Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If you follow any YouTubers, comic book artists, game streamers, or other online personalities, you’ve probably heard them mention Patreon. This membership service has become a common way for content creators to get paid for their work, but what is Patreon and how does it work?
In this article we’ll take a look at Patreon from a supporter’s perspective. We’ll examine what the service is for, what it offers you, and how to start supporting creators.
What Is Patreon?
Patreon is an online service that allows anyone to financially support their favorite content creators. This allows creators to connect with their fans and earn income from their work.
As you may know, ads and other online revenue formats are often unreliable and insufficient for making a living. Thus, Patreon provides creators with a more steady source of income.
In return for their support, those who give money (called “patrons”) receive exclusive rewards. It’s a bit similar to crowdfunding services like Kickstarter, except with Patreon, the support is ongoing instead of all at once.
Patreon takes 5 percent commission and transaction fees average 5 percent, meaning creators get to keep 90 percent of the revenue. In this article we focus on Patreon from a consumer’s perspective. However, we also have a guide to launching a successful Patreon page if you’re looking to start one yourself.
How Does Patreon Work?
Simply put, Patreon takes monthly small donations from supporters and gives that money to creators. This allows categories of people that can traditionally have difficulty monetizing their work, such as artists, to earn cash for their efforts.
But no matter the type of work they do, this is a great benefit to creators, as it allows them to create on their own terms. Because of YouTube’s monetization changes, for instance, YouTube can demonetize videos at any time. But with Patreon, creators can still count on the income from their patrons.
Plus, this lets consumers connect more closely with their favorite online personalities. A big component of Patreon is the rewards system. Creators can set up multiple tiers of benefits based on how much support you give them.
For example, a YouTuber might provide early access to new videos, or a podcaster could offer behind-the-scenes clips. It’s a little way to say thanks for your support and give you more insight into their creative process.
In addition to standard rewards, many Patreon creators have goals featured on their page. They’ll often offer something special when they reach a certain threshold, or just let you know what that money is going towards.
How to Start Using Patreon
Patreon isn’t complicated for consumers. You’ll first need to create a Patreon account and link a payment method. Once you’ve done this, you’re all set to start pledging support.
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you already follow some creators who are on Patreon. They’ll almost certainly have links to their Patreon page on their website, YouTube video descriptions, social media pages, or similar. You can follow those links to view their Patreon pages.
If you’re not sure whether your favorite creators use Patreon, you can use the search function on the website. Or try the social connect page, where you can find creators you already follow on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
On a creator’s homepage, you’ll see some information about what they do and why they use Patreon. The left side shows how many patrons that creator has and how much money they earn per month (if they’ve made this information public). Below this, you’ll see current and past goals they’re working towards.
Check the right side for the tiers you can select from. Often, these start at just $1 and include access to update posts from the creator. The exact number of tiers and amount of money for each is up to the creator.
Certain creators might offer some crazy rewards if you pledge a lot of money. Most of the time, each tier includes all the rewards from those above it.
Some common rewards include:
- Access to a patron-only Discord server, Facebook group, or similar.
- Early access to videos/podcasts/drawings/etc.
- A shoutout at the end of their next video.
- A video chat with the creator.
- Discounts on merchandise.
The exact rewards depend on the creator and what they make, so you can decide what tier is best for you.
Note that most Patreon creators receive payment monthly, but they can also opt for a per-item system. If their work requires a great deal of effort which makes monthly pledges unreasonable, their tiers might instead be for every new video, drawing, etc.
Once you’ve decided, click the Become a Patron button. Then simply walk through the steps to confirm your tier and become a Patron. You’ll gain immediate access to patron-only posts and should receive the unique rewards from that creator shortly.
Patreon Membership and Payments
At the start of every month, Patreon will charge your payment method for all your pledges. You can support as many creators as you like without worrying about any taxes or fees.
It’s easy to interact with other patrons via the Community tab on any creator’s page, or by leaving a comment on posts they add. Keep an eye on the Messages icon in the top-right, as you may receive messages from those you support. You can also send messages to them.
How to Edit or Cancel Patreon Pledges
Your Patreon pledges are month-to-month, so there’s no major commitment. If you decide you want to cancel a Patreon pledge, sign in and click your profile icon in the top-right corner. Then click Your Memberships. Alternatively, visit your Patreon memberships page directly.
Here, you’ll see all the creators you currently support under Active Memberships. You can review your rewards as well. Click Edit to adjust your pledge. This lets you increase or decrease it, then click Update to save the changes.
To cancel instead, click Edit or cancel payment. You can choose a different tier if you like, or check Cancel your Payment to stop supporting that person. Patreon will ask you to give a reason for this, which can help the creator going forward.
Those you support rely on your generosity, so consider dropping to a lower tier instead of canceling completely. It’s better to pledge a small amount every month that they can count on than a huge sum you can’t afford for long.
How to Delete Your Patreon Account
Have you decided you don’t want to use Patreon any more? You can delete your entire account to cease all activity from it. Obviously, this will prevent you from supporting creators in the future, so make sure you really want to do this.
To delete your Patreon account, visit your account page by clicking your profile picture in the top-right corner of Patreon and choosing Your Profile. Then click the Edit Profile button on the left side under your profile picture and swap to the Account tab on the left sidebar.
At the bottom of this page, click the Disable My Account button and confirm the operation.
Are You Ready to Pledge Your Patreon Support?
Patreon is a great place to show your support for your favorite online creators. It’s awesome to know that you’re supporting your favorite artists, gives you a way to connect with them, and frees them up to express their full creativity.
Even if it’s just a dollar or two per month, your support means a lot to those who create. It can keep them going through the toughest times, and the exclusive content lets you see what’s new before anyone else. If you can afford it, why not give it a try?
If you’re checking out Patreon because of YouTube’s recent (and well-documented) issues, check out other ways you can save YouTube from itself.
Want to use Patreon to raise funds for one of your own projects? These crowdfunding campaign tips will come in handy.
Explore more about: Patreon.