At the start of August 2018, Patreon — an online platform that lets fans donate funds to creators’ work and projects — announced it was having issues with payouts.
Basically, patrons’ payments were getting declined when they shouldn’t have been. Which meant many creators weren’t getting paid at the start of the month.
I never realized how many people actually rely on Patreon for their money — I mean ALL their money — until I saw the angry comments on Twitter.
I saw creators complaining about not being able to pay their rent because of this. And though I’m not one to judge — everyone’s circumstances are different — I can’t help but wonder how they allowed such a huge mistake to happen.
The creators who can’t pay their bills. Not Patreon.
We hear far too often that the arts are not a stable career path. And that’s true for many aspiring writers, actors, musicians, and more. You have to get experience if you’re going to progress, and in the beginning, i’ts not easy to make good money — or any money at all — doing that.
That’s why experts also advise to never, ever rely on a single method of making money as an artist. Especially when you’re just starting out or aren’t yet considered a “professional.”
You should not, cannot, depend on one source of income to always be there.
As a freelancer, the vast majority of my clients over a two-year period cut me off without warning or legitimacy beyond “we can’t afford you.” One day I had work and knew they were going to pay me for it. The next, I’d lost a substantial amount of monthly income.
But I always had backups. Always had other clients, was always on the lookout for more.
Clients bail. Layoffs happen. Companies shut down. Awful people don’t keep their promises.
Patreon could be gone tomorrow. You never know.
While it’s a great way for creators to make money, it should never be your only paycheck. I don’t care how good you are or how much you’re making per month from total strangers.
The most successful creatives out there aren’t just smart about what they create and how they market it. They’re also smart about their money. Not just the funds they have, but where it’s coming from.
You always need a backup plan. If one source of income suddenly wasn’t going to appear next month, you should still be able to pay your bills.
And you should always — ALWAYS — have emergency funds set aside in case, for whatever reason, the backup of your backup plan doesn’t work.
I’m not a financial expert. But I have been writing for a long time. I know what it’s like to worry about where your next paycheck is going to come from.
Set up your work so you don’t have to worry.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.