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Editorial: Patreon. Because creatives should not be expected to work for free.

Editorial: Patreon. Because creatives should not be expected to work for free.
Editorial: Patreon. Because creatives should not be expected to work for free.

I work as a doctor. I turn up for my allocated shifts, and I get paid once a fortnight. I don’t need to look for business; people need the service I provide. And of course, I will be paid.

Say you were a plumber. Self-employed. Sure, you need to advertise but when you accept a job, there is an unspoken agreement that you will be paid for doing it.

Sadly for freelance workers in creative industries, this is not always the case.

It is common to see on social media, posts such as

Looking for a photographer for professional photos in exchange for exposure etc.

Or

I want a new logo for my blog but can’t afford the $$$ – who knows someone who will do this for me?

Creatives themselves can also undermine others in their field, by offering their services for exposure and experience, in other words, for free.

What you don’t see is

Emergency! I have a blocked toilet and need a plumber ASAP. I won’t pay you but I will tell all my friends how good you were!

Even as a book reviewer, it is common to receive emails from authors or publishers requesting a review of their book. I won’t be paid for my time or my writing, of course, but I will receive a free copy of the book.

Receiving a copy of a book I have been asked to review is not payment.

Creativity quote. Einstein.

I was compelled to write this post today after being saddened by comments made to an artist I follow both on YouTube and Patreon. Courtney (LittleRavenInk) has been making videos on YouTube for many years and has been doing so very successfully, now having almost 15 000 subscribers. For the past year, Courtney has been sharing content also on Patreon.

For those who don’t know, Patreon is a site where individuals can subscribe (and we’re generally talking less than $20 a month) for content from artists and other creatives they want to support.

 

So yes, this does mean that you are now paying for videos that previously would have been free on YouTube. Some people, it seems, don’t feel that is fair. After all, they’ve been loyal followers on YouTube all these years. Why should they have to pay, all of a sudden?

Well, consider two things.

First, using Courtney again as an example. This is her job. Courtney studied art at university. She is an artist. She has been providing art tutorials and inspiration on YouTube for free, for years. Why should she not be paid for the time and effort required to make the content, as well as for the expertise, she is sharing?

And secondly, let’s just take a moment to appreciate just how much content we can access for free. Want to learn French? Watch YouTube. Want to learn how to re-tile your bathroom? Watch YouTube. And want to learn how to paint, draw, watercolour? Watch YouTube.

Perhaps we have taken for granted this wonderful resource, whilst the creators have received very little in return. Well they do get exposure, but exposure isn’t going to pay the bills.

 

The other complaint I have seen is that creators are preferentially posting content to Patreon rather than YouTube.

And of course they are.

They are being paid to post content to Patreon. Patreon is paying their bills. Patreon is allowing creators to make a living doing their creative job.

YouTube is a means by which they can advertise their creative service; do not begrudge them for this.

 

Both artists who I support on Patreon, Courtney Diaz and Ali Brown, are talented and kind-hearted, generous women who are trying to make a living by sharing their passion, experience and artistic creations. I am thankful to YouTube for introducing them to me, and I am proud to be supporting them on Patreon. They both create beautiful and inspiring content and, perhaps more importantly, are developing supportive creative communities.

 

Let’s value creative content creators higher than ‘free’!

Do you support content creators on Patreon? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

And what are your thoughts on the YouTube versus Patreon discussion? I think we need to be grateful for having so much free content available, but also acknowledge that for some, this is their job and they have the right to be paid for the service they provide!

Let’s discuss in the comments below!

 

And don’t forget to check out my recommendations:

 

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Three Ways To Watercolour Your Day… for the Artistically-Challenged! It’s World Watercolour Month!

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For further reading, I’d recommend you check out this article from The Guardian from May 2017: All Work and No Pay: Creative Industries Freelancers are Exploited.

11 Comments
  • Evelyn says:

    So glad I stumbled across this post. For some time I have felt the “withdrawal” effects of fewer free videos from my two fave gals, Courtney Diaz and Ali Brown. I totally get the Patreon thing and can’t imagine the amount of work and time that goes into it. I admire their commitment to following their artistic passion and desire to help support their families.
    I agree, artists should be paid for their time and takent. . My question is, does limiting or eliminating free content affect the increase in followers which may mean lack of growth in patronage? I hope to support these talented ladies in the future.

    • Julia @ Read and Live Well says:

      Thanks for reading, Evelyn. I completely understand the wanting of more videos from your favourites on YouTube! I guess there will be some trial and error for them to work out the best balance between the 2 platforms.
      I started watching them both when they were already on Patreon so weren’t uploading to YouTube very frequently, but I found there was plenty of backlist content to get a good feel for what they did to help me decide whether I’d want to support them on Patreon. And it is good that Patreon is only a month-to-month subscription so you’re not locked in for too long if you decide their style doesn’t suit you.

    • Ali says:

      Hey there, Evelyn!
      I am so sorry you have felt a withdrawal. My intention is never to be stingy with my content. I want to be generous and offer as much as I can, but I also only have so much time to film/edit/upload/post/etc. I cannot speak for Courtney, but it was only up until a couple weeks ago that I had to make the difficult decision to cut back on YouTube for a season, going from 1 video per week to 1 video every other week. Before that, I had faithfully posted 1 video per week on my YouTube channel while also posting 1 video per week on Patreon. I actually agree with you that it isn’t in my best interest to stop posting on YouTube. From a business standpoint, my goal is to continue to grow my channel in hopes that some of my new subscribers will find my exclusive work valuable enough to invest in. I do find it interesting though, that when I announced that I had to slow down on YouTube for health reasons, I gained 35 patrons within a week. So, perhaps there are also those who will take and take for free until they are cut off. There’s just so many variables with all that and so I think Julia said it perfectly…there is a delicate balance between the two platforms and how they will best serve the viewer and the artist. I do want you to know, from my heart, I am trying my very best to continue to provide for my family while still being generous with my time to provide free content on YouTube as well. Much love to you!!! xoxo

  • Hannah says:

    I follow Ali Brown and Anna Brim (aka Mrs Brimbles) on YouTube and now I support Anna on Patreon. I am all about supporting local business where I can and in a way the Patreon stuff is just another facet of that.

    Am I disappointed that I don’t get to see those Patreon videos that 6-12-18 months ago would have appeared on YouTube? Yes maybe a bit I am but as a self-employed peep and I get it, you’ve got to make your art work pay for itself because exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

    It has crossed my mind about starting a Patreon page and in fact I do have one although it’s unpublished but I’ve not figured out what “products” I have to offer – I adore the collage sheets that Anna publishes and they are so handy for journaling etc.

    One of the “strings” on my bow is blogging and in all honesty I earn very little from it (although I keep trying!), I’ve spoken to bloggers who frequently get “Can you blog about this…..we can pay £10?” or “Can you blog about this….oh we don’t have the budget” Another one that has come up in those circles is “Oh well so and so will do it for less than you want to charge – any chance you can reduce your rates?”. I’ve heard of some of the bloggers responding with things like – “How would you feel if your boss came to tell to you he was cutting your wage for today – what would you do?” and sometimes the companies get it and sometimes they don’t. it’s hit and miss – but the bills need to be paid after all.

    • Julia @ Read and Live Well says:

      Hi Hannah, thanks for your comment (it went into spam so I didn’t see it until now 🙂 ) I agree 100% with all of your points. I would love to be able to make some money from blogging! There is definitely an issue with people in creative industries undermining each other by offering to work for free/ for very little, so a first step would be creatives valuing themselves higher than that!

  • Julia! I am so glad you wrote this! Poor Courtney has been on my mind since those comments she received. I’ve followed Ali Brown from the beginning, and more recently Courtney. They are amazing souls and I love what you said about creatives, “Let’s value creative content creators higher than ‘free’!” HERE, HERE!!! I have a channel on YouTube, Geraldine Jayne, and am thinking of creating content for Patreon. Your words resonate deeply with me. It’s terrible seeing people attacking creatives for moving over to Patreon to get paid for their work and time. Xx

    • Julia @ Read and Live Well says:

      Thanks for reading, Geraldine. It is sad that people can so easily leave negative comments, comments like that have a wider and longer lasting effect. But hopefully the majority are more supportive (and I’m sure they are, you just don’t hear from them as you do the negative ones). Wishing you all the best for your decision re Patreon, and I do enjoy your YouTube videos too 😁❤️

  • Susan Dill says:

    I have a friend who has done 637 crafting-related videos on Youtube. She has experienced every kind of criticism that you can think of… she talks funny and her accent is annoying (she is from North Texas where they have a distinct “texas” accent); that the ads she allows to be run are annoying, that her hands move too much in the videos, that she talks too much… I’m sure Courtney and others have experienced similar. When you make a quality video for youtube (or vimeo, or any other format) it involves time, editing, etc. All so someone else can experience it for FREE. To expect them to NOT be compensated for their work is unreasonable. And if you don’t like the content or the way it was produced or the person’s method… MOVE ON TO ANOTHER VIDEO.

    Most people with Patreon accounts don’t just quit making Youtube videos. They just do MORE for those who are willing to pay them for their knowledge. Paying $2-$15 a month for that information is actually not a lot to ask. Two or three Starbucks. Youtube in itself is a privilege to be able to access and everyone who posts anything on it is a blessing…even the silly cat videos because they make us laugh even if just for a moment. But to have expectations that all that information will forever be free…is just self-serving.

    • Julia @ Read and Live Well says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Susan, and very well said, I agree completely!

  • Ali Brown says:

    Thank you so much, Julia, For sharing your thoughts and being so supportive! In my case, I don’t know if folks understand that I left my photography career to continue making videos. There was great demand from people asking me to continue to make videos. I felt like sharing art and journaling and the having the opportunity to inspire folks was making more of a positive impact on a larger group of people. I want to share as much joy with as many people as I can. 💛 So that’s the choice I made to leave photography and pursue YouTube as a BUSINESS…knowing that I would have to put in a lot of work, but one day, I would develop a workshop, video classes or do something that would generate revenue. I always had it in my mind that I needed to replace the income I left. I have tried to be generous with the free content I offer, but when it comes down to it, I have got to make income to support my family. So THANK YOU for sharing the importance of VALUE. That’s really what it all boils down to. Much love! xoxo

    • Julia @ Read and Live Well says:

      Thank you for reading! It’s sad that people make such an effort to bring others down, especially when it must be hard enough for you and others in your position to value yourselves high enough to take the leap and believe that you are worth it. But you ARE worth it!! ❤️

Hi! I'm Julia, a lifelong reader, an aspiring writer, medical doctor, and now book blogger, from Queensland, Australia! Go to 'About Read and Live Well' to learn more!

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