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Product Principles at Patreon

Every day at Patreon, we make decisions about how and what we build for creators. We make these decisions based on principles — a set of rules based on our company values that guide decision making. Principles are discovered through trial and error, not invented, and represent the closest thing to truth in our organization. Every team uses these principles to ensure that we have the same decision-making framework and deliver a holistic product experience.

At Patreon, we consider ourselves creators — and many of us currently are or formerly were professional creators of some type (musicians, artists, writers, YouTubers, etc.). As such, we want to give more to the world than what we take; we want to design, build, and operate something valuable. Each day we create features that creators and their patrons use to grow their memberships. In an ever-changing world of internet monetization, we believe that membership is the best business model for helping creators stay independent and get paid.

We don’t take this position lightly - it’s an honor helping creators of all kinds gain financial freedom and creative independence with the help of the tools we build.

Over the last few months a team of product managers, designers, and data scientists set about codifying our first set of product principles, and we’re excited to share them with you.

1. Build with care

We understand that for creators, Patreon is both a paycheck and a source of pride. Building with care is how we internally emphasize accuracy, trust, and reliability. While we move quickly to add value, we do not “move fast and break things,” but rather move methodically to ensure we leave things better than we found them. We take the responsibility of ensuring creator livelihood very seriously.


2. Think big, but start small

Everyone at Patreon has ambitious goals that we want to accomplish on behalf of creators, but we believe in building a ladder to the moon — one rung at a time. This principle is a call to hold those dreams high, and invest in the most impactful areas, but also a reminder that the way to get there is by starting small, spending time discovering solutions, and throwing ideas away until we get them right. While some companies spend time on risky moonshots, we prefer to focus on solving the first few important problems right away.


3. Guide & empower

It’s our responsibility to show creators how best to use our products. We give creators data, feedback, and a user interface that guides them to the best possible decisions for their business, while still ensuring that they have the freedom to choose. We believe in this model because we have seen thousands of memberships and learned what tends to work. In practice, when we build a new feature, we’ll usually have a smart default while giving creators options.


4. Respect the value of creators’ work

The Internet over the last 30 years has turned art into ‘content’ to run ads against, and trained us to think it should all be free. This model drives ad revenue in the billions of dollars, with only a tiny fraction of it shared with the creators. We don’t think this is fair. We respect the value of creators’ work. We believe they should be rewarded fairly for making the world a livelier, more beautiful, more interesting place. We’re building a platform that allows creators to engage in a direct, value-for-value exchange with the people that love their work the most. We help them price their memberships fairly so they can build a sustainable business that delights their biggest fans and supports their creative ambitions.


5. Honor the relationship between creators and patrons.

One of our core behaviors at Patreon is to ‘put creators first’. We also care immensely about patrons, and strive to see them primarily through the eyes of creators. We honor the relationship that creators have built with their patrons. In our communications, we strive to be clear, honest, and direct in what we say to creators. We speak to patrons in order to understand their needs and experiences, but we don’t intrude on the creator/patron relationship.


As with all creations, we consider these principles, and our product, a work in progress. By establishing principles we’ve found a consistent way for us to put our best foot forward and do our best to create the most value for creators.

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