The 6 Best Patreon Alternatives
For a wide array of podcasters, YouTubers, writers, journalists, artists, comedians, and other creatives, Patreon has provided a convenient means of monetizing output that was previously unavailable. Patreon’s conception of crowdfunding, based as it is on ongoing donations from patrons in exchange for exclusive content, is well-suited to those who produce work that people enjoy but who previously had no means by which to get compensated for their toil.
However, demand is rising for alternatives to Patreon, as the platform has alienated everyone from adult content creators to far-right political figures over the past few years (though some content restrictions owe more to the changing policies of payment processors and new laws such as FOSTA-SESTA than to crowdfunding platforms themselves). There are several other good options for raising money from the public to support what you do. Let’s look at some of them!
Table of Contents
- Crowdfunding for one-time creative endeavors, not continuous funding
- All-or-nothing funding (if your campaign doesn’t hit its fundraising target, you get nothing)
- Kickstarter’s platform fee is 5%
- Kickstarter pre-screens campaigns before approving them
- A Kickstarter campaign must offer physical rewards to backers
I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you what Kickstarter is. You’re also likely aware of the fact that Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns do not operate on Patreon’s recurring subscription-like model. However, if you’re a creator whose focus is on putting out, say, a few major works per year — as opposed to a continuous stream of content — Kickstarter may work for you. You can always launch a new Kickstarter campaign after your old one runs its course.
Kickstarter vets crowdfunders fairly strenuously, so not everyone gets in. It’s a more exclusive platform than most of its rewards crowdfunding peers, which is a factor to consider if you’re a small-time creator. But with over $4 billion pledged to Kickstarter campaigns — and over 166K successfully-funded projects — Kickstarter’s track record is nothing to sneeze at.
One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter campaigns is that the funding is all-or-nothing. If you don’t raise your goal amount within the time frame you specify (anywhere from one to 60 days), you get nothing — no soup for you. Launching a Kickstarter campaign requires a certain degree of confidence in your ultimate success.
As for fees, Kickstarter and Patreon don’t differ a great deal in this respect. Both Kickstarter and Patreon take a 5% cut of what you earn, with payment processing fees taking upwards of 3% of the rest.
- Crowdfunding for one-time endeavors
- Funding is all-or-nothing or keep-what-you-raise (your choice)
- Indiegogo’s platform fee is 5%
- Indiegogo does not pre-screen campaigns
Indiegogo is another crowdfunding alternative to consider, and while it has a lot in common with Kickstarter, there are some key differences.
Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns are not continuous and have concrete start and end dates. Unlike Kickstarter, however, Indiegogo doesn’t pre-screen the campaigners who sign up to crowdfund, making it a less exclusive platform for creatives. Indiegogo also gives you the choice of whether you want your campaign to be all-or-nothing or keep-whatever-you-raise in its structure. With the latter, you won’t be left empty-handed if your campaign fails to reach its funding goal.
The maximum campaign length with Indiegogo is 60 days. Indiegogo’s fee structure is nearly identical to that of Kickstarter and Patreon — 5% to the platform, ~3% to the payment processor.
Think of Indiegogo as a slightly more relaxed Kickstarter.
3) Donation Buttons
- No 5% platform fee, just payment processing fees
- A simple way to solicit funds from those who enjoy your work
Here’s a crowdfunding solution that ensures you won’t have to pay a 5% platform fee to anybody: You can just directly solicit donations from those who enjoy your work. Payment providers like Stripe and PayPal have buttons you can place on your site for just this purpose.
These payment providers allow people to make recurring payments, so your fans can sign up to support you on a continuing basis (just as with Patreon). Of course, you won’t be getting any of the extra crowdfunding services you’d get with Patreon (reward distribution, patron management, analytics, etc.), so this funding solution will require more of your time and energy than Patreon does. Then again, you’ll get more of every pledge made to you. If you have an existing fanbase motivated to pay up for your content and the ability to manage everything manually, this may be a crowdfunding route worth exploring.
Now, let’s take a look at a few crowdfunding sites that share Patreon’s subscription-based crowdfunding model.
- Through Podia you can sell access to your work on an ongoing basis like Patreon
- No fees are taken from what you earn beyond payment processing fees
- Using Podia to sell paid memberships costs the campaigner $79/month
- Using Podia to sell online courses and digital downloads cost the campaigner $39/month
Podia — formerly known as Coach — has long offered the ability to sell online courses and digital downloads as standalone purchases. As of late 2017, the company began offering a Patreon-like membership service to those seeking to offer paid memberships, which provide continuous access to the creator’s content.
Podia is keen to invite comparisons between themselves and Patreon — in fact, they’ve put up a page on their site devoted to showcasing themselves as a superior Patreon alternative. Their main selling point is this: Podia charges no fees on the donations your contributors make. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee to use the service. You’ll have to pay $79 per month for the membership package and $39/month if you just want to sell online courses/digital downloads and use Podia’s email marketing services.
If you can draw a significant monthly income from selling access to your work, you’ll be paying less in fees with Podia than with Patreon. However, if you pull in just a few hundred bucks a month or less, Podia is clearly not a more cost-effective crowdfunding service than Patreon. It all depends on the level of support you get from your followers.
- Sell memberships to those who enjoy your work a la Patreon
- Platform fees and monthly charges are dependent on which subscription package you purchase
Memberful is a decidedly different way to make money from your work. It’s not a crowdfunding platform but rather a plugin you install on your website through which people sign up for subscriptions to receive exclusive content. You can set up the application to accept subscriptions for different lengths of time (monthly, yearly, etc.) and for different subscription plans that give access to varying levels of content.
As it turns out, Patreon recognized the similarities between what it and Memberful have to offer, and in 2018 Memberful was acquired by Patreon, though it still operates as a separate, stand-alone service.
If you sign up for Memberful’s Starter plan, you won’t pay a monthly fee, but Memberful will take a whopping 10% of what you earn — and that’s before you get to the payment processing fees. Memberful’s Pro plan costs $25 per month and cuts the platform fee down to 4.9%, while the Premium plan, at $100/month, eliminates all Memberful branding, but it requires you to contact the company for pricing/fee details. Both the Pro plan and the Premium plan give access to features such as coupon codes and newsletter integrations.
Memberful isn’t a funding solution for everybody, but for the right sort of creator, it may be worth checking out.
- Recurring donations platform
- No platform fees or monthly fees — only payment processing fees are taken out of what you earn
- Liberapay is for donations, not payments, in return for products or services
Founded in France in 2015, Liberapay describes itself as a recurrent donations platform, which naturally invites comparisons with Patreon. Unlike Patreon, however, Liberapay is open-source and collects no platform fees from what you raise. Only payment processing fees will be taken out of what you earn.
Unlike Patreon, Liberapay is strictly for donations, therefore transactions cannot be linked to rewards or product offers. As such, more commercially-oriented campaigns may struggle to gain traction with Liberapay. However, if you want to collect recurring donations on an open-source platform free of many of Patreon’s content restrictions, Liberapay is definitely worth a look.
Monetizing your work online has long been a challenge. Thankfully, platforms such as Patreon and its various alternatives have arisen to plug this market inefficiency and help creators make money from the very people who consume and enjoy their content. No single solution is right for everybody, so check out these platforms (heck, check out other ones too if you want!) to determine which funding model makes sense for your particular needs.
Now go forth, create, and get paid!