We spent a lot of time trying to decide what is the soonest we can bring in more creators in to go live on Comradery, and recently we’ve crossed a major milestone that finally differentiates Comradery from other options like LiberaPay (which is a great service, but for reasons below only allows donations and not exclusive tiers.)
Sales tax, especially in the United States, is unbelievably complicated to deal with as a small business online. Almost every state in the US not only has (at least) one tax rate, but they all require individual tax return filings at different intervals with different kinds of documentation and bookkeeping. This is functionally impossible for small online sellers to deal with, so it protects huge corporations operating “CRM” systems (Etsy, Shopify, Patreon) that have the economies of scale to afford the complicated compliance requirements for these laws. If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t see too many online stores just process their own credit cards without the middle men, this is why.
Services like Liberapay, and other recurring donation services that companies such as Paypal offer, don’t process sales tax for the USA or any other country. Sometimes this leaves the option open for a seller to do it themselves, or sometimes it means you are limited to only accepting donations (known to the IRS as “cash gifts”).
Even though Comradery is microscopic on the scale of internet tech services, it was very important for us to find a way to offer sales tax processing, because this covers ALL exclusive rewards for any creator as far as the US Government is concerned. Through a thread of different services we’ve finally set up a stable way to do this (with some improvements to be made in the future) where Creators won’t have to worry about collecting, remitting, or filing sales tax at all, everything will take place easily and cleanly during checkout for each Supporter.
Long story short, being able to offer exclusive/paywalled posts (aka “digital rewards”) is a pretty special thing to be able to do as an organization even if it isn’t that complicated on the technical side (aside from getting multiple APIs to play nice with each other).
Best of all, it works! Creators have had the option for almost a month to post paywalled content for supporters and post public posts for everyone. We’ve gotten great feedback from people testing this and we’ve addressed most of the specific use cases where people had problems, and we have a couple of more fixes coming out to do with upgrading/downgrading subscriptions. This means that from a technical perspective, we can begin to accelerate the very slow speed that we’ve been onboarding Creators. More invitations are going out each week to creators who are inside the USA and meet the specific criteria set out by our payment processor. Creators outside that group will be able to join with a future version of our payment system.
What’s next? Creators on the platform already know that a lot of features Supporters don’t see are very rough or absent, and much of the backend is handled manually by Majed and myself. We’re working on rolling out a more robust creator dashboard so creators can edit their own project pages whenever they need without going through the dev team. We are also improving email alerts for different platform features, such as better invoice receipts.
The Taxes-and-tiers update was our biggest undertaking yet, and now that we’re past it we are looking forward to releasing features that are a lot more fun for Creators and Supporters.
Until next time,