Friday, November 19, 2021
Patreon - How much is content worth?
I would like to thank my patrons on Patreon for making the content of this blog possible! Oh, wait, I don't actually have a Patreon. I only have a "buy Tobold a coffee" donation button, which got used exactly twice over the last 3 years. So, thanks to both of you! The sad fact is that in the greater scheme of things my content is worthless, from a monetary perspective.
Now I do follow a number of channels on YouTube, and that line about patrons making the content of the channel possible is one that gets repeated a lot. What nobody says is that there isn't really a good reason to support somebody on Patreon for this sort of content, because you can be pretty sure that the content will get made anyway. Yeah, sorry to the two guys who donated to my blog, but their donation didn't make any difference on my content creation. And because there is no good reason to do it, only a tiny percentage of people do it. For example the Spiffing Brit has a YouTube channel with 2.66 million subscribers. And on his Patreon there are 1,111 patrons, which is just 0.04% of his subscribers. Smaller channels have higher engagement, but the number of patrons rarely passes 1% of the subscribers.
Besides "making the content of this channel possible" probably being a lie, why don't people support content creators more on Patreon? Probably because if you put that in competition with other sources of entertainment, it looks like a bad deal. Why give a guy who makes a handful of videos per week $3 or $5 per month, if you could get a basic Netflix subscription for $9 a month? Even more importantly, it is a lot harder to freeload Netflix than it is to freeload a YouTube channel, because on YouTube freeloading is the default option. It is reasonable to think that by watching that advertisement at the start, you paid "enough" for the content on offer.
I am staying away from Patreon because I am increasingly wary of subscriptions. I already have a Netflix subscription, an Amazon Prime subscription, and a XBox Game Pass for PC subscription running. I have over 100 YouTube channel "subscriptions" (which are free), so even if I just took the smallest (usually $1 per month) membership level on Patreon for all of them, I'd end up with paying over $1,000 a year just for watching YouTube. I'd be better off if I paid the $12 per month YouTube Premium, and even that appears too expensive for me. So I think I'll just sit through the ads, thank you very much.
Historically, "patrons of the arts" are rich people. But most of the 1,111 patrons of the Spiffing Brit, which provide him with an income from Patreon of €5,246 per month, probably earn less than that per month themselves. It's not that I would begrudge smaller channels a few hundred dollars per month of Patreon income, but if a content creator becomes popular enough, it ends up being the poor financing the rich. While I appreciate donations myself, I don't ask for them, because I have a well-paying upper middle-class day job, and I would feel bad if somebody would give me money that they need more than I do. I create content because it fulfills a need of mine to write down my thoughts in a public space. I am highly sceptical of the idea of somebody making a living from content creation, from being an "influencer". It's a slippery slope going from somebody recommending stuff he really likes to recommending stuff that pays well.