Patreon provides millions of creative entrepreneurs with the tools they need to build a sustainable monthly income, but the company has faced several controversies the past few years, most recently when it suggested incorporating NFTs into its systems. As decisions like these have eroded trust in Patreon, more and more people are seeking Patreon alternatives for content creators.
Luckily, there are several other companies you can turn to for help if you want to create a paid subscription to sustain your content. And I’ve saved you some time by testing out the options and evaluating them in four categories:
- Number of features available
- Ease of use
- Transaction fees and other costs
- Trustworthiness or, put more plainly, whether or not they’ve made a statement about their stance on cryptocurrency and NFTs
When you’re finished reading, you’ll have all of the knowledge you need to choose a platform for your paid subscription.
- Ability to accept one-time payments as well as memberships
- Ecommerce functionality
- Integration with Discord for the creation of premium Discord rules
- Twitch integration
Ko-fi started as a virtual tip jar for creatives and has since grown into a robust sales platform for creatives. The platform is fairly straightforward to use and has extensive documentation to help you get started. I actually run my own shop and the Weeknight Writers Sustaining Membership Program on Ko-fi and quite enjoy using the platform.
Another great thing about Ko-fi is that it’s always adding new features. In fact, the paid membership feature was only added last summer, and the company has added several smaller features since.
By all appearances, Ko-fi puts creators first. There haven’t been any sudden changes to fee structures or shady dealings that I can find, and the company has stated that it doesn’t intend to start using NFTs.
Ko-fi doesn’t charge anything for one-time donations. However, if you want to use premium features like the shop and membership programs, you’ll need to either invest in Ko-fi Gold ($6/month or $54/year if you purchase an annual subscription) or pay 5% transaction fees.
Who this tool is best for
Ko-fi is ideal for entrepreneurs who want access to both digital retail space and membership program options. I also recommend it for content creators who want to build a community around them through either Discord or Twitch.
Note that the features listed here are from the Enterprise plan. See the Cost area for more details.
- Customizable bio link page per account
- Designer-made themes
- Unlimited links per page
- Ability to accept donations
- Ecommerce functionality
- Subscription and membership creation
- Ability to connect your Hy.Page to up to 6 domains
- Ability to remove Hy.Page branding
H.Page is an interesting addition to this list of the best Patreon alternatives because it’s kind of like Patreon, Linktree, and more traditional web hosting solutions all at the same time. You can build a single-page site to act as a hub for all of your links to social media and things like your Amazon author page, then build a membership program on top of that page. You can also use Hy.Page to sell products directly to your audience.
What I really like about HyPage, though, is the customization options. You can change the colors and layout of your page to create a browsing/shopping experience that feels like it’s part of your brand, rather than just another page on a third-party platform.
HyPage seems dedicated to providing excellent services to creators, influencers, and small businesses. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive and the company hasn’t been involved in any scandals. However, there are no statements about whether or not the company intends to integrate NFTs into the platform.
The free plan of HyPage only includes the ability to create a multi-link page with customized colors and the ability to collect emails. If you want to access the membership function, you’ll need to pay $39/month ($468) for the Enterprise plan.
This is significantly more expensive than Ko-fi, but can be worthwhile if you make excellent use of all of the features, since you won’t need a separate website or online store. You also won’t pay any transaction fees.
Who this tool is best for
HyPage is ideal if you want to create a more customized homepage for your membership program than what you’ll get with Patreon or Ko-fi without the hassle of building an entire website for yourself.
3. WordPress.org + MemberPress
Features of WordPress:
- Ability to connect a custom domain
- Ability to build a fully functional website
- Access to tens of thousands of themes
- High-quality blog software
- Ability to extend the functionality of your site in almost any way imaginable through plugins
Features of MemberPress:
- Unlimited membership tiers
- Easy-to-use membership creator
- Ability to restrict all types of WordPress content
- Content dripping
- Visual course builder
- Fully customizable course and membership sales pages
- Detailed reporting
- Ability to accept payments through PayPal and Stripe
- Integrations with a variety of marketing and ecommerce tools
This option is a little different from the others I’ve chosen for this list of the best Patreon alternatives, in that you’ll need to figure out two tools: WordPress.org and MemberPress.
WordPress.org provides the most popular website content management system (CMS) in the world, with over 455 million websites currently using WordPress (including this one). You can install it onto any website with a single click, and many web hosts offer plans with pre-installed WordPress. You’ll also get complete control over your site, with the ability to customize the layout, colors, fonts, and functionality.
MemberPress is a premium plugin for WordPress. You can buy it, install it on your WordPress site, and start building your membership program in just a few minutes. You can also use MemberPress to create and sell multimedia courses.
On one hand, this is a great option because it gives you a full website, complete control over what your membership program looks like, the ability to create courses, and the option to expand your site with things like ecommerce functionality or even a membership community later on. You also don’t have to worry about things like how you get paid/how much you get paid changing with little to no warning.
On the other hand, this option requires a lot of learning and setup. You’ll need to choose a type of web hosting, pick an actual hosting company, set up your whole WordPress site, and then buy MemberPress and figure out how to use it. Even if you take to it fairly quickly, that’s a lot of hours you could spend creating the actual content for your subscription instead.
The cost for this option varies based on the type of hosting and the specific web host you choose. Personally, I recommend using Bluehost, which has a unique WordPress-based website builder that makes it easier to create your first site. Plans start at $2.95/month (paid annually) for the first year and rise to $10.99/month in the second year (paid annually).
You’ll also need to purchase MemberPress.You can buy this plugin for $179 for the first year; prices rise to $279/year on renewal. This brings the total cost of using this method to create your membership program to $214.40 for the first year and $410.88/year afterwards. This cost is significantly more than what you’ll pay for Ko-fi, but it’s also more affordable than Hy.Page and offers a much wider range of features.
Who this tool is best for
If you want to create a full website with custom imagery, a blog, a membership program, and the potential to add things like ecommerce functionality and courses later on, WordPress + MemberPress is the way to go.
Final thoughts on the best Patreon alternatives for content creators
The Patreon alternatives I’ve explored in this article all let you create a paid membership program around your content, but they all come with different features and price ranges. This means that the best choice for you really depends on your situation:
- If money is tight and you want to set up something basic that can help you start earning income right away, Ko-fi is the best choice. Ko-fi’s also a great option if you want to set up an ecommerce store alongside your membership program. And, perhaps best of all, Ko-fi is extremely easy to use even if you’ve never built a site before.
- If you want something with more customization options but you don’t want to create a whole website or spend a lot of time learning how to work with new tech, Hy.Page is the best option for you. The only drawback is that the fees; at $39/month, it’s the most expensive option on the list.
- If you want to build your own site so that you have complete control over the design and content, WordPress + MemberPress is the best option for you. There’s a pretty steep learning curve involved here, but you’ll also be able to expand your site at any time to include things like courses or an ecommerce store.
Creating a membership program for the first time? Check out the Content Subscription Planner, a mini-workbook that will help you figure out what types of content you can offer as member rewards, create your membership levels, and build a consistent monthly income around your work.