The internet has provided a perfect platform for creatives to let loose their inspiration. From artists and videographers to podcasts, games, and books.
Online creative businesses are flourishing and platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook have been a great outlet and route to finding a market while also generating a living online.
That being said, the revenues from ads on YouTube, for example, are hard to rely on, and so people start to look for other sources of supplementing their income, while also connecting with their audience.
This is where Patreon comes in. Many YouTubers in particular, but online creatives in general, have started adding Patreon as an additional source of income.
But what exactly is Patreon and how does it work? Let’s dive into a bit more detail, and our review.
What is Patreon?
Patreon is essentially a crowdfunding platform that allows anyone to generate crowd-sourced funding while offering additional perks for those funds.
Patreon is set up to allow fans of a creative’s work to support them, either on a monthly basis or a project-by-project basis. In return, they will get perks that can be anything from early access, exclusive content, ad-free content, to any other sort of benefit the creative could offer.
So a YouTuber, for example, may offer their videos a week early to their Patreon supporter as well as offer exclusive live chats.
In Patreon’s own words ‘you can let your fans become active participants in the work they love by offering them a monthly membership. You give them exclusive content, community, and insight into your creative process.
How does it work?
Simply put, Patreon is a platform that allows you to control and connect with your fans and supporters, or ‘Patrons’. Patreon manage the subscriptions for you as well as act as a protection for both the creator and the fans
In return, Patreon will take a percentage of your monthly subscriptions in return for being the host platform.
Patreon has some great features that give creatives a wide scope for customizing their interactions with their fans. Let’s break these down:
Patreon gives you the opportunity to set different membership tiers, and most creators have multiple subscription tiers on offer to their fans.
Creators can charge anything from $1 to $100 for each tier per month, and in general the larger the contribution, or the higher a subscription tier, the more perks the fan or supporter unlock.
That’s not to say that Patreon creators have to adhere to a membership tier. Many don’t have tiers at all and instead work on a pay-what-you-want basis giving their audience the freedom to pay as much or as little as they want or can for the content.
This flexibility is great for both the creative and the fans.
Patreon creatives communicate and interact with their supporter primarily through a feed on their page. This is where all of their content will be posted, and where their fans and supporters can browse current and past content.
Creators can post text, images, videos, polls to their feed, and in many ways is similar to a social media feed.
Patreon creators have the ability to control what content on the feed can be seen by which membership tier too. So if live streams are only available to subscribers that pay $10 or over, anyone subscribing below $10 won’t have access to these.
For podcasts, in particular, Patreon also provides a custom RSS feed, so that they can give exclusive access to their Patrons.
Patreon has an awful lot of support materials, workshops, and blogs to help you get started and make the most of their platform.
Patreon U is their learning center and is full of video tutorials, articles, and resources that cover everything from simply setting up your account, to running a successful Patreon community, and much more.
They also run workshops and have live events to further support and connect creators.
Their creator community is also a great resource for getting help and advice from other creators already using Patreon.
If you are a premium member then you will also get a dedicated partner manager to help you manage your Patreon account.
All in all, Patreon has a lot of support and resources on offer to help make sure you have the best chance of succeeding.
Patreon has three pricing plans for creators wanting to use their platform, the Lite, Pro, and Premium. Each plan comes with its own level of support and features.
The best part is that the cost for each plan is a percentage of your monthly income from Patreon. So there is no cost when you first start and you don’t have many supporters.
Let’s break down each plan:
Cost – 5% of the monthly income from Patreon
This is their base plan and comes with very basic features including your hosted creator page, communication tools, access to Patreon workshops as well as payment processing.
Cost – 8% of the monthly income from Patreon
This is their recommended plan and comes with a lot more features than the lite plan:
- Membership Tiers
- Analytics and insights
- Special Offers promo tool
- Creator-led workshops
- Unlimited app integrations
- Priority Customer Support
Cost – 12% of the monthly income from Patreon
This is their top tier plan and as well as getting everything from the other two plans you also get a dedicated partner manager, merch for membership, and the ability to create team accounts.
Patreon will take the handling of money off your hands and process all the payments from your supporters. There is an additional charge for this, however, and as there is no other way of taking payments from your supporters you have very little choice in the matter.
Their rates are split into two categories, standard rate (for any payment over $3) and micropayment rate (any payment less than $3).
- Standard rate – 3.2% plus 35 cents per payment
- Micropayment rate – 5% plus 10 cents per payment
These fees, according to Patreon, are to cover:
- Recurring billing
- Recovery of failed payments
- Fraud protection
For creatives, the rise of Patreon has been hugely beneficial. It has added an extra source of income, a new way to connect with their community and to give their fans a sense of exclusive connection and access.
It is a way for creatives to be supported and funded directly by their fans on an ongoing basis and has given the chance for many creatives, smaller ones in particular the opportunity to focus on their online career and make the move to working full time on these pursuits.
It is also great for fans as they get access to exclusive content and perks, and a way to support and interact with their favorite creators directly.
While the costs are arguably on the steeper side, the benefit of having a platform that connects you with your fans without having to do any of the background work or worry about the payment process etc is great.
Patreon isn’t the only resource for crowdfunding from your fans, however. Here are some of our favorite alternatives.
Podia – is an all-in-one solution for selling courses, webinars, downloads, or subscriber memberships. Podia lets you diversify your business further by offering more than just subscription memberships.
Kickstarter – is one of the best know crowdfunding sites and while it doesn’t do ongoing support like Patreon, it is great for one-off larger projects that you want to be funded.
Indiegogo – is another big player in the crowdfunding landscape and while they are best known for their one-time funded projects, like Kickstarter they do also offer extended projects and support more like Patreon.