· 24 June 2018 ·
[Why Patreon didn’t work out]
I can’t imagine why you’d be interested in this, but here are the conclusions I drew from my year-long Patreon experiment. None of this was surprising, but it was useful to have it confirmed.
- My tiny corner of the interverse does not contain enough bodies to make subscription-based support worth its overhead. Nor was the response helped by my aversion to touting. I dislike being sold to and I’m reluctant to sell to others, even when the product is myself. Ubiquitous advertising may be the norm in the 21st century, but my attitudes were formed in the 16th. I have trouble remembering to add hashtags on Twitter.
- The additional effort required to keep a second site functioning became onerous. Too much was redundant and recursive, like a pair of facing mirrors. What wasn’t repetitive was a hassle, and I disliked not having all my work in one place, with a single uniform appearance. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the Patreon site looked.
- The experiment confirmed my feelings about payment in advance. Even though the amounts were not large, they represented an obligation. Quite rightly, paying patrons expect some regularity of content. I had hoped that the arrangement might get me to write to more of a schedule. This was the yes I was after, but the result was no. Whether it’s a vestigial remnant of my aristocratic disdain for trade, or not wanting to disappoint someone who’s been uncommonly generous, who knows. The fact remains that I write when I have something to say and the time to work it into a pleasing shape. My voices defy augury, and they don’t punch clocks.
It’s ironic that selling my already-completed work induces no agita in me at all. My £1000 per annum royal subsidy from Elizabeth began in 1586, and Scottish Jamie confirmed it in 1603, though I died the following year. But that was compensation for products and services already rendered, and it was only a fraction of the expenses I incurred to be the person I had to be in order to be Shake-Speare.
That was not patronage, that was a bargain.