What is Patreon and How Do You Use It to Make Money?

What is Patreon and How Do You Use It to Make Money?

Patreon is a subscription membership based crowdfunding website. It’s a place where creative small business people can offer paying patrons special access to content of all types.

It’s designed specifically for creative people like podcasters, musicians, video creators, writers and others. However, lots of small businesses can use the site to build up their communities and make money by developing their brand.  The other goal for business is to develop a direct relationship and generate recurring income.

Here’s what you need to know about how Patreon lets people pledge money for the content you create and other benefits you offer.

How It Works

Small businesses looking to get involved start out as creators. The first step is to gather information on your social media channels about the kinds of membership benefits followers are interested in.

After that, small business owners can set up a page with different membership tiers. They get subscription payments from patrons on either per piece or monthly terms. There’s a 5% fee that you’ll owe to use the service.

Essentially, these are membership based small businesses on their own. As such, there’s some extra work involved to get your page up and running. Like your other small business, it’s a good idea to have milestones and goals to act as benchmarks.

Some small business owners will find it helpful to think of their Patreon site as another arm of their marketing efforts. Some folks (like people offering guitar lessons for instance) might be testing the waters to see if they can take the plunge into a full-time business.

Patron Income Models for SMBs

There are a few membership models offered here that lend themselves nicely to some small business niche environments.

The Educational Model

If you’re a small company or a sole proprietor selling online training courses or tutorials, this is the way to go. One of the ideas that works here is to offer a basic lesson for free on YouTube and then charge for longer premium counterparts at Patreon.

This is an excellent template if you’re selling a professional service like bookkeeping too.

The Gated Resource Library

One of the things that you want to do as a small business owner is position yourself as an expert in your field. Patreon offers you three different ways to do that with articles, blogs and other content.

There are options for a Content Library, Bonus Content and Premium Content.

The Service/Product Model

Pretty much straight up the small business alley. Consultants and subscription-based software are just two of the ways to get the most from this model.

There are also Community, Fan Relationship and Pay-What-You-Can options available.

Small Business Features

Patreon understands that small business owners are always pressed for time. That’s why they’ve come up with some tools that make it easier for people to use the service. Here’s a few that you should find helpful whether you’re a sole proprietor or heading up a SMB team.


Being able to attract visitors from your website to your Patreon site is an important way to build a brand and start or cement relationships. Whether you’re an e-commerce business or an omnichannel enterprise the chances are you use WordPress to get the word out.

There are two options here.  The WordPress Plugin is free and the Patron Plugin Pro has a fee attached since it is a third party service.


Another great way to alert people on your mailing list that you’ve created content. This is a specific tool that small businesses can use to email notifications to people who have opted in.


Engagement is one of the ways that you will be able to sell your goods and services. It even works when you’re trying to define or redefine your target market. This is another feature of Patreon that can help you with both.

It provides a forum for private discussions and even Q & A sessions. It’s a great marketing tool for small businesses looking to add some personality to their brand and increase their social media followings.

In the end, these membership based businesses have lots of options you can mix and match. You can get started by clicking on this link.

Image: Patreon

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

One Reaction
  1. This is an interesting business model. It is definitely unique and the first of its kind I think. And it rewards content creators.