Wondering what Patreon is, how much Patreon costs, and what alternatives there are to Patreon? You’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What Patreon is
- Why people are looking for alternatives to Patreon
- How much Patreon costs (fees)
- The top 15 alternatives to Patreon + the pros and cons of each
- Why a community app is the best Patreon alternative
- How to select the best Patreon alternative
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.
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.
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 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.
- You’ll need to pay substantially more to eliminate Memberful branding on your site.
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 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.