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What Is Patreon, and How Does It Work?

Patreon Logo

Many online content creators use Patreon to supplement their income. How does it work, and should you support your favorite internet content creator on the site? Find out here.

Patreon and Creator Support

From musicians to video-makers to podcasters, the web has given many creative people a platform to share their work. However, as more people transition to having fully online careers, ad revenues from websites like YouTube may not be enough to create the content they make. That is why many online creators are joining crowdfunding sites like Patreon.

Patreon is a service that allows you to provide monthly financial support to your favorite content creator. In exchange, supporters, or “patrons,” may receive certain perks, such as exclusive uploads, early access to new work, ad-free content, and the ability to give suggestions. Many creators on Youtube also include the names of their patrons at the end of their videos.

The site also has social media integration, so you can quickly find out if any creators that you follow on YouTube or Twitter have a Patreon.

Instead of charging a monthly fee, creators may also charge per completed work, such as for every video or podcast episode. This is common among creators that do not upload monthly.

Membership Tiers

Patreon Tiers and Memberships
Patreon

Most Patreon creators have multiple tiers that supporters can join, with each tier corresponding to a certain monetary amount. These tiers are set by the creators, and can range anywhere from $1 a month to $100 a month. The larger a patron’s ongoing contribution is, the more perks they receive. Some of the highest tier rewards include physical merchandise, their name displayed prominently in the video, and the ability to communicate with the maker directly.

Some tiers may have a maximum number of “slots” that can be filled. Creators use this to manage rewards for higher tiers, especially if there are rewards that involve creating custom work for the most significant contributors.

Alternatively, some Patreon members do not use tiers at all. Instead, they provide the same perks to all supporters as part of a “pay-what-you-want” scheme.

Patreon members typically display monetary goals on their page, with specific targets corresponding to special content or increased posting frequency. You can also see how many people are currently supporting a creator.

Patreon Features and Benefits

The primary way that Patreon members communicate with their supporters is via a feed on their page. Creators can post text, images, videos, and polls to their page, and can use it as a direct line to their patrons. They can also block off certain posts to specific tiers. For example, if $5 patrons get early access to new videos, posts with new videos will only be shown to those contributing at least $5.

For podcasters, Patreon has custom RSS feed support. When a patron joins, they obtain a custom feed link that they can add to their podcasting app of choice. This custom feed link is specially made for the subscriber, and the episodes that are in the feed may be different between different types of subscribers.

Patreon also has integration with the popular group chatting app Discord. A common perk of being a supporter is having access to an exclusive Discord server or channel where you can chat with the creators and with other fans.

How Patreon Is Changing Content Creation

For many creators, the rise of Patreon has been a boon. Traditionally, online creatives have made most of their income with advertising. This includes both the advertising space they sell on sites like Youtube or blogs, as well as direct sponsorships from companies. However, advertising revenues have been dropping recently. In 2019, a change in Youtube guidelines triggered what was dubbed the “Adpocalypse,” which resulted in significant reductions in income.

Patreon allows creators to be funded directly by their biggest fans and maintain a monthly income. Many smaller creators have been able to focus on their online work full-time with the support of their patrons.

For fans, the site is a good way of funding the work of your favorite creators, while also getting rewards in return. If you highly enjoy someone’s content, then joining their Patreon is an excellent way of showing your support.

RELATED: How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?

Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
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