Introducing a new patron billing option
September 26, 2022
Now creators can charge new patrons when they join, and monthly on that same date — just like they already expect from their subscriptions.
We’ve long heard that the first-of-the-month patron billing model is a source of frustration for many creators and patrons. They expect Patreon to work like most other subscriptions, where patrons pay monthly on the same date they signed up. Last year, we shared plans for testing a new model that better meets these expectations. After incorporating creator and patron feedback, we’re excited to introduce subscription billing as another option for all creators who currently charge patrons monthly.
This is optional, so if you’re a launched creator and choose not to switch, nothing changes with how your patrons are billed.
Now you can charge new patrons when they join, and monthly on that same date — just like they already expect from their subscriptions. For example, a new patron who joins on September 12 will be charged that day, and again on October 12, November 12, and so on. This also means you’ll be able to promote your membership any time of the month, without worrying about new patrons feeling double charged or accessing exclusives before they’ve paid. Nothing changes for your existing patrons, who will continue to be billed on the first of each month.
What this means for you
You can switch to subscription billing at any time in your page Settings. Switching only impacts how your new patrons are billed. Existing patrons will continue to be charged on the first of each month. There are also no changes to fees or your monthly payout schedule. New creators will have subscription billing as the default selection starting today, but can switch to other billing models before launch.
How it works
If you switch:
- New patrons are charged when they join and then monthly on that same date, instead of on the first of each month. For example, a patron who signs up on April 12 is charged again on May 12. Patrons will see their next charge date at checkout and in their Active Memberships tab.
- Nothing changes for your existing patrons. They’re still charged on the first of each month.
- Your payout schedule doesn’t change, and you can still opt to receive an automatic payout on the fifth (or manually withdraw a lump sum each month).
Here’s what a new patron who signs up on the 12th of the month will see at checkout right now (left), compared with if you switch to subscription billing (right).
Also, patrons can see the next charge date for all their memberships in their Active Memberships.
In Relationship Manager, you’ll see their next bill renewal date under the Next Charge Date column. The day of the charge date will match the day of the month in the Join Date column.
- It’s how patrons already expect to pay — no more double charging. Creators who charge patrons upfront consistently tell us patrons who join late in the month feel they’ve been wrongly double charged when they see a charge come in again on the first. (We see 60% more patron cancellations in the first week of every month compared with the rest of the month.) And our research confirms that patrons intuitively expect to be billed on their recurring signup date. Doing so increases their trust and saves creators the headache of explaining how billing works over and over again. In testing the new model, creators reported issuing fewer refunds and receiving fewer complaints and questions about billing and double charges.
“We just had our first month without a single person messaging us to ask for a refund for being 'charged twice' in years, if not since we first joined Patreon!” — Eric from Pretty Much It
“At the start of every month I manually refund all subscriptions that occur in the last week of the last month. I do this so they won't have to pay me twice in one week for my content. Very excited to not do this anymore.” — Stephen Bauman
- Happier patrons, more growth potential. To avoid frustrating patrons with confusion over how billing works, many creators tell us they avoid promoting their membership in the second half of the month. Plus, would-be patrons who do visit creator pages during that time are more likely to leave without subscribing. Creators on subscription billing have seen a steady flow of new patrons throughout the month, overcoming the end-of-month dropoff from patrons who don’t want to pay twice in a short amount of time.
There are long-term benefits to sharing more regularly, too. We’ve seen that, on average, creators who promote their membership once a week earn 31% more than creators who only promote once a month.
“In my opinion, the new billing model is way better, because I'm no longer afraid of promoting my Patreon… I always mentioned it was better to subscribe at the beginning of a month (and that information was making things more complicated and less natural) — Now I can talk about Patreon whenever I want, each time I post something or just when I feel it's the right moment.” — Inga Ilze Peterson
- Get paid upfront — no more patrons canceling before paying. Many creators who don’t charge upfront tell us the double charge problem is why they haven’t opted to charge patrons up front. But they face another problem: patrons who join and cancel before the first of the month can still access benefits without ever paying. On the new model, these creators gain the benefits of charging at signup, and don’t risk patrons accessing content they didn’t pay for.
“For my use case I want to charge people immediately to prevent abuse (since Patrons immediately receive all of the benefits), but charging everyone on the first of the month makes absolutely no sense since the benefits the Patrons receive are, essentially, continuous.” — Jan from jpdb.io
- It’s the foundation for highly requested billing-related features. Trial memberships and gifting are both highly requested features that we’ll be able to deliver in the future with this new model. Patrons would be able to redeem gift cards or trial memberships for one (or more) month’s worth of access starting any time of the month, not just the first.
Looking ahead, we’re excited for creators and patrons to experience the benefits of subscription billing. As you get started, let us know here how it’s working for you!
How to decide if subscription billing is right for you
Subscription billing is a better way to bill patrons if you want to:
- Deliver benefits to all patrons who have paid their most recent bill, regardless of when that payment occurs throughout the month.
- Avoid complaints, refund requests, and/or cancellations from patrons who feel double charged when they’re billed at signup and again on the first of the month.
- Promote your page at any time of the month, without worry of double charging.
- Avoid patrons who sign up, access your content, and cancel before ever paying (getting access to your membership for free).
While subscription billing simplifies processes for many creators, we also know that others have workflows that are tied to first-of-the-month billing. Subscription billing might not be for you right now if you:
- Limit monthly benefits to patrons who have paid within a specific date range that month.
- Limit benefits to patrons who paid you a certain number of times during a specific date range.
- Require buffer time between when a patron signs up and when you will deliver a benefit (e.g. creating and shipping personalized goods, scheduling a meeting).
- Manually expire access to benefits each month (e.g. download links, digital files).
We’re working with creators to understand what tools would help them easily deliver benefits on subscription billing (for those who want it). Stay tuned for more in the coming months based on what we’ve learned. If you’d like to help us improve benefit delivery, sign up here to participate in research and testing.
- If you have more questions, see this FAQ.
- If you’re a creator who’s interested in helping us improve benefit delivery tools, sign up here to join research and testing sessions.
- If you have thoughts on patron billing you want to share (suggestions for improvements, what you’d like to see next), share them here.