How to earn money on Patreon, directly from your fans

By Wynne Renz

Ready to generate income on Patreon? Get advice on how to sell digital products and offer paid membership.

When you bring together everything that you do on Patreon, you can build a beautiful, buzzing space to form deeper connections with your fans and foster community around what you do. Plus, you can make it easy for fans to engage, buy, and subscribe to your creative work. Whether you’re thinking about launching your Patreon (psst, it’s free to start and manage) or you’re a long-time Patreon pro, here, we’ll explore how you can leverage Patreon’s commerce tools and paid membership features to increase your income, while giving fans more of the stuff they love.

Set up your creative home on Patreon (if you haven’t already)

Even before you’re ready to start earning, you can launch your creator page and start building your community on Patreon. You’ll have access to built-in publishing tools to share posts, polls, events, and other updates directly with your community, and your fans can see everything you share with them right in their Patreon feed and inboxes. So, if you haven’t already, sign up for Patreon and start your creator page. Getting your community cooking gives you a receptive audience when you’re ready to add a shop, paid membership, or both, to start earning.

For more advice on using Patreon to share your work, strengthen your community, and grow your creative business, read how to get started on Patreon.

Sell digital products

You can sell digital products directly to your fans right from your creator page on Patreon. When you add your first product, it’ll automatically be displayed in a new Shop tab on your page and you’re off! It’s that simple. You can sell a wide range of digital media including podcast episodes, videos, music, images and other downloadable files. Plus, if you've already built a community on Patreon, selling right where your fans are makes it easier for them to enjoy everything that you offer: They can easily browse your products while they peruse your posts and participate in your community. If you're just getting started on Patreon, selling digital products gives you another way to bring more people into your community — and they may feel inspired to stay further in touch via membership.

Ready to give it a go? Here’s how you can increase your earnings with digital products:

  • Make a smart strategy for what to sell. Digital products are a low-commitment way to earn from your fans, whether or not you offer paid membership options on your Patreon. Consider selling digital products that showcase what you do best, like podcast episodes, videos, or 3D print files. And, if you do have paid members already, you can use your shop to boost the value of membership (by including your products as a membership perk); give fans ways to get even more (with add-on products that supplement your membership benefits); or acquire new members (by encouraging customers to join). For more tips, read about how to grow your creative business by selling digital products on Patreon.
  • Market products on Patreon and across your other platforms. Use Patreon’s built-in promotional tools to showcase your products across your channels and bring more people to your shop. For more tips, check out all the ways you can promote your Patreon.
  • Give fans multiple ways to enjoy your products by listing digital products in multiple formats and letting them know they can experience them on any device or platform. For example, you could list both the video and audio-only versions of a podcast episode. For more ideas, read our guide to selling digital products on Patreon.

For early access to Commerce, join the waitlist.

"When you earn money directly from your community, you can build financial and creative independence and enrich your fans’ lives along the way."

Offer paid memberships

You can also add paid membership to your Patreon, as another way to earn revenue directly from your fans. In exchange for a monthly or annual fee, paid members get exclusive benefits giving them even more access to what you create and the community experiences you offer. As a creator, paid membership gives you recurring, predictable income that can help you build your creative business on your own terms.

Here are three ways to set yourself up for success:

  • Keep it simple to start: A popular best practice is to start out with just one set of benefits at a single price point (such as $5 per month) — something meaningful to fans that you’re able to keep up with on a regular basis. Once you’re in the rhythm with your membership and you learn what your community responds to, you can always change things up and add additional membership levels and benefits. With different billing models, you can offer members the option to pay monthly or one rate up front for the whole year.

  • Showcase the benefits: To turn fans to paying members, you can easily share the occasional members-only content in public posts, like teasers or longer excerpts of paid content (with encouragement to upgrade to hear the full piece), access to 1:1 exclusive conversations, live streams, AMAs, one-time polls (to show what it’s like to contribute to your process), exclusive content that only lives on Patreon, ad-free episodes, and more. By spotlighting what you offer, you can get people enthused about membership. (For more on this topic, read how to structure your membership and price your benefits.)

  • Offer an enticing experience: Remember, your fans already love what you do, and they want more of it. A simple set of benefits can go far to deliver them value and meaning — and the reverse can be true, too. “The community I’ve built has pushed me to create in ways I hadn’t really considered before,” says Gunnar Deatherage, who shares sewing and DIY tutorials and knowledge with his Patreon members. “I’ve now launched full sewing patterns for them each month, am creating a full library of knowledgeable content, and my fans have given me the freedom to not only push, but excel in this particular field. It’s rather special.”

When you promote your paid membership, communicate the value of your benefits authentically to inspire community members to join, and consider offering free trials to give your fans the chance to try out one of your membership tiers free for seven days — a great way to “show not tell” what your exclusive content and community is all about. You can also run Special Offers to give fans an incentive to sign up for membership (or upgrade).

For more ideas of what to offer, read how to combine exclusive content and community to delight your fans.

Photo by Jeremy Cohen featuring Gunnar Deatherage

Power couple: Offer digital products and paid membership

Uniting paid membership and digital products enriches what you offer to fans and gives you more dynamic income streams. As wildlife rehabilitator Foxfeather Zenkova says: “With both the shop and memberships, it really helps expand what creators can do, and gives them flexibility that fits for their particular needs, and how to earn from their community.”

Here are ways to offer both digital products and paid membership to generate more income:

  • Offer free digital products as part of membership. Make free digital products a perk of being a paying member, and drop these items at a regular cadence, such as monthly or quarterly. For example, cosplayer creator Ginny Di offers free downloads to members of a particular tier. In a post announcing new digital products, she explains, “If you're in the Di-votee tier, you can visit that page to download any of your files for free!”
  • Offer members-only, standalone products. Include exclusive digital products that aren’t available in your shop as a benefit of membership. This could be anything: digital wallpaper, a bonus episode, or a new track. For example, indie rock musician and long-time Patreon creator Megan Slankard releases a new song every month, just for members. At the end of March 2023, she released her hundredth song on Patreon; in the process, she was able to build a loyal fanbase and fuel her creative independence.
  • Include polls as a perk of membership. Invite your community to vote on new digital products or add their two cents to the making of a product or piece. When members get to participate and help inform a new design, they may feel even more excited to buy it. For example, illustrator Gaby Niko polled her members about which art print (one of the benefits of membership at certain levels) she should make for the month.
  • Talk up membership in your shop. Share the benefits of each membership tier directly in your digital product descriptions (whenever it’s relevant to do so). You can also mention membership within certain products, like in the intro or outro of a song, video, or podcast episode.

Ready to start earning money on Patreon?

You can start earning at your own pace by selling digital products, adding a paid membership offering, or both. If you already offer paid membership, you can expand with new membership levels and add on a shop to begin selling digital products – a la carte or integrated as benefits in your paid membership tiers. You have the flexibility to add on seamlessly as fits you and your creative business and test and learn as you go. When you earn money directly from your community, you can build financial and creative independence — and enrich your fans’ lives along the way. It’s an exponential win (some call it a “win-win”) for you and your audience.

For more tips on making money on Patreon, find out how to inspire your fans to upgrade to paid membership.