Neil Clarke, and Sean Wallace for editing Clarkesworld Magazine

Completely unprepared, Sean and I made our way to the stage. (Kate was on a family vacation in Disney.) Unlike the Hugos, I remember being on stage. I acknowledged that we expected to be staying in our seats and hadn’t written anything. I told everyone that this was the first time my family accompanied me to a ceremony, and I was very happy they were there for this moment. I thanked the judges, everyone involved in Clarkesworld, and our readers. I also warned my children that if they misbehaved on the way home, I would put the award in their room. I then turned it over to Sean. (These are the events as they played in my head. If I stood there and said BIM-BIM-BIM-AYEEEYEEEEEE for a few minutes, that would not shock me.)

We returned to our seats stunned and watched the rest of the slate of winners take the podium. It’s an honor to be among such an amazing group of people.

Afterwards, they took lots of pictures. Some serious. Some goofy. We had a lot of fun…. and then we all had to run. It’s so sad that the award ceremony is the last thing we do at World Fantasy Con. I would have liked the opportunity to celebrate a little with the people who helped make it possible.

Here’s a picture Lisa took of Sean and I with all three awards:

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BIM-BIM-BIM-AYEEEEEEEEEEEE!

November 2014 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine

The November 2014 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine is now available. You can get the issue:

or help us pay the bills by purchasing Clarkesworld with a subscription at:

NOVEMBER 2014 – ISSUE #98

FICTION

“Cameron Rhyder’s Legs” by Matthew Kressel
“Pernicious Romance” by Robert Reed
“The Long Haul From the ANNALS OF TRANSPORTATION, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009″ by Ken Liu
“Cody” by Pat Cadigan
“The Vorkuta Event” by Ken MacLeod

NONFICTION

“We’re All Dreaming,” Arctor Said: Drugs in Science Fiction, from the 1960s to the Present by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Anywhere with Pillars: A Conversation with Jo Walton by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Another Word: Free Advice from a Full-Time Author. Worth Every Penny Paid by Wesley Chu
Editors Desk: Translation is Important by Neil Clarke

PODCAST

This month’s stories will be released in audio form over the course of the month. Read by Kate Baker.

COVER ART

Homecoming by Kuldar Leement


If you enjoy what we do, please consider supporting us by spreading the word about our subscription options or Patreon account on Facebook, Twitter or your blog. Your subscriptions make everything we do possible.

Thanks!