What Is Patreon?

Patreon means different things to different people.

If you ask 10 people what Patreon is you would probably get 10 different answers.

Patreon is usually lumped into the crowdfunding basket, along with Kickstarter and GoFundMe.

But I hope to show you in this article that Patreon way more than just a way to crowdfund.

I will show you what it is. What it isn’t. And why it’s important to understand.

And by the end I hope you will have a better understanding of what Patreon is really all about.

What Patreon Really Is

At it’s core, Patreon is a way for fans of an artist or creator help them keep on creating.

As Patreon defines it:

Patreon is the best way for creators to earn ongoing revenue directly from their fans.

But that is its service role – or mission.

Functionally, Patreon is a social platform, just like Facebook, with (for the lack of a better term) paywalls blocking content.

Functionally, Patreon is a social platform, like Facebook, with paywalls blocking content. Click To Tweet

How Patreon Works

Part of a printing press in the Musée des arts et métiers in Paris
Part of a printing press in the Musée des arts et métiers in Paris

To explain all this a little better I need to briefly touch on how Patreon works.

A creator – an artist, writer, musician or anyone who creates something of value – creates an account and then sets up a Patreon page, which showcases what they are creating.

Much like a Facebook page explains what a business is all about.

Get inspired and see some examples of great Patreon pages.

This page acts as a way of collecting patrons – people who pay small amounts of money each month (or each creation) – and by doing so gives the patrons access to regular updates, content, peaks behind the scenes, early access, chats with the creator, and whatever else the creator decides to offer.

Usually, the more you pay each month (or creation) the more you get access to.

Although this isn’t always the case.


Some creators simply ask for donations and offer all their content and creations for free, or they simply ask for a low, flat donation (usually $1-5) to access all their content.

Patrons can stop or change their donations at any time and the creator collects the money paid each month.

Patreon itself makes money by taking a 5% cut on patron contributions.

As you can see, it’s different to most other crowdfunding platforms in that you are supporting the creator rather than a single project. 

But there is more to Patreon.

A Social Platform

Patreon is a Social Platform
Patreon is a Social Platform

As I mentioned before, Patreon is not simply a crowdfunding platform.

It’s also a social media platform.

In fact, the social element is very strong on Patreon.

You can post at any time (allowing open and free access to the post or only allowing those who contribute a certain amount access).

You can post text, an image, a video, a podcast, a link to content – anything you can on a regular social platform.

People can comment on these post. And you, and others, can comment in return, creating a discussion.

People can comment on your page and you and others can reply.

People can like your post and each other’s comments.

You can share a post.

Is all this sounding familiar?

Sounds a little lot like Facebook, doesn’t it?

And understanding the importance of this social factor is the secret to understanding and doing well on Patreon.

What Patreon Is Not

We have covered what it is and how it works, now let’s cover what it is not.

1. It’s not a short-term play

What I mean by this is for you to be successful on Patreon you need to play the long game.

You need to be in it for a long time to make it pay off.

Yes, you can make a huge splash initially if you already have a big community of followers. But even then, to be really super successful, you need to work at it constantly.

It’s not a free ride, and it’s not easy.

If you are looking for quick cash, there is nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.

2. It not a way simply to make money

Yes you can make a decent amount of money from Patreon, but if you are on this platforms simply to make money you will probably fail.

It’s best to start creating something first, bringing with that all the passion you have for it and then attract fans because of that passion and commitment.

As patreon says:

Patreon is a way to get paid for creating the things you’re already creating.

The money will come because of your passion and commitment to creating whatever it is you do.

So, start creating, and then look to Patreon to help support you in what you do.

Don’t put the money-cart before the work-horse.

3. Patreon cannot function in a vacuum

Patreon is a little like Snapchat (if you are familiar with that social platform) in that you need to direct traffic back to Patreon from external sources – whether that’s other social channels (like Facebook, Twitter, etc), your website, via ads, or wherever.

So, why is all this important?

Understanding the platform you are going to use to support you as a creator is paramount.

Getting it wrong will cost you a great deal of time and a lot of frustration.

Being a marketer myself I know that understanding the platform you are using is critically important to your success.

It may seem trivial or a waste of time, but believe me when I say that being knowledgeable about the Patreon platform – what it is and how it works – will help you immensely.

Understanding the Patreon platform is critically important to your success Click To Tweet


Hopefully that has given you a better understanding of what Patreon is, what it’s not, and how to use it.

The main insight – that Patreon is primarily a social platform – is what got me really interested in it in the first place. So I hope you have had a similar insight as well.

Over to you

How do you see Patreon? Feel free to leave your thoughts below (I always read and respond to comments).

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