You know, I’m not really sure how I feel about the term “creator.” It almost feels like it belongs in the same kind of ego-driven camp as guru, evangelist and influencer. It’s just another one of these trendy buzzwords, right?

Then again, “creator” is decidedly more inclusive than more specific terms like writer, musician, podcaster or YouTuber. As a “creator” myself (I guess I can call myself that), I fully recognize the challenges of getting paid for your craft. I’ve always said that people should pay for what they like (and causes they believe in), so that’s why I’m finally ponying up with some Patreon pledges.

Direct Monetary Support

In case you are not familiar with the platform, Patreon (not at all a paid endorsement) empowers artists and creators to be paid directly by the people who enjoy and want to support their work. It works primarily on a membership basis, so you can pledge to give a set amount of money to a specific creator each and every month. Some creators have it set up to be paid per creation (like per video or per song), but monthly memberships are the norm.

In exchange, creators offer different “perks” for different levels of support. If you pledge at least $3 a month, you may be given access to behind-the-scenes photos and show notes. If you pledge at least $5 a month, you might get exclusive wallpapers each month. If you pledge $100, perhaps you’ll be mentioned in a video. You get the idea.

As of last spring, Patreon boasted one million “patrons” supporting 50,000 creators, paying out a total of some $150 million annually. Patreon takes a five percent cut of earnings, not including payment processing fees. The idea is that creators and artists can have a sustainable and reliable source of income outside of the fickle nature of advertising and algorithms. (More on that in the side note at the bottom of this post.)

I’ve been in the business of making money online for more than ten years and I’ve been discussing the challenges of sustainable Internet income for just about as long. Idealists will say you shouldn’t worry about the money. Just do what you love and the money will follow. Unfortunately, reality paints a very different picture and that’s why platforms like Patreon are so critical to the success and livelihood of online creators.

A Rising Tide

In the grand scheme of things, my subscriptions are a relative drop in the bucket… but many drops from many patrons contribute to a lot of reasonably-filled buckets. For the time being, I’ve thrown my support behind a couple of my favorite YouTubers, an excellent podcaster, and a couple of great webcomics. I haven’t decided yet whether I should support more creators, if I should increase my membership level for the creators I already support, or some combination of the two.

I’ve also considered setting up a Patreon page of my own as a creator, but that’s another discussion for another day.

For now, I encourage you to join me in supporting the online creators you love. How many free hours of entertainment have you enjoyed from watching YouTube videos, laughing at webcomics, listening to podcasts and reading blog posts? If you want these creators to keep doing what they’re doing (and doing more of it), they’ve got to pay their bills too. Every little bit helps.


Side note: You may have heard that earlier this week, YouTube announced some major changes to its YouTube Partner Program. That’s how YouTubers (like me) get a portion of the advertising revenue earned on their videos. They’re changing the requirements such that you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours watched in the past 12 months in order to qualify for the program and existing partners are not grandfathered in.

In effect, I’m getting booted out of the program. As I write this, I’m about 150 subscribers short of the 1,000 requirement. If you could subscribe to my YouTube channel (if you aren’t already), I’d really, really appreciate it. They’re giving everyone until February 20.