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2020 Year-in-Review, and a Peek Into 2021

[UPDATE] With this blog post, our intention was to give you an early look at future product updates but we ended up causing confusion and frustration. We’re sorry about this, and you can read our response here.

2020 was challenging to say the least. Everyone has had to adapt to new ways of living and working, but it’s obvious by now that the creative community has been among the hardest hit. We’re humbled that Patreon was able to provide so many of you with a financial and emotional lifeline during uncertain times. Thanks to your communities, thousands of artists and creators have been able to cope with canceled events, slowing ad revenue and the inability to perform, practice or connect.

Our team is grateful for the opportunity to build and maintain a platform that helps creativity and community survive and thrive through these lousy times. Looking back at 2020, we made progress together despite the challenges. We listened to your feedback and launched highly requested features such as Annual Membership, new currencies, and a better way for podcasters to share patron-only episodes. We looked for ways to make patrons happier and stick around longer, and worked to unite our global community of creators and patrons.

Here’s a look back at some of the biggest milestones for Patreon in 2020, and a peek at what’s to come this year.

In 2020, we:

1. Opened up to our global community

We rolled out support for Euro and GBP, and enabled both creators and patrons to choose their preferred currency. We also added support for 4 new languages: German, French, Spanish and Italian, allowing hundreds of thousands of creators and patrons to use Patreon in their native language.

"With Patreon, it feels like I have an audience now that really appreciates everything that I want to do and who are quite flexible and curious about it." - Judith Holofernes, Berlin-based musician, writer, and podcaster

"Patreon has been fundamental - not only has it allowed me to get closer to my community, but it has also allowed me to bridge creativity and education." - Laura Velazco, illustrator based in Bilbao, Spain

2. Made hassle-free merch available to more creators

Creators who charge monthly now have access to Merch for Membership: our solution for getting exclusive merch out to patrons as part of their membership, without any of the hassles for creators. Patreon takes care of tracking eligibility, production, global shipping, and support. That’s right, your patrons get delightful merch, while you get to skip the line at the post office.

“Merch for Membership incentivizes people to stick around for a year, and it makes it so each time they get something, it is unique, and it feels exciting.” - Keith from The Try Guys

3. Introduced Annual Membership, with a discount!

Who doesn’t love a discount? This year we launched Annual Membership, one of the most requested features from creators and patrons alike. Eligible Creators can enable the feature and set a custom discount on a whole year of membership in their settings. Annual membership is a great way to get new patrons: 35% of annual pledges actually come from new members, and the discount has allowed creators to offer compelling promotions to their audience.

4. Improved vital tools for running a membership

We made improvements to the Patron Relationship Manager to help you easily manage your patrons and save time fulfilling benefits. You now have access to customizable columns, time-saving shortcuts including “New” and “Cancelled,” Saved Filters to track recurring benefits, and more. Learn more here.

5. Took a big step forward for our Podcast community, with Acast

This year we launched our partnership with Acast, the world’s largest podcast network. Our integration enables podcasters to deliver secure, patron-only RSS feeds to patrons who can listen on their app of choice. Using it will give you access to advanced listener analytics through Acast, and seamlessly convert listeners to patrons to grow your membership. Learn more here.

"I love the Acast integration! The analytics let me know that patrons ARE listening to the content and give me clear insight into exactly what and how they're consuming. It's secure and easy for patrons to get set up, and the fact that there is only one link to share makes it simple for listeners to find the content and brings new patrons to our membership!” - Sleep With Me

In 2021, we’re looking at:

Improving the patron experience

In 2021, we’re focusing on improving the patron experience. Thousands of you rely on Patreon to sustain your creative business and connect with your audience, and we take that seriously. The speed and reliability of the mobile and desktop platform is a fundamental pillar of the patron experience, and we will continue to invest in it. And while Patreon needs to be dependable, we also want it to be a more engaging experience for your patrons. This year you’ll see some updates to the patron experience that make Patreon faster, more reliable, more fun and easier to use.

Simplifying billing

Continuing the theme of keeping patrons happy, in 2021 we’re also tackling one of the biggest areas of confusion for patrons; understanding why and when they’re charged.

Right now, patrons of charge up front creators are billed immediately when they first sign up, and thereafter on the 1st of each month, leaving some patrons feeling like they’ve been wrongly double charged. As a result, we see fewer patrons signing up toward the end of the month, and increased cancellations at the beginning of the month. [Update] Since writing this blog, we made an updated post here with better context regarding our approach to billing.

This year we’re moving towards anniversary billing, where patrons’ renewal date each month will be the same date they joined. This will help increase conversion and retention and reduce pressure around the 1st of the month, giving you the freedom and flexibility to promote your membership on your schedule.

We’re working on introducing this model carefully through in-depth research and a pilot test with a handful of selected creators. We recognize that this may mean change for some of you — we don’t take that lightly and we’re dedicated to taking your feedback on board. We’ll be sharing regular updates with you all as we make progress to ensure you have plenty of notice and time to prepare ahead of any changes.

Growing our global community

We want to continue making Patreon a welcoming place for creators and patrons across the globe, so we’ll continue adding new languages, currencies, and payment methods throughout the year. More details to come!

Making it easier for you to manage your membership

While the Patron Relationship Manager helps you manage your audience, its real value is facilitating that direct connection that makes your membership meaningful to your patrons. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to manage your critical tasks quickly, so you can get back to creating and connecting with patrons. In 2021 we’ll work on making things easier to manage on the go, streamlining benefit tracking and delivery, and making vital patron details more easily accessible as you interact with them across posts and messages.

Helping patrons discover more of what they love

We know that as a creator, you put a lot of work into growing your audience and your creative business. When we ask you what you want more help with, growing your audience is the #1 request. When we ask patrons what they want, many of them say they’d like a better way to discover more creators on Patreon. We also know that patrons who pledge to more than one creator tend to stick around longer. We believe that by helping patrons find more creators they love, we can help you grow your business and improve patrons’ overall experience on Patreon. But we don’t want to build a system that recommends content in the same way that the big platforms do.

We don’t need more algorithms that reward click-bait, superficial engagement, and sensationalist content. We want to build features that allow creators to recommend other creators, and amplify the connections that already exist between communities that share interests. We want to do all of this in a way that respects you and the communities you’ve built. We’ll start by improving search so that anyone looking for a specific creator has a better chance of landing on their page, and adding more ways to search by topic or genre. Then we’ll start testing ways to get community-curated recommendations to patrons and build features around what works best.

We’re excited to dive into this new year by doubling our efforts to make Patreon even better for you and your patrons. If you want to join the conversation about where Patreon is going and stay up to date on what we’re building, join our Community Forum.

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