Membership 101 | The 15 Best Practices To Launch and Grow Your Patreon Program [Video!]

So you want to know more about membership programs? We could literally talk to you about it all day (today and tomorrow). Instead of doing that (because you have art to make and fans that would miss you), we asked our Head of Creator Partnerships, Bremner Morris, to walk you through membership fundamentals.

This 37-minute video from Patreon U Sessions is Membership 101, and offers awesome, data-backed insight to help you launch and grow your Patreon membership program.

Have you been wondering:

  • What is a membership program?
  • Why should I have one as part of my creative business?
  • How should I structure a membership program?
  • What tiers and benefits should I offer?
  • How do I promote and market my membership program to my fans?

Yes? This video has you covered.

Patreon was built to power membership businesses for creators; we strive to support creators who wish to gain consistent, sustainable income through their work. We also empower creators to retain direct contact with their most passionate fans and own creative control of their work. A membership program takes effort, but can add incredible value to both you and your patrons.

Ready to dive in? Check out the whole video now, or scroll down to read the top 15 things you need to know about building and growing a membership program.

Watch the whole video now.

Here are the top 15 things you need to know about managing a membership business with Patreon.

1. Membership turns your most passionate fans into patrons. Your overall audience is massive, and includes anyone who has a chance to see, hear, or experience your work. Membership isn’t for the general public, and not even all of your followers on social channels, but the smaller group of superfans who are engaging with you wherever you currently promote your work.

2. Membership changes the way in which you engage with your fans. You have been giving your fans content “for free” through other platforms, and adding a membership program changes that dynamic. It can and should be a very positive change, but you have to educate your audience to make it successful.

3. There are two reasons patrons sign-up for a membership program. Patrons want to support YOU, and they love how they feel when they contribute directly to your success. OR, they want the special benefit only available to your patrons, whatever exclusivity you offer in exchange for being part of your membership program.

4. Membership is valuable to you, the creator, for a number of reasons. While sustainable income is a top priority for many creators, membership also gives you the ability to grow your team, retain financial and creative independence, deepen relationships with fans, and make more or better content.

5. There are five most common categories of benefits that patrons love. Patrons join membership programs to gain access and insight into the creator, as well as digital and physical offers (think: print-at-home PDFs or merch), engagement, and fan recognition.

6. There are three types of benefits that perform best.Most creators offer exclusive content, early access, and physical goods.

7. There are tried-and-true best practices when it comes to benefits. Offer exclusivity! Also, naming your tiers provides community among your patrons. Try to appeal to the masses and offer short-term and long-term benefits. Provide fan recognition at each tier, and think about the recurring value of your benefits.

8. When pricing your benefits, use this simple equation. Pricing = Impact + Effort. The price of your benefit should represent the effort you put in AND the impact for the patron.

9. Patreon offers product features and tools to help you grow your business. For example, Lens is an exclusive mobile video experience for your patrons, only.

10. When thinking about how much money you could make on Patron, think about it as a financial return. Financial return = (patron count X membership tier value) – cost to fulfill. Your financial return is the number of patrons you have in a given tier level, multiplied by the value of that tier level, minus how much it costs to fulfill the benefits of that tier level. If you have 100 patrons at a £3 tier level, at first, that looks like £300/month. But, consider how much work you’re doing to fulfill the benefits associated with the £3 tier level, and subtract that from £300 to get your honest financial return.

11. Patreon is constantly figuring out ways to help lighten your workload. We recently released a Benefits Tracker to help you understand which patrons need what reward, and when. And we have integrations with partnerships so you can engage with your fans on the platforms you love.

12. Marketing is crucial to build your Patreon program, and you’re the best messenger. Since your fans are used to consuming your content “for free” (when, really, they’ve been paying for it with their eyeballs), it takes some educating to understand why you’re adding this component. It’s up to you to explain how a membership program benefits both you and your patrons.

13. Some marketing strategies are more effective than others. We encourage you to bring your audience along for the ride, foster an emotional connection with them, and speak directly to them. Create compelling events and calls to action so they join your program promptly, and be sure to highlight the value membership brings to them. Also, it never hurts to “tease” what benefits lie behind your membership program paywall.

14. Social media is a good driver for membership, but not the only one. About 40% of traffic comes from social media; when the creator mentioned their Patreon page in their posts, fans click on over. Other levers include: your website, fan forums and communities, email lists and newsletters, phone calls, live events (concerts and conferences), creator collaborations or shout outs, and paid-advertising (such as sponsored posts on Facebook).

15. You membership offering is EXCITING and you should talk about it a lot! Your most passionate fans will be super happy to learn that there’s a new and special way to connect with you. Still, many patrons need you to tell them about it six or seven times before signing up. Which means that you need to talk about it frequently and authentically, wherever you and your fans connect already.

Want more tips? Check out our latest Creator Toolkit for more ideas and insights.