Wondering what Patreon is, how much Patreon costs, and what alternatives there are to Patreon? You’re in the right place.
What is Patreon?
Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows fans to pay and support artists or creators for their work in the form of videos, music, podcasts, and more.
While crowdfunding becomes more popular, the demand for Patreon alternatives is rising. But while Patreon may be one of the most common choices for YouTubers, musicians, and other content creators, it’s by no means the only one, and neither is it necessarily the best.
When you’re building a subscription service or seeking funding for a new project, you need to think not only about factors like financial management, but also the way you build and nurture relationships with your target audience. It’s a big responsibility, which is why it’s important to carefully consider your options before making a commitment.
Why people are looking for alternatives to Patreon
There are a number of pros and cons of Patreon. For content creators running a one-person brand, Patreon is often the obvious choice for building up a subscriber base. It can work well for niche creators with a passionate fan base, and it allows you to set flexible funding goals. It also provides the analytics needed to track your audience. On the other hand, Patreon users can suffer some significant setbacks, especially if they’re new to the platform.
Reason 1: Low discoverability for new users
With three-million monthly active patrons as counting, Patreon is one of the biggest platforms of its kind, but that’s both a blessing and a curse. While it might sound great to have such a large potential audience, it also means you’re competing with lots of other users, which means low discoverability for many creative projects. There are also limited rewards available when acquiring paying fans.
So, for Patreon, being a hugely popular crowdfunding platform is both a blessing and a curse. While the platform can help creators to make money, creators may find it challenging to get fans to support them with a monthly subscription if those fans are already on the subscription plan of one or more other creators.
Reason 2: Payments take a long time to process
While you can now create monthly campaigns on Patreon to raise funds faster, it still takes a few days to process pledges. Although this shouldn’t be a problem for most users, it can lead to delays when providing subscription rewards across different tiers. Patreon also offers three plans with fees ranging from 5 to 12%, which can get expensive for new content creators.
Reason 3: Censorship is causing heavy losses
In late 2018, some Patreon users started reporting significant drops in subscriber counts as many users fled the platform in light of alleged censorship of political commentators. Although this development largely affected creators in certain niches, it does illustrate the fact that the platform is beyond your control. And when you can’t control the platform you’re relying on to grow your brand, there’s always a risk your community could suffer.
While Patreon is free to get started, they do take a flat 5% fee when you start earning, along with the industry-standard rate for processing payments. They have 3 different pricing tiers which have a 5%, 8% and 12% flat fee.
It’s not unusual for subscription platforms for creators to charge a fee like this, but content creators must ask themselves how much of their earnings they’re willing to give up, and balance this against costs.
If you’re not achieving the level of success you hoped for on Patreon, then it’s probably time to start looking for a viable alternative before investing any more time on the platform. Even if you’re happy with Patreon though, it’s always good to have a backup plan in mind, since things can change quickly and without any notice.
However, in a world full of Patreon competitors, it can be hard to know which of these popular crowdfunding platforms is the right choice for you to earn money with. It is easier to gain traction on some of these platforms than others, and the subscription plans available vary. Furthermore, not all Patreon alternatives are user friendly.
If you wish to sell access to exclusive content, whether this be courses and digital downloads, or physical rewards or products, you must first select the donation platform you will utilise for your crowdfunding campaign.
Here is a thorough list of Patreon alternatives to consider:
Kickstarter is the best-known crowdfunding community. Like Patreon, it has its routes in the subscription model with multiple rewards tiers for backers.
- Having been around for a decade, it’s one of the most trusted platforms.
- Backers can now make risk-free investments in their favourite projects.
- It’s a known industry standard that’s easy to use.
- You need to offer physical rewards to your backers.
- Every campaign is subject to a lengthy vetting procedure, and many aren’t accepted.
- Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from all funds received.
Along with Kickstarter, Indiegogo is one of the two biggest crowdfunding platforms, hence the two often being compared side-by-side. Like its competitor, people can create campaigns and offer rewards to backers.
- It has looser guidelines than Kickstarter, with no pre-screening necessary.
- You can either choose all-or-nothing or keep what you raise.
- It’s risk-free as you won’t be left empty-handed if you fail to reach your funding goal.
- Maximum campaign lengths are 60 days, which can be limiting for many users.
- It only provides crowdfunding for one-time projects.
- Fees are 5% for using the platform plus 3% for payment processing.
Memberful was recently purchased by Patreon, but continues in its original form as a plugin for your website that allows people to subscribe to get access to premium content.
- It’s a powerful way to monetise an existing website.
- It continues to operate as a standalone service despite being owned by Patreon.
- You can create multiple subscription tiers and lengths.
- It might end up being merged into Patreon, which could put some people off.
- You need your own website to take advantage.
- You’ll need to pay substantially more to eliminate Memberful branding on your site.
4. Donation Buttons
Of all the entries in this list, Donation Buttons is by far the simplest and cheapest one. It’s just a plugin for your website that allows you to add subscription or donation buttons using PayPal or Stripe.
- It’s a very simple way to solicit funds from your own website.
- There are no platform fees; only standard payment processing fees apply.
- It’s ideal for those with large and active website communities.
- It requires an established fan base to be of any use.
- You need your own website.
- There are no extra features like analytics, management, and reward distribution.
Podia is a marketing platform that allows you to sell digital products and memberships.
- Embedded checkout
- Video hosting support
- Affiliate program
- Lacks customizable fields for emails
- Higher-priced plans
- Minimal customization
Ko-fi allows you to share your work with fans who can support you for the price of a cup of coffee (or more if they wish). You’re able to set up donations or commissions on a one-time basis or monthly.
- Offers memberships, paywalls, and commissions
- No supporter sign-up required
- A minimum donation of $3 is required
- No built-in marketing tools
Gumroad is an e-commerce platform for creators who want to sell books, films, and music.
- Free starter plan
- Can embed it onto your website
- Works for digital and physical products
- Doesn’t support ApplePay
- Only offers email support
- No A/B split testing
Anchor is a mobile podcast production and distribution app that offers a subscription service called ‘listener support’ which allows creators to receive recurring donations from fans.
- Great for podcasters who want to cash out whenever they want
- Low fees
- Supports Apple pay and Google Pay
- Not available globally (only in the US)
- Low discoverability on the platform
- Only available for Anchor users
9. Heights platform
Heights platform is a customizable e-learning platform geared towards creating and selling online courses.
- Set your own course fees
- Unlimited courses, content, and students
- Built-in payment processing and analytics
- Missing features like tests or quiz creation
- No built-in email marketing functionality
10. Buy me a coffee
Buy me a coffee is a donation based platform which accepts one-off and monthly support from fans.
- Ability to sell digital downloads and exclusive content
- Payments automatically wired to your account
- Allows for one-off donations
- Not flexible enough for larger businesses or anyone who wants to scale up
- Only offers basic features and functionality
Liberapay is a platform set up for recurring donations. Donations are capped at a maximum of 100 euros a week per donour to prevent bidding wars.
- Has a teams feature
- No platform fees
- Supports multiple languages and currencies
- Small and new company so may limit exposure
- Difficult to make long-term projections with a cap
SubscribeStar is a membership platform tailored for musicians, visual artists, and educators.
- Has a post editor
- Any legal content is allowed
- Built-in stats and analytics tools
- Restrictions on payment withdrawals
- No PayPal or Stripe
- Free content policies mean the platform has an association with extremist ideologies.
Flattr is a micro-donation provider that lets people set a monthly budget to pay web content producers for their work.
- Easy to support web content creators
- Simple and easy-to-use plugin
- Flattr receives a commission on all favorited content
- Unable to prioritize and donate more to content you prefer
14. Disciple (the best option)
- It’s the best way to engage your audience and create a sense of loyalty
- It allows you to capture the entire market segment and it gives you a competitive edge
- In contrast to social platforms, you own the data and relations with your people
- It’s the right solution if you take your passion and your online business seriously.
- You need to have around 50-100 customer or subscribers
- You should be ready to support rapid growth. In case if you don’t we’re here to support you!
Why a community app is the best alternative to Patreon
Imagine being able to cut out third parties and have complete control over your community and crowdfunding efforts. With a community mobile app that brings people together under a common goal, you can make that happen without worrying about unwanted platform changes and high recurring fees.
Disciple was built for brands and individuals who want to build their own communities without having to play by the rules of the big platforms. It takes the best parts of social networking and online business to let you build a highly customized platform that meets the unique needs of your brand.
How the Disciple community app software works
Disciple provides you with the means to connect with your community anywhere at any time. It is fully compatible with iOS, Android and Web platforms and provides everything you need to manage and grow your community in one place. Unlike some other Patreon alternatives, monetization of Disciple via membership subscriptions, sponsorships and premium content is simple and hassle-free.
Everything You Need
Disciple is fully customisable with the flexibility you need to bolster your brand, create an engaging experience for community members and share exclusive content. Embed your own logo and other unique assets, set the colour scheme and change fonts to reflect your current branding efforts. You can even choose your own custom URL.
If you are like most business owners, entrepreneurs, musicians, non-profits or other entities your audience consists of discrete groups drawn to your new community app for different reasons. Disciple allows you to segment your audience by whatever criteria you see fit while enabling unlimited public and private groups.
Monetization Made Simple
Disciple provides a multitude of ways for creators to get paid, including individual and group subscriptions, in-app purchases, premium content, sponsorship, affiliates, advertising, store links and more.
Since the dawn of civilisation, creative individuals have faced the choice between making a living and following their muse. The internet seemed to offer a potential way to put an end to that sorry state of affairs with apps like the Patreon donation platform.
However, as has been established, Patreon has become so big that creators today often find themselves back where they were years ago, struggling to get their voice heard. Patreon alternatives provide a potential solution, with Disciple providing a wealth of monetisation features, including:
In-app purchases – In-app purchases allow creators to earn money from products sold directly through the app. Whether by way of digital music files, access to exclusive content, or physical paintings you have a simple, effective way to present and sell your wares to an audience that wants them.
Subscription models – While Disciple offers a Free plan, creators often benefit more from using our Freemium or Premium subscription plans. Recurring subscriptions can provide a welcome source of monthly income while ensuring your community is only populated by those who admire your work.
Store links – Have an existing online store where you sell your music, prints, furniture or other products? Link to it through your Disciple app and ramp up conversions. If your art or craftwork is currently offered through online galleries or other 3rd party sites you can provide links to those as well.
Sponsorships & advertising – Sponsorships are a great way to generate income, as are the various advertising options you will find on your Disciple app. This is one of several options simply not open to you on Patreon or most Patreon alternatives and can provide a nice base income.
Apple Pay and Google Pay – Most Patreon alternatives for artists simply provide a way for people to essentially drop a coin into your cup. Disciple provides so much more. Your would-be patrons won’t be at a loss for ways to help you because they can use Apple Pay or Google Pay for direct purchases of your physical works like paintings, prints, sculptures and more.
Autonomy, Sweet Autonomy
One of the major drawbacks of Patreon is that you are beholden to the whims of those who run the platform. As we mentioned earlier in this post, Patreon took a significant subscriber hit when they decided to censor user input a couple of years ago. Creators who depended on those lost subscribers for financial support woke up one day to find the well had dried up due to a Patreon management decision they had not been consulted on. That type of thing will never happen with Disciple.
The Gold Standard of Patreon Alternatives
Patreon has helped countless creatives, entrepreneurs, non-profits and more raise the money they need to stay afloat in challenging times. And they are to be commended for that. But the Patreon platform is not without some significant downsides that make it an unnecessarily challenging way to monetize your community. Among Patreon alternatives, Disciple does the best job eliminating most of the roadblocks you will find at Patreon, while providing numerous, effective avenues for monetization.
Disciple is the best way to engage your audience and create a sense of loyalty – Patreon allows creators to monetize their content. By contrast, the Disciple app provides a way for creators to sell their products and build loyalty, while engaging and nurturing their own community. That active community will grow and sustain you in remarkable and surprising ways that are simply not possible with Patreon’s essentially passive business model.
Disciple allows you to capture the entire market segment and it gives you a competitive edge – Regardless of whatever else is going on in your market segment, your community represents a rock-solid base that can be effectively engaged anytime from anywhere. You will have an automatic advantage over others aspiring to compete in your niche.
In contrast to social platforms, you own the data and relations with your people. With your Disciple community app, you can create a distinct, self-contained community free of corporate interference, where all your data is yours.
How to select the best Patreon alternative
If you’re wondering which option will be the best option for your business – there isn’t a clear-cut answer. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all platform so it’s better to ask yourself what your specific goals are for your specific niche. Are you looking to sell an online course? Do you want to build a community around your offering? Are you serious about turning your offering into a business or is it just a side hustle or passion project? Being clear on what it is that you’re hoping to get out of your Patreon alternative from the get-go will help you to narrow down your options.
If you want to own your community and build a brand that’s yours alone, there’s never been a better time to look for alternatives to Patreon and other major platforms. With your own hosted platform, you’re the one in control. Contact us today if you’d like to find out more.