Are there alternatives to Patreon?

Update December 13, 2017: Patreon is sorry and will not roll out the fee changes.

Services provided by Patreon

Patreon is an intermediary between content creators and consumers (“Patrons”). The value-added functions provided by Patreon are:

  1. Payment processing and management (subscription / per creation).
  2. VAT handling.
  3. Low fees for micropayments (through payment aggregation).
  4. Content hosting and access regulation.
  5. Social networking.

Patreon has recently announced changes to their fee structure which will make it significantly more expensive to support a large number of creators with small amounts, effectively eliminating the third point. For further information, read this discussion on Reddit, this blog post or head over to Twitter to witness the shitstorm. There’s also an interesting theory that financial regulations might be the true reason why Patreon suddenly shot themselves in the foot .

Patreon alternatives

The only alternative providing all of the 5 functions listed above appears to be Drip (by Kickstarter). However, Drip is currently “invite-only” and not yet open to all creators.

All other alternatives I found may fulfill some of the functions, but not all of them. Nevertheless, they often charge higher fees than Patreon.

Snowdrift.coop maintains an excellent overview of crowdfunding and fundraising services  (there are several lists on that page, be sure to scroll all the way down). However, many of them won’t solve the micropayment problem (notable exceptions are Flattr and Liberapay).

You could also have a look at marketplaces for digital goods, particularly if your supporters expect to get something in return for their payments. Here are two lists to get you started:
12 Platforms to Sell Digital Downloads
Sell Product Online

The majority of creators I used to support on Patreon offer direct donations through PayPal or via bank transfer. Obviously, this only satisfies the first point on my list, but it might still be an acceptable solution to many small donors who removed their pledges on Patreon in protest against the new fee structure.

Updates (chronological order):

How to connect your YouTube channel with your Google+ page

The problem

You have an existing YouTube Channel for your business with a number of videos (in my case, it was called “SmartluxBalances“).

You also have a Google+ page for this business or activity (“+BalancesLu“). The channel and G+ page are not connected, so when someone clicks on the “Videos” tab on your G+ page, no videos show up:
No G+ videos

Instead of uploading your videos again, you want the existing videos from your YouTube channel to appear there.

Assumptions

You’re using your personal G+ profile as the current manager (and owner) of your G+ page.

Your YouTube channel is not currently connected to a G+ profile (otherwise you’ll first have to disconnect it).

The solution

1. Go to your G+ page’s settings and add a new manager. Indicate the exact email you’re using to log in to your YouTube channel. Sign out.

2. You’ll receive an email to become a manager of the G+ page. Click on the link (or better, copy it to an incognito window). This is where things become confusing because you’ll have to set up another personal G+ profile. Just do it (you’ll delete it again in the next step). I recommend using your company’s logo as profile picture. Your former YouTube account is now a manager of your G+ page, too.

3. Still using your former YouTube account, go to your G+ settings and delete the useless profile that you’ve just set up in step 2. You’ll still be a manager even after the profile is gone.

4. Go to your YouTube account settings and click on the option to connect your channel to a G+ page. As a (new) manager of your business’s G+ page, you should now be able to select your G+ page as the new name for your YouTube channel:
Select new name for your YouTube channel

5. After a few minutes, check out the “Videos” tab on your G+ page. It should now be called “YouTube” and all the videos from your YouTube channel should be displayed:
YouTube videos on your G+ page

If things didn’t work, head over to YouTube Google+ Integration for help.

Where to get a UPC or EAN for Amazon?

When listing a new product on Amazon, you’ll be required to enter a product name, manufacturer and a UPC or EAN. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers assign these codes to their products. So where can you get them?

The official place is the GS1 (Global Standards 1) organization in your country (use country selector here or simply enter “GS1” and the name of your country in your favourite search engine). However, nothing prevents you from registering in another country if this is cheaper or easier. For me, registering with GS1 UK GS1 France would be significantly cheaper and faster than registering with GS1 Belgium & Luxembourg.

If even the cheapest package from GS1 is too expensive for you, you might feel tempted to buy from a reseller. I strongly advise against this. This may be an option if you know what you’re doing. Due to a class action settlement (PDF), some numbers can be legally resold and do not require yearly payments to ensure that they remain valid. There are risks, of course: What’s to prevent the reseller from selling the same GTIN multiple times or from selling a number that’s completely made up? Going through a reseller also means that your company would not show up in the GEPIR (Global Electronic Party Information Registry) when an end user or business partner checks “your” GTIN. This directory might be helpful when looking for a trustworthy reseller.

Update May 5. 2016: This article claims that “Amazon has started cross checking listing UPC’s against the GS1 database”, which would make it impossible to use codes bought from resellers.

Further information:


This post was updated on October 24, 2015 and May 5, 2016. Changes are marked as follows: deleted and inserted.