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Patreon Alternatives: How To Pick The Right Membership Platform

By Matthew Vultaggio

January 21, 2022

If you are looking to make money by offering a membership or a way for your audience to support you, I’ve looked into the differences and similarities between Patreon and its many alternatives to help you choose the right platform.

When choosing between Patreon and its alternatives, it is important that you look at what they allow you to offer your audience, what features they offer you, and how their pricing works to help choose the right platform for you.

This article will be your guide to comparing Patreon against several of its competitors so that you can make the right choice. Including:

  • Patreon Vs Buy Me A Coffee
  • Patreon Vs Ko-Fi
  • Patreon Vs YouTube Memberships
  • Patreon Lite Vs Patreon Pro

In addition to this list of comparisons being updated over time, this article will also show you what to do once you have finally picked the right platform for you.

Because if you want to have a successful Patreon or membership, you will need to know how to:

Get supporters and build an audience that wants to support you, create effective membership tiers they want to join, and actually deliver on your promises to make sure supports keep coming back for more.

So to get started by learning more about how you can choose between Patreon and its many alternatives, simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂

Patreon Vs Buy Me A Coffee

Although both Patreon and Buy Me A Coffee offer memberships and ways to communicate with your supporters, the things they allow you to offer to your audience and how they charge you are much different.

The main difference between Patreon and Buy Me A Coffee is that Patreon focuses on recurring membership tiers and Buy Me A Coffee focuses on offering a simple way for supporters to donate or make a purchase with less commitment.

Patreon has a much bigger focus on recurring memberships and being a platform for creators that have specific and ongoing projects like releasing videos or content on a regular basis.

Buy Me A Coffee has a much bigger focus on offering a very simple way for your supporters to say thank you and show support by donating without having to commit to a monthly membership or even signing up for an account.

In particular, Buy Me A Coffee’s pricing is much more simple when compared to Patreon as there is only 1 plan with access to all features that takes a 5% cut when compared to Patreon’s 3 different plans that take between 5% and 12%.

To learn more about how you can choose between Patreon and Buy Me A Coffee, check out my article called Buy Me A Coffee Vs Patreon. 🙂

Why You Might Choose Patreon Over Buy Me A Coffee

When compared to Buy Me A Coffee, Patreon has a much bigger focus on recurring memberships and being a platform for creators that have specific and ongoing projects like releasing videos or content on a regular basis.

Patreon also seems to push itself as a more serious option to create a sustainable career for creators by offering the ability to generate recurring revenue, full control of what is offered, and full control over your schedule.

If you want to seriously push a recurring membership to your audience, then Patreon is likely to be the better option for you.

Why You Might Choose Buy Me A Coffee Over Patreon

When compared to Patreon, Buy Me A Coffee has a much bigger focus on offering a very simple way for your supporters to say thank you and show support by donating without having to commit to a monthly membership or even signing up for an account.

Buy Me A Coffee can be seen as more of a simple online tip jar that can lead to recurring memberships and is great for any individual who wants to accept donations without a particular project being worked on.

Although you can still create a sustainable income here, the big difference is that Buy Me A Coffee is much more laidback both in terms of what you offer and how your audience can support you.

Patreon Vs Ko-Fi

The main difference between Ko-Fi and Patreon is that Patreon focuses on serious recurring memberships and Ko-Fi is more for casual content creators or anyone looking to dip their toes with memberships and monetization.

Ko-Fi is quite similar to Buy Me A Coffee since there is a bigger focus on offering a very simple way for your supporters to say thank you with less pressure for both creators and their supporters.

When it comes to pricing, Ko-Fi has one of the most generous pricing plans out there and is definitely simpler and more generous than what Patreon offers:

Ko-Fi takes 0% platform fees on donations and a 5% cut on memberships, shop purchases (that can be turned to 0% if you subscribe to Ko-Fi Gold for $6 per month), while Patreon has 3 different plans that take between 5% and 12%.

Patreon’s heavier focus on pushing recurring memberships means that you will likely generate a more regular income but will be committed to creating bonus content in addition to regular content on a very consistent basis for your membership tiers to be effective and for patrons to stick around.

To learn more about how you can choose between Patreon and Ko-Fi, check out my article called Ko-Fi Vs Patreon. 🙂

Why You Might Choose Ko-Fi Over Patreon

Ko-Fi is perfect for more casual content creators or anyone looking to dip their toes in offering memberships since creators are not obligated and pressured to create content regularly and supporters are not committed to donating regularly.

When compared to Patreon, Ko-Fi is a much more relaxed platform that is focused on providing simple ways for your supporters to say thank you and show their support through a donation, membership, or purchase.

Similar to Buy Me A Coffee, Ko-Fi can be viewed as more of an “online tip jar” where supporters can give donations to creators for what they are already creating without asking for too much in return for that donation.

Although it is still possible to create a sustainable income with Ko-Fi, this platform may not be for you if you are looking to run a serious membership platform because there is less of a fire under your bum pushing you to grow that income.

Why You Might Choose Patreon Over Ko-Fi

When compared to Ko-Fi, there is a much bigger focus on recurring memberships with Patreon and it is really a platform for creators that have specific and ongoing projects like releasing videos or content on a regular basis.

Because there is more of a focus on committing to regular content, Patreon can be seen as a more serious option to create a sustainable career for creators.

If you want to seriously push a recurring membership to your audience, then Patreon is likely to be the better option for you when compared to Ko-Fi.

Patreon Vs YouTube Memberships

The main difference is that YouTube offers fewer membership tier features but offers more engagement and discovery features while having stricter content policies and taking a higher cut of your income when compared to Patreon.

In addition to this, it is much easier to get started at any time on Patreon than it is to meet the YouTube Membership requirements.

Because of YouTuber’s strict policies and tendency to demonetize channels, it can be a very smart idea to use Patreon so that you have a separate revenue stream from YouTube to reduce your risk of losing all your income at any time.

Although you will need to create and manage different membership tiers on a separate platform, the cut that Patreon takes is significantly less and you can easily get started at any time.

With that said, YouTube Channel Memberships can provide an easy way for your audience on YouTube to join and it is much easier for you to be discovered since Youtube has robust discovery features like search and recommendations.

To learn more about how you can choose between Patreon and YouTube Memberships, check out my article called Patreon Vs YouTube Memberships. 🙂

Why You Might Choose Patreon Over YouTube Memberships

Patreon can be a better option than YouTube Channel Memberships for any creators that want to get started at any time, have more ways to offer content, and have a smaller cut taken but don’t mind creating for and managing a separate platform.

In addition to this, Patreon is a really great way to diversify your income streams and to make sure that you are not beholden to any 1 source.

YouTube has much stricter policy rules and is quick to demonetize channels which means you can post content more freely with Patreon and not have to worry about randomly being shut down.

Although you will need to create and manage different membership tiers on a separate platform, the cut that Patreon takes is significantly less and it is much easier to get started at any time on Patreon than it is to meet the YouTube Membership requirements.

Why You Might Choose YouTube Memberships Over Patreon

YouTube Channel Memberships can be a better option than Patreon for any creators that want to keep their community in one place, not have to sign up for and maintain multiple platforms, or already have an established audience on YouTube.

One of the main benefits of YouTube Channel Memberships is that you can provide an easy way for people on YouTube to join and it is easy for you to be discovered since Youtube has robust discovery features like search and recommendations.

This means that the people that are already engaging or discovering you on YouTube can easily subscribe without going anywhere else and can easily pay if they already have a card on file with YouTube or Google.

With that said, it can be difficult to meet the requirements for YouTube Channel Memberships, they take a much larger cut than Patreon, and there are large risks to not diversifying your revenue streams.

YouTube is notorious for demonetizing channels often and then making it very difficult to fight this as they will regularly side with larger corporations and automatically assume that they are in the right and you are not.

In addition to this, YouTube has much stricter content policies which can really restrict what you are able to offer to your audience.

Patreon Lite Vs Patreon Pro

In this quick section, we will be comparing Patreon against itself by looking at its 2 most popular plans instead of full alternatives to Patreon.

The main difference between Patreon Lite and Pro is that the Pro plan will take 8% of your earnings instead of 5% with the Lite Plan and you can only create individual membership tiers when on the Pro plan.

For all of their plans, Patreon takes a cut of your earnings instead of charging a monthly fee, which means you never actually need to pay Patreon directly to use their platform.

Instead, Patreon’s fees are automatically deducted from your payout on a monthly basis based on which plan you are on and they limit the features that you have available to you as a creator based on which plan you are on as well.

To learn more about how you can choose between Patreon Lite and Pro, check out my article called Patreon Lite Vs Pro. 🙂

Why You Might Choose Patreon Lite Over Patreon Pro

Patreon Lite is a great option for creators that don’t want to create and then manage a full-blown membership with multiple tiers and instead just want a simple way to offer their audience a way to support them on a monthly basis.

Patreon Lite is meant to be a simplified version of Patreon that acts as a first step or introduction to running a membership business.

Because there are no membership tiers for this plan, it is much easier to manage your page and memberships.

Why You Might Choose Patreon Pro Over Patreon Lite

Although the creator fees are lowest, the main appeal of Patreon (the ability to create and charge for multiple membership tiers), is not available in the Lite plan.

It is also worth mentioning again that you are not charged any upfront or setup fees, which means that you can get started with any of the plans that Patreon has available and not have to pay anything until you are actually earning income directly from Patreon.

It’s for these reasons that I’d recommend starting with the Pro plan so that you can fully build out your membership with tiers and only consider upgrading to the Premium plan once you are earning some income from Patreon and feel like you need the additional features.

What Patreon Plan Is Actually Right For You?

When reviewing Patreon’s plans, it can quickly become clear that you need to join the Pro or Premium plan to make the most out of the Patreon platform.

With that said, when it comes to what you will need to pay when using Patreon there is more you should know about Patreon’s creator fees and how they will charge you payment processing fees in addition to that.

For a full breakdown of the 3 different Patreon plans available to you, what features you get, and which is the right plan for your unique project, check out my full article on Patreon Pricing, Plans & Fees Explained. 🙂

What To Do After You’ve Picked A Platform

Deciding which platform you want to use to run a membership program, accept donations or simply monetize your art is really only the first step.

Once you know what the platform you are going to use is, you are going to need to learn how to:

  1. Get supporters and build an audience that wants to support you
  2. Create effective membership tiers
  3. Deliver on your promises to make sure supports keep coming back for more

If you don’t have an audience of supporters, no one will ever see your membership.

If you don’t have membership tiers that your supporters are interested in, no one will ever join your membership.

If you don’t deliver on your promises and consistently publish new content, then your supporters will stop coming back to your membership and will eventually stop paying for it altogether.

This is exactly why the next sections of this article are completely focused on showing you how to make sure you are on top of the above 3 tasks. 🙂

How To Get Supporters & An Audience That Supports Your Art

Whether you use Patreon or one of its many alternatives…

You will need to have an audience that actually wants to support you if you want to make money on either platform.

The best way to get Patreon supporters is to first build an audience and community around your art or creative endeavor off of your membership site and to freely provide that audience and community with overwhelming value.

Remember that most memberships don’t have any discovery features so they won’t bring in new fans. Instead, they simply allow your current fans the opportunity to choose to support you financially.

When you have an audience with an engaged community, only then will you be able to successfully grow your membership by offering them membership tiers that they actually want to join.

To learn how you can get Patreon supporters by growing an audience and community and exactly how you can make effective offers, check out my article called How To Get Patreon Supporters. 🙂

How To Create Effective Membership Tiers

At the end of the day, the main reason that anyone in the world is going to sign up for your Patreon is if they completely understand how being a patron benefits them and they feel like they are getting overwhelming value for the cost.

The best way to create highly effective tiers for your Patreon or membership is by leveraging a concept used in marketing called ‘Marketing Funnels’ or Funnel Mapping.

By leveraging a marketing funnel, you can simplify what you offer and organize it in a way that is very easy for both you and your potential patrons to follow.

For a closer look at each of these funnel steps in more detail below and what you can consider offering for each specific level, check out my full guide to tiers, perks, and rewards called Patreon Ideas For Artists & Musicians. 🙂

How To Build A Content Plan For Your Membership That Keeps Supporters Coming Back

If supporters don’t feel like they are getting any use out of your membership because you aren’t posting enough or aren’t posting things that they enjoy, it is no secret that they will eventually stop paying for it.

The best way to build a successful membership program is to consistently release new content by combining a recurring content strategy with a content calendar.

Recurring content allows you to build your audience, optimize your membership tiers, and make sure your supporters keep coming back for more.

To learn how you can start publishing regular content that builds your audience and keeps your supporters happy without completely stressing you out, check out my article called Patreon Content: Ultimate Guide To Ideas & What To Post. 🙂

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Facebook Ads For Spotify Success

Although Facebook Ads can be a real pain to get working properly, there is no denying that they are incredible for growing Spotify streams and getting your music in front of real fans.

This is why I’ve put together a completely free course that you can check out called Facebook Ads For Musicians’ Spotify Streams. 🙂

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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