Patreon is a platform that allows content creators to create monthly subscription memberships for their fans and followers. Patreon is an effective monetary tool for any individual who wants to learn more about how to get paid on YouTube. In fact, for many content creators, Patreon is one of the highest sources of revenue for their channels. When it initially launched in 2013, its goal was to “help every creator in the world achieve sustainable income.” The goal remains unchanged till this day.
Patreon’s ease of use makes it an attractive option for YouTubers in any industry and niche. How it works is simple: set up a Patreon account, promote your Patreon page, and get donations from your fans. If used correctly, Patreon is much more than a small donation-squeezing tactic. In fact, some Patreon users earn upwards of $200,000 per year.
But other than supporting a channel they like, what’s in it for fans? Patreon users create donation tiers that offer different rewards depending on how much subscribers or “patrons” donate each month. For example, for $5 per month, a patron might get exclusive access to private Patron-only content. For $25 per month, a patron might get guaranteed responses to questions they have.
The best part is, there are no requirements to join. Unlike traditional YouTube monetization strategies, which require you to meet certain criteria in order to monetize your channel with ads and other features, Patreon is open to everyone, whether you have 100 followers or 100,000 followers.
It goes without saying that Patreon is a good way to make money on YouTube. But not all Patreon profiles are created equal. Here’s how you can leverage this crowdfunding platform to earn money from your YouTube channel:
Create “Fundable” YouTube Content
Before you even begin to set up a Patreon account, focus on creating great content first. Your followers need to have a reason to want to support you. Simply put: you need a fan base to make Patreon work.
This means that you need to both create quality content that reveals who you are as a person. You should be able to connect with your viewers on a deeper level, whether you’re reviewing tech gadgets or making travel vlogs. Does the quality of your video captivate and does your personality show in your videos? Are your videos robotic or do they convey humanism?
There are hundreds of articles and videos about how to create powerful and beautiful YouTube videos. The key is to focus on your production, your on-screen character, and community building first. Once you feel confident in the work you put out, you can start asking your viewers to contribute to your Patreon page.
Evaluate Other Patreon Campaigns
The first thing you want to do is start looking at other Patreon channels. What rewards do they offer? What are their intro videos like? How do they use content to appeal to visitors? And what makes some Patreon pages (especially those in the same industry) more attractive than others? If you’re not sure where to start, you can browse the Patreon homepage or go through the channels you’re subscribed to and see which creators have Patreon channels.
At the end of the day, you can learn a lot by taking a look at some of the most popular Patreon pages. Treat this as an educational crash course on Patreon, making notes on what you like and how you can reinvent interesting ideas into your own Patreon page.
Create an Amazing Patreon Video
Your Patreon video is the introduction to your Patreon page and should be well-executed and intentful. It sets the tone for what patrons can expect and shapes first impressions. By now, you may have seen a few intro videos and have an idea of what it takes to create a killer Patreon intro video of your own. Here are a few common traits that great Patreon intro videos have in common:
- A brief, candid introduction about yourself and your channel
- A clear and transparent explanation of how patron donations will be spent
- Briefly discusses rewards
- Shows personality
- Thanks the visitor for supporting your channel
Patreon intro videos aren’t required, but they can dramatically boost your conversion rate. Just like with traditional crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, having a video can vastly increase the likelihood of turning a visit into a donation.
Create Attractive Reward Tiers
The most successful Patreon users create several enticing reward tiers—and you should do the same. Your reward tiers should range in price, from lower-tier rewards geared towards fans that want to support you in a budget-friendly way to higher-tiered rewards for super fans and followers that have bigger disposable incomes.
According to Patreon, the more reward levels you have, the more likely you are to make money. But of course, this doesn’t mean you should create 50 reward tiers. The goal is to make it easy for them to pick a subscription tier that works for them; not to give them option paralysis.
For example, here are six reward levels offered by the Nomadic Movement, a couple that’s documenting their efforts to create an off-grid farm in Panama:
Create rewards that are relevant to your channel and complement the content you create on YouTube. For instance, a YouTuber that creates Illustrator tutorials won’t offer the same kind of rewards as a beauty blogger.
Again, use existing Patreon channels to draw inspiration for your rewards. List out a few initial ideas and re-work it as you progress towards finalizing your page. Lastly, ask your viewers what kind of rewards they would be interested in seeing on your Patreon channel. This shows that you’re interested in what they want and creates a dialogue within your community.
Promote Your Patreon Page
Patreon promotion is integral to your success. From time to time, promote your Patreon channel with a few simple sentences in your videos. Here’s an example of what you might say:
“Just a quick note; if you’re enjoying my videos, I’d really appreciate it if you donated to my Patreon page to support my work. I put a lot of thought, time, and effort into creating helpful content that makes you happy, and it’s difficult for artists like me to continue putting out content without any support from amazing viewers like you. Check it out if you get a chance.”
Additionally, your Patreon link should be featured at the bottom of all your video descriptions and shared periodically across any other social channels you’re on.
Send Your Patrons Personalized Messages
Every follower wants to feel like a VIP and patrons are no different. They want to feel acknowledged for their contribution and doing so can extend the lifetime value of their donations. Of course, if you have hundreds of thousands of followers, this might be impossible. But when you’re just starting out with Patreon, make it an effort to send your early supporters thank you messages and kind words. Continue to do this if you have a manageable number of patrons.
Stick to a Consistent Publishing Schedule
Patrons make donations to your channel because they enjoy the work you create and want to continue seeing your content. If you don’t stick to a consistent publishing schedule, you’ll see the number of monthly patrons quickly diminish.
While you might not have the ability to create YouTube videos full-time, you can still be realistic with a video publishing calendar. Hold yourself accountable to your calendar and communicate your posting dates to your followers (i.e., telling them you post a new video every other Thursday).
Your YouTube publishing schedule should cater to patrons and non-patrons, and to Patreon-only content and YouTube content. This is largely because the Patreon crowdfunding model is built around the concept that creators will continue to submit bits of content regularly for as long as their Patreon channel is active. On the same token, you need to continue to submit on YouTube to increase your chances of gaining new patrons and keeping current patrons happy.
Today, more consumers are supporting small and local businesses than ever before. This is a great opportunity for you to use your creative talents and passions for the greater good. Ten years ago, creating content and turning support into revenue was much more difficult. With platforms like Patreon at your disposal, you can turn your community into a revenue source and continue on a positive growth trajectory.