Patreon is a platform that allows content creators to earn money from their fans, or patrons, by offering them exclusive benefits and access to their work. Patreon is used by artists, musicians, podcasters, writers, and many other types of creators who want to build a sustainable income stream and a loyal community around their creative projects.
Features of Patreon
Patreon offers various features that make it attractive for both creators and patrons. Some of these features are:
- Exclusive communities: Patreon allows creators to interact with their patrons through private posts, messages, live streams, polls, and more. Creators can also create different groups or tiers of patrons based on the amount they pledge and the benefits they receive. This way, creators can foster a sense of belonging and engagement among their supporters.
- Personalized content: Patreon enables creators to offer personalized content to their patrons, such as behind-the-scenes updates, early access to new work, sneak peeks, feedback sessions, Q&A sessions, shout-outs, and more. Creators can also customize their page and profile to showcase their brand and personality.
- Access to various types of media: Patreon supports different types of media, such as videos, podcasts, music, comics, games, blogs, newsletters, and more. Creators can upload their content directly to Patreon or use integrations with other platforms, such as YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, WordPress, Mailchimp, and more. Patrons can access the content on Patreon or on the integrated platforms.
- Rewards and perks for patrons: Patreon allows creators to offer rewards and perks to their patrons based on the amount they pledge and the tier they belong to. Rewards and perks can include physical goods, such as stickers, posters, books, merchandise, and more; digital goods, such as downloads, wallpapers, e-books, and more; or experiences, such as meet-and-greets, workshops, concerts, and more. Creators can also use third-party services, such as Crowdcast, Discord, Zoom, and more to deliver their rewards and perks.
How Patreon Works
Patreon works on a subscription-based model that allows creators to receive recurring payments from their patrons in exchange for providing them with exclusive benefits and access to their work. The process of using Patreon is as follows:
- Creators set up their page and tiers: Creators create their page on Patreon where they describe their project, goals, benefits, and tiers. Tiers are different levels of membership that patrons can choose from based on the amount they want to pledge and the benefits they want to receive. Creators can set up as many tiers as they want with different prices and benefits.
- Patrons choose a tier and pledge: Patrons browse through the pages of creators they are interested in supporting and choose a tier that suits their budget and preferences. Patrons then pledge a monthly amount to the creator based on the chosen tier. Patrons can also make one-time donations or tips to creators if they wish.
- Creators deliver benefits and content: Creators deliver the benefits and content promised to their patrons based on the tiers they belong to. Creators can use various tools and features provided by Patreon or integrated platforms to deliver their benefits and content. Creators can also communicate with their patrons through posts, messages, live streams, polls, and more.
- Creators receive payments: Creators receive payments from their patrons every month based on the amount they pledged and the tier they belong to. Patreon charges a small percentage of the payments as a platform fee for providing its services. Creators can also incur additional fees for payment processing or third-party services. Creators can withdraw their earnings from Patreon using various methods, such as PayPal or direct deposit.
Business Model of Patreon
Patreon operates on a revenue-sharing model with its creators. Patreon generates revenue from two main sources:
- Platform fees: Patreon charges a platform fee from creators based on the plan they choose. Patreon offers three plans: Lite (5%), Pro (8%), and Premium (12%). The Lite plan offers basic tools for creating a page and receiving payments; the Pro plan offers additional tools for growing a fanbase and delivering benefits; and the Premium plan offers advanced tools for scaling a business and managing a team. The platform fee is deducted from the payments received by creators before they are transferred to them.
- Premium membership fees: Patreon also charges a premium membership fee from patrons who want to access extra features and perks on the platform. Patrons can choose from three levels of membership: Plus ($3/month), Extra ($5/month), and Max ($10/month). The Plus level offers ad-free browsing, early access to new features, and exclusive content from Patreon; the Extra level offers additional perks, such as discounts, merch, and events; and the Max level offers VIP access, such as priority support, feedback sessions, and beta testing. The premium membership fee is charged separately from the pledges made to creators.
Patreon also generates additional revenue from other sources, such as merchandise sales, live events, brand partnerships, and more.
Controversies Surrounding Patreon
Patreon has faced several controversies over the years regarding its policies and practices. Some of these controversies are:
- Bans of certain users: Patreon has banned some users from its platform for violating its content guidelines or terms of service. Some of these users include controversial figures, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), Lauren Southern, and Sam Harris. These bans have sparked debates and criticisms about Patreon’s censorship, bias, and inconsistency in enforcing its rules. Some patrons and creators have also left Patreon in protest or solidarity with the banned users.
- Response to political events: Patreon has also faced backlash for its response to some political events, such as the 2020 US presidential election and the 2021 US Capitol riot. Patreon has taken actions, such as suspending or removing some accounts, issuing statements, or donating to causes related to these events. However, some of these actions have been met with accusations of partisanship, virtue signaling, or interference in free speech.
- Changes in content guidelines and terms of service: Patreon has also changed its content guidelines and terms of service several times over the years to address various issues, such as legal compliance, safety, quality, and diversity. However, some of these changes have been controversial or unpopular among some creators and patrons who felt that they were unfair, unclear, or restrictive. For example, in 2017, Patreon updated its guidelines to prohibit adult content involving incest, bestiality, sexual violence, or underage characters. This update affected many creators who produced erotic or fetish content that fell under these categories.
- Allegations of CSAM: Patreon has also been accused of hosting or facilitating child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on its platform. In 2019, a report by The Sunday Times claimed that Patreon was being used by pedophiles to fund and access CSAM. The report alleged that Patreon had failed to remove or report some accounts that were involved in producing or distributing CSAM. Patreon denied the allegations and stated that it had a zero-tolerance policy for CSAM and that it worked closely with law enforcement agencies to combat it.
Patreon is a powerful tool for creators to earn a recurring income from their fans. However, it is important to be aware of the controversies surrounding Patreon before using the platform.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about Patreon:
- Patreon is not just for creators. Patreon can also be used by businesses and organizations to raise money for specific projects or initiatives.
- Patreon is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time and effort to build a successful Patreon following.
- Patreon is not a replacement for a regular job. Most creators use Patreon to supplement their income from other sources.
If you are considering using Patreon, be sure to do your research and understand the platform’s terms of service.