Drew is a Fantasy-LitRPG author and a blogger. He's also a pharmacist whose big goal is to make the world brighter and better.
What Is Patreon? Pros and Cons
Patreon is one of the largest crowdfunding sites currently available on the internet. In the past few years, the site has been the go-to for creators who wish to monetize their works. From authors, bloggers, artists, musicians, vloggers, speakers, podcasters, and more, it helped thousands of people to build up diverse, supportive communities.
It's too much to say that it’s the current market leader and benchmark for its field.
However, just like any other company, it can never be perfect. Some people will love it and some will not. After all, there will always be two sides to the coin.
- Reliable and consistent in handling payments
- Great for creators with established communities
- Flexible payment options for supporters
- Has a mobile app
- Increasing fees
- Censorship debacles
- Bans without warning
You will only pay once you earn. The subscription platform currently offers three tier plans with different charging fees: Lite (5%), Pro (8%), and Premium (12%). Don’t forget the processing payment fees: 2.9% + 30 cents for payments over $3 and 5% + 10 cents for payments of $3 or less.
Why Should I Look for a Patreon Alternative?
I still use Patreon for my creative works. It has supported thousands of aspiring creators, helping them monetize their passions into a steady source of income (that includes me).
But let’s get real. Not everyone likes Patreon. Aside from that, I’m also a firm believer in the adage, “Never put all your eggs in the same basket.”
I’m not a pessimist, but I’ll play the devil’s advocate for this issue. Let’s start with one simple question: God forbid, but what if the platform suddenly goes haywire, and all your sources of income depend on it?
That’s scary, right? It might or might never happen. But no one knows what will occur in the future. Faced with this dilemma, I decided to spread out my earnings. Well, it never hurts to check out to branch out a little, right?
I scoured the internet for services similar to Patreon. I compiled everything to assist people like me. So whether you want nothing to do with the platform, or you'd just like to widen your horizons, here are a few Patreon alternatives for your side gig, hustle, or whatever you’d like to call your creative business.
Read More From Toughnickel
- PayPal Direct
- Buy Me a Coffee
- Set up your own website
Let’s take a look at these websites.
1. PayPal Direct
The classics never get old. Before Patreon, there was PayPal. You can use PayPal to help you get support from your communities. Most of the creators I know use the platform.
- Perfect for creators with a strong online presence
- Simple and easy to use
- Doesn’t have much software for building online communities
- More like an online bank wallet
Transaction fees vary depending on the currency you’re using and your location. But the standard fee is around 2%–5% plus a few cents for transaction fees.
Ko-fi is a donation or tipping platform. Aside from PayPal and Patreon, I use this platform to monetize a few of my web serials. It’s very stylish and up-to-date on trends. Just look at this platform’s web design; it looks awesome.
But best of all, it’s cheap and easy to use.
So how do you use it? Simple. Create a Ko-fi account. Then link your PayPal or Stripe account to your Ko-fi. Every time someone donates to your Ko-fi, it will go straight to your preferred account.
- Awesome micro-donation features
- Payments go directly to creators
- Easy to use and great aesthetics
- Allows creators to sell commissions
- No mobile app yet
For its free plan, you will still need a 5% platform fee if you use its membership tiers, commissions, and shop features. You can also upgrade your account to Ko-fi Gold, which will unlock all platform’s special features and eliminate the charges said above.
Subscribestar is one of the rising competitors of Patreon. But unlike its rivals, the platform claims to be free of political biases—a snide to the censorship and banning issues haunting Patreon. The platform works with vloggers, celebrities, coaches, political commentators, gamers, artists, and so on.
- Encourages free speech (as long as your content is legal)
- Offers data analytics
- Not supported by Stripe and PayPal
- Withdrawal restrictions
- Minimum payout of $150
Subscribestar charges a 5% service fee for every pledge. Your payment processor will also charge you 2.9% + 30 cents for every subscription. Besides this, they will charge you a payout fee of no less than 3% (varies depending on transaction conditions, payout amount, and frequency).
4. Buy Me a Coffee
Buy Me a Coffee is another crowd favorite for those seeking alternatives for Patreon. It is a user-friendly platform, welcoming many creators. The platform currently serves over 500,000 creators, along with their millions of fans.
To join, all you need is to have an audience. Your supporters can either choose a one-time donation or a recurring payment.
- Easy to use
- Offers customizable widgets
- Accepts PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay
- Has a mobile app
- Not ideal for large-scale projects
Buy Me a Coffee charges a 5% transaction fee.
Are you planning to make a book, music album, games, comics, recipes, films, new technology, or whatever scratches your imagination? Then Kickstarter is the perfect funding platform for your creative projects. Personally, I’ve been following a few best-selling authors and artists who use the platform for their books and artworks.
How does it work? Simple. You start a project and call on your supporters. Then get your supporters, fans, mom, or dad to pledge to your project through Kickstarter. In return, you thank your backers for their support, offering extra perks or rewards for their help.
- Projects get vetted
- Ideal for one-time projects
- No recurring subscription model
- You can only get funding once you meet the set fundraising goal
- Not ideal for charity projects
If the project succeeds, then great! But Kickstarter will charge you with 5% fee, plus 3%–5% payment processing fees. The fees also change depending on what country you are in and the currency you’re using. When the project misses its goals, you have no fees to worry about.
Gumroad is a self-publishing e-commerce platform where you can sell your digital products, artworks, books, courses, films, music, and even memberships. As long as you create things, you can sell it through their platform.
- Ideal for creators looking to sell either digital or physical merch
- Simple to use
- You can integrate it into your website
- Has a mobile app
- Email support only
- No Payoneer or Transferwise
Gumroad charges 2.9% to 9% plus 30 cents for each transaction. The fees trickle down based on your earning milestones: the larger your earnings, the lower the fees.
Indiegogo is the go-to for business-minded folks who wish to bring their projects to life. The platform focuses on supporting business ideas and start-ups of entrepreneurs. It is also the platform of choice for charitable projects since they take no fees for charity.
- Great for charitable works
- More relaxed project regulations
- No subscription model
- Lower visibility and traffic
Indiegogo charges campaigners a 5% to 8% platform fee. The fees may vary depending on the currency of choice and your location.
Alright, let me come out clean with this—Memberful is owned by Patreon. So if you have some heartache against its parent company for whatever reason, then this platform might not be for you.
So what’s the difference? Unlike Patreon’s all-in-one subscription model, Memberful is more of a membership plugin you would add to your website. The subscription platform’s target audience is those people who wish to build their membership and services around their own website.
- Better brand control
- Email newsletters
- Offers analytics
- Website integration
- Lacks Patreon’s versatile features
- Costly for beginners
Memberful offers three payment plans. The first one is free for starters but will take 10% of what you earn. The pro plan costs $25/month plus a 4.9% transaction fee, while the premium plan will cost you $100/month plus a 4.9% transaction fee.
Liberapay is a simple way to donate money to creators. But unlike Patreon, Liberapay doesn’t take any cuts from your earnings. It is an open-source platform funded by donations to its own account.
- Zero-percent platform fees
- No strings attached (creators don’t know their donors)
- Not ideal for commercial campaigns
- Capped donations
Liberapay won’t bill you with any platform fees. However, you will need to pay standard transaction fees from the payment processor (Stripe, PayPal, etc.) of your choice, which varies depending on your location and currency.
Tribe is a cloud-powered community platform aimed to strengthen creators’ and businesses’ ability to connect with their supporters, patrons, or customers. The platform is ideal for creators, marketers, agencies, and enterprises who aim to gain followers while boosting retention and conversions.
- Offers simplified analytics
- Customizable features
- API and Web-hooks
- Thriving community for growing your customer base
- Lack of mobile app
- You need to pay higher fees to unlock access to apps, get better features, and remove Tribe branding
Tribe offers paid plans ranging from $49 to $249 or more for big enterprises. Tribe also gives out a free plan for solo creative entrepreneurs and small-scale businesses.
Flattr is another micro-payment subscription service that aims to support creators with their crowdfunding. Patrons can choose month recurring payments or opt for a one-time donation.
- Less fees
- Simple and lean
- No ideal for new creators
- Expect less traffic unless you have a strong following
Flattr charges a 5% fee on your earnings. And whenever you withdraw your earnings, there will also be a $3 fee to be charged.
Podia is a great deal for creators selling online courses, digital products, webinars, memberships, and other downloads. A great place for marketers, start-ups, and creators focusing on digital content.
- Better pricing (especially for creators with vast communities)
- Good email marketing features
- Zero percent platform fees on sales
- Affiliate program
- They limit extra membership features to higher-cost plans
They have three monthly plans ranging from $39–$199/month. Your payment processor will also make you cough out a standard transaction fee of +2.9% plus 30 cents. Fees might vary depending on your location and currency.
With the rise of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), creators are now working on future frontiers. One of those frontiers is Mintme, a blockchain crowdfunding platform where your supporters or patrons can now also earn on influencers' or creators’ successes.
Mintme, unlike its counterparts, focuses on the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Alright, I know this might sound crazy to some, but I’ll do my best to simplify it. So how does it work?
First, if you’re the content creator, you will mint (create a token/coin) which will represent your project in the blockchain. Next, you will now encourage your patrons to buy your token, which will increase the value of your token.
Last, the higher the value of your token becomes, the higher its earnings will become once converted to Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. As for your supporters, they can also sell the tokens they bought at a higher price, making it possible for them to support you while earning themselves.
Whelp, I know it is hard to understand, but that’s the gist of it.
- Many creators tout NFTs like Mintme as the future frontier
- Referral program
- Relatively new concept
- Requires a deeper knowledge about NFTs, Web-3, and cryptocurrencies
- Fluctuating value of tokens
- Requires NFT wallet
- Can be overwhelming
The fees will depend on the current price of Mintme coins and the value of your cryptocurrency of choice. You can also expect a lot of other different fees since the NFT-tech is not yet fully established.
14. Set Up Your Website
You might now be wondering why you should set up your own website as a plausible alternative to Patreon? The answer is really simple. When you create your own website, you own it. It might be cumbersome at the start, but it will surely be worth it in the long term.
You can set up the monetization widgets inside your website. You want Patreon? Link it to your site. You want to use other Patreon competitors? Sure! Just put the platform’s widget on your website (like Memberful or whatever membership platform you like) and walla!
Most of the successful indie authors and creators I follow have their own websites and encourage others to start their own. I trust that speaks volumes, right?
Anyway, there are also a bunch of website providers on the internet, and all you need to choose and learn, such as WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Blogger, Squarespace, Drupal, Ghost, etc.
Choosing the Best Platform for Your Creative Business
When choosing your preferred platform, it is important to consider your primary goals. Is your project a one-off like a book? Then Kickstarter might be good for you. Or is it going to last for a long time, like podcasts and vlogs? Ko-fi and Buy Me a Coffee might be a good choice.
Want a firm control of your brand? Memberful might be for you. Charity? Try Indiegogo. So on and so forth.
But whatever your choice will be, just keep in mind there is no one way to monetize your work. It doesn’t need to be just one! Hey, I use three different platforms to lessen the risk. So if Patreon (please no) goes bust, I will have other alternatives to Patreon in my belt.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Drew Agravante