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Patreon's Lens mimics 'Stories' to give fans insider peeks

A feature similar to Instagram or Snapchat Stories, Patreon's Lens makes it easier for creators to give their paying fans a behind-the-scenes peek.

Male photographer with camera phone photographing prints on wall in art studio

Patreon, a service that gives creators simple ways to set up recurring subscriptions for their fans, is introducing a product that gives those patrons increased access to in-process works. 

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Patreon, which gives fans a way to pay their favorite creators on a recurring basis, on Tuesday introduced Lens, a feature similar to Instagram or Snapchat Stories that gives patrons special access to their favorite creators' behind-the-scenes peeks. 

The feature, which is part of Patreon's mobile app, lets creators take photos and videos with their phones that display in a series,  with all content disappearing after 24 hours. 

Lens mimics the format of Instagram Stories (itself an unapologetic copy of Snapchat Stories), but it has a monetized twist. Patreon takes some of the appeal of the format, like how the disappearing nature of Stories alleviates some of the pressure people feel to craft a perfect post, and applies it to creators trying to make a living. With a vanishing storyline, creators can give you a feeling of insider access without dedicating hours to polishing a final result.  

"It's such an easy way to show our patrons what we're doing with their support," said Phil Defranco, an online video personality who used Lens during its test period. He said it gave his subscribing fans glimpses of "one of our editors crawling through a homemade cardboard fort" and previews of upcoming shows.

If you subscribe to a creator, you need to have Patreon's mobile app to view the insider tidbits. Patrons with the app will receive notifications of new material, which they can view by clicking on the circular image at the top of the creator's page. Creators can find Lens in the latest version of the Patreon app by clicking on the Lens icon in the top right-hand corner.