Building A Membership On Patreon: What You Need To Know! 

 Updated: July 11, 2022

patreon membership

Patreons can be a great platform to monetize your content, but how does it help membership owners? We let you in on everything you need to know…

Patreon logo

Patreon: The Bottom Line

TL;DR

  • Patreon helps creators monetize their audience with gated content
  • Your Patrons will have access to the content through the platform and mobile app
  • It’s free but they’ll take 5-8% of your revenue
  • Patreon can handle the sell of merch for you

Pros

  • Easy to setup and low maintenance efforts
  • Reputable platform your customers will trust
  • Additional features: Handles merch, mobile app,etc.

Cons

  • Low user experience customization
  • The 5-8% fee can get big if you’re thriving
  • Hard to move away from it later

What’s Patreon & How Does It Work?

Patreon, created in 2013, is a platform helping online creators to monetize their content with memberships.

It allows you to put your content (Video, audio, images,etc.) behind a paywall, and for your fans to become ‘Patrons’ and get access to it!

We’ll see later how this compares to other popular online course and membership platforms, but for now let’s just explore what exactly that looks like.

Patreon’s Features

Here are some highlights of what you’ll be able to do using Patreons:

  • Create membership tiers (with different pricing and benefits)
  • Deliver members-only online content (Video, audio, image,etc.)
  • Sell merch through Patreon and their print-on-demand service
  • Allow commenting/commmunity tools and direct messaging
  • Consume your content on the Patreons Mobile App

So in a nutshell, Patreon makes monetizing your content easy!

It’s also making the whole setup of such membership easy for you as a creator, all you have to do is upload and schedule your content to be released to your members, and that’s it.

No need to worry about the tech side of things: taking payment, dealing with customer’s lost login, worrying about something breaking,...

We’ll note here that content released on Patreon is usually something for members to consume, rather than educational content to interact with. (more on that later)

It’s therefore usually used by people already publishing content on free platforms and that want to make some of that content paid: podcaster, YouTuber, cartoonist, graphic designers, musicians,etc.

Patreon also offers an option to take care of your merch selling for you!

This would be similar to print-on-demand services where you upload your design to be printed on merch like: tshirts, mugs, stickers, posters, tote bags,etc.

You can then easily associate that merch with one of your membership tier and Patreon takes care of the rest!

They will print and deliver and take care of support for you.

Lastly, your Patrons can easily find you on the Patreon app and access their exclusive content natively from their phone.

This is something that most self-hosted membership platforms won’t allow for (notable exception are: Kajabi, New Zenler and Teachable)

Patreon’s pricing

One of the biggest upside for starting creators is that Patreon doesn’t charge a fixed monthly fee.

Instead, it takes a cut on your sales made through the platform:

5% for the Lite tier, which will allow you to do the very basic and only have 1 tier in your membership.


8% for the Pro tier, which is what most creators will need to really use Patreons to its full potential, create multiple tiers, see Analytics and run promotions.


12% for the Premium tier which is mostly for creators wanting to get Patreon’s help to sell their merch.


To give you some perspective on how that compares to other platforms, most of the popular platforms matching Patreon’s features would cost between $50-$100 per month.


Meaning that if you start making ~$1,000 per month, it may be cheaper to use a self-hosted platform.


But of course that’s not the only criteria to decide on your membership platform!

Patreon For Online Course & Membership

Most of the platforms we review on the site are meant for course creators and membership owners selling their knowledge online.

Programs or membership helping you get in shape, master creative skills, play an instrument,etc.

This is why platforms like Kajabi, Teachable, Podia and others enable educational tools like quizzes, coaching, assessments, worksheets,...

If this is the kind of content you’re wanting to monetize, you might wonder if Patreon is a good fit.

The short answer is that the paid content you deliver through Patreon isn’t really meant to be a linear curriculum like what you might deliver with an online course.

It resembles more of a paid community with a feed and multimedia posts people can comment on.

Patreon will also lack the depth of automations you might want within an educational program to track progress of your students and completion of work.

That being said, Patreon could be a good fit if you’re wanting to monetize your content rather than your knowledge.

Or if you want to complement your revenue with content you’re creating for free.

One of the best use-case for Patreon are podcasters.

Podcaster provide free content on Apple Podcast, Spotify and other platforms which might not be as easy to monetize with an online course.

So what they could do is enable their fans to support them and get access to exclusive content, merch and other goodies from their favorite creators.

It’s a win-win situation and Patreon makes this easy for everyone.

Lastly, other popular course platforms can also help with the marketing side of things.

Most of them provide a website/funnel builder, an email marketing and automation system and other tools to sell your membership.

These are things most online businesses will need anyway and having them integrated within your membership platform can be very effective.

Note: Patreon does have an “App Store” allowing you to easily connect it to other popular marketing platforms.

Using such platforms will also allow for a lot more customization and ownership than a 3rd party tool like Patreon.

This is not something Patreon is really trying to compete with:

The platform is clearly geared towards people wanting to be as hands-off as possible and do what they do best: create awesome content!

So let’s recap what this means for you and to make a decision:

Patreon is probably better when:


  • You’re a content creator ,but not a coach or teacher, and want to monetize your creations.
  • You don’t want to deal with the tech headache and prefer to focus on content creation.
  • You don’t want to pay a monthly fee until your business takes off

Online Course Platforms are probably better when:

  • You’re delivering educational content with a linear curriculum and promise specific results
  • You also need funnel and marketing tools to run campaigns and promote your membership.
  • You prefer full control over the customer journey and design of the experience.

Joey Mazars

Online Course Platform Expert

Hi, there! I've literally spent thousands of hours helping clients build their online courses on these platforms through my marketing services.

I've become obsessed with helping them find the right fit for their needs and decided to guide other creators through their decision process with these detailed reviews.

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