Patreon is a wonderful way to monetize your YouTube channel, podcast, blog content, and any number of things. With Patreon, you can provide exclusive value to supporters (patrons) in exchange for a monthly payment. But to keep your supporters excited about supporting you month in and month out, you'll need to offer them some incentives. If you're just starting out, you might not have a single idea of what to offer. Never fear! In this guide, we're going to share seven of the best benefits creators can offer on Patreon to keep your audience engaged, excited, and ready to support you. Before we dive into our list of the best benefits and addons creators can offer to patrons, let's talk tips.
Most patrons will support you for one or more of these reasons:
- Gain access to you
- Get digital or physical offers
- Engagement with you and other patrons
Based on this, it's easy to see that the type of patron benefits that perform best are early access, shoutouts, exclusive content, and physical offers. When planning out your membership tiers and the associated benefits you're going to offer, make sure that you're making your patrons feel special. They should be getting access to exclusive content, getting shoutouts to recognize their support, and getting access to both short-term and long-term benefits.
We'll talk more about patron benefit best practices later in this guide. For now, let's get into our list so you can start building out membership tiers with benefits that are going to engage and delight your patrons.
7 Best Benefits Creators Can Offer on Patreon:
7 Best Benefits All Creators Can Offer on Patreon
Here are seven of the most sought-after benefits you can offer to your supporters on Patreon. If you're not signed up for Patreon yet or aren't sure what it is, check out our Patreon review to see if it's right for your brand.
1. Early Access
As of 2018, 37% of creators were using Patreon's Early Access feature to give patrons access to content before the content became available to the masses (Patreon). Your patrons support you because they're interested in the content that you provide and likely to be eagerly awaiting your next content drop. Early access gives your fans the chance to be part of a small, selective group of people who can benefit from your content and put it to use before everyone can.
2. Exclusive Content
Even better than early access to content is exclusive access to content. This might include:
- Access to a gated library of content
- Access to gated video courses
- Exclusive videos like deep-dives and editor's cuts
- New content, mini-series, and additional segments
- Supplemental materials that are relevant to your business (music sheets, brush packs, templates, etc.)
Patreon makes it really easy for creators to add merch to their membership tiers. It comes with all Patreon Premium plans and is available as an add-on to Patreon Pro plans for an additional 3% monthly fee. It's a somewhat popular option with 15% of creators opting to send out physical benefits to their patrons.
Merch can include just about anything, from stickers to pins to clothing. The important thing is that it's something your supporters will love and it's branded. If you're not able to send your supporters something for nothing, you can also give them exclusive discount codes to buy merch from you.
Most Patreon creators use one of three frameworks for offering merch to their patrons:
This type of delivery is generally available to new patrons upon signup and can be very useful in driving new patrons to support you. You can set this up however you want. Some creators will send something small (like stickers) to every single supporter while others will choose to send something larger (like a coffee mug or a t-shirt) to only those patrons who sign up for a specific membership tier.
Time-Based or Anniversary Merch
This delivery is dependent on a specific amount of time passing before a patron is eligible to receive merch from you. You could send a nice anniversary gift to patrons who have been with you for a year, for example. Or, maybe send a smaller item to patrons who have supported you for a shorter amount of time.
With recurring merch, your patrons will receive merch on a regular basis. If you're a comic creator you might opt to send out a quarterly comic book that's only available to supporters at a specific level, for instance. Some creators might send out a bundle of templates or printables.
Need help figuring out what merch to offer? Here are some great merch ideas to get you started.
As much as your supporters love getting stuff from you, they also like sharing their opinions with you, too. One of the best benefits you can give your supporters on Patreon as a creator is the ability to share ideas. This can also be quite beneficial for you as a creator, too. When you give patrons the option to share their views through polls, feedback, and voting, you'll be able to create better content that your followers will enjoy even more. You may even get some new ideas out of it. And your patrons will be thrilled to see it when you take their ideas or advice and run with them.
5. Shoutouts & Fan Participation
Imagine being in the front row at your favorite band's concert. They just finished playing your anthem, the song that brought you to the band, that song that has really made a difference in your life. As the singer's making their way over to grab a drink, you make eye contact. They wink. Maybe give you a high five. Whatever it is, they see you there. They see you and they acknowledge it.
Fan recognition goes a really long way toward keeping your supporters engaged and excited about your brand. They want to feel like they're part of things, like they matter to you. Giving them a shoutout is a really easy way to make that happen.
There are several podcasters who use fan recognition as a benefit for certain membership tiers, giving patrons a mention either on the podcast or in the notes. Some Instagram influencers do the same thing. You can get really creative about (like creating a simple drawing of your patrons at a certain level) it or go simple (a quick mention of their name).
You could up the ante with fan participation, bringing those who support you at the highest levels directly into your show or performance. This might mean inviting them to join you in a live stream or, as some bands have done, letting them make an appearance in one of your music videos.
Since fan participation is a bit more involved, you might want to limit the number of slots you open up for your highest-level supporters.
6. Q&A and Creator Access
As we mentioned earlier when talking about polls and voting, supporters love knowing that they can get access to the people they're supporting. Question and Answer sessions are a great, low-risk way to make that happen. And, there are tons of ways to make this happen. You can answer every question or choose to answer just the ones you want. You can do it via live stream, record your answers and publish the video, even host AMA ("ask me anything") events on platforms like Reddit or Discord. Discord even offers a Patreon integration to make offering this benefit even easier.
Another way to offer patrons access to you is by offering certain membership levels the benefit of access to platforms where you're available just for them, to answer questions directly or just to chat. Perhaps you'd even want to offer more personalized benefits like one-on-one meetings, patron-only events, a patron-only Whatsapp, or personal messages and videos.
Behind-the-scenes content is a great way to give your supporters access to you, your life (within your comfort levels), and your creative process. This could be as simple as sharing rough drafts, the tools you use, insights into how you destress outside of work, and more. Your patrons support you because they enjoy the content that you produce. Sharing more details about your life and work makes them feel like they're a bigger part of your life and encourages them to stick around.
In addition to creator access, supporters also enjoy being part of a community that comes together in support of that creator. There are several easy ways to offer patrons access to a community on platforms like Discord, or even just within the comments on your Patreon posts. Offering a space for community gives your supporters the chance to talk among themselves about your work, keeps them engaged with your brand, and gives you an easy way to participate if you choose to.
Best Practices for Patron Benefits
While we've shared seven of the best benefits and add-ons creators can offer to their patrons, there is no limit to what you can provide. You might offer any number or combination of benefits to keep your supporters engaged and excited about your brand. There are, of course, a few best practices for patron benefits that will make this a much more fun and exciting experience for your patrons.
Keep It Exclusive
Exclusivity in exchange for membership helps patrons understand the value of what you're offering. By supporting you, they're getting access to special content like videos, sketches, rough drafts, and more, that other people don't get to see.
Recognize Your Patrons
As we mentioned, your supporters want to know that you see them and know that they're there, supporting you. How can you include them in your process? What can you do to let them know that you value their support? And how can you share that information so they get some attention for it?
Personalize Your Membership Tier Names
Personalizing your membership tiers is a really easy way to let your supporters know you're paying attention. Start building a sense of community with creative names for each membership tier that make sense for your brand.
Offer a Mix of Short and Long-Term Benefits
While it's important to offer some time-sensitive or instant gratification benefits, it's also important to remember that you want your patrons to stick around for a good, long time. Take the time to plan out benefits that you can offer that go beyond your membership drive.
Choose Benefits With Broad Appeal
The benefits that you decide to offer should have broad appeal. But that might not mean what you think it means. We're just saying that the benefits you offer to your supporters should be something that a wide range of your supporters will enjoy.
What Benefits and Add-ons Will You Use?
As you can see from our list of the best benefits creators can offer on Patreon, there are countless options for you to incentivize subscriptions and keep your patrons engaged with your brand. You don't need to offer all of the benefits we've listed—start with just a couple of benefits that will be exciting for most of your followers. From there, you can decide what else you want to add from our list or ask your supporters what they'd like to see!
Once you have your initial benefits selected, make sure you price them in a way that both makes sense for your business and makes them appealing to your audience. If you're offering a set of stickers to supporters at the $50/month level, you're probably not going to get many takers. On the other side of things, if you're giving a t-shirt to patrons who are just giving you $1/month, you're not going to make enough to fund your brand with Patreon.
And, remember, you don't have to set your membership tiers and benefits and never change them. You can test your pricing and benefits to build the strongest offering that gets you the funding you need and keeps your fans raving.