Today marks my months-in-the-making transition away from Patreon to my own community of supporters – Von Bieker Backstage.
Why the switch?
The short answer is that Patreon has become burdensome and limited for me, while taking a cut of my support and not offering much control over the user experience.
When I don't enjoy using a platform, I spend less time there. It become so much simpler to share content to my own blog, social media and my email list than over at Patreon. So that's what I did, only to feel guilty leaving my paying supporters with a lacklustre experience.
Then there was the time a longtime Patron was unable to update their credit card information and continue their support.
I knew something had to change and got to work investigating alternatives.
Backstage is Our Space
My main goals creating Backstage were simplicity, customization and community (that and financial reporting in my own currency rather than the monthly nightmare of USD-only Patreon payouts).
Backstage will be both more than Patreon was and less.
There is less complexity here. No tiers or levels of membership with different access and perks. Less "benefits" that don't add much (except an admin workload).
Here, you can choose what you want to contribute based on your financial situation and the value you place on my art and this community. You can even choose to simply share your email and become a free member. Free members get access to most content while paid members – all paid members – get my full original music library along with bonuses like online concerts and show and merch discounts.
There is more focus here. A Patreon page lives within the Patreon ecosystem among thousands and thousands of other creators and distractions. This space is a little more calm and collected.
I wanted a space we could call our own. A beautiful space filled with personality.
Ghost (the platform that Backstage is built on) allows me to customize pretty much everything. I'm still learning, but this is a tool I can grow with and this already feels more like home to me than Patreon ever did.
Customization means more than colours and fonts. It means creating a section where my music library lives or an easy way to access all of the poetry I've written. It means user profiles that introduce us to one another and content that reads just as well on a computer as on a phone in an email inbox.
This space belongs to you as much as me, because you're the ones supporting it.
I want to hear more of your voices in the comments and I think the Ghost platform makes commenting and providing feedback a pleasure.
My entire music catalog is here and this is a great way to ask about or comment on a specific song. I've got stories and big questions for us to wrestle through together in the comments.
My supporters are pretty great people and I think you'll like getting to know them here.
Why I Chose Ghost
After hours and hours of research and trials, Ghost felt most like home to me. It offers a blogging, membership and newsletter platform in one and makes writing content like this a distraction-free joy.
With Ghost I can create content quickly and send it as a blog post, an email, or both at once.
Ghost manages memberships and subscriptions simply and in my own currency. It's easy for you to switch from a free member to a paid member (and back again) or change your subscription amount.
I chose Ghost because I believe it will get out of my way and allow for more creation and connection with you.
Why a Community of Support Matters
Over the years I've accomplished a lot with the help of a small group of mighty patrons. I was able to record and release my first album because of community support.
Way back in 2017, someone asked me how they could best support my work.
Yes, this really happened and it humbled me.
They'd bought a CD, come to a show and now, having spent about $25, they weren't sure how to continue supporting me.
They wanted to fund the process, not a product.
Patreon seemed the perfect opportunity to build a deeper connection with my community and enable them to support my work.
For a while, it really was. But it was still focussed larger on product over process, built around a system of rewards and perks based on what you give. Patreon becamone more complex beast I had to wrangle. A lot of the benefits I created rarely got accessed, if ever.
But people still want to support me in making my little songs and I want to make sure they have a way to do that.
Maybe you're one of those people?
If so, thank you. And welcome Backstage.