Patreon is a membership platform that provides a comparatively simple way for creators to ask for and receive money. Creators can earn money doing an activity they already love, whether it be art, writing, video making, music, or even illustrating webcomics.
Patreon provides a straightforward way for these people’s supporters to make payments to the creators they love. They can often make small regular payments, rather than having to fork out a considerable sum at once to purchase one of their preferred creator’s works. As the site’s name suggests, the people who pay money on Patreon become the creators’ patrons.
Creators can use Patreon to build a community and at the same time either establish a regular recurring income or ask for one-off payments. Their supporters can consider themselves patrons of the arts.
Many creators come from a background that looks upon money disdainfully. They don’t like the idea of asking their followers for money. Yet, in many cases, these followers are only too happy to reward the creators they love. They see their patronage as a way to show support and reward artists for their originality and creative endeavors. Their patronage gives them a direct connection to you.
How Much Money Can You Make on Patreon?:
Why Would a Creator Use Patreon?
Creators use Patreon for two primary purposes. The most apparent reason is as a means to make money. However, building a community is just as important, more so to some creators.
The ethos behind Patreon is an update of a traditional way creators earned money. In the past, creators such as artists and musicians could rely on wealthy donors’ patronage to finance their work. Patreon follows a similar philosophy, although allowing small, regular payments widens the types of people who can become patrons.
Creators can set multiple membership tiers, each with different rewards, so each patron can choose the amount of money they feel most comfortable giving.
In many ways, Patreon is similar to other crowdsourcing platforms, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. However, one notable difference is that while those platforms encourage people to fund untested ideas, Patreon uses crowdfunding to support existing creators, and potential patrons can already see evidence of artisans’ creativity.
Business Models That Perform Well on Patreon
Memberships are the most straightforward way for creators to make money on Patreon. They are designed for the creator who has sufficient interested and enthusiastic supporters willing to pay a membership fee to participate in their community. The creator has to decide what the community members receive in return for their membership payments.
This works better in some arts than others. For instance, a blogger could save up their best posts and make them exclusively available to the site’s members. A musician may offer courses or online training for his/her members. Alternatively, a creator may establish their group as having some exclusivity; for example, it may operate as a Mastermind Group, a peer-to-peer mentoring group that helps members solve their problems.
With subscriptions, patrons make multiple recurring payments. Here, there is usually a clear benefit tied to each subscription payment, just like there is for a service like Netflix. A patron pays a subscription, usually for a month, and receives a clearly defined benefit in return.
Patreon can cater to multiple subscription levels. If you choose to follow that path, you need to determine what you will offer at each subscription tier, ensuring that subscribers at all levels feel that they are getting value for money. Most people are likely to buy lower-level subscriptions, so it pays to add extra value for those willing to purchase the more expensive subscriptions.
3. Ongoing Support
Some creators prefer to simply ask patrons to pay some level of ongoing support. Here, there is no precise service that they will give in return for the money spent. These payments are more like traditional donations.
Often patrons can make payments of as little as $1 and do so for the satisfaction of helping out somebody they admire and whose work they appreciate.
Factors Affecting Whether You Make a Good Income on Patreon?
The amount of money you can make on Patreon will vary from one creator to the next. However, various factors affect this level. These include:
1. How Well You Understand Your Audience
Successful creators on Patreon understand their audience. They know what interests them and what is likely to motivate them to want to spend money. They know what is likely to engage their fans, making more of them followers and willing spenders.
If you don’t already understand your audience, you will need to spend more time engaging with them, asking them about themselves and their interests. In particular, it would be valuable to learn their pain points and what types of resources you could create that would interest and excite them.
In marketing, we often talk about businesses creating a customer persona, a relatively detailed description of your target customer. While creators probably hate to think of their audience as their “customers,” if they intend to receive any money from them, then their audience is a kind of customer. So, creators should draw up an image of their audience persona.
2. The Niche You Focus On
Your ability to make money on Patreon will, to some extent, depend on the niche in which you operate, i.e., what kind of items you are creating. This isn’t just your general genre, e.g., music, art, videos, or writing, but also the topics you concentrate on. What types of music do you play? What is the main focus of your pictures? What issues do your videos feature? What are you consistently writing about?
Some niches are more suitable than others for earning money through Patreon. For instance, you will struggle to earn cash if you make prank videos on YouTube or TikTok because there are so many other channels making such videos.
Creators making content on more obscure, niche topics are more likely to find a dedicated audience. However, it will typically be smaller than what interests the mass audiences on YouTube, Instagram, or Spotify.
You always need to be able to answer the question, “Why should they support me when others offer similar work for free?” What is your point of difference from the bulk of other creators?
3. How You Reward Your Patrons
If you intend to make money on Patreon using a membership or subscription model, you need to consider carefully what you intend to give your patrons in return for their cash. You need to think about how they would feel about receiving your intended rewards, not just what you think about making them. In all honesty, how many people do you believe will pay for that reward?
If you intend to offer multiple reward tiers, you need to clearly distinguish what people will receive at each level and ensure that they receive an incentive to go for the higher-level tiers. What separates the different subscriptions from your patrons’ point of view?
4. The Size of Your Engaged Audience
The size of your community is vital to your success on Patreon. Indeed, some creators are more concerned with this than they are with earning any money.
You can look at your community as consisting of three groups. The most significant number is merely your fans. Sure, they like your work, but they aren’t likely to go out of their way to take notice of you and certainly won’t be willing to pay you money. A smaller group will decide that your work is interesting enough for them to follow you. The smallest group is your “super fans,” who are willing to go one stage further than your other followers and reward you with money. This small group becomes your patrons.
An essential part of any thriving community, however, is that its members engage. You need people who are more than mere fans or even followers. As we have seen in many articles on social media and influencer marketing, follower numbers alone are not a good indicator of success. You need your followers to take some form of action, even if it is merely to hold conversations about your creativity to their friends and increase your word-of-mouth following.
In some cases, particularly in the more niche arts, you may not have vast numbers of fans or followers, but the ones you do have are super-passionate about your activity. In this case, you can compensate for your lack of follower numbers by the increased engagement rate.
5. The Quality of Your Brand
Creators need to establish a personal brand. You need to be able to differentiate your work from others. You want people to care that you are the creator and not anybody else.
It helps if you can establish a reputation for exceptional quality. You need to ensure that your potential patrons love your creativity.
If you have established a highly engaged community, you have helped your reputation and improved the quality of your brand.
6. Your Promotion and Marketing
Most creators don’t tend to be marketers. However, if you really wish to make money from your fans, you will need to promote your offerings to them. Ideally, you want your Patreon page to emphasize the areas in which you are skilled. For instance, if your art is graphics or photography, you will want your Patreon page to look spectacular. If you’re a writer, you will need high-quality copywriting with no grammatical or spelling errors.
You need to ensure that your Patreon page tells your story. In particular, you need to explain your rewards to people willing to make a payment. Ideally, you should include a strong Call to Action (CTA).
Don’t be overly sales-focused, however. Most people who come to Patreon don’t expect to receive hard-selling techniques. They are usually there because they like what you produce.
7. Any Emotional Appeal
In some cases, you might be able to use any emotional appeal you may have. Perhaps you have a connection with a charity or a good cause. Maybe you are willing to donate a portion of your funds to charity or perhaps give them some of your creations that they can sell or raffle off. In some cases, you might have a clear support base, for instance, if you target a particular political viewpoint.
Estimate How Much Money You Can Make on Patreon with this simple Tool
We now have a tool that you can use to estimate your earning potential on Patreon. The more you market and promote your page, and the better you build your community, the greater the income level you are likely to receive.
The main factors that will affect your potential earnings are the size of your fanbase, the portion of that fanbase interested in contributing money to your cause, and the attractiveness of what you offer in return for their generosity.
Patreon estimated earnings potential
Traffic to creator page
% of traffic that converts
Total monthly earning potential
$315 – $1575
Sample Calculation of Making Money on Patreon
Here is an example of potential earnings for a creator on Patreon. Your results will vary, of course, depending on your personal numbers.
Suppose you operate a YouTube channel with 50,000 subscribers. Experience may tell you that 10% of your subscribers are passionate and likely to click through a promotional screen on your videos promoting your Patreon page. Then, suppose that 2% of your “super fans” go on to convert as patrons.
Of your 50,000 subscribers, 5,000 will follow through to your Patreon page. Of these, 100 will convert as patrons.
Many creators set reward tiers for those willing to pay them on Patreon. Suppose, therefore, that you have selected three levels for those willing to pledge $10, $20, and $50. Suppose we assume that most patrons pay the cheaper amount ($10), and the average payment level is $14.
In that case, your 5,000 patrons would pay you 100 x $14 = $1400.
Obviously, somebody who has built an extensive community will earn considerably more than someone with just a few followers. If you had 500,000 subscribers, and the remaining figures remained the same, you would receive $15,000. Similarly, if you could increase your conversion rate from 2% to 4%, you would double the money you could make.
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