Demand is rising steadily for Patreon alternatives, particularly as crowdfunding becomes more popular. But while Patreon is 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 you must carefully evaluate each option before making a commitment.

Why are brands looking for alternatives to Patreon?

For content creators running a one-person brand, Patreon is often the obvious venue for building up a subscriber base. It has a proven track record of working 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.

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.

Patreon alternatives

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.

Kickstarter

With a community of more than 17 million backers funding 445,000 projects as of the end of 2019, Kickstarter is by far the best-known crowdfunding community. Like Patreon, it has its routes in the subscription model with multiple rewards tiers for backers.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Indiegogo

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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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

One of the newer platforms on the block, 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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Why a community app is the best alternative to Patreon

Imagine being able to cut out the 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 customised platform that meets the unique needs of your brand.

Final thoughts

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.