What is Patreon? Everything you need to know about the subscription service for content creators

SrdjanPav/Getty ImagesPatreon is a subscription platform for content creators that connects their fans directly to their work for a monthly fee.
  • Patreon lets people financially support and reward content creators – such as podcasters, writers, and YouTubers – through a monthly subscription.
  • Creators can set up multiple membership tiers with various rewards so each subscriber can choose the amount of money they feel most comfortable giving to a project.
  • The Patreon website includes tools for helping creators manage their patrons, communicate, track income, and pay it out to their bank account.
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Patreon is a membership platform that connects content creators with fans and supporters. Mainly, it offers financial tools that let supporters subscribe to projects that give creators a predictable income stream as they continue to create content.

The platform is a modern take on the classic concept of patronage. Historically, artists such as painters, musicians, and authors sometimes relied on wealthy donors’ patronage to finance their work. Patreon takes that core concept and enables a much larger audience to finance artists and creators they like at affordable monthly rates. Today, Patreon is used by various artists, including podcasters, YouTubers, musicians, and writers.

What is Patreon 1Abbey White/Business InsiderCreators can use Patron to encourage fans to support your work while fans can help content creators continue to create.

Unlike crowdfunding services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that allow people to help fund products and services that don’t yet exist, Patreon is for content that’s already being created and published. The intention is to give artists a sustainable income while rewarding patrons with additional content or other rewards at various subscription levels.

Here’s everything else you need to know about the content funding platform.

How Patreon membership tiers work

Patreon enables creators to establish multiple membership tiers. The number of tiers and the subscription rate at each level is left up to the creator. This can encourage casual fans to pay a low rate — perhaps as little as $US1 per month — while more dedicated followers can subscribe upwards of $US10 or $US20 per month. Higher tiers grant funders access to premium and exclusive content not otherwise available for supporters at lower levels.

What is Patreon 2Dave Johnson/Business InsiderMembership tiers let fans choose their financial investment level and get extra rewards for doing so.

Tiers are both flexible and optional. Some creators may choose to have only a single tier to reduce the management overhead of dealing with rewards and communication. Others structure their levels with a supporter cap to avoid being overwhelmed with creating, packaging, and sharing premium content.

How the Patreon platform and website work

Patreon helps creators manage their projects via the website. Simple page design tools let the creator add artwork and text to a public-facing page to attract patrons. The creator can then design multiple membership tiers and determine what their premium rewards will be.

What is Patreon 3Dave Johnson/Business InsiderPatreon offers a slew of tools for managing patrons, rewards, and communication.

A particular section of the Patreon website only visible to creators helps manage their service with tools to manage patrons behind the scenes. Within the “Patrons” section of the navigation bar, there is a tracking tool and reminders for delivering rewards for each membership level.

It also features a chat and email tool for communicating with patrons. Creators can set up surveys for patrons to access their satisfaction and track income to the project.

By default, Patreon only “pays out” on request, so as a creator, you can track your balance within the Patreon website and disperse earnings to your bank account when desired.

What is Patreon 4Dave Johnson/Business InsiderPatreon lets creators keep track of income and pay it out to their bank account.

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