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Patreon Review 2021

Supporting the arts through financial donations, also known as patronage, is a tradition as old as art itself. As the modern-day equivalent, Patreon is different from other crowdfunding sites in that it’s meant for recurring funding rather than a one-time campaign. Like Kickstarter, Patreon is meant for creative projects, not personal use. Patreon lacks funding deadlines and has few limitations on the types of projects it approves; you can even designate a project as not safe for work (NSFW). It also has a stronger community than competing services, encouraging you to follow and fund other projects. If you’re looking to financially support videos, music, stories, or other ongoing endeavors, Patreon is a great resource and an Editors’ Choice pick for crowdfunding services.

Fees, Restrictions, and Requirements

Patreon offers three pricing tiers that take different donation percentages. Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and most other crowdfunding platforms, the basic Patreon Lite takes the typical five percent cut, while Patreon Pro and Patreon Premium take eight percent and twelve percent, respectively. Higher tiers provide extra benefits, such as improved analytics tools and more granular pledge tiers. Patreon Premium has special workshops that lets you mix it up with famous Patreon faces. To qualify for Patreon Premium, your campaign must meet certain funding minimums. By locking features that used to come standard into the more expensive Patreon Pro, Patreon basically raised its prices. Early Patreon users are grandfathered into Patreon Pro without needing to pay additional money.

All tiers use a third-party to process payments, which also incur fees. Payment processing fees vary depending on whether you use PayPal or Stripe, but they’re typically a percentage of the donation plus a fixed number of cents; Patreon bundles transactions when possible to reduce costs. There are also various fees for international transactions.

While Patreon is meant for projects, not personal use, it doesn’t have many restrictions beyond that. It lacks a formal approval process, too. Its support team monitors all postings to make them comply with the reasonable rules: no hate speech or threats of violence. Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon lets you promote nudity and R-rated content (but not pornography, this isn’t OnlyFans) as long as you mark it NSFW. GoFundMe, on the other hand, is the platform to use if you need to raise money for personal expenses; it also has few funding restrictions. 

Creating a Fundraising Campaign

You can sign up for Patreon with using your Facebook credentials or by creating your own login information from scratch. The community elements are front and center. Your dashboard shows the creators that you’ve supported, as well as the ones that you follow. You can invite another creator to join Patreon and receive referral cash prizes. The site’s right rail highlights the creators that you should follow or fund, as well the messages sent between you and other creators. You can use Patreon on the web or as a mobile app on Android and iOS.

To get started as a creator, you first set up a profile, where your social media information gets a front row. After entering your name, you can input your Twitter handle, Facebook handle, and YouTube URL, if applicable. Then you explain what you’re creating, select a category, upload a cover photo, and optionally add a video from YouTube or Vimeo.

Patreon offers two options for getting funding. You can ask your patrons (as your donors are called) to either pledge a monthly fee or pledge per creation. Patrons who pledge per creation can optionally set a monthly budget. Patreon recommends using the monthly option if you’re planning to release four or more creations each month. If you go with the “per creation” plan, you release those in the form of paid posts that can be in the form of text, images, video, audio, or a combination of those elements. You can also set a minimum pledge for any of your paid posts. So, for example, you can create exclusive paid posts for people who have pledged at least $10 (or any amount that you set).

Patreon explore

Once you’ve decided how you’d like to be paid, you need to set up goals. They’re fundraising milestones that let you add new project features, such as special effects for videos or ad removal from software or an app. You can set up multiple goals and change them at any time. Next, you create rewards for your patrons based on how much they donate. As with Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Patreon lets you limit all or some rewards to a certain number of funders. Finally, you can set up a thank you message that your patrons get after signing up, or even create a thank you video.

Patreon has become ubiquitous enough that its most successful creators use the service as their sole source of income. If you can pull that off, more power to you. However, note that asking for and relying on indefinite fan subscriptions carries some inherent instability. People may subscribe for one month, and then drop off for no reason. Many patrons cancelled their subscriptions when Patreon raised prices on initial transactions, a controversial move the company later walked back.

Patreon rewards

Once your page is live, you can add posts to your creator page. Each post can be set as either fully public, for patrons only, or for patrons at different reward levels.

The dashboard is where you track pledges. On the left side of the screen, you’ll see several options, including Earnings and Patronage, and Engagement. The Earnings tab shows processed pledges, fee breakdowns, and the total amount of money earned each month. The Patronage section shows how many patrons you have for each month or post, depending on your account. The Engagement tab display patrons’ comments. There are also reports on payouts, declines (canceled pledges), refunds, pledge growth, and patron exit surveys.

Since our last update, Patreon has added new promotional tools beyond adding social media links to your campaign. Patreon now integrates with popular online services, such as Discord, MailChimp, itch.io, and WordPress to spread your message to potential customers. Patreon includes a helpful launch guide, too, which includes tips on sharing your campaign draft with friends and family to get feedback, and on how to set up successful social media posts. You can also namecheck Patreon in your posts for added publicity. There are recommended steps to take in the days and weeks after you launch and announce your campaign. Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo also offer help with promotion, whether it’s including social media integration or Google AdWords and Facebook ad tracking.

Patreon earnings

The Best Source for Ongoing Funding 

Patreon sets itself apart in the crowdfunding space by letting you solicit monthly donations rather than one-time contributions. Making a living off fan subscriptions carries many risks, but Patreon is popular enough to make that dream a reality for many creators. While its fees are higher than they once were, Patreon’s restrictions are few. As the premier tool to crowdfund long-term projects, Patreon earns an Editors’ Choice award.

If you’re looking to raise a lump sum, our other Editors’ Choice recommendation, Kickstarter, is a better option. It’s a trusted platform that offers a lot of support as you build, launch, and track your campaign. Indiegogo, which offers both flexible and fixed funding, in addition to strong promotion and tracking tools, is also worth a look. Finally, for personal causes, GoFundMe is the place to go.

Patreon Specs

Mobile Apps Yes
Subscription Plan Yes
Percentage Earned 95 percent
Funding Type Flexible
Campaign Tracking Yes

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