Beyond fans: The relational labor and communication practices of creators on Patreon

Ross Bonifacio, Lee Hair, Donghee Yvette Wohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The digital patronage model provides content creators the opportunity to receive sustained financial support directly from their fans. Patreon is a popular digital patronage platform that represents a prime site for the study of creators’ relational labor with their fans. Through in-depth interviews with 21 Patreon creators, this study investigated different types of creator–patron relationships and the perceived benefits and challenges of carrying out relational labor. We found that creators construct a variety of relationships with patrons, ranging from purely transactional to intimately familial. Creators benefit from relational labor in that it encourages patrons to treat the creator as a person rather than a product, resulting in both financial and emotional support. However, creators face difficulties in maintaining appropriate relational boundaries with patrons, some of whom control a substantial part of a creator’s income.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2684-2703
Number of pages20
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Creative labor
  • Patreon
  • crowdfunding
  • digital patronage
  • financial support
  • social support


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