Platform Reviews

What Is Patreon — And How Does It Help Creators Make Money?

by Nicholas Bouchard · Published Jul 26, 2023

Patreon has become so ubiquitous that most YouTubers, podcasters, and content creators seem to have a link to it somewhere on their social media channels. But what is Patreon, anyway? Is having a Patreon the best way to earn money as a creator? And how much can you really make on the platform?

Ahead, we break down this popular membership platform, look at how much creators are earning through their Patreon, and cover how you can set up your own.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a membership platform that creators can use to monetize their audience by sharing gated content. It allows creators to offer both free and paid memberships to their followers in exchange for exclusive content, a behind-the-scenes look at their content creation process, or even digital products. Over 200,000 creators are using Patreon to earn recurring monthly income.

How does Patreon work?

Publishing content on Patreon isn’t that much different than posting content on other social media platforms, except you have more control over how much you can earn from your content.

With Patreon, there’s no wrestling with ad revenue-sharing programs or trying to decode obscure payment plans from creator funds. Instead, creators can decide how much their subscribers would pay for their memberships, and what kind of exclusive content they’ll share with subscribers. No algorithms and no advertisers to appease. It’s just you and your Patreon subscribers.

what is patreon how to make money membership subscription platform

Who can use Patreon to monetize their content?

No matter what kind of content creator you are, you can likely find a way to make money through Patreon. Here are some examples of what different types of creators can offer to their Patreon subscribers.

What kind of creator are you?What can you offer your patrons?Examples
PodcastersAd-free episodes, extra behind-the-scenes episodes, listening parties, fan submissions, newsletters, exclusive merchDungeons and Daddies, Heather McDonald, Eyewitness Beauty
YouTubers and other video creatorsBehind-the-scenes content, access to exclusive communities, discounts on merch, exclusive vlogs, early announcementsEpic Rap Battles of History, Molly Burke, Whiskey Tribe
Creator educatorsExclusive videos, inclusion in credits, exclusive community access, behind-the-scenes content, exclusive coursesKurzgesagt, Veritasium, Christine McConnell
MusiciansExclusive songs, early access to new projects, behind-the-scenes videos, discounts on merch, exclusive meet-and-greets, exclusive Q&AsAlissa White-Gluz, Jacob Collier, Amanda Palmer
Gaming creatorsExclusive shows, Q&As, behind-the-scenes content, community access, early access to new contentSuperMega, The Escapist, KawaiiStacie
Visual artistsExclusive art, process videos, early access to new content, community access, free digital productsLittle Thunder, RossDraws, TheLatestKate
Writers, journalists, and bloggersExclusive feedback channels, exclusive blog posts, early look at upcoming content, free signed books, exclusive newslettersWait But Why, N. K. Jemisin, Brandon Stanton 

Why set up a Patreon?

At first thought, setting up a Patreon account could seem like giving yourself a bunch of extra work on top of everything you’re already doing as a creator. But trust us when we say that while there’s some elbow grease involved, it’s more than worth it in the end.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider setting up a Patreon.

Diversify your income streams

what is patreon how to make money membership subscription platform

If your biggest source of income as a creator is tied to your social media platform of choice or just a few brand deals, you should be looking for ways to diversify your income. And launching a Patreon is one of the best ways to do this.

Sure, you’d have to put in a bit of work to make that income from your Patreon memberships, but it’s a lot more stable and consistent than what you’d make from platforms like YouTube or TikTok, or from brand partnerships. Social media platforms and brands are constantly changing the ways they pay creators, meaning your income can nosedive overnight. Creating a Patreon makes you less dependent on revenue from other platforms and advertisers.

Build a deeper connection with your audience

what is patreon how to make money membership subscription platform

Another great thing about Patreon is that it connects content creators directly with their audience. Many creators would offer an exclusive community (like a Discord server) or other ways for their paying subscribers to send feedback and ask questions through Patreon. Not only does this make your audience feel like they’re part of an exclusive club, but it can also help inspire new content.

For example, the podcast Dungeons and Daddies would ask their audience to submit names for characters that would appear later in their show. While simple, this kind of interaction can be incredibly effective in community building.

Enjoy more creative freedom

what is patreon how to make money membership subscription platform

Patreon is one of the best ways to escape the bane of all creators: the dreaded algorithm. That’s because on Patreon, you’re not competing for your audience’s attention the way you are on a platform like Instagram or TikTok.

Your Patreon subscribers have paid to be there, meaning that they’ve literally invested in the content you’re sharing with them. That gives you the freedom to create the exact kind of content you want to produce, without having to worry about an algorithm making it hard to reach your audience.

How much does it cost to use Patreon?

You can set up your Patreon website without paying a dime — the platform will only charge you when you start earning. Once you start getting paid, you can expect to pay the following fees:

Platform fee

patreon creator plans pro premium cost how much
Image credit: Patreon

Patreon charges a flat fee, taken from your earnings, simply for using the platform. The amount you’ll need to pay depends on the plan you’re using. The Pro plan charges 8% of your income, while the Premium plan charges 12%.

Currency conversion fee

When you set up your Patreon page, you’ll choose one of 14 currencies as your payout currency. But if your patrons pay for their membership in any other currency, Patreon will charge a 2.5% conversion fee to convert it to your payout currency.

Payout fee

When you pull money from Patreon to your bank account, the platform will charge a fee that varies based on your region and payout currency.

For example, American creators receiving payouts in USD via direct deposit can expect to pay $0.25 per payout. You can check out Patron’s guide to find out how much you’ll have to pay.

There are a few other costs associated with using Patreon, such as sales taxes on payment processing fees, but they’re generally smaller than the fees listed above. 

Despite these fees, you can make a killing on Patreon. Need further convincing? Let’s take a look at how much Patreon creators are making.

How much money can you make on Patreon?

No two Patreon pages are the same. Some creators may have a massive audience, but with few followers who are willing to spend on a monthly subscription. Meanwhile, others may have a smaller, more dedicated audience that will pay anything for some extra content.

Let’s look at some of Patreon’s top creators — and some smaller accounts — to get an idea of how much you could make on the platform.

How much do top Patreon creators make?

According to the website Graphtreon, which tracks some of the top creators on Patreon and their earnings, here’s how much the 10 creators with the most patrons are earning:

CreatorWhat do they create?Number of patronsEstimated monthly earnings
Matt and Shane’s Secret PodcastPodcast68K$190K – $476K
Chapo Trap HousePodcast43K$182K
True Crime ObsessedPodcast43K$119K – $299K
x4fabVideo games40K$45K
Dungeons and DaddiesPodcast38K$105K – $264K
Worlds Beyond NumberPodcast34K$58K – $265K
the yardPodcast32K$206K
Not Another D&D PodcastPodcast30K$83K – $208K
KurzgesagtVideos28K$23K – $267K

While these numbers are impressive, note that having a ton of patrons doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be raking in more than a creator with a smaller audience. You have to strike a balance between attracting a large following and monetizing your Patreon in the right way.

How much do smaller Patreon creators make?

According to the data from Graphtreon’s top 1,000 creators list, here’s how much some smaller creators are earning on Patreon.

CreatorWhat do they create?Number of patronsEstimated monthly earnings
Sam the IllusionistVideos1.8K$1K – $17K
Core4VT ReactsVideos1.8K$1K – $17K
Clarence KennedyVideos1.8K$2.5K
Jon DentonVideos1.8K$3K – $16K
SciBabeBlog1.8K$5K – $14K
Miracle of SoundMusic1.8K$3.5K
DogenEducational content1.8K$1K – $17K
Syama PedersenAnimations1.8K$2K – $13K
GordoTEKVideos1.8K$1K – $17K

How to estimate how much your Patreon could earn

what is patreon how to make money membership subscription platform

So, with all these numbers in mind, how much could you expect to earn on Patreon? Well, Patreon itself has shared a handy system for estimating your own potential revenue, which could be more useful than simply looking at how much other creators are making.

Here’s how to figure out how much you could make on Patreon:

  1. Take the number of followers or subscribers you have on your top platform — let’s say 30K people.
  2. Take 15% of that number, which the Patreon team estimates would be the amount of people who’ll follow a link to your Patreon website. In this example, that’s 4,500 people.
  3. Of all the people that visit your Patreon page, 1-5% of them will sign up to become a subscriber. In this case, that’s 45-225 people.
  4. Now, you need to find the average value of each patron, which is based on the price of the Patreon membership tiers you offer. So, if you offer multiple membership tiers that cost $2, $5, $10, $25, and $100 respectively, but most patrons pay between $2-$10, then a patron’s average value is about $7.
  5. Finally, multiply that dollar amount by the estimated number of patrons you’ll have. You should make approximately $315 – $1,575 in Patreon earnings per month.

Now, try this with your own numbers to estimate how much you could earn from Patreon.

How to set up your Patreon page

Now that you have an idea of how much you could make from Patreon, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up your own profile.

Step 1: Sign up for a Patreon account

how to set up a patreon account page profile
Image credit: Patreon

First, create a Patreon account, either with your email or by linking a Google, Apple, or Facebook account. After that, select the type of content you’re creating (e.g. podcasts or videos), and decide whether you want to sell digital products through Patreon or not.

Step 2: Give your page a name

Image credit: Patreon

At this stage, you’ll give your Patreon page a name. Don’t worry if you aren’t 100% sure about the name — you will be able to change it later.

Step 3: Connect your social media accounts

Image credit: Patreon

By linking Patreon to your social media channels, you’ll make managing and promoting your Patreon page a breeze. Not only that, but your patrons will feel confident that this page is really yours.

Step 4: Customize your page

Image credit: Patreon

It’s time to personalize your page. Most creators on Patreon would give their page a headline that succinctly describes what it’s about. For example, “creating a true crime podcast” or “filming comedy sketches.” Then, you can upload your profile and cover images, and fill out your About section.

Step 5: Set your membership tiers

Image credit: Patreon

Now, you’ll iron out your Patreon membership tiers, including what you’ll be offering subscribers of different tiers, and how much your patrons will pay.

Not sure where to begin? Here are some pricing tips from Patreon.

Step 6: Complete payment settings

Better make sure you can get paid! Patreon will ask you to set up a payment schedule (monthly or per creation), select your currency, and choose your payment settings. For instance, how you want to get paid, and what kind of tax entity you are.

Step 7: Finishing touches

The last little bits to set up your Patreon page include giving Patreon your legal name and country of residence, setting up your visual preferences, and choosing whether your number of patrons and earnings will be visible to people when they visit your page. Finally, be sure to preview your page before you hit publish.

And that’s it! It shouldn’t take you more than an hour or two to set this all up and start earning.

3 tips to maximize your Patreon earnings

Sold on Patreon and ready to set up your own page? Here are some tips on how you can make it work over time.

Find the right balance between value and effort

Patreon’s exclusive memberships are great for giving your audience something more than your free content. However, be careful that you don’t spiral into burnout by creating that extra content.

Your Patreon content has to entice new potential subscribers and keep them coming back, but don’t forget that you’d still need to create your regular, free content. It’s important to treat new types of content you offer through Patreon as experiments. Find out what type of content engages your Patreon audience — ideally that doesn’t require too much additional work from you — and do more of that.

Build your membership tiers strategically

Choosing what you’ll charge for each membership tier — and what your patrons will get out of them — might be one of the biggest challenges when setting up your Patreon. That’s because pricing strategy, or how you decide what you’ll charge, is a complex mix of psychology, economics, and business strategy. While you don’t have to run focus groups or hire a marketing agency to set your Patreon tier prices, you need to be ready to modify them over time.

If you set your membership prices too low, you’ll likely not make enough revenue for the amount of work you put in. But if you set them too high, fewer people will sign up. Finding the perfect pricing and the right number of tiers to offer is something that takes time and careful planning.

Interact with patrons frequently

what is patreon how to make money membership subscription platform

Not everything on your Patreon has to be an exclusive piece of content that you spend weeks working on. One of Patreon’s strengths as a creator platform is that it can bring you closer to a subset of your audience, and you don’t necessarily need a lot of production value to take advantage of this.

For example, sharing quick, behind-the-scenes clips of your recording setup, posting occasional polls asking for feedback, or even publishing written updates on your creator journey are all great ways to keep your patrons engaged. 

And that’s how you can make money on Patreon!

Setting up a Patreon is one of the best ways for creators to build a direct relationship with their most dedicated followers and make a recurring monthly income. It doesn’t take long to set up a Patreon account, and you can start earning some serious income in no time — as long as you already have a decent-sized and engaged audience.

By creating your own membership subscription, you can diversify your income streams as a creator. That means you are more resilient when other platforms like YouTube or TikTok make changes to their creator monetization tools.

Early in your creator journey and not sure how to start earning? Check out our FREE guide to making your first $100 online.

12 Ways to Make Your First $100 Online

Get inspiration and pro tips from a dozen creators who know how to make bank!

Follow The Leap on TikTokInstagram, and YouTube for more monetization tips for creators. We also make a newsletter.

Further reading

Nicholas Bouchard
About the author

Nicholas Bouchard

Nick Bouchard is a content writer and marketer with a passion for creation. His hobbies range from writing fiction to wrestling. He can only be photographed in national parks and on mountains, and pictures of him usually come out blurry. Some wonder if he even exists at all.
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